By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – A Special Town Meeting was convened Oct. 21 at Oak Middle School to discuss and deliberate 10 warrant articles.
Town Manager Kevin Mizikar delivered good fiscal news detailed in Article 1, which will decrease the FY2020 Operating Budget by $120,196.
Mizikar said that the reduction comes from unforeseen debt servicing in various departments since the May 2019 Annual Town Meeting.
“We are bringing in additional funding from the Water Enterprise Fund…the net decrease for the Beal Elementary School is because of the favorable AAA Bond rating and we’ll yield a total savings of $4 million over the 20-year borrowing,” Mizikar stated.
Town Meeting then passed, without discussion, provisions for a Town Water System Special Purpose Stabilization Fund within the Water System Enterprise Fund in Article 2.
Article 3 garnered the most discussion of the evening. The article would transfer $1,940,000 from Free Cash to three accounts: Water System Improvement Account, Water Quality Improvement Projects and Initiatives, and the Special Purpose Stabilization Fund.
Jeff Howland, director of DPW, shared town water initiatives and a recent report showing low levels of contaminants in the town’s water supply.
“We have water quality concerns in our existing system,” Howland explained. “The biggest issue we see today is dirty water. The manganese that is leaving the plant is non detect. We have no water leaving the treatment plant currently that has manganese in the water. The manganese we see currently is from the residual that has been left in the pipes within the system from years of not flushing.”
A portion of the funds in Article 3 will support improvement initiatives such as uni-directional flushing and studies, pilot testing and implementation of removing Hexavalent Chromium and other contaminants.
Howland said that currently the EPA is evaluating the contaminant level.
In response to a question from a resident, Howland added that the run off from Shrewsbury High School and Saint. John’s High School does not enter into the wells and does not impact the aquifer overlay because they are not in the same zone.
Article 4 seeks additional funding for Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services in the amount of $35,500 for increased counselling and to conduct an outreach needs assessment.
“In the past two state budgets, I’ve put in an earmark for $50,000 each year for Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, which they’ve received, to support their mental health first aid training,” remarked State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury), who also is on the Finance Committee.
She added that the governor recently filed legislation to mandate more funding for primary care and behavioral health services. Last year he filed supplemental funding legislation for counseling and mental health, for which he received a portion.
The remaining articles passed without discussion.
For a full listing of actions, visit https://shrewsburyma.gov/361/Town-Meeting.