TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury selectboard met on Wednesday, July 15, for a virtual meeting due to the constraints of meeting in person due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The board approved a disclosure of appearance of conflict of interest for Daniel Ronan of the Conservation Commission.
The board reviewed several one-day entertainment license applications for Wamesit Lanes. Owner Donny MacLaren proposed several summer events, including a ladies’ night, luau, movie night, and dueling pianos, all ending at 11 p.m.
The board approved the applications.
The board approved two National Grid pole petitions, one at Shawsheen and Vale Streets and one at Benson and Ponderosa Roads. A pole petition is required when a utility desires to construct or install transmission infrastructure along a public way.
The board voted to approve the termination and release of an easement at 395 Woburn St. The termination was approved at Town Meeting.
The board reappointed all members of the zoning bylaw committee; the committee is remaining together until the new zoning bylaw is voted on at Town Meeting in 2021. The board tabled all other board and committee appointments.
Member Jayne Wellman mentioned the possibility of creating a general bylaw committee to review and update town bylaws. She also discussed forming a human rights commission; communities across the Commonwealth have such commissions to investigate town compliance with civil rights laws and educate the community on discrimination and public accommodations.
“Many municipalities in Massachusetts have had [commissions] since the 1970s... it’s an ideal time to look at creating something like that. We should see if the board wants to entertain something like that... with the new police chief, it would be a good time to start looking at that,” she said.
Town Manager Richard Montuori reviewed the FY2020 budget. He said the town does not anticipate any issues with FY20 revenue. Hotel tax fell below projections, but meals tax came in higher than expected, though Montuori explained the projection was not optimistic to begin with.
FY21 is starting with a spending freeze for department budgets, limiting departments to only essential spending, and the town will have to reduce revenue projections for FY21 by approximately $900,000. New growth projections will not be available until August, state aid has not been announced yet, and reserves may be used to get through FY21.
Montuori said that FY22 will probably face the most challenges.
“Depending on the amount that needs to be reduced, we would eliminate any items within the budget regarding capital outlay budgets. The schools would put on hold any capital outlay spending. Those items would get us close to $2M in the budget we could reduce. Anything beyond that, we would go to the stabilization fund or free cash,” he said.
Montuori announced that the new Regional Emergency Communications Center is “98 percent complete.” The town is three-and-a-half dispatchers short, but hiring is starting again now that state training is back. The opening is projected for Sept. 1. A video about the facility and positions is posted on the TewksburyTV YouTube channel.
Montuori said that athletic fields and courts are being utilized. Town staff are maintaining facilities, and public health issues are continually being addressed.
Montuori spoke about updates to the town’s energy aggregation plan. A new option would offer residents a “green” rate. The program has saved residents and businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past several years. The board voted to update the plan.
The board set special Town Meeting for Oct. 6, 2020. The warrant opened on July 16, and it will close on Aug. 21.
Bids for the new fire station project have come in; the town will be going through the contract process soon. The new fire station is set to be on Main Street next to Bank of America.
The board addressed water usage issues. The town has had issues with brown water due to historically high usage in June, which stirred up sediments in the system. The town, like many surrounding communities, will be exploring water usage restrictions in the near future.
The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 11, 2020. Residents wishing to comment may find the call-in number on their screen and on the meeting agenda on the town website. The meeting may be viewed on Comcast channel 99 and Verizon channel 33.