April 27 2018,  Saugus

Special Town Meeting

Members approve Crabtree’s $350,000 borrowing request to tackle town’s stormwater woes

By Mark E. Vogler

 

Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree got the green light Monday night to proceed with developing what he calls “a master plan” for solving Saugus’s stormwater problems. The 39 members who showed up at a Special Town Meeting voted unanimously in support of Article 12, which would allow the town to borrow $350,000 to cover the costs for analysis and recommendations leading to design and construction of stormwater capital improvements.

“This is a catalyst to get us to do an analysis on 40 of the hot spots,” Crabtree told the Town Meeting.

The vote will allow the town to “chip away and deal with the worst areas of stormwater” throughout the town, according to Crabtree. The town manager said DPW Director Brendan O’Regan and he have been discussing the problem for the past several years and will be looking at possible state and federal money to help pay for future improvements that will come from the analysis.

Two major components of the proposed Stormwater Master Plan will be the Stormwater Facilities Plan and the Stormwater Finance Plan, according to O’Regan.

Stormwater problems are “a major issue” confronting communities involved in large development projects, Crabtree said.

Serious flooding throughout the town this winter highlighted the nightmarish stormwater problems that plagued dozens of homeowners. The town manager said he also believes that work done by the state on the Interstate 95 project on the east side of town may have increased flooding “all over the town.” “If the state did something to affect that, we’ll assert our rights,” Crabtree said.

 

Town seeks to get dams “into compliance”

Precinct 10 Town Meeting Member Martin Costello wanted to know if Article 12 is related to Article 11, the measure seeking $150,000 from free cash for designing, rehabilitating and/or replacing town dams. The dams in the Golden Hills area “need a lot of work to get them into state compliance,” according to the town manager.

Article 11 also passed unanimously. But Crabtree stressed the two articles involve unrelated projects. “The dams up on Golden Hills are separate” and were requested by the state, Crabtree said. “That’s different than the stormwater master plan,” he said.

Article 11 was introduced in response to “a mandate from the state” to get the dams in compliance, according to the town manager.

Crabtree said the town’s approach to the stormwater problem would be similar to the way it tackled its street plan.

Town Meeting members also passed these measures to conclude a Special Town Meeting that recessed two weeks ago:

  • Article 10 – $45,000 from free cash for street lighting relocation. Funds need to be set aside for “double poles,” which would allow moving wires from old poles to new poles.

Verizon identified 45 double poles that needed to be removed – many of them damaged – where utility wires had to be transferred to new poles.

  • Article 13 – $160,000 to fund the upgrade of gas pumps and for the purchase and installation of new control system equipment at the Public Works and Public Safety locations. The current pumps and equipment are no longer serviceable and need to be replaced, according to the town manager. “This is improving the infrastructure and putting the pumps back into working order,” Crabtree said.
  • Article 14 – to transfer $109,001.24 from available funds to pay unpaid bills from a prior fiscal year in the general fund, sewer enterprise and water enterprise accounts. This would not involve any new appropriation, just carrying forward funds from the previous fiscal year, according to Finance Director and Treasurer/Collector Wendy Hatch.

Each year, about $90 million in municipal funds passes through the town. If bills were not paid during the fiscal year, a Town Meeting vote is required to spend the money that was appropriated, according to Crabtree.

  • Article 15 – To amend the general bylaws of the Town of Saugus by adding a new section to be known as 405.00 Department Revolving Funds to establish and authorize revolving funds for use by certain town departments, boards, committees, agencies or officers. Crabtree called this proposal “a housekeeping article.”

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