Shrewsbury’s Annual Town Meeting to vote on $122 million operating budget

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury’s representative Town Meeting will convene Monday, May 21, at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium at Oak Middle School, 45 Oak St., to vote on 46 warrant articles. Eligible voters are the 240 elected Town Meeting members from the 10 precincts who are elected to three-year terms in the town’s municipal elections.

A proposed FY2019, $122,330,463 operating budget (Article 7) will be the focus of deliberations on the first night. This amount is $231,522 greater than initially projected.

An additional $1,545,456 in increased revenues to the town provides an additional $260,607 to the School Department budget for $64,127,607 for FY19. This increase eliminates the need for the department to resort to tier three reductions in their program.

Town Manager Kevin Mizikar reported at the April 24 Board of Selectmen’s meeting that he wanted to set aside $1,451,000 of these revenues which include Chapter 90 highway funds ($986,000) and funds transferred from the Sherwood Middle School project to the Library Building project which was approved at the January 2018 Special Town Meeting.

Articles 13 though 16 are petitions put forth by citizens. Two are new initiatives and the other two revisit old issues.

Article 13 seeks to amend the general bylaws of the Town of Shrewsbury Article 4-J Water Department: “All water rate changes voted by the Board of Selectmen in their roles as the town’s Water Commissioners must also be approved by a majority vote of Town Meeting before they take effect.”

Article 14: “To see if the Town will adopt a bylaw regarding the use of expanded polystyrene disposable food and beverage containers by food establishments in the Town of Shrewsbury.”

Article 15: “To see if the Town will authorize the establishment and appointment of an electronic Voting Study Committee.”

Article 16: ‘To see if the Town will vote to adopt a bylaw to discontinue the fluoridation of the public water supply, recognizing the benefits of switching to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health School Fluoride Mouth-rinse Program.”

Shrewsbury Town Planner Bernie Cahill explained Articles 21 through 26 which pertain to general and zoning bylaws, noted that they are administrative in nature, refining language and clarifying definitions, uses and tables to reduce the need for variances.

Article 25 seeks to amend a zoning bylaw by adding a requirement that two-family dwellings must share common walls. The Planning Board may issue a Special Permit to those upon a determination that design is compatible with architecture and site of surrounding residential buildings.

Article 26 provides for implementation of a digital zoning map.

Regarding water and sewer articles, of note is Article 38 which will “fund the construction, reconstruction, replacement and other improvements of sewer mains and related appurtenances on and in the vicinity of Route 20 (Hartford Turnpike) including adjacent streets.” This article improves infrastructure, paving the way for future redevelopment.

For complete Town Meeting Warrant information, visit https://shrewsburyma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3922/Warrant-2018-Annual-Election-and-Town-Meeting.