Updates from Town Meeting
Updated: Aug 9, 2018
Great update from our very own Nate Segal - Town Meeting Member
Town Meeting is the legislative branch of Plymouth’s government and meets twice annually to vote on matters affecting a wide range of issues including education, economic development, tourism and public health. As a Town Meeting Member from Precinct 7, which includes Shallow Pond Estates, I have provided a short summary here of some of the key articles from the past year and looking ahead to Fall Town Meeting on October 20th, 2018.
In the Fall of 2017, the funding for a large scale renovation of the southern portion of the harbor district was narrowly defeated. Although it was recognized to be a beautiful plan that would increase walkability, compliance with ADA regulations, and resilience of the seawall -- ultimately the $18 million price tag was considered too high, especially as the State funding we sought fell through. As the harbor district is of utmost importance to our local economy, this renovation will no doubt be raised again in the future.
The legalization of recreational marijuana in Mass. was approved via statewide ballot question in 2016. Subsequently, it was up to Town Meeting to ensure zoning regulations were put in place to control where these shops can be located. In Fall 2017, we approved a zoning bylaw that allows these shops only in light industrial districts and limits the number of licenses to four within the town. In Spring 2018 we ensured the town will collect the 3% local sales tax from this industry, securing much needed revenue.
At Spring 2018 Town Meeting, one of the hottest topics was funding for the School Department, whose proposed FY19 budget called for an increase of $3 million (bringing the total to $97 million). Superintendent Maestas explained that this budget would provide a level service from the previous year. A last-minute motion was made to cut this $3 million from the school department, arguing for increased transparency and accountability in the school department’s budgetary process. This motion was defeated and the full school budget passed, preventing the district from having to make difficult cuts.
Finding new and creative ways to foster economic development is a key focus for Town Meeting. In Fall 2017, a new zoning regulation was established which increased the maximum building height in certain areas in order to make accommodations for medium sized businesses.
Looking ahead to Fall 2018 Town Meeting, the Charter Review Committee will present their recommendations for changes to the town charter. There have been calls for a change in our form of government away from Representative Town Meeting, but ultimately, the Committee has recommended staying with TM, and has made several recommendations they believe will help modernize the charter and encourage our government to be more accessible, transparent and responsive to the needs of citizens. There will no doubt be vigorous debate over these proposals and the impact they will have on the future of the town.
Many meetings held by Town Boards and Committees are shown by PACTV (on TV and streaming online) and are open to the public. The new Town Hall, officially opened last fall, is host to many of these meetings. The $40 million renovation and expansion of the new old 1820 Courthouse was paid for by a combination of the .75% meals tax approved by Town Meeting, and funding from the Community Preservation Committee. No property taxes were used to pay for this project, and a large percentage of the meals tax funds come from non-Plymouth residents, making this an example of what can be accomplished with outside-the-box budgetary thinking.
The next gathering of Precinct 7 Town Meeting members will be our Precinct Caucus which will be held at the Simes House in the days before Fall Town Meeting in October. Details will be posted to the town’s website, but please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns in the meantime.
26 Monument Ponds Path