Shrewsbury’s Annual Town Meeting to be held Aug. 8 outside

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Shrewsbury – After at least four postponements, Shrewsbury’s annual Town Meeting will finally  take place on Saturday, Aug. 8 starting at 8:30 a.m. Town Meeting members will meet outside at the Oak-Sherwood Middle School Campus, 45 Oak St., to deliberate a warrant that contains 41 articles. Rest room facilities will be available and social distancing and sanitizing precautions will be in place throughout the meeting.

The quorum was reduced by roughly 50 percent to 61 Town Meeting members by the Selectmen at their July 14 meeting.

In a statement to the community that was posted on the town website on July 22, titled “FY21 Fiscal Projection 2,” Town Manager Kevin Mizikar stated, “COVID-19 has not only challenged our operations but our ability to plan for fiscal year 2021 and beyond. Significant uncertainty remains with regards to both the virus’s impact on residents and on the town’s revenues and future expenses.”

“Because of COVID-19 the state has yet to pass a fiscal year 2021 budget in place. Given this and many other unknowns related to COVID-19, the revenue model used for this budget has a higher level of uncertainty than a normal budget. Significant changes to this financial plan are likely at some point in the fiscal year,” Mizikar’s statement continued.

During a presentation to the Finance Committee on July 22 when they met to discuss the Warrant in a public hearing, Mizikar said that the general approach to COVID-19 costs needs to be separated from on-going operations and that Town Meeting will meet again in the fall to fill in any gaps.

The Finance Committee recommends an Operating Budget of $137.1 million dollars for FY2021 which can be found along with other budgetary business items within the first 16 articles of the warrant.

The Selectmen offered their recommendations at their July 28 meeting for all but three of the articles, notably Articles 1, 21, 27 and 30, all of which relate to the establishment of a Community Preservation Act (CPA). The board noted they do not not wish to ask residents to support a new Police and Municipal Building Project and the CPA in the same year; the campus project taking precedence.

Article 17 seeks the town to transfer $150,000 from Free Cash to Shrewsbury Youth and Family services for counseling and education services for families.

Article 18 seeks support for the town to appropriate $15 million to upgrade the Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations Broadband Plant (SELCO.) This upgrade will take several years to complete and will bring fiber to the home while providing sustainability to SELCO given the decline of cable television customers.  SELCO will be responsible for the repayment of this debt.

Other notable articles include:

  • Article 23 seeks Town Meeting to authorize the Board of Selectmen to sell the property at 1 – 7 Maple Avenue, the current Beal Early Childhood Center, once the new Beal Elementary School is opened at 214 Lake St.
  • Articles 31 through 34 pertain to the creation of a Town Center District.
  • Article 35 would allow “Marijuana Cultivator” and “Craft Marijuana Cultivator Cooperative” to operate in the Limited Industrial zoning district by Special Permit.
  • Article 38 seeks to create a new section with the general bylaws to regulate the location and general maintenance of collection bins and places direct responsibility on the property and bin owners.

To view the full warrant click on the link: https://shrewsburyma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/8065/Aug-8-2020-Annual-Town-Meeting-Warrant-and-Motions,