TEWKSBURY — Last week, the Board of Selectmen met with recently elected state representative Tram Nguyen to discuss interjurisdictional priorities and legislative issues. Nguyen represents the 18th Essex District, including Andover, North Andover, Boxboro, and Precincts 3 and 3A in Tewksbury, and was sworn in on Jan. 2, 2019.
Board member Todd Johnson asked about Tewksbury’s sewers and funding for the public library. Nguyen said she supports libraries and is working on a sewer relief bill with state representative Dave Robertson, who represents the other Tewksbury precincts.
Board member Mark Kratman expressed concerns about transportation and infrastructure improvement.
“When we listen to residents, there’s two things we always hear about: taxes and sidewalks. We do what we can about taxes, but we really need the state to come in and help with sidewalks,” he said.
Board chair Jay Kelly brought up affordable housing in town under Chapter 40B of the Massachusetts General Laws.
“For me and for most of the residents, the [Astle Street] project proposal several months ago was irresponsible. We really need our representatives to put your boxing gloves on and fight for the residents, because it can change the community in a heartbeat.”
Nguyen spoke about the importance of efficiency and better communication between the state and town. She also mentioned increasing funding for schools:
“I can assure you, this is something that all of us [at the State House] are concerned about.”
Nguyen will be hosting office hours throughout the community. She stressed the importance of strengthening the partnership between the state and the town.
Board member Anne Marie Stronach said, “I’ve found you to be a very good listener, and I’m looking forward to you being our voice at the State House.”
McDevitt Trucks on East Street applied for a Class I transfer. The company was recently bought by Ballard Trucks. Representatives from McDevitt stated that the company has more than 30 employees, and that employees will have new opportunities for career advancement. The board approved the transfer.
The board approved a pole petition at 82 Pleasant St. by National Grid and Verizon. The board also approved a pole petition on Woburn Street by National Grid.
A representative from Energy North Inc. applied for a Common Victualler License to take over a Tewksbury Subway sandwich shop. Energy North owns a Mobil station next to the Subway, and as the current Subway owner sought to sell the franchise, Energy North decided to purchase it to expand their footprint. The board approved the application.
The board reviewed an abatement request for donated land at 44 Aprils Way. The abatement was approved at an amount of $63.
The board accepted a donation of $9,000 from Mr. Anthony Camoscio to the Tewksbury Senior Center in memory of his late father.
“I’m sure the senior center will make very good use of this donation,” said Stronach.
The board tabled the insertion of four questions to the town election ballot: a debt exclusion question for the elementary school project, and three non-binding referendums on the cultivation, research, and manufacturing of recreational marijuana. Johnson said that the Town Manager and Town Counsel needed time to review the questions.
The board rescheduled a license revocation hearing for Mavericks Restaurant & Lounge to Feb. 12. According to Town Manager Richard Montuori, the board has had issues with the restaurant, including failure to pay taxes.
Town counsel invoices were approved.
The board discussed a seven-member committee to address the fate of the Trahan and North Street elementary schools if the new elementary school project is approved. The committee will be comprised of one member of the Board of Selectmen, one member of the School Committee, one member of the Planning Board, one resident who lives in the area of the Trahan, one resident who lives in the area of the North Street, and two residents at large.
Stronach stated that the formation of the committee derived from several questions from residents about the future of the two schools. Several board members raised questions about potential use of the buildings and sale of the land.
“This committee should leave no option off the table,” said Kelly.
Montuori presented his FY2020 general fund budget plan.
“The budget process truly goes through the whole year,” Montuori said. “After town meeting, the departments make decisions on what adjustments need to be made.”
The projected appropriation for expenditures for FY20 is $116,691,568, an increase from FY19. State and county charges will be increased about 10 percent and include charter school tuition, mosquito control projects, and regional transit. According to Montuori, property taxes are the largest source of revenue, and the biggest source of property taxes has been personal property.
In FY20, a tax levy increasing to $2,625,118 would raise taxes $193 on average to the average family.
“This is a snapshot if everything stayed the same as today, and we know, of course, that things change,” said Montuori.
If the levy was not raised, the FY20 town and school budgets would have to be reduced. Montuori stated that lowering the budget would impact education, public safety services, and other town services. State aid is estimated to be about $16 million. The largest source of local receipt revenues is motor vehicle excise tax.
The budget is not finalized, as projects may come up during the year that require funding. Montuori also gave a five-year budget projection, “something I never feel comfortable doing,” he said.
He noted that in the early 2020s, the town may face deficits.
“I think this a reflection of a lot of hard work over many months,” said Todd Johnson. “I want to thank [the department heads] for being invested in the community.”
The department budgets will be available on the town website, as well as at Town Hall, the library, and the senior center.
The next meeting is set for Feb. 12, 2019.