WHITMAN — On Monday, Dec. 2, five days after consuming that Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings, Whitman voters will be asked to attend a brief special Town Meeting seen as vital to the town. The Town Meeting would start at 7:30 p.m., in Town Hall Auditorium.
Among the items on the four-article warrant is funding toward repairs to the town’s wastewater system — and a quorum of 150 registered voters is vital for that business to be addressed, according to Town Administrator Frank Lynam.
The Board of Selectmen, in an unusual afternoon meeting followed by an equally unusual Tuesday meeting of the School Committee [see related story], voted 4-0 to approve date and warrant for the Town Meeting. Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski was not present.
“The DPW is in need of an appropriation to begin the work to replace the sewer force main,” Lynam said. “I know it’s difficult, sometimes, to have special Town Meetings at this time of year and I’ve asked that we do this early in order to have the maximum amount of time to promote this meeting because our ability to continue to use our sanitary system, is dependent on that force main — and it is failing. We’re at a critical point, now.”
That work is being addressed under article four on the warrant — which seeks $900,000, of which $121,676.23 is to pay for a retro-assessment for sewer service in 2016. Another $88,083.70 is for fiscal 2017. Both are due to Whitman’s negotiation of a successor contract with Brockton since July 1, 2015.
“We have finally reached a point where we believe we are in agreement,” Lynam said. “We won’t know that until we see final document language.”
Whitman has not been billed for fiscal 2018 yet.
“Those items, along with the cost of designing and building a force main will be somewhere near $900,000,” Lynam said. By appropriating that amount, he said the town should have sufficient funds to do the work and any left-over funds will be returned to the sewer enterprise account.
The first article is to transfer $4,500 from Norfolk County Aggie to pay a prior year bill to Collins Engineering, who helped the town with the repair evaluation of Hobart’s Dam.
Article two would transfer $37,918 from both Norfolk County and the law account “because we would really like to pay the [police] chief we just hired for the whole year,” Lynam said.
Article three is a transfer up to $7,209 — perhaps less would be needed, but that is not clear at this point — to cover for the Animal Control Officer, who has been out on workmen’s compensation.
“Even though there are only four articles, those four articles are very important,” said Vice Chairman Dan Salvucci.
Selectman Justin Evans said he had an issue with taking funds from the law account for part of article two.
Lynam said those were the funds most likely to be available, as the town does not have additional levy space. Any resulting shortfall in the law account would have to be addressed in the May special Town Meeting, he noted.
“Frankly, I didn’t want to use free cash,” he said.
Lynam said he has been meeting with the assessor and they have determined that this year’s excess levy has “dropped dramatically.”
It is now $3,982.
He said the information would likely give the town an appropriation levy of $27,241,000 and a tax rate of $15.86, figures to be clarified at the tax classification hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 19.