2 June votes placed on ballot unanimously, and 14 applaud

Select Board logoThe override amount to support town services is $5.5 million. The AHS total is about about $207.3 million.

UPDATED, April 21: The Select Board voted unanimously Wednesday, April 17, to place Arlington’s override and debt questions on the June 11 townwide ballot.

The questions do not cite specific figures, but the override amount to support town services is $5.5 million. The total expected cost of a new high school is $290.8 million. Subtracting the state School Building Authority grant of as much as $83,472,654, the total for taxpayers is about $207.3 million.

Board Vice Chairman Dan Dunn, who made the motion to place the questions on the ballot, noted that the debt exclusion for the high school is first and involves bonds to be paid off over time. Below it is the operating override for the town, the first since 2011, which involves a permanent increase.

In moving for the votes, Dunn referred to the commitments the board is making related to overrides (see the commitment and the wording of the votes below).

Leary: 'Really need it'

Kate Leary of 39 Milton St., speaking for Build Arlington's Future, the group supporting these measures, said: "We really, really need it. The planning has been excellent ... It makes sense to do before losing the state grant."

She thanks School Committee member Len Kardon, who was present, and expressed appreciation for board support.

Prompted by board Chair Diane Mahon, Leary said the public can volunteer or donate by going to the group's website, at Build Arlington's Future

After the board cast two 5-0 votes for the measures, and heard Leary, a group of 14 people, young and old, stood and applauded.

Mahon asked Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine whether numbers from the Budget & Revenue Task Force, which met before the board did that night, be posted on town website. He said they would be.

April 11, 2019, memo from Town Counsel Heim: Special-election override, debt-exclusion ballot questions

Members of the Select Board, I submit for your consideration and approval:

1) a motion to hold a Town Special Election on Tuesday June 11, 2019; and

2) a motion to approve two local ballot questions on said election date – a Proposition 2½ Override, and a Debt Exclusion for the Arlington High School Project.

Calling an Election

As noted in my prior memo, the Select Board possesses the exclusive authority to place both override and debt exclusions questions before voters at an annual, biennial or special election pursuant to G.L. c. 59§21C(i). As such, to have a special election in June for the purposes of override and debt exclusion ballot questions, the Board should vote on the following motion:

Motion: That the town shall hold a special election on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, for the purposes of voting on Proposition 2½ Override and Debt Exclusion questions to be approved by the Select Board; and that timely written notice of such election shall be directed to the Town Clerk in compliance with G.L. c. 54 §42C .

Form and Sequence of Substantive Votes

As previously noted, because the override and debt exclusion votes shall be considered in a town special election, they will appear on the ballot in both the form and order you approve.

Hence, you may place either question first. However, the Town has very little discretion over the form of votes for reasons distinct to each question.

In the case of an override vote, a specific form of the question is required by c. 59 §21C(g), with modest discretion only for stating the purpose/s of the additional assessment. Arlington has traditionally provided a generic description of the purpose of an override.

In the case of the debt exclusion, the MSBA requires we submit the question in a form acceptable to them as part of the MSBA process (to a lesser extent, bond counsel also vets the question for similar purposes). Please note that the amount of the exclusion is neither required nor recommended as part of the ballot question itself. The draft question below has been approved by both the MSBA and bond counsel.

Motion: That the following questions shall be placed upon the June 11, 2019

Special Election Ballot in the following order:

A. Proposition 2½ Override

“Shall the Town of Arlington be allowed to assess an additional $5,600,000 in real estate and personal property taxes for the purposes of funding the operating budgets of the Town and the Public Schools for the fiscal year beginning July first, 2019?


B. Debt Exclusion

“Shall the Town of Arlington be allowed to exempt from the provisions of Proposition two- and-one-half, so called, the amounts required to pay for the bond or bonds issued for the purposes of paying costs of a project to demolish, design, construct, reconstruct, remodel, add to, and originally equip the Arlington High School, including replacing the existing facility located at 869 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington MA, and for the payment of all other costs incidental and related thereto?


A vote to place an override question on the ballot requires a simple majority of the Board. c. 59, § 21C(g). A vote to place a debt exclusion question on the ballot requires a 2/3rds vote of the Board. G.L. c. 59 § 21C (i½), (j) and (k).

Should the Board approve the calling of an election and the ballot questions themselves, I shall notice the Town Clerk and forward both questions for placement on the June 11, 2019 ballot immediately.

Draft fiscal 2020 override commitments (Updated April 7, 2019)

1. Exercise fiscal discipline, and provide quality municipal services.

a. Commit to no Proposition 2½ overrides for at least four years.

b. Continue to increase general education operating budgets by 3.5% annually.

c. Continue to increase general government operating budgets by 3.25% annually.

d. Continue to fund special education cost growth at a rate of 7% per year.

2. Respond to ongoing school enrollment growth pressures.

Increase the education budget for future enrollment increases at a rate of 50% of per pupil expenditures.

3. Build Arlington’s future.

a. Phase in funding of the School Committee’s Multi-Year Plan to: address the impact of explosive enrollment growth of 27% since 2011; improve instruction; close the achievement gap for high needs students; ensure safe and supportive schools; and attract, retain, and develop talented staff. Adopt the following schedule of increases to base operating budgets: FY20 - $600,000; FY21 - $600,000; FY22 - $800,000; FY23 - $800,000.

b. Improve mobility for all residents, and support the goals of the Town’s Complete Streets and Age-Friendly Community initiatives by adding $250,000 to the base budget for pedestrian infrastructure -- including sidewalk brick removal and repair -- and senior transportation, such investments to be guided by the town’s sustainable mobility planning efforts.

4. Minimize impact on taxpayers, particularly seniors and others with income challenges.

a. Advance new tax relief programs, including a municipal circuit breaker and increased eligibility for property tax deferral options, and publicize existing relief programs.

b. Remove certain water and sewer debt costs from property tax bills.

c. Pursue new revenue sources.

d. Work with financial leadership to develop bonding schedules that will minimize single-year tax increases and debt service costs related to the Arlington High School rebuild. 

5. Protect against future fiscal shocks, and maintain the Town’s strong bond rating.

Maintain financial reserves at 5% or better for the duration of the four-year plan.

In other business

Approved, 5-0, was consent agenda:

The board also approved, 5-0, an MBTA bus stop sign installation at Wachusett Avenue and Florence Ave. (tabled from 2/25/19 meeting) 

April 12, 2019: Select Board deliberates putting debt questions on ballot

This news summary was published Saturday, April 20, 2019, and udated April 21, to add information.

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