Monday is Town Meeting time in two towns

May 7, 2019

On May 13, both Mattapoisett and Marion voters will have the chance to weigh in on important town matters at their Annual Town Meetings.

Both towns will consider a proposed $2 million Old Rochester Regional renovation plan, which would upgrade ORRHS’ deteriorating athletic fields, track, and auditorium.

Voters will need to approve a 15-year Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion to fund part of the project. It allows the town temporarily raise property taxes beyond the state-mandated limit.

Taxes would increase by $19.57 a year in Mattapoisett, $25.11 a year in Marion, and $34.39 a year in Rochester, according to Restore ORR, a project advocacy group.

The renovation requires approval at Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester Town Meetings, and would need to pass an additional vote before fully approved.

Mattapoisett has an additional 29 articles for its Annual Town Meeting, including a vote on a proposed $9.275 million new fire station to solve 14 health and safety violations, resolve space issues and allow for upgraded equipment. Without a new station, Town Administrator Michael Gagne said firefighters will continue exposing themselves and their families to fire toxins.

It would be funded by several sources, including a debt exclusion. The initial cost would be $13.37 per year for a $444,000 home if the town just focuses on financing and $26 per year if the town borrows additional money for other pending capital projects.

Gagne said the town is set to finish paying off older projects soon. This would free up more funding to go towards the fire station project under the town’s financial policies.

Residents will also vote to change the town’s marijuana bylaw, which currently only allows the growing of medical marijuana. A proposed bylaw change, if approved, would allow businesses to cultivate and grow recreational and medical marijuana, but in-town sales would still be forbidden. A company has approached the town interested in growing both.

If approved, the town could expect at least $200,000 in revenue a year, according to Gagne.

Voters will also be asked to weigh in on the town’s $602,000 capital plan, which contains other big-ticket purchases. It includes $231,000 for highway and public works storage unit repairs, $12,457 for a trench safety box, $49,500 for school teaching units, and $310,000 for the new fire station design, engineering and bidding costs.

Marion has 66 articles on its Town Meeting this year, including a $3,009,182 for a sewer lagoon lining and related design and installation costs, as required by an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Voters will also decide what to do about trash pickup woes, after both of the town’s trash trucks were broken during the spring. Options include purchasing a $582,090 garbage truck and bins, or permanently increasing property taxes to outsource town trash pickup.

Several new water bylaws are also proposed, including one to allow the town to regulate water use during state-declared emergencies and a bylaw to maintain drinkable water. A new flood hazard district to protect areas at risk for flooding, and a Water Supply Protection District to limit pollution near the aquifer are also proposed. A surface water district is also proposed to protect the town’s natural and man-made features.

Town asks voters to approve $42,000 for a police emergency generator for backup communications and $325,000 for a new ambulance to replace a failing 2008 ambulance. The Facilities Department is seeking $42,000 for a new work truck and the Harbormaster $42,590 for a new work barge.

Marion also asks voters to approve $102,644 from the school stabilization fund for a new network for Sippican School, and to consider whether to have an elected or appointed Town Clerk.

Several changes to zoning bylaws are proposed, including new regulations for multi-family housing units, changes relating to how the town handles changes in properties which do not conform to town zoning laws, and new regulations for vacant properties and unregistered vehicles.

Voters will need to also approve agenda items which require raising property taxes via ballot questions. The Marion ballot questions include approving $350,000 to address wastewater management needs, $470,000 for outsourcing trash pickup or $582,090 for the garbage truck, and the ORR renovations that Mattapoisett also faces.

The town will also host a Special Town Meeting within the Annual Town Meeting to adjust the 2019 budget to cover $63,749 to the Highway Department to pay for past snow and ice and trash truck repairs.

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

Marion Town Meeting will be May 13 at 6:45 p.m. at the Benjamin D. Cushing Community Center. Town Meetings will be open to all registered voters.