In-Town Report 4-24-2009

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The latest IN TOWN REPORT, as prepared and edited by Roy Earley, a Town Meeting Representative from Precinct Six.

Thank you Roy, for doing such an outstanding job with this IN TOWN REPORT. It contains a great deal of information about current issues facing our town, and many video links to local TV shows and meetings, all contained in one convenient place. It should be very useful to anyone interested in the town of Chelmsford.

In this issue of the IN TOWN REPORT the focus is primarily on the following:

* Election Wrapup
* Billboard Warrant Article
* Chelmsford & Nashoba Tech Budgets
* Redistricting - State Representatives
* Mobile Home Property Taxes

This IN TOWN REPORT also includes a number of other local topics of interest.

Thanks to all of you who help make Chelmsford such a wonderful community.

Tom Christiano
TM Representative, Precinct 9

You can view my Photos, Artwork, TV Shows, etc. on my Facebook site at: http://www.facebook.com/inbox/?ref=mb#/profile.php?id=1042801870&ref=profile
CHRISTIANO PRODUCTIONS:
POLITICALLY INCORRECT: Tues & Weds 8:30 PM;
Thurs 7:00 AM; Sundays 11:00 AM
Chelmsford Cable TV Channel 8

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In-Town Report 4-24-2009

  1. 1. IN -TOWN Report
  2. 2. Election Wrap Up CLICK HERE Chelmsford Election Night Coverage April 2009 with Kelly Beatty, Sam Chase FOR PROGRAM & The Godfather of Chelmsford Tom Christiano “Being a 40B developer was “ I may if the circumstances are right.” “I think there is a special place in Heaven a weight around his neck.” - S.Chase on running again for Selectmen for people who run for School Committee. - T.Christiano on Because that has got to be one of the most Don Van Dyne’s candidacy thankless tasks, the most important task.” - K. Beatty on people who run for office CLICK HERE FOR THE SWEARING IN CHELMSFORD INDEPENDENT CHELMSFORD INDEPENDENT OF THE NEW Holly Redmond/ Wicked Local staff photographer Holly Redmond/ Wicked Local staff photographer Matthew Hanson, left, a candidate who lost for Nancy Scanlon, left, looks on as her husband, SELECTMEN Board of Selectmen, congratulates George Dixon Sean Scanlon, is sworn in for his seat on the on his win for a seat on the Board of Selectmen Board of Selectmen April 7th at Town Hall. April 7th at Town Hall. Sean Scanlon, second from left, is congratulated on winning George Dixon is greeted by Chelmsford Town a selectman's seat by Nick DeSilvio at Chelmsford Town Hall. Clerk Betty Delaney at Town Offices after topping At left is Colleen Stansfield, who won a seat on the Planning the ticket in the race for the Board of Selectmen. Board. Third from left is Scanlon's wife, Nancy. DeSilvio won LOWELL SUN / JULIA MALAKIE a School Committee seat unopposed. LOWELL SUN / JULIA MALAKIE
  3. 3. Election Aftermath Documents show new Chelmsford Selectman Dixon profited from 40B http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_12127430 By Rita Savard, rsavard@lowellsun.com 04/13/2009 CHELMSFORD -- How much power is in a pen? Ask former selectmen candidate Donald Van Dyne and he says, quot;enough to make or break a candidate's campaign.quot; Van Dyne is pushing forward with a lawsuit against an Arlington-based anti-40B group, which he alleges hurt his family and cost him votes by mailing hundreds of letters throughout Chelmsford and quot;smearingquot; his name. Van Dyne, once a leading contender in Tues- day's Board of Selectmen race, finished third among six candidates, missing election by about 300 votes. But Van Dyne said he's not sure why the coalition decided to endorse another candidate who profited from a 40B proj- ect at 1375 Main St. in Reading -- George Dixon. According to a memorandum of understanding dated Oct. 24, 2001, Dixon received a $30,000 finder's fee on the same Reading project in which Van Dyne was slammed by the coalition. The project was also cited as the subject of an audit for hidden profits by the state Inspector General's Of- fice. quot;This outside group did everything they could to influ- ence this election,quot; Van Dyne said. quot;They sent out a letter that distorted the truth and peo- ple took it seriously. This should never be allowed to be repeated in Chelmsford again.quot; The missive's sender, The Coalition to Repeal 40B, named Van Dyne as a participant in a land-flip scheme -- even though state documents show otherwise -- and alleged that Van Dyne paid residents more than $1,000 to avoid opposi- tion when building a Chapter 40B affordable-housing project on Glen Avenue. John Belskis, chairman of the coalition, said he stands by the charges and has refused to print a retraction. quot;There wasn't anything in the letter that wasn't based on facts,quot; Belskis has told The Sun. quot;I don't see this as a solid case, but more as harassment of John Belskis.quot; Land flipping is a term used when property is purchased and quickly resold for a large profit. In 2007, the state Inspector General's office released findings from an audit of Sumner Cheney Condominiums, a 40B project in Reading. Sumner Cheney was among 10 40B projects examined by the state, in which developers were suspected of hiding excess profits. While Van Dyne's name is listed several times in the report, the Inspector General's office told The Sun that Van Dyne was not cited as a participant in a land-flip scheme, but was listed as the developer who purchased the parcel from its original owner, Rocco Scippa. quot;His (Van Dyne's) involvement was an arms-length transaction,quot; said Jack McCarthy, a spokesman for the IG's Office. quot;That's what we want to see.quot; An quot;arms-lengthquot; transaction is when a buyer and seller of a product act independently and have no relationship to each other. The concept of an arm's-length transaction is to ensure that both parties in the deal are acting in their own self-interest and are not sub- ject to any pressure or duress from the other party. Van Dyne did pay the town of Reading $17,000 after the Citizens' Housing and Planning Association informed the town it was still owed profits from the Sumner Cheney project. Reading Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner said quot;getting the developer to do what they were supposed to do was really problematic.quot; Belskis, who was unable to be reached Friday, has said the problems with the Reading project helped fuel the coalition's mailing. Dixon, who was endorsed in the mailing, topped the six-man race for two open selectmen seats with 1,948 votes. The other candi-
  4. 4. date endorsed by the coalition, Jim Murray, came in last in the race. Dixon said it's no secret that he worked in real estate. Dixon said he has dabbled in land development, such as the Swanson Meadows golf course in Billerica, but has never been in- volved with a Chapter 40B project. quot;I helped him find the land, but had nothing to do with a 40B,quot; Dixon said. Dixon previously told The Sun, quot;I never accepted any money from 1375 Main Street.quot; On Friday, when asked the question again, he said, quot;it's not easy to remember everything that happened seven years ago.quot; In a separate document obtained from Middlesex Superior Court, an out-of-court settlement from a lawsuit filed by Van Dyne against Scippa shows Dixon had also signed a purchase-and-sale agreement on land at 14 French St. in Billerica. The agreement states that the closing date on the land sale quot;shall be amended to read 60 days after approval of a comprehensive permit for the building of affordable housing from the Town of Billerica or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts respectively.quot; Although the agreement indicates that a Chapter 40B affordable-housing project was being eyed for the French Street site, such a project was never built. In court documents, Scippa denied that the Billerica property was bought with the intent of developing af- fordable housing there. The document also stated that Scippa neither admits nor denies appearing before the Billerica Housing Partnership (BHP) to present plans for affordable housing on French Street. When trying to look up BHP meeting minutes, a Sun reporter discovered the partnership has filed no minutes from 1990 through 2002. As for the coalition's mailing, Dixon said he didn't finish reading the letter once he got to the part where it alleged that Van Dyne paid off people in the Glen Avenue neighborhood. quot;I thought, I have no idea if this is true or not, what do I want to read all this for?quot; he said. quot;Did I appreciate the endorse- ment? Yes, who wouldn't. But I didn't give it that much thought.quot; Van Dyne said that during the campaign he was hoping that his friend and former business partner, Dixon, would acknowledge that the coalition's letter was quot;divisive.quot; quot;This letter made a mockery out of the election,quot; Van Dyne said. quot;I am moving forward with a lawsuit.quot; ect came out nice, adding that quot;I almost bought a unit.quot; Dixon said he doesn't believe any candidate did anything immoral or unethical. He also said that Van Dyne's Glen Avenue 40B proj- quot;I've never said 40B was criminal, it's not unlawful,quot; Dixon said. quot;But I don't agree with the law. I think it's killing the town.quot; LOWELL SUN POLITICAL COLUMN 4-12-09 by Rita Savard HO HO ho, say it isn't so! Santa failed to pick up the popular vote in Chelmsford. Maybe if select- man candidate Jim Murray donned his red velvet suit on the campaign trail, he would have scored more votes. Who doesn't love Santa? Selectman candidate Donald Van Dyne wasn't feeling the love after the coalition to Repeal 40B sent out a mass mailing slamming Van Dyne as a developer of Chapter 40B affordable-housing projects. Van Dyne, who is pushing forward on a lawsuit against the Coalition, said the letter Could Jim Murray brought on a lot of trouble. deliver himself some more votes as the Van Dyne said one man harassed his 7-year-old daughter as she held her dad's campaign sign. Man in Red? COURTESY PHOTO And he said he became involved in a shouting match in Chelmsford Center with co-founder of the Chelmsford Slow Growth Initiative, Roland Van Liew hollering out: quot;There goes Donald 'I'm a not a developer' Van Dyne.quot; On Friday, The Sun received a written agreement signed by candidate George Dixon in 2001, showing that Dixon re- ceived a $30,000 finder's fee for a 40B project built by Van Dyne in Reading. Shaking his head at the whole mess, former veteran Selectman Bill Dalton, who supported Dixon in this year's race, said Friday that the coalition undoubtedly steamrolled Van Dyne's campaign. quot;Whether you support (Van Dyne) or not, what they did was wrong,quot; Dalton said. quot;To have that happen just before the election is unconscionable.quot;
  5. 5. The Godfather Kathy Kevin Jim Rita Duffett Philip Zimmerman Colleen Lane Savard Eliopoulos Stansfield The panelists on the Jim Lane presents April 14th Politically Incorrect Tom Christiano Show were: with his very own Colleen Stansfield, “Godfather” Jim Lane, Philip Eliopoulos, Kathy Duffett, Kevin Zimmerman & Rita Savard. We discussed the Chelmsford election and how it may have been impacted by a couple of mailings and emails. T.C. CLICK HERE NEXT on Politically Incorrect April 28th Craig Chemaly - Director of Slow Growth Initiative Peggy Dunn - Town Meeting Rep Precinct 1 / Town Hall activist for Rick Mahoney - Town Meeting Rep Precinct 8 Karen DeDonato - Town Meeting Rep Precinct 8 the Roy Earley - Town Meeting Rep Precinct 6 / Creator of In-Town Report complete A few of the topics we may be discussing during that show are as follows: Town Meeting Budget Vote from April 27th 4/14/09 Old Town Halls Preservation Committees The Slow Growth Initiative (SGI) PI The Billboard Issue The Proposed Billerica Power Plant show
  6. 6. A Thank You from the Candidates : Residents of Chelmsford: I would like to thank everyone who came out to the polls on Election Day. In a local election like this, every vote truly counts, and I appreciate those of you who came out on such a cold and rainy day. I would like to give special thanks to the many people who supported my campaign with their time, money, or vote. Your support is very encouraging and I look forward to continually serving Chelmsford in the future. MATT HANSON Town Meeting representative Chelmsford ***************************************************************** THANK YOU “I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of my 633 staunch supporters. In light of the new allegations, It now becomes apparent why I was singled out as a “one issue” candidate. I do not agree on the tactics of the 40B repeal folks, but I do agree on the principle. I hope I made it clear from the beginning I would never consider running a “smear campaign” and denigrate the character and integrity of my fellow campaigners. Whatever these men may or may not have done falls beyond the statute of limitations and has no bearing whatever on their ability to serve as selectmen. The 40B law as is currently implemented simply encourages law bending and/or breaking and is a broken law enticing human greed and a disrespect of our God-given right to self govern. I will not rest until the people on Beacon Hill understand our need to control our own destiny and I trust every person in Chelmsford feels the same way.” “I know being linked to the 40B and slow growth coalition cost me some votes, as I saw the backlash created when the people perceived these individuals as interfering with our town elections, when in fact this is a statewide problem. The only reason this issue is not more compelling is because of the economy and the fact there are no new projects in the pipeline. As soon as money loosens up, the vultures will be back. My next project will be to update the Feasibility Study for the Chelmsford Commuter Rail Station which will be the next big thing, as our President has seen the need for us to upgrade our rail system much the same as Europe has done. Average speed of a commuter train in America is 80 mph because of congestion; In Europe this speed is 150 mph (with a dual rail system).Amtrak has seen an increase to 24.3 million passengers in fiscal 2006.Acela Ex- press handles 10 million passengers in the Northeast Corridor. It is time for a major upgrade for our transportation infrastructure. The stimulus money is available, hundreds of new jobs will be brought into the area and we will see a decease in pollution and traffic congestion. Chelmsford has always been first in the fight – let’s continue this tradition.” Jim Murray Candidate for Selectman 2009
  7. 7. Thanks for the Memories Selectmen -The Good,the Bad & the Ugly- 1997 - 2009 Bill Dalton Philip Eliopoulos 1994 - 2009 and Dad Photo : Chelmsford Independent Photo : T. Christiano Former Chelmsford selectman grateful for his time on the board LETTER TO THE EDITOR The Lowell Sun 04/20/2009 To the residents of Chelmsford: http://www.lowellsun.com/letters/ci_12182481 Greetings to you, my fellow Chelmsford residents. My sincere hope is that this letter finds you well. Twelve years ago, I asked for the opportunity to serve our town as one of its selectmen. You granted me that honor. I served our town these last 12 years because I honestly felt that I possessed the experience, leadership and education required to meet the ongoing challenges that face our community. I also believed my background as a lawyer would benefit the board and the town. Throughout this time, I promised to serve our town with dedication, commitment and Integrity at all times. Today, I look back on my time as a selectman and feel a sense of pride with the knowledge that I have honored and fulfilled these promises. In thinking about these last 12 years, a few accomplishments come to mind of which I am most proud. During my service, I championed increases to our Senior Tax Rebate programs and was a promoter of all senior tax-saving initiatives. I and the board also worked collaboratively with the Chelmsford Housing Authority to make significant additions to Chelmsford's senior housing. I have worked diligently with other officials and residents to secure increases in Chapter 70 school funding. I have also been an advocate for our educational system and served on the committee that created the high-school and middle- school renovation project. Throughout my term on the board, we brought our stabilization fund to its highest level, which has made it possible to help cushion the town through these more difficult budgetary times. I dedicated six years as the town's liai- son to the Route 3 widening project and secured additional sound barriers for our residential neighborhoods. I obtained fund- ing for traffic improvements to reduce traffic congestion throughout our town. I also obtained funding to purchase Red Wing farm and worked with the Community Preservation Committee to secure the Lewis property. Finally, I worked with other town officials to see our bike path come to fruition. In these last 12 years, I promised to make advances in these areas, and I have worked to keep these promises. I want us all to remember that Chelmsford remains one of the finest towns in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. Let us not be daunted by the challenges that are before us. For often through adversity are we best able to make the necessary changes in the way we manage our community. To that end, I encourage the Board of Selectmen and our town manager to continue their efforts to make changes to our health-insurance plan. These changes will not only save the town more than $1 million but will also provide savings for a majority of our town employees. Changes in health insurance will allow us to pre- serve jobs and town services during these difficult economic times. Even though I decided not to seek re-election at this time, I will continue to offer my services to the community. I am excited to be working on the new master plan for our town and look forward to offering my experience in that process. I am also avail- able to the board and town manager in any manner of which I can be of assistance. I have enjoyed serving with my prior board members as well as our former town manager, Bernie Lynch, and our current town manager, Paul Cohen. I want to thank all town employees who serve the public every day with professionalism and dedication. I want to thank the many resi- dents who offer their expertise by serving on various boards and committees. I will always remember my family and friends who worked so tirelessly during all of my campaigns. And finally, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the voters of Chelmsford for giving me the opportunity to serve you these last 12 years. It has been, and will continue to be, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. PHILIP M. ELIOPOULOS Chelmsford
  8. 8. Selectmen defer billboard vote in Chelmsford http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_12138431 The Lowell Sun 04/14/2009 Rita Savard rsavard@lowellsun.com CHELMSFORD -- The new Board of Selectmen recommended approval of 18 warrant articles last night before hitting a road block on the last one -- billboards. The board agreed to defer taking a position on the controversial proposal to place one to three billboards along Interstate 495 and Route 3 in Chelmsford. quot;I feel we need to gather more information on just how much revenue the billboards are going to generate for the town,quot; said selectmen Chairwoman Clare Jeannotte. The billboard proposal was brought forward by Sal Lupoli, a Chelmsford resident and owner of the Sal's Pizza chain, in an effort to help build a new athletic field and also generate up to $150,000 in additional annual revenue for town coffers. Lupoli said he welcomes any opportunity to provide public input before Town Meeting on April 27, because he fears some peo- ple might be getting the wrong message. quot;This isn't about a local businessman trying to put up billboards,quot; Lupoli said. quot;This started out as an idea to create a community athletic field in a time when money is tight.quot; The way the bylaw is written, Lupoli said there could never be more than four billboards in Chelmsford. quot;If the town wanted to, it could put up just one, or it could put up four, it's the town making that decision and no one else,quot; Lupoli added. After weeks of deliberation, the Planning Board voted 5-2 against endorsing the proposal on April 4. Planning Board member quot;I personally don't think putting up billboards helps in maintaining the character of Chelmsford,quot; Joyce said. Bob Joyce had said the Planning Board's job is to make a recommendation based on protecting the character of the town. Newly elected Selectmen Sean Scanlon and George Dixon said they supported bringing the article to Town Meeting. Jeannotte said the article was going to Town Meeting no matter what, but the board still has to make a recommendation on the article and suggested a little more time in gathering and assessing information before taking a position. The board will resume its discussion on billboards at a working session on Tuesday, April 21, at 6:30 p.m., at Town Offices. ************************** In other business last night, selectmen recommended the town manager's proposed budget of nearly $100 million, but not without some hesitation caused by the Nashoba Valley Technical High School budget. With layoffs and wage freezes hitting home, the Chelmsford Finance Committee rejected Nashoba's request for more money this year. The budget increase for Chelmsford, about $25,000 more than the minimum increase required by the Department of Education, is mainly due to a jump in enrollment at Nashoba Tech, with the number of Chelmsford stu- dents rising from 117 to 133, or 13.7 percent, according to Nashoba Tech Superintendent Judith Klimkiewicz. Jeannotte, who is an employee of the high school, had to recuse herself from voting. The remaining members voted 3-1 in favor of the budget, with Scanlon opposing. Scanlon said Chelmsford students are being hit with fees, while Nashoba students are not. He said he felt the school might have enough money in its reserves to cover the $25,000, and quot;would ask them to take a second look at the budget.quot; Nashoba Tech chief getting $33G hybrid SUV ********************************* By Jack Minch, jminch@lowellsun.com 04/09/2009 WESTFORD -- Nashoba Valley Technical High School just got a new $33,354 Ford Escape hybrid that is expected to be assigned to Superintendent Judith Klimkiewicz. It will also serve as a learning tool for students in auto-technology classes. Each of Klimkiewicz's contracts since she joined the school in 1996 has provided her a vehicle, and School Committee members support her use of the Ford. The Escape was purchased last July through state bidding laws and is part of the school's five-year capital plan to replace aging vans and trucks in its fleet. A Volvo and Chevrolet Suburban were recently removed from the fleet. FOR COMPLETE STORY : http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_12105835
  9. 9. http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_12154392 56 Chelmsford school jobs on chopping block By Rita Savard, rsavard@lowellsun.com 04/16/2009 CHELMSFORD — Facing a $2.3 million deficit, school officials say 56 jobs will be cut before the new school year. Superintendent of Schools Donald Yeoman said the budget shortfall will result in layoffs throughout the district, including 11.5 positions at the town’s two middle schools and about 20.5 positions at Chelmsford High School. Special education is also slated to take a hit, losing one teacher, one nurse and 17 professional support personnel. With more grim news yesterday coming from the state — a 25 percent reduction in state aid for all cities and towns — Yeoman said cutting jobs before the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, seems inevitable. “Itʼs a moving target,” Yeoman said, referring to the budget for the new fiscal year. “Whatʼs so frustrating is that it keeps changing.” Newly elected School Committee member Nick DeSilvio suggested that school and town leaders explore other options, such as voluntary furloughs and scaled-back hours, to avoid layoffs. Because the school district is in talks to negotiate a new contract for teachers, Yeoman said he could not comment on the issue. Reductions in state aid to cities and towns stem mainly from a large decrease in Lottery revenue, Yeoman said. Yeoman said if Chelmsford schools do receive any federal stimulus money, at least half will have to go toward long-term ********************************************************************************************************************* investments, such as purchasing new textbooks and computers, and personnel training. At the Chelmsford Board of Selectmen meeting 4-13-09 Town Meeting Representative Karen DeDonato speaks on Nashoba Valley Tech's Budget increase for 2009-2010 CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO CLIP Karen DeDonato The Town's Finance Committee voted unanimously to recommend against the proposed Nashoba Valley Tech's budget increases to be voted on by the TM Reps at Town Meeting on April 27th. The Board of Selectmen thought differently when they voted on Mon- day night April 13th. Pat Wojitas , Eric Dahlberg and George Dixon voted to recommend the increases. Sean Scanlon voted against. Chairman Clare Jeannotte recused herself from the issue based on the fact that she is the business manager for Nashoba Valley Tech. I n a n E m a i l t o To w n M a n a g e r P a u l C o h e n I a s k e d f o r s o m e c l a r i f i c a t i o n o n t h e F i n a n c e C o m m i t t e e ʼ s r e c o m e n d a t i o n a g a i n s t t h e N a s h o b a t e c h b u d g e t i n c r e a s e a n d a b o u t N a s h o b a Te c h s “ S c h o o l C h o i c e account” which could be considered a “Rainy Day Fund” his answer is as follows : Paul Cohen From: quot;Cohen, Paulquot; <PCohen@Townofchelmsford.us> Date: April 19, 2009 10:21:11 PM EDT To: Roy Earley <re007hq@comcast.net> Subject: RE: Looking for Nashoba clarification for the In-Town Report ? Roy, I believe that Finance Committee Chairman Mary Frantz can best answer your questions regarding the Finance Commit- tee's recommendation on the Nashoba Tech budget. Her e-mail address is mary.frantz@comcast.net Having sat in Room 205 when the NashobaTech officials presented their budget to the Finance Committee and when the Finance Committee made its recommendation on the Nashoba Tech budget, I understand that the Finance Committee be- lieves that Nashoba Tech has sufficient cash reserves that warrant the elimination of an operating assessment that is $100,000 above the minimum funding level established by the State. The elimination of the $100K would reduce the Town of Chelmsford's assessment by approximately $25K.
  10. 10. Massachusetts state law provides for a school choice program. Each school year, each school district across the com- monwealth participates in a school choice program unless its School Committee votes not to accept any school choice stu- dents. The Chelmsford Public Schools has not participated in a school choice program for over a decade. Due to the availability of space at Nashoba Tech, especially when the member communities' enrollments were down during the recent construction project, the Nashoba Tech district has participated in the school choice program. Each year, the district decides how many new choice students in wishes to accept at each grade level. The state conducts a school census each October 1. Those districts that educate school choice students receive approximately $5,000 per student from the State. The State then assesses those communities where the school choice students reside. In short, the state aid follows the students. The funds that a school district receives under the school choice program are placed in a school choice funding account. Similar to special education reimbursement monies from the state, the school choice ac- count is an ongoing account. The monies are to be spent on education costs. A school district does not have to spend all of the school choice monies that it receives in the year that it arrives. The Nashoba Tech school choice monies did not come from the Town of Chelms- ford or from any of the other member communities of the vocational school district. The Finance Committee was aware of the $2M balance in the school choice fund when it made its recommendation on the Nashoba budget. Paul ============================================================================================ Tom Christiano and I contacted Fin an c e Com m i ttee Ch ai r m an M ar y F r an tz for h er i n p u t on th e s am e d ay as Pau l Cohen’s email. Mary was unab l e to get u s a r es p on s e i n ti m e b efor e th i s r ep or t w en t ou t. I h op e that Mary will share her know l ed ge on th e top i c w i th ever yon e n ow at Tow n M eeti n g now ============================================================================================ The following was submitted to the In-Town Report by Karen DeDonato - Town Meeting Representative Precinct 8 I would like to address the Nashoba Valley Technical High School line item in Chelmsfordʼs Proposed Fiscal 2010 Budget. I was first alerted to the Nashoba Tech budget when the newspapers reported that they had requested an increase in their budget of 3% for next year. My concerns were reaffirmed when it was presented at the joint meeting that they have received an increase of 17% over the past 3 years. Last year was devastating for our town, the closing of a school and fire station, and budget cuts in all departments. This year, we experienced budget cuts, the loss of jobs, and a transfer of funds from our stabilization fund to close a $2.2M mid-year deficit. Next year we are looking at a minimum of $812K deficit. I have included a chart below which provides high level information concerning NVTHSʼs budget. N a s h o b a h a s r e q u e s t e d a b u d g e t t h a t r e f l e c t s $ 1 0 0 K o v e r the minimum required, as well as, an additional $100K in capital expendi- tures. Chelmsfordʼs share of the additional $200K is $49,350. I believe that Nashoba should look internally to the following areas to fund this additional request: • Excess and Deficiency Account – 5 year average has been $502,950 • School Choice Account which has a balance of approximately $2M. • Charge athletic/activity fees • Consolidate Superintendent and Principal positions • Delay Capital Expenditures for 1 year • Stimulus Money If the stimulus money does come through, then their budget needs will be met, but not at the expense of the participating towns. The technical/vocational schools pro- vide a tremendous asset/service to our communities, but during these rough financial times, I think that everyone needs to do their part in helping to alleviate the burden.
  11. 11. Because this is a regional school, 4 of the 7 participating towns are needed to vote against their proposed budget. Chelmsford is the largest supporting town, and will be holding the first town meeting of all sending districts. I am hoping that Chelms- ford will take the lead in holding Nashoba to a fiscally, sound and financially re- sponsible budget. I sincerely hope that our Town Meeting Representatives will reject NVTHSʼs proposed 2010 Fiscal Budget request and send a directive to our town leaders to communicate with the other supporting towns to do the same. Respectively, Karen DeDonato Town Meeting Rep Precinct 8
  12. 12. http://www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/dls/mdmstuf/Debt_OtherFinancialIndicators/edall.xls
  13. 13. Chelmsford nixes increase in budget for Nashoba Tech Town may not have choice if other district members OK plan By Rita Savard, rsavard@lowellsun.com http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_12053860 04/02/2009 CHELMSFORD -- With layoffs and wage freezes hitting home, the Chelmsford Finance Committee has re- jected Nashoba Valley Technical High School's request for more money this year. The budget increase for Chelmsford, about $25,000 more than the minimum increase required by the De- partment of Education, is mainly due to a jump in enrollment at Nashoba Tech, with the number of Chelms- ford students rising from 117 to 133, or 13.7 percent, according to Nashoba Tech Superintendent Judith Klimkiewicz. quot;We've had to make tough cuts just like other school districts, but we've also been increasing in population every year about 7 to 10 percent,quot; Klimkiewicz said. quot;It's even more difficult when you're in- creasing in size but not adding more resources.quot; Beyond the $25,000 increase to the town's minimum contribution, Nashoba Tech is billing Chelmsford $1.7 million for the new school year, up $166,326 from last year's $1.6 million assessment. runs a quot;tight budget,quot; the committee felt that this was not the year for the high school to be asking for an Mary Frantz, chairwoman of the Chelmsford Finance Committee, said that while Nashoba Tech typically increase above the minimum contribution required by the Department of Education. quot;We felt they had sufficient reserves through their excess and deficiency and their school- choice fund to cover that amount,quot; Frantz said. quot;There was a general feeling that it was a lot to ask when every department in town is cutting back.quot; But if five out of the seven towns in Nashoba's district agree to an increase, Chelmsford will ultimately have to pay the school what it's seeking. The school's district includes Chelmsford, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend and Westford. To date, Klimkiewicz said Nashoba Tech hasn't had much resistance from other towns. Townsend Town Manager Greg Barnes said his town's increase, about $19,000 more than the DOE net minimum contribution, is the biggest spike in Townsend's operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Barnes said he understands the increase is largely due to Townsend's share of students enrolled in Nashoba climbing from 78 to 106. quot;We haven't made any decisions as to whether we're going to accept or reject Nashoba's proposed budget,quot; Barnes said. quot;This is a tough year for Townsend financially, and we've been working with Nashoba in good faith to get the numbers down to the bare minimum.quot; Pepperell, following Chelmsford with the second-largest student enrollment at Nashoba Tech, faces an in- crease of about $23,000. Town Administrator Bob Hanson said his town has no intention of opposing the budget presented. Klimkiewicz said most communities sending students to Nashoba understand that the school quot;works hard to present a budget that doesn't spend beyond its means.quot; Among the state's 29 technical high schools, Nashoba is the second-lowest in cost, even though its district is the second-highest in median income, according to the state Department of Education. Klimkiewicz said the school continues to aggressively pursue grants and is hoping that about $464,000 in stimulus money that was promised by Gov. Deval Patrick will be approved by the Legislature. The stimulus would be applied toward reducing costs to towns. quot;I understand we're in very hard fiscal times,quot; Klimkiewicz said. quot;If we do receive stimulus money, I will do whatever I need to help them. In 13 years (as superintendent), I've always kept my word.quot;
  14. 14. Contract talks in Chelmsford could include wage freeze By Rita Savard, rsavard@lowellsun.com http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_12182464 04/20/2009 CHELMSFORD -- The School Committee and the town's largest union are negotiating a new contract, and talks are likely to include discussion about a wage freeze. After nearly all of the town's public employees have inked new contracts that include a one-year wage freeze, the commit- tee's negotiating team and leaders of the Chelmsford Federation of Teachers are in a bargaining process that can't avoid Donald looking at cuts, said a source close to the negotiating process. Yeoman The source asked to remain anonymous because involved parties can't discuss details of bargaining. Superintendent of Schools Donald Yeoman declined to comment on the issue of wage freezes, but said school-district employees realize the budget situation is not good. quot;These are very trying times, and I believe people are sensitive to that,quot; Yeoman said. quot;These are people from all different backgrounds, many of whom have families and are also feeling the ef- fects of the economy on a personal level.quot; As the school district wrestles with a $2.3 million shortfall, officials are forecasting cuts to 56 jobs. Before he was elected to the School Committee on April 7, Nick DeSilvio suggested that schools take an approach similar to the private sector, such as voluntary furloughs, scaled-back hours, pay cuts and wage freezes to help avoid layoffs. quot;The schools get a big portion of our budget in the town, and we need to be held accountable for that money,quot; DeSilvio said. quot;I would like to see a 5 percent pay cut to the nonunion staff. It shows some good faith to the unions that we can actually step up to the plate. I'd also like the unions to step up. I'd like to see the unions take a freeze in both salary and step and degree.quot; Nick DeSilvio DeSilvio, a newcomer who ran unopposed in this year's election, declined to comment on teacher contracts because he was appointed to the School Committee's negotiating team. Yeoman said commenting on nonunion employees, including himself, taking a 5 percent pay cut is quot;premature.quot; quot;There are no simple solutions to complex problems,quot; Yeoman said. quot;We have administrators as well as teachers, as well as a lot of other people, on contracts. ... But until you learn the laws it's premature to say what will hap- pen in the end.quot; Yeoman has the highest salary in the school district -- and in the town -- making a base salary of about $165,000. But Yeo- man said he's trying to help by not taking the town's health insurance -- a $22,000 annual savings. quot;I pay for my own insurance,quot; Yeoman said. With no end in sight to the nation's longest recession in decades, some say unions will now have no other choice but to start making concessions in order to survive. quot;It's still early in the budget season to be specific,quot; said Stephen Crawford, a spokesperson for the American Federa- tion of Teachers Massachusetts. quot;Across the state, there's widespread discussion of layoffs, furloughs and defer- ring pay raises. These are difficult times.quot; Crawford added that news of a 25 percent decrease in local aid, spread across all communities in Massachusetts, will most likely have some effect on public schools. Chelmsford school officials said the budget shortfall could result in layoffs throughout the district beginning July 1, includ- ing 11.5 positions at the middle schools and about 20.5 positions at Chelmsford High School. Special education is also poised to take a hit, losing one teacher, one nurse and 17 professional support personnel. Chelmsford public employees began making some major sacrifices in February, when midyear cuts to local aid forced Town Manager Paul Cohen to lay off workers to balance the town's budget. Faced with two men on the chopping block, the Highway Department Union forfeited a 2 percent wage increase, as well as longevity pay and reserved workers' compensation pay, saving two jobs and the town about $40,000. Since that time, nearly all of the town's unions have agreed to a one-year wage freeze. Just a 1 percent increase in pay for all town employees would have cost the town $100,000, said Jeanne Parziale, director of human resources. For schools, Parziale estimates a 1 percent increase across the board would be about $340,000.
  15. 15. Planning Board should not have voted against its bylaw Thu Apr 09, 2009 http://www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsford/news/opinions/letters/x2138486322/Planning-Board-should-not-voted-against-its-bylaw CHELMSFORD - To the Editor: It is Election Day in Chelmsford and the candidates for selectmen all talk about the need for transparency in our town gov- ernment. The recent actions of the Planning Board in regards to the Outdoor Advertising by-law were extremely transpar- ent. Any one who attended or watched the meeting on April 1 and the vote on April 4 saw clearly how town politics work. The interests and concerns of the citizens were of no concern to the Board and the meetings were simply a process until the board could vote as they had predetermined. At the April first meeting, those in attendance were told on numerous occasions that the only thing that should be ad- dressed is the by-law and the specifications included in it. This despite the fact the initial presentation by the Planning Board contained biased information about how the by-law would eventually be implemented. When those opinions were countered, residents were stopped and reminded that the only thing the Planning Board could address was the way the by-law was written. The by-law, which was almost a year in making, was a well written document that would protect Chelmsford from a prolif- eration of billboards; exactly what the Planning Board was asked to create. On April fourth, the Planning Board voted on the by-law they had spent a year creating. All members of the Board stated that they thought the by-law was well written, but by a vote of 5 – 2, they decided not to recommend it to the Board of Se- lectmen. Why? If the only thing that was relative to the Planning Board’s decision (as they said throughout the public input session) was the content of the by-law, there is no reason to send a negative recommendation to the Board of Selectmen. The explanation of the Planning Board members is even more frustrating. Their decision was based on their personal pref- erence. “I don’t want billboards in Chelmsford,” was stated by more than one member. When did the seven members of this board become more important than the rest of the taxpayers? The Board of Selectmen can still allow this by-law to move forward to Town Meeting where the representatives can reflect the voice of their neighbors. I urge the Board of Selectmen to allow the rest of the community to be heard on this important step forward for our town. Tom Sousa ************************************************** Questions and Answers The Following was submitted by Nick DeSilvio on behalf of Sal Lupoli Billboards in Chelmsford Q: Are the bylaws written legal and do they protect the Town of Chelmsford? A: Yes, in the bylaw drafted by Evan Belanski and Town Council (Kopelman and Paige of Boston) they have stated that the bylaw is a legal, non-monopolizing bylaw. Q: Can the Town of Chelmsford restrict the content of any billboards approved by the Town of Chelmsford? A: Yes the Town of Chelmsford can restrict the content of any billboard. Within the RFP process the Town of Chelmsford can restrict advertising that promotes alcohol, firearms, tobacco, adult entertainment and political messages. Q: Is the Town of Chelmsford responsible for the maintenance of billboards? A: No, the owners of the billboards are responsible for the maintenance. The Town of Chelmsford can include within the RFP that maintenance issues be addressed within a 30 day notice from the Town of Chelmsford. A penalty may also be in- cluded in the RFP to ensure that any maintenance issue is addressed along with a daily fine for noncompliance. Q: What is the potential revenue the Town of Chelmsford can expect from Billboards? A: Each approved Billboard has the potential to generate $50,000.00 - $100,000.00 of income, per year with an increase bi-annually. Along with revenue the Town of Chelmsford has the opportunity to advertise Town of Chelmsford promotions or events. Example: The Annual 4th of July Parade.
  16. 16. Q: Will the billboards allow the town to issue a municipal bond? A: The Town of Chelmsford will have the ability to issue a $1.5 million dollar municipal bond, per $100,000.00 of income generated by each billboard. If two billboards are approved the town could issue a municipal bond up to $3 million dollars, which is money to be used immediately. The immediate injection of funds could bridge a town shortfall over the next 2-3 • years. The money from a municipal bond could be used to: • Save police and firefighters • Keep fire and police stations open • Prevent school budget cuts • Support capital improvements • Fix Potholes • Deaden the economic downturn • Sal Build a new athletic field and stands Lupoli Allow continued library accreditation Q: What is the Town of Chelmsford liability if it gets sued? A: As long as the Town of Chelmsford follows the RFP process the town’s exposure is minimal at best. Town of Chelms- ford Town Council has included a severability clause (The billboard bylaw would be deleted) which dramatically limits the town’s exposure to liability. Q: Are there other communities that abut Chelmsford that are allowing billboards in their community? • Within six months there will be a billboard installed next to Alpine Butcher, 250 feet from the Chelmsford line in Lowell. A: Yes, however most towns are receiving no benefit as they are private billboards. Here are some examples: • Within six months at exit 35 in Tyngsboro on Rt. 3, 3000 feet from the Town of Chelmsford town line. • Lowell/Chelmsford line in Lowell prior to exit 37 on 495, less than 8000 feet from Chelmsford. Q: Are there other municipalities in the area who have placed a billboard in which the town receives income to fund vari- ous projects? A: Yes and a prime example of this is in East Boston by Logan Airport where a billboard provides the income, which has funded a new community park and athletic field. TOWN BILLBOARD REVENUE NEEDS YOUR VOTE! Monday April 27th 7pm Chelmsford Town Meeting Dear Friend, We strongly urge you to attend the Chelmsford Town meeting scheduled for Monday night April 27th at 7:00pm. We re- spectfully submit information pertaining to town owned billboards and ask for your support to allow billboards and the rev- enue they generate into the Town of Chelmsford. Revenue is desperately needed to help the town fiscally without further burdening the residents/taxpayers of Chelmsford. You our town meeting representatives will decide on whether to allow revenue generating billboards and their income! Revenue from the town owned billboards will go directly to the Town of Chelmsford General Fund! Again the income from town owned billboards will be given directly to the Town of Chelmsford and is at NO COST to the Tax Payers of Chelms- ford. • A free revenue source in exchange for properly zoned leased land! • Free money to the Town of Chelmsford that could be used to fund… • Save police and firefighters • Keep fire and police stations open • Further school budget cuts • Support capital improvements • Fix Potholes • Stop cuts from the economic downturn • New synthetic athletic fields Please voice your support! Inform fellow town meeting representatives. Bring friends who choose to protect and help the tax payers! Monday April 27th at 7:00pm! HELP SUPPORT THE TAXPAYER! Submitted by SAL LUPOLI
  17. 17. Sal Lupoli and Jack Fletcher appeared on Dennis Ready’s local cable TV show “Town Talk” to discuss the topic of putting up billboards in Chelmsford for revenue. CLICK HERE for video segment Selectmen give billboards thumbs up By Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Writer Chelmsford Independent http://www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsford/news/x50626693/Selectmen-give-billboards-thumbs-up Wed Apr 22, 2009 CHELMSFORD - The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to recommend approval of the billboard article at Town Meeting. “I’ve never felt stronger that an article should go to Town Meeting,” said Chairman Clare Jeannotte. “This goes to the character of the town.” Jeannotte said her vote is not an endorsement either way for the proposal to create three overlay districts along Route 3 and Interstate 495 where billboards could be erected. There was little discussion from the board about the plan other than questions about fi- nances. Originally proposed as a way to generate money for an artificial turf football field at Chelmsford High School, any billboard placed on town-owned land would generate rev- enue for the general fund. The theory seems to be, the town would seek to borrow funds for capital projects and use money it receives from the signs to cover the cost of the loans. Although not specifically about billboards, Town Manager Paul Cohen provided the board with projections on how much it would cost the town to borrow $1 million. A traditional municipal bond for $1 million would be paid back over 10 years, said Cohen. The first year principal and interest payments start at $135,000 and decrease over time to $103,000. So, a 10-year bond at 3 1/ 2 percent interest would cost the town $1.2 million.
  18. 18. If the town opted to go for a 20-year bond at the current 4 1/ 4 percent interest, the first pay- ment would be $92,500. Over the 20-year period, payments would decrease to just over $52,000. The town could also choose a 20-year level debt payment plan that would cost $77,000 annually for the two decades. “The town would use that only for capital projects,” said Jeannotte. “We’re not interested in bonding operating costs.” Kevin Zimmerman can be reached at chelmsford@cnc.com. C h e l ms f or d b i l l b oa r d p l a n h e a d s t o Town Meeting vote By Rita Savard, rsavard@lowellsun.com 04/22/2009 0 4/ 22/2009 CL ICK H ER E F or Stor y For St or http://www. l ow e l l s un . c om/ t od a ys h e a d l i n e s / c i _ 1 2 1 9 8 1 1 0 And from the Lowell Sun Forum Comments Sction: Dave McLachlan: The Chelmsford Conservation Commission discussed the Billboard warrant article at its last meeting and voted unanimously NOT to support the warrant article. We believe it sets a very bad precedent to use Conservation Land for commercial purposes. The land in question be- tween Rte 3N, the Lowell Connector, and Riverneck Road is all wetlands with the exception of a small area in the buffer zone. The area is land locked and would require the Commission to quot;sellquot; enough land for footings, utilities and service road. Since it is Chapter 97 land we would also need a 2/3's approval of the Mass Legislature. Chapt.97 wants no net loss of land under ConCom control. http://www.topix.net/forum/source/lowell-sun/TK3IMUIT8H21D3G32 Dave McLachlan is the Chairman of Chelmsford Conservation Commission
  19. 19. CLICK HERE for Chelmsford’s already existing Indepedent’s billboards on Tyngsboro Road Billboard in North Chelmsford Poll *********************************************** CLICK HERE for the FINANCE COMMITTEE REPORT, Recommendations and Copy of the Warrant for the Spring Session *********************************************** It’s your town and it’s your Town Meeting You do not need to be a Town Meeting Representative to have a say at Town Meeting! If you have questions on the billboards or the Nashoba Tech budget increase or any matter that comes up at Town Meeting, come and get involved. April 27th 7:30 pm Chelmsford Senior Center 75 Groton Road, North Chelmsford Be Heard! Let The People Speak!
  20. 20. Arciero is sole Chelmsford rep to support redistricting study By Rita Savard, rsavard@lowellsun.com 04/17/2009 CHELMSFORD -- A proposal to form an independent commission to study redistricting was rejected by Chelmsford's state representatives -- except for one. Jim Arciero Only Rep. Jim Arciero, D-Westford, backed creating an eight-member commission to study redistrict- ing and deliver a recommendation to the Legislature. At present, legislators have the power to redraw district lines as they see fit. If a commission was formed, the Legislature would have retained the power to reject a recommenda- tion. But the alternative commission plan brought forward by Republicans was rejected 132 to 23 in a House vote on March 12. quot;I thought it was the right thing to do,quot; said Arciero, who was one of seven Democrats siding with Republicans. quot;The dividing of the district was wrong, and an independent nonpartisan commission to establish the district is good government and I support it.quot; Chelmsford's other delegates, Rep. Cory Atkins, D-Concord, Rep. Tom Golden, D-Lowell and Rep. David Nangle, D-Lowell, opposed an independent commission. Atkins says that while she supports the idea of an independent commission, she also doesn't want to give her representative power away. quot;Chelmsford has the luxury of having four votes in the House instead of one,quot; she said. quot;No other community in the commonwealth has that, so we can really make a difference there.quot; Cory Atkins For nearly a decade, town officials have been sending a message to their state representatives: Make Chelmsford whole again. With the 2010 census drawing near, so comes the redrawing of electoral lines in 2012. But some are skeptical that any- thing will change in Chelmsford, which lost its resident representative, Republican Carol Cleven, when a redistricting bat- tle in 2001 carved the town into four House districts, the largest portions of which rest in other communities. The four-district split includes Lowell's Centralville and Pawtucketville neighborhoods, Westford, Littleton, Concord, and Lowell's Belvidere and South Lowell sections. Cleven didn't seek re-election because she would have been forced to run from a district where 70 percent of the con- stituents lived in Lowell and were represented by a popular incumbent. Republicans argued an independent commission would remove the politics. quot;I thoroughly understand why the people of Chelmsford are upset,quot; said Rep. Robert Hargraves, R-Groton. quot;The idea behind an independent commission was to keep the House's fingers clean on redistricting after going through so much disarray in the previous round.quot; The last redistricting round gave rise to controversy around House Speaker Thomas Finneran and court rulings that or- dered electoral lines be redrawn. Finneran resigned in 2004 and was eventually indicted and convicted for obstruction of justice related to his testimony in a redistricting lawsuit. In the past, Chelmsford representatives Atkins, Golden, and former Rep. Geoffrey Hall, Arciero's predecessor, have signed onto redistricting legislation filed by the nonpartisan watchdog group Common Cause. Pam Wilmot, the group's executive director, said the organization supports the creation of an independent redistricting commission. quot;It's the fairest way of drawing districts because it attempts to eliminate as much politics from the process as possible, and open it up to public scrutiny at all stages of the game,quot; she said. Golden said he did not support an independent commission because there's no assurance it will be truly independent.
  21. 21. quot;It would still be a commission appointed by political officials,quot; he said. quot;When you start appointing authority, you start taking away authority from the Legislature.quot; lives in Chelmsford with political aspirations would be upset. But, he added, quot;Have they suffered as a result of it? I Hall, who decided not to seek re-election last year following 18 years in office, said he understands why anyone who don't think so.quot; Hall said the town's representatives have worked hard for Chelmsford, noting successes from Route 3 sound barriers to millions of dollars in school-building reimbursement. When he first saw the 2001 redistricting plan, Hall said he didn't like it. But there were other things on his mind. quot;My concern was preserving my political base, which was Westford at the time,quot; he said. Philip Eliopoulos Former Chelmsford Selectman Philip Eliopoulos, who supported Chelmsford creating a commit- tee of its own to study redistricting, said the push has nothing to do with the town's current repre- sentatives. quot;We appreciate their efforts, but Chelmsford is large enough to support its own represen- tative,quot; Eliopoulos said. Arciero's vote, he said, quot;showed character and courage.quot; quot;The whole reason for an independent commission is to prevent the same back-room workings that guided the last redistricting,quot; Eliopoulos said. quot;Chelmsford needs a fair chance to have a person representing the town, who lives in town.quot; ****************************** One town, one district http://www.lowellsun.com/editorials/ci_12172284 Lowell Sun Editorial 04/18/2009 The argument that Chelmsford has four votes in the House of Representatives lacks merit, and those who make the claim know it. What Chelmsford actually suffers from is virtually no representation. If an issue pits suburbs against cities, which group are the Lowell-based representatives likely to support? Most of their constituents reside in the city. And if Rep. Cory Atkins has to decide between an issue that divides Concord and the small Chelmsford precinct that sits in her district, isn't she more likely to lean toward Concord, where her strongest support lies? A vicious redistricting battle waged in 2001 resulted in Chelmsford's being carved up into four House districts from a sin- gle district. The largest portions of those four districts rest in other communities, with Chelmsford residents being the mi- nority in each. Rather than remaining its own district, then represented by Republican Rep. Carol Cleven, Chelmsford was torn apart and attached to Lowell's Centralville and Pawtucketville neighborhoods, Westford, Littleton, Concord, and Lowell's Belvidere and South Lowell sections. It is unheard of in Massachusetts for a town of Chelmsford's size to be quartered and attached to four other districts. The towns of Acton and Wilmington are divided between two representatives each, but those situations don't compare with what happened to Chelmsford. We find it profoundly troubling that a proposal to form an independent commission to study redistricting was overwhelmingly rejected by the Legislature, including by three of Chelmsford's four representatives. Only Rep. Jim Arciero, a Westford Democrat, showed his support of Chelmsford by backing the proposal. quot;I thought it was the right thing to do,quot; Arciero said after the vote. quot;The dividing of the district was wrong...quot; The Sun couldn't agree more. It was heartening to see a representative show the courage of his convictions, instead of worrying about losing a bit of political power on Beacon Hill. After the 2001 redistricting, Cleven didn't seek re-election because she would have been forced to run from a district where 70 percent of the constituents lived in Lowell and were represented by a popular incumbent. There was no way she could have won. She knew it, and so did the people -- including former House Speaker Thomas Finneran -- who drew up the redistricting plan. It is disappointing that Atkins, and Reps. Thomas Golden and David Nangle failed to support the formation of an inde- pendent commission to study redistricting. They did a disservice to their Chelmsford constituents.
  22. 22. Rep: Mobile-home tax doesn't make sense Arciero tells irate Chelmsford residents he'll look into higher assessment By Rita Savard, rsavard@lowellsun.com http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_12105877 04/09/2009 CHELMSFORD -- Wynnie Burns describes her 1976 home on wheels more like a Ford Pinto than a BMW. quot;If I sold it, I'd be lucky to get $20,000 for it,quot; she said. That's why Burns and dozens of her neighbors from the Chelmsford Mobile Home Park are scratching their heads as to why the Board of Assessors slapped the same $30,000 assess- ment over all 254 trailers inside the park. Residents of the park packed the meeting room at the Chelmsford Public Library last night to tell state Rep. Jim Arciero, D-Westford, about the condi- tions of their trailers and why they believe the town is quot;breaking the law.quot; Arciero said he wanted to meet and talk with residents after learning that Chelmsford was the first community in the state to tax mobile homes like permanent homes with foundations. quot;It doesn't make a lot of sense right now,quot; Arciero said. quot;I've talked to the House legal counsel and the legal counsel for the Committee on Revenue. I'm gathering as much information as I can to see what I can do. I'd like to help these people.quot; There were no representatives from the town at the meeting. Under state law, homes on wheels -- much like vehicles -- are generally exempted from property taxes. But that changed in Chelms- ford last year, when the Board of Assessors began taxing all of the park's 254 trailers like permanent property. The move is the first of its kind in Massachusetts and, according to the state Department of Revenue, never before have property taxes been applied to an entire mobile-home community. Since buying the mobile-home park in 1971, owner Carl DeCotis was taxed only on the land. Then, last year, assessors Frank Reen, Kevin Sullivan and John Duffett took a drive along the roads lined with trailers. They saw that some tenants had attached patios and decks to homes. Chief Assessor Reen said others looked like they had quot;solid frames.quot; quot;When mobile homes take on the characteristics of a permanent home, they become taxable property,quot; Reen has said. Arciero asked how many residents have a basement. A chorus of laughter erupted. Resident Denise Sorese, who estimates her trailer is worth about $12,000, said all homes are on cinder blocks, many with skirt around them to make them look more attractive than staring at a tin house resting on blocks. After looking at the average sales of mobile homes in the area and conducting an inspection of the park, the board voted unani- mously to assess all 254 homes at $30,000 each. DeCotis' land is worth $3.8 million by itself, on which he paid quarterly taxes of $15,000. His bills now list the value of his property, including 254 mobile homes at about $11.5 million, lifting his quarterly taxes to about $66,000. While the matter remains tied up in court, DeCotis has had to pass the new taxes on to residents, increasing their rent an average of $600 a year, about $50 a month. Reen has said the state Department of Revenue supports the board's deci- sion, adding that the DOR sent e-mails citing two cases, Wright v. Peabody from the 1950s and Ellis v. Acushnet from 1961, which are the basis for the new policy. S.J. Port, a spokesman for the Department of Revenue, previously told The Sun that the DOR has no authority to support the Board of Assessors deci- sion. quot;We did not make the interpretation,quot; Port said. quot;The town made that assessment.quot; All the DOR can do is offer an opinion based on the Chelmsford assessors' statement that all of the park's 254 mobile homes meet the characteristics of a conventional home, Port added. So the DOR sent e-mails in response, like the Acushnet case, where the manufactured home was considered an improvement to the land and therefore assessed along with the land. Reen said the trailers on DeCotis' property can also be considered as an improvement to the land. But Gregg Haladyna, DeCotis' attorney, has argued that a mobile home is not given the characteristics of a taxable home unless the owner builds a foundation. In the Acushnet case, the mobile home in question was taxed as real property after it was set atop a foundation with a basement, Haladyna said. All of the mobile homes in the Chelmsford park are on wheels, covered by skirting that hides them. And in the Peabody case, the Board of Assessors tried to count all mobile homes in a trailer park as permanent property. The town lost the case and had to pay legal fees. quot;This isn't happening anywhere else in the state,quot; Burns said. quot;Please explain to me how it's legal.quot;
  23. 23. Chelmsford police honor their own for service above and beyond the call of duty By Rita Savard, rsavard@lowellsun.com http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_12154957 04/16/2009 CHELMSFORD -- It wasn't the first time police were called to the small trailer off Littleton Road. But this time, the man who lived there threatened to kill them. Chelmsford Police Chief James Murphy, far left, introduces officers who received awards at yesterday's It was February when officers Jeffrey Blodgett and David MacKenzie Chelmsford Police Foundation ceremony at the Radisson Hotel. From left, with Murphy, are officers Daniel Reid, and Sgt. Philip Dube arrived at the scene, where a man turned vio- Jeffrey Blodgett and David MacKenzie, Sgt. Philip Dube, lent, trashing his home and gouging the furniture with a knife. quot;He was yelling and screaming,quot; MacKenzie said. quot;He just didn't officers Steve Hawkins, John Goffin, Jason Hanscom and Daniel Sullivan, Sgt. Gary Hannagan, want to cooperate.quot; and Deputy Chief Scott Ubele. SUN/David H. Brow Blodgett said the man was emotionally distressed and in need of medical attention. When the officers told the man they would take him to a hospital to get help, the man said he would kill them. With a knife in view, Blodgett said his next action was just as much about the suspect's safety as it was for the safety of his colleagues. Boldgett fired a Taser to restrain the man and get him safely out of the house and to a hospital, where he was evaluated by doctors. Yesterday morning, the three officers, along with several other members of the Chelmsford Police Department, were hon- ored for their roles in helping to keep the community safe. The awards breakfast was held at the Radisson Hotel and hosted by the Chelmsford Police Foundation. quot;We're thankful for the work all of our officers put into the community,quot; Police Chief James Murphy said. quot;Every day, officers respond to numerous calls, most of which you never hear about.quot; They're the stories that slip under the radar. The routine calls that might not be exciting for newspapers or TV crews. Never- theless, Murphy said they have an impact on the lives of residents. The domestic call, the accident report or the check on the elderly woman who lives alone -- police officers wear many dif- ferent hats, often slipping into the role of social worker. quot;All of our officers have got to know how to deal with a myriad of situations, ranging from small children all the way up to our senior citizens,quot; Murphy said. quot;They work hard at what they do, to be the best at what they do.quot; Like many other police departments across the state, Chelmsford has had to scale back community policing due to budget cuts. Last year, the number of patrol cars per shift was reduced from about five to four. Murphy said he hopes to restore at least one peak shift back to safer staffing levels with nearly $22,000 coming in from a federal justice assistance grant for community-police activities. He said he would like to use the grant money to add a fifth patrol in July from 4 p.m. to midnight -- the busiest shift during the summer months. Murphy said the Police Department has also applied for an additional federal grant, which, if approved, would fund the salaries of three additional officers for three years. But he said that grant is highly competitive. Other officers who received awards for meritorious service yesterday included: * Officers Brian Richard and Daniel Reid for their roles in reviving a patient who had stopped breathing by utilizing both CPR and a defibrillator. * Officer Steve Hawkins for attention to duty for his role in investigating a suspicious motor vehicle in which three individu- als were found in possession of burglary tools and a police scanner. All three were arrested before being able to carry out what police believe to be a commercial break in the area. * Officers John Goffin, Jason Hanscom and Daniel Sullivan and Sgt. Gary Hannagan for their role in organizing programs within the Chelmsford Police Athletic League that involve kids participating in flag football and street hockey.
  24. 24. More budget cuts looming By Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Writer Chelmsford Independent http://www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsford/news/x297233910/More-budget-cuts-looming Thu Apr 23, 2009 CHELMSFORD - Even though the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee proposed local aid cuts to- taling about $2.2 million for Chelmsford, Town Manager Paul Cohen said it’s not time to panic — yet. Cohen expects legislators to file a plethora of amendments to the proposed budget before it leaves the House and heads to the Senate for its tweaking. It is likely, said Cohen, that the commonwealth would not have a budget before the start of fiscal 2010, July 1. In the meantime, Town Meeting convenes Monday to debate Cohen’s $97.2 million budget. “We’re going to go with the plan in place,” said Cohen. “Once the determination is made on a final resolu- tion to local aid, we’ll see what is available then make an assessment.” At that point, said Cohen, the Board of Selectmen will likely call a special Town Meeting either before the end of June or in early fall to amend the budget. The latest State House budget proposal cuts 32 percent in lottery and additional aid for Chelmsford. It also eliminates any state funding for the Quinn Bill, which are the education incentive bonuses paid to police offi- cers. In Chelmsford, the Quinn Bill programs costs about $400,000, half of which is paid for by the state. The governor had proposed decreasing the state share to $150,000 but the House proposal cuts it to zero. Although the town may be forced to cover the entire costs of the Quinn Bill, language in the police contract allows the money to be recouped if the state doesn’t kick in anything. “It doesn’t say that the program will get suspended,” said Cohen. “There is language in the contract that if the state does not pay the town shall deduct [Quinn Bill bonus] from the officers paychecks over a 26- week period.” There are also plenty of unresolved issues that can have an impact on the budget, said Cohen. Beacon Hill lawmakers could pass any of the governor’s municipal relief proposals including forcing telecommuni- cations companies to pay localities property taxes and allowing towns to adopt local option meals and room taxes. Then, of course, there is the federal stimulus. Chelmsford is on track to receive $1.6 million from Washington, D.C. Although the money is earmarked for education, because Chelmsford spends above the required minimum on its schools, it is possible some of that money could be funneled back into the general fund. One sticking point remains, however, said Cohen. Stimulus money may come with requirements that the funds be used for one-time educational purposes such as textbooks or technology, said Cohen. “We don’t know if there are restrictions on use of the grants,” said Cohen. “That may make some problems.” Kevin Zimmerman can be reached at chelmsford@cnc.com.
  25. 25. Chelmsford plans to purchase Heart Pond land By Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Writer Chelmsford Independent http://www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsford/news/x718265171/Chelmsford-plans-to-purchase-Heart-Pond-land Thu Apr 23, 2009 CHELMSFORD - After reaching several dead-ends in his attempts to close Pond Street to through traffic, George Barnes has decided not to develop his land on Heart Pond but to get rid of it. “With the economy it’s time to sell,” said Barnes. “I’m going to sell it to the town.” Barnes and the town have a purchase-and-sale agreement in place for about 79,000 square feet of beachfront property contingent on Town Meeting’s approval of using $230,000 of Community Preservation money for the sale. Community Preservation Fund Committee Chairman Bob Morse said once the town acquires the land, a group would be established to study how best to use the property. “The obvious one is a beach,” said Morse. “But I don’t see that happening until the economy turns around.” If Town Meeting approves using the preservation fund money, Morse expects his committee to come back with another request to cover cleanup and other costs. With the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail adjacent to the property, Morse anticipates the town-owned land will become a popular destination spot. Board of Selectmen Chairman Clare Jeannotte agrees. “It will be a nice thing to give access to the water,” said Jeannotte. “It will be a nice addition to our recreational space.” Kevin Zimmerman can be reached at chelmsford@cnc.com
  26. 26. POWER PLANT BUZZ www.BillericaPowerPlant.org Please share with your friends, family, and neighbors. 9 April 2009 BillericaPowerPlant.org was pleased to participate in the Environmental Action 2009 Conference in Boston this week. The event, New England’s largest conference for citizen activists protecting public health and the environment, brought groups together to discuss a number of local and regional issues. BPP.org participated actively in the Dirty Power Plants panel, a forum that included half a dozen groups who are also fighting power plant proposals. The problems are similar and the need for a holistic, statewide approach was clear. The attorney for the developer of the Billerica power plant appeared before the Billerica Conservation Commission on April 8th to ask for a continuance of the May 13th meeting. The commission allowed a continuance to June 10th, but is requiring the applicant to provide several specific pieces of information including the rationale for the request to move the TVG pipeline and an analysis of economic implications of de- veloping with four (versus the proposed six) turbines on the site. The Commission was not inclined to grant further time to the proponent for preparation as it has been somewhat dissatisfied with the quality and timeliness of communication received thus far from the proponent. On a separate, but related note, the developer is working to fulfill the conditions set forth in the Energy Facilities Siting Board decision such as acquiring easements. Progress on the conditions must be reported every three months to the EFSB. As a final local point, we’d like to congratulate the winners of the recent elections and as always, encourage readers to reach out and express your concerns to them. We are fortunate to have local and state leaders who share our concerns with the power plant proposal and who rec- ognize that projects such as these should not be sited in densely populated areas, if at all. An update on the Russell biomass project is available from Concerned Citizens of Russell. This 50 MW power plant would burn one ton of wood per hour and require 840 diesel truck trips per week to deliver this “renewable” fuel. Click here to read their news and to learn why re- newable energy and alternative energy are not necessarily synonymous, nor is biomass a clean energy solution. Meanwhile, the developer of the Brockton power plant has been running 30-second ads on local cable stations touting how wonderful the plant would be for Brockton. Click here to watch. What’s most telling is what isn’t said in these spots about pollution, traffic, water use, and safety. Additionally, the Brockton Planning Board has just rejected the transmission line proposal for the plant. Click here to read a brief ac- count. Opposition to the Westfield plant is growing. As citizens learn about this 400MW power plant proposal and the proximity to schools and homes, concern is mounting. The nearness of the site to the Barnes Aquifer, the second largest in the state, and the proposed plan to take 2 million of gallons of water per day from the nearby Tighe-Carmody Reservoir in Southampton, is raising alarm. Water is a precious resource cacy groups. Parsons Brinkerhoff (yes, of Big Dig fame) is part of the team behind this power plant proposal. and handing over disproportionate amounts to a power plant that isn’t even needed is getting the attention of many environmental and advo- 18 April 2009 The Massachusetts General Court passed a resolution calling for 100% carbon-free electricity generation within ten years. This is not legis- lation, but it does establish a strong directive leading the state toward responsible energy generation. The resolution was authored by Repre- Climate Change. Click here to read about the resolution. This call to action will be forwarded to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and President sentative Frank Smizik of Brookline and Senator Marc Pacheco of Taunton. Both are chairs of the Committees on Global Warming and Barack Obama at the Federal level, as well as to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation. Finally, in 2009, the EPA has declared that carbon dioxide and other global warming gases are hazardous to human health. Although long in coming, this sets in motion regulations that the energy and automobile industries have dreaded. Environmental and health agencies applaud Click here to read the article. the move, vindicating the many scientists who have known for years that respiratory health is impacted by harmful compounds in our air. Concerned citizens in Russell are holding a press conference and rally this weekend to raise awareness about the impacts of biomass plants, which generate power by incinerating wood and construction and demolition debris. The group in Russell is protesting Governor Patrick’s push for biomass plants in Western Massachusetts. Environmental groups have raised serious concerns about the widespread cut- River have also caught the attention of fish and wildlife advocates. Click here to read about the event. ting of state forests and the use of construction debris as fuel. Specific to the proposed plant in Russell, water withdrawals from the Westfield The community of Sandwich hosted a practice drill in order to be prepared in the event of an ammonia leak at the Mirant power plant. Since Click here to read the story. some power plant designs call for the use of ammonia in large quantities for pollution control, regional hazmat teams train for these scenarios. A story earlier in the month on NBC highlighted the vulnerability of the national grid and power plants to cyber hackers. protect plants. Click here to watch the NBC report and Click here to read Fred’s editorial from May 2008. Fred Marcks, an authority on security issues, reported this information a year ago, citing large holes in the software used to Click on the News tab to access recent articles. Press
  27. 27. COMING SOON July 9th 2009 **************************************** **************************************** **************************************** Chelmsford’s Business Advantage CLICK HERE **************************************** **************************************** ****************************************
  28. 28. On April 22nd Earth Day 2009, the Town of Chelmsford kicked off the Greener Chelmsford Initiative (GCI). Developed by the Board of Select- men, working in close collaboration with the Town Manager's office, the Recycling Coordinator's office, and the Chelmsford Business Association, GCI will be a townwide effort to en- gage residents and businesses in a voluntary effort to increase our rate of quot; the three R'squot; - recycling, R's r eusing, and reducing - reusing, through a set of simple, cost-effective, measureable steps, quot;green tasks,quot; such as eliminating the use of styro- foam, starting a compost stream/pile, or planting a tree. GCI kicked off with a presentation at Moonstones Restaurant, where the three flagship participants, Moonstones, Harrington Wine and Liquors and the Town of Chelmsford itself received GCI’s first three Seals of Approval. Participating businesses will be presented with a GCI Seal of Approval after committing to a minimum number of quot;green activitiesquot; (out of an initial pre-approved list of 25). They will also be recognized by the town. GCI volunteers will engage in outreach and public education, aimed especially at young people, to communicate the impact that participants are having. GCI will be zero cost to the taxpayers. For details on how the application and Seal of Approval processes will work. visit the town’s web site, www.townofchelmsford.us. Quotes: Eric Dahlberg, Selectman and GCI Co-Founder: “Selectman Wojtas and I developed the GCI con- cept because we wanted to par tner with the business community to launch a townwide ‘green’ ini- t i a t i v e t h a t w o u l d h e l p t h e e n v i r o n m e n t , h e l p b u s i n e s s e s s a v e m o n e y, a n d e d u c a t e r e s i d e n t s . W e thought Ear th Day would be an ideal time to kick-off our effor t. I am par ticularly proud to have b e e n i nvo l ve d i n G C I ’s d e s i g n a n d l a u n c h b e c a u s e i t w i l l c o s t t h e t a x p aye r s n o t h i n g , bu t h a s t h e p o t e n t i a l t o a c h i e v e q u i t e a b i t .” Pat Wojtas, Selectman and GCI Co-Founder: “The response to this initiative from the business community and town depar tments has been amazing. We're pleased to be able to make our first awa r d s i n s u c h a t i m e l y m a n n e r, a n d a l r e a d y h ave a d d i t i o n a l c a n d i d a t e s fo r s i m i l a r r e c o g n i t i o n lined up. Our first recipients should be proud of their accomplishments - they are tr uly leaders in environmental consciousness.quot; P a u l C o h e n , To w n M a n a g e r : “ T h e G r e e n e r C h e l m s f o r d I n i t i a t i v e i s a v i s i b l e w a y f o r b u s i n e s s e s , town government, and residents to demonstrate their commitment to preser ve the environment. Par ticipation in the program will reduce operating costs by perfor ming using less energy consuming a c t i v i t i e s . T h e b u y l o c a l i n i t i a t i v e w i l l a l s o s u p p o r t o u r r e g i o n ’ s e c o n o m y .” J e n n i f e r A l m e i d a , To w n R e c y c l i n g C o o r d i n a t o r : “ T h i s i s a n e x c i t i n g a n d v e r y t i m e l y e n d e a v o r, a n d t h e R e c y c l i n g O f f i c e i s h a p py t o b e p a r t o f i t . We ’r e l o o k i n g fo r wa r d t o p r ov i d i n g r e s o u r c e s and assistance to par ticipating businesses, and also to their assistance in getting the word out a b o u t t h e i m p o r t a n c e o f t h e t h r e e R s .” Nathan Klebanow, Manager at Moonstones: “Moonstones’ entire staff is ver y excited to be par tici- p a t i n g i n a n e v e n t t h a t w i l l b o t h b e b e n e f i c i a l t o t h e r e s t a u r a n t a n d t h e c o m m u n i t y. I b e l i e v e t h a t the measures we are taking to make Moonstones more environmentally friendly will be a great ex- a m p l e f o r o t h e r l o c a l b u s i n e s s e s a n d s h o w h o w a f e w m i n o r i n i t i a t i v e s c a n m a k e a h u g e d i f f e r e n c e .” John Harrington, owner of Harrington Wine and Liquors: “We are honored to be one of the busi- nesses that stand out as par t of the Greener Chelmsford Initiative. We are constantly looking for ways to go green. A few examples of what we have done: we have done a complete lighting over- haul to energy efficient lights, we have installed fans to draw cold air into our cooler to assist the c o m p r e s s o r, we r e c y c l e a l l p e r i o d i c a l s s e n t t o o u r bu s i n e s s, a n d we eve n u s e b o t h s i d e s o f o u r a d d i n g m a c h i n e p a p e r r o l l s .”
  29. 29. IS COMING TO TOWN MAY 1st **************************************** QUOTE OF THE WEEK: I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree. Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I'll never see a tree at all. - Ogden Nash For CAT lovers CLICK HERE For DOG lovers CLICK HERE If you have friends, family or neighbors who would like to be added to this news update list just have them drop me a line at re007hq@gmail.com

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