Mattapoisett Town Meeting warrant approved

May 5, 2019

MATTAPOISETT — On May 3, The Board of Selectmen approved 30 articles for residents to vote on at the May 13 Annual Town Meeting.

The most significant projects addressed are the new fire station’s facility plans, marijuana bylaws, and Old Rochester Regional High School renovation plans.

The town will vote on the construction of the new fire station facility that will fix 14 health and safety violations, resolve space issues and allow for upgraded equipment.

Under the plan, the first portion of the facility’s $9.275 million payment is projected for 2021 between March and May.

Gagne said the Selectmen and the Finance Committee talked about remediating the station’s health code violations and pay off the remaining debt over a span of years by borrowing $2 million of the cost, which would cost the average $444,000 home a $26 yearly tax increase. The rest of it gets paid off with expiring debt.

79.3 percent of the $11.5 million town debt, excluding road repair costs, will be repaid within five years, putting the town in a good position to pay for the fire station construction.

Gagne said without the new facility and upgrades, firefighters will continue exposing themselves and their families to toxins from exposure to burned materials at their workplace. 

“If you vote this article down, somebody will have to come up with a way to address those issues. You can’t, within the confines of that current station. It’s just not possible; [the rebuilding project] needs to be done,” said Gagne.

Residents will also vote on the town’s current marijuana bylaws. In November, the town established a bylaw that allowed a company to grow marijuana for medical use.

If the town approves of the proposed addition to the current marijuana bylaw, businesses would be able to cultivate and grow marijuana for both recreational and medical use but still cannot sell it in town.

According to Gagne, if approved, the town could expect at least $200,000 in revenue a year from the company’s host agreement. This revenue could be a potential source of funding for capital projects and operations.

In addressing the $2 million ORR renovation plan, which would upgrade ORRHS’ deteriorating athletic fields, track, and auditorium, residents can vote on whether the town will pay for a portion of the project costs and have Proposition 2-1/2 not apply.

Proposition 2-1/2 limits the amount that taxes can increase by. An exclusion would allow the town to temporarily tax over the cap to pay for a specific project. 

Under a 15-year debt-schedule, it would cost the average homeowner $19.57 a year in Mattapoisett, $25.11 a year in Marion, and $34.39 a year in Rochester, according to materials released by Restore ORR. 

The project would also require approval at Marion and Rochester Town Meetings, and would need to pass an additional vote before it is fully approved.

Selectman Paul Silva said the ORR School Committee article was in “total disrespect” for the town’s established capital process, which focuses on keeping a minimum on the town’s tax increase to fund capital projects.

Selectman Tyler Macallister said the school committee came to the Selectmen three years ago with the proposal, and when asked to present their ten-year capital plan, the renovations were not included. Selectmen are still waiting for clarification on the capital planning process for the project. 

Chair of the Board, Jordan Collyer, also wanted to know about the school’s building structure and building envelope, noting the roof and building entrance need to be repaired.

Selectmen are concerned that the school will ask for more funding for other projects.

“I respect that they want to put it on but I do not respect the process in which they did it,” said Silva.

Other matters the town will vote on include constructing a $35,000 sewer extension in the eastern portion of Industrial Drive from its present station at the Bay Club service entrance and approving capital plan funding that totals more than $602,000.

The capital plan funding will include $231,000 of repairs and improvements of the town’s storage unit for the highway and public works department, a $12,457 trench safety box to protect utility workers in trenches, $49,500 for school teaching units that focus on certain topics, and $310,000 for the new fire station design, engineering and bidding costs.

The Town Meeting Warrant will be posted to the public at the Post Office, Town Hall and the Public Library on May 4.

Town Meeting will be May 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Old Rochester Regional High School.