By Nancy Arsenault
The postponed Special Town Meeting takes place tonight, Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00pm at Hale Auditorium. Last night the Board of Selectmen urged residents to come out and participate.
The Special Town Meeting was originally scheduled for October 29, prior to the Town Election on November 6. The meeting was postponed, however, due to Hurricane Sandy. The meeting will now present the fire station and community capital projects , which have already received a favorable vote at the polls, and now seek a 2/3 majority vote of approval in order to move forward.
The fire station design funding passed at the polls by 186 votes, with the official results showing 2089 in favor and 1903 opposed. The Pompo redesign funding passed by 366 votes with 2194 voting in favor and 1828 opposed. Neither of the margins represent a 2/3 majority.
The Randall Library renovation and addition plan lost approval at the polls by 219 votes with 1872 voting in favor and 2091 opposed. As of press time, it appears most likely that the project committee will not go forward with a presentation at Special Town Meeting, according to Selectman Jim Salvie. The Randall Library Building Committee will meet just prior to Special Town Meeting, to determine if they will go forward with a presentation at the meeting.
If the project did win approval at Special Town Meeting, the committee could legally call for another special election to try for the required win there. The Board of Selectmen indicated they would not be in favor of holding another election. “There’s another Town Meeting in the spring,” said Selectman Chairman Charlie Kern.
Tax Rate Same for All
The Board of Assessors came before the Selectmen for a Tax Classification Hearing to determine if Stow should have different tax rates for residential, commercial and industrial properties. The Assessors recommended that the town should continue to maintain one rate for all properties.
Dominick Pugliese, Board of Assessors Chairman, said that while some municipalities, like Hudson or more urban areas, do have a separate rate for business properties, those municipalities usually have at least 25-30% of their base within those non-residential zones. Stow has only about 9%, according to the Assessors.
They stated that many non-residential properties in Stow are owned by small businesses or the tenants are small businesses who would most likely bear the brunt of an increased tax rate. The Assessors determined that to make a moderate change that would save residential property taxpayers about $300/year, the average commercial taxpayer would see an increase of as much as $9,000/year; a rate that could shed a bad light on Stow, according to the Selectmen.
Jim Salvie commented that some businesses in Stow already feel that there is a lot of red tape and difficulty in doing business in Stow. Voting in a burdensome tax rate for commercial properties would “send a very bad message,” he concluded. The Selectmen concurred with the Assessors and agreed to retain the same tax rate for all properties in town for FY2013.
The Selectmen recognized the efforts of RECESS, a private, resident fundraising group that was created to raise additional capital to lessen the financial impact of the school construction costs on the taxpayer. With the help of grants which they obtained and various townwide fundraising events, the group contributed $342,000 to the cause, which will be applied to the next round of invoice requests for the school project.
Five residents were recognized for their grassroots effort to organize and establish the organization and their creative events that led to the final contribution. That amount that will be matched at ½% by the MSBA. Those residents are Greta Morgan, Melissa Rollins, Pina Rocca, Claudia Dragun, Lisa D’Alessio and Eleanor Recko.
Eagle Scout candidate Kevin Benoit presented a report on his Eagle Scout project to construct an access trail and boat launch on Sudbury Road at the Assabet River, now named Magazu’s Landing. Benoit estimated that the project required 130 man hours from him and his volunteer crew. The Selectmen complimented him on his dedication and commitment in designing such a valuable project for the town and seeing it through to its completion.