Below is a LTE from Select Board chair, Marie Angelides with some comments about next week's two night Annual Town Meeting.
This year the Select Board and School Committee worked together on a balanced budget and we were still able to maintain our commitment to a quality education, address our unfunded retiree benefits, increase our investment in our crumbling infrastructure, and not go to the full 2 ½ % tax increase as allowed by law.
The Town will continue deliberations regarding the effort to build a new DPW. This is a difficult project, the town has delayed since the 1980s. We can no longer allow our employees to work in the current conditions at the complex. Every year we delay the project, the town is risking its substantial investments in equipment, on a site and in building that is not fully insurable because it is located in the floodplain. Previous town meetings made it clear that the facility should not be sited on town-owned land, especially open space. Therefore, the site that has been recommended by the volunteer DPW Committee is the Grand Meadows Tennis Club property on Dwight Road. Like most residents, I do not want to spend over 20 million dollars on a new complex, but it is necessary to do what is right for the community. Delaying the project the past 30 years has not made it any cheaper; any delay will only increase the cost of this necessary project.
The first night will also include discussion on three articles related to the private development on Dwight Road. This project does three important things:
- Increases the tax base without changing the character of the community
- Addresses the problems of the two of most dangerous intersections in town.
- Creates a more convenient health care facility for the community.
The District Improvement Financing is a creative approach to financing and developing this project. Additionally, this public/private partnership may open up additional revenue opportunities.
The second night will also include the establishment of a Stormwater Enterprise Fund. The EPA has mandated significant new regulations for all towns and cities that becomes effective this July. The purpose of this unfunded mandate is for clean water in our streams, rivers, and lakes where stormwater (runoff from rain and snow) is directed by the drainage system. In addition to water quality testing, the new regulations require additional maintenance to the drainage system. The estimated cost to Longmeadow is $200,000. The new fee proposed by the Select Board is tied directly to the costs of the EPA mandates. We are also working on policies to reduce fees for commercial and nonprofit property owners who manage stormwater onsite as well as policies of rates setting based on projects approved by town meeting. Our current stormwater infrastructure annual costs are well over a million dollars and are completely funded by property taxes. These added increased costs will reduce current services if new revenue is not generated.
I have included only the highlights in this year’s Warrant. We also have by-law changes, Community Preservation Projects, and numerous citizen petitions (including the much discussed “bees”!). Please come to the two night meeting and have your voice heard. In Longmeadow, you are the legislative branch of government.