Tag Archives: Property Taxes

Board of Assessors – Did you know?

Board of Assessors

The Assessing Department is responsible for accurately determining the value of all real and personal property located within the Town of Hopkinton for the purpose of taxation. Assessors are obliged to assess all property at its full and fair market value as of January 1 of each year. The department is responsible for the administration of all property tax data records and maintains accurate parcel ownership data based upon recorded property transactions at the Registry of Deeds. According to the Town Charter, “There shall be a Board of Assessors consisting of three (3) members elected for a term of three (3) years each, so arranged that the term of office of as nearly an equal number of members as possible shall expire each year.” Continue reading Board of Assessors – Did you know?

List of Articles with Links & Details

Town Meeting May 2, 2016

REPORTS:

  1. Acceptance of Town Reports

FINANCIAL – FISCAL YEAR 2016:

  1. FY 2016 Supplemental Appropriations – $200,000 FY16 Snow and Ice Deficit, and $31,500 for Sewer Enterprise Fund
  2. FY 2016 Budget Transfers – No Action – Consent Agenda
  3. Unpaid Bills from Previous Fiscal Years $3,142.25

FINANCIAL – FISCAL YEAR 2017:

  1. Property Tax Exemption Increase (MGL Chapter 59 Section 5 – these exemptions are aimed at helping low-income residents, veterans, the blind, firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty. Town Meeting votes annually on these exemptions.) – Consent Agenda Hopkinton Tax Relief Committee
  2. Personal Property Tax Bill Threshold – to establish a minimum personal property value of $1,000.00 for personal property accounts to be taxed. (MGL Chapter 59 Section 5)
  3. Set the Salary of Elected Officials – Town Clerk $65,630.
  4. Fiscal 2017 Operating Budget $75,982,132.38, which is a +2.46% Tax Impact (net of new growth)
  5. FY 2017 Revolving Funds. To see if the Town will vote to authorize or re-authorize the use of revolving funds containing receipts from the fees charged to users of the services provided by the various Boards, Committees, Departments or Offices of the Town, pursuant to Chapter 44, Section 53E 1/2, of the Massachusetts General Laws.
  6. Chapter 90 Highway Funds – $651,957
  7. Transfer to General Stabilization Fund – $300,000
  8. Other Post Employment Benefits Liability Trust Fund – $612,647

CAPITAL EXPENSES AND PROJECTS:

  1. Pay-As-You-Go Capital Expenses
    • Highway F-350 Pickup $60,000 DPW
    • Fire Apparatus/Vehicles $46,394
    • IT Equipment Replacement $100,000
    • Replacement of Police Cruisers $74,000
    • Systemwide School Security Upgrades (FY17 Upgrade intrusion alarm systems at Elmwood and High School) $100,000
    • Hopkins School Boiler Replacement (Replace boiler #2 at Hopkins – town received insurance proceeds $42,088 in FY16) $55,000
    • Middle School Water Heater Replacement (Replace water heater installed in 1996) $33,000
    • High School Athletic Center Scoreboard Replacement $25,000
    • Systemwide School Technology Upgrades (FY17 New student information system & wiring upgrades) $100,000
    • School Dept. – Replacement of Tractor $81,000
    • Middle School and High School Bleacher Upgrades and Repairs $85,000
  2. Weed Control at Lake Maspenock – No Action – The Lake Maspenock Weed Management & Control Advisory Group expects to release its recommendations by the end of May 2016.
  3. Sidewalk Master Plan Phase II – $136,000
  4. Transfer Funds to Purchase Fire Vehicle and Equipment – $500,000
  5. Transfer Funds to Purchase Fire Vehicle – $125,000
  6. Transfer Funds to Reequip/Reconfigure Fire Vehicle and Equipment – $55,000
  7. Purchase of Dump Truck $200,000 DPW
  8. Grove Street Water Tank Replacement $1,530,000 from DPW Water Enterprise Fund – Replaces the smaller 0.32 million gallon water tank which is 95 years old, with a new 1.33 million gallon tank.
  9. Water Main Replacement – Hayden Rowe Street $260,000 from DPW Water Enterprise Fund
  10. Water Source of Supply $1,000,000 from DPW Water Enterprise Fund
  11. Biological Filtration Wells #4 & #5 $50,000 from DPW Water Enterprise Fund
  12. Middle School Auditorium Upgrades (Install air conditioning, repaint stage floor, replace curtains, stage rigging, control console, & light board) $167,000
  13. School Bus Parking Lot (Construct gravel parking lot for buses at the proposed new elementary school – results in estimated annual positive impact of $111K ) $320,000 – No Action – Consent Agenda
  14. School Building & Grounds Storage Facility – Design & Feasibility $25,000 – No Action
  15. Artificial Turf Field with Lights – Design & Feasibility $100,000 – No Action – Consent Agenda
  16. Signage for Historical Sites – $15,000
  17. Transfer Funds for New Capital Projects – No Action – Consent Agenda
  18. Cemetery Roadway Opening – access to the Claflin St from Mt Auburn Cemetery – $2,500

COMMUNITY PRESERVATION FUNDS:

  1. Community Preservation Recommendations – CPC Project Narratives, CPC Powerpoint Slides, About the Community Preservation Act:
    1. $20,000 from funds reserved for Historic Preservation to preserve Town records
    2. $2,500 from funds reserved for Open Space for Boundary Markers/Medallions to be acquired and installed on Town owned parcels
    3. $50,000 from Budgeted Reserve Funds to improve the public trail and create a dog park on 192 Hayden Rowe Street (Hughes Property). – Some of the maintenance will fall under the DPW budget and the Parks & Rec Budget. The goal is also to set up a volunteer group of dog owners in town to help with some of the maintenance and to think of fundraising ideas.
    4. $50,000 from funds reserved for Open Space to acquire approximately 6 acres of land located at 0 East Main Street and shown as parcel U12-23-0 on the Assessors Map
    5. $60,000 from funds reserved for Historic Preservation to rehab and restore the McFarland Sanger House
    6. $75,000 from funds reserved for Historic Preservation to rehab and restore the Rte 85 Stone Bridge
    7. $25,000 from Budgeted Reserve Funds to construct a recreational path from Rte 85 to the Stone Bridge
    8. $10,000 from Budgeted Reserve Funds to install fencing around the Claflin Fountain
    9. $50,000 from Budgeted Reserve Funds to install protective netting at the Fruit Street Athletic Complex
    10. $20,000 from Budgeted Reserve Funds to install a boat dock at Sandy Beach

ZONING BYLAW AMENDMENTS:

  1. Amend Open Space Mixed Use Development Overlay District to allow “Cultural Uses” by Special Permit in the Residential Subdistrict, for example an International Marathon Center.
  2. Amend Garden Apartments in Residential Districts and Village Housing in Residential Districts Bylaws Garden Apartments and Village Housing bylaws draft 2-2-16
  3. Repeal Senior Housing Development Bylaw Senior Housing Development Bylaw draft 2-2-16
  4. Amend Site Plan Review and Open Space and Landscape Preservation Development Bylaws Site Plan Review and OSLPD Bylaws draft 2-2-16
  5. Amend Sign Bylaw Sign Bylaw draft 2-2-16Document depicting proposed changes to Sign Bylaw 2-2-16 – These changes are due to a unanimous 2015 US Supreme Court Ruling “Reed vs Town of Gilbert, AZ.” Changes are being made to comply with the ruling, as recommended by Town Counsel.
  6. Amend Hotel Overlay District Hotel Overlay District draft 2-2-16 – Hopkinton already has a Hotel Zoning Overlay District, but has not yet been able to attract a hotel. These changes would: 1) reduce the amount of function room space required from 8,000 sq. ft. to just 1,500 sq. ft.; 2) require just a “restaurant” instead of a “full service restaurant;” and 3) require just a “fitness center” instead of a “health club facility.” Hopkinton’s local hotel room occupancy excise tax rate is 6% (voted at 2015 Town Meeting). A report on the Municipal Cost Impacts of Massachusetts’s Hotel/Motel-Based Homeless Families Shelter Program by the State Auditor’s office.
  7. Elmwood Park Business District Elmwood Park Business District draft 2-2-16Proposed Elmwood Park Business District Map – Elmwood Park is currently in the “Industrial B” zoning district of Hopkinton, this change would create a separate zoning district for Elmwood Park with its own list of permitted uses.
  8. Dog Day Care Dog Day Care Facilities draft 2-2-16 – Hopkinton does not currently have zoning to allow Dog Day Care Facilities, this bylaw would set hours, size, waste, odor control and other requirements for such facilities.
  9. Animal Shelters Animal Shelters draft 2-2-16 – This bylaw change would set requirements for animal shelters, such as Baypath Humane Society, which also acts as Hopkinton’s dog pound.  Baypath would like to expand and improve their physical plant and would need to find another location where they can build a modern animal shelter. They would like to remain in Hopkinton, however, today there is no land within the town of Hopkinton zoned for use by an animal shelter. Info Sheet from Baypath

GENERAL BYLAW AMENDMENTS:

  1. Repeal Sex Offender Residency Requirement – This repeal is due to a unanimous Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling in 2015 that struck down a law in the City of Lynn, which was very similar to Hopkinton’s bylaw.

LAND ACQUISITIONS AND DISPOSITIONS:

  1. Acquisition of Easement – 91 West Main Street – for the purpose of creating an exclusive right turn lane in West Main Street eastbound onto Lumber Street.
  2. Acquisition of Easement – Leonard Street – to be used for stormwater management purposes.
  3. Gift of Land – Connelly Hill Estates – to be used for open space and recreation purposes.
  4. Gift of land – Hilltop Road – No Action – Consent Agenda
  5. Gift of land – Legacy Farms Recreation Parcel – to be used for open space, recreation and general municipal purposes.
  6. Street Acceptance
    • Connelly Hill Road, from Smith Road to Bowker Road
    • Valleywood Road, from Erika Drive to dead end
    • Carol Ann Drive, from West Elm Street to dead end
    • Kerry Lane, from Eastview Road to dead end
    • Nancy Lane, from Teresa Road to dead end
  7. Street Discontinuance
    • “Frankland Road” from its intersection with East Main Street to its intersection with Legacy Farms Road
    • The entirety of the private way known as “Peach Street”
  8. Disposition of Property – the discontinued portions of Frankland Road and Peach Street.
    Selectmen recommend No Action, but Planning Board recommend Approval

ADMINISTRATIVE:

  1. Solar Tax Agreements – to authorize the Board of Selectmen to negotiate a Tax Agreement for payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT Agreement) with the owner(s) of a solar photovoltaic facility on East Main Street.
  2. Town Clerk – to change the position of Town Clerk from elected to appointed (hired). In order to move forward this question would also require approval from the state and a yes vote on a future town election ballot.  It is not on the ballot for May 16. Town of Hopkinton 2016 Job Description Town Clerk
  3. Trustees of the School Trust Fund in the Town of Hopkinton – to appoint Jeanne Bernardin (7 Kimball Road) as a Trustee – Consent Agenda

Town Meeting Warrant Finalized

Seal of the Town of Hopkinton 1715

At last week’s meeting, the Board of Selectmen finalized the warrant (agenda) for annual Town Meeting coming up in May. Town Meeting begins Monday, May 5 at 7:00pm at the Middle School. The meeting typically adjourns at 11:00pm and is continued on consecutive evenings usually running for at least two nights. There are 42 articles on the warrant this year, we have highlighted a few key articles below, but you can Click Here to Read the Full Warrant.

  • Article #8 – Underride – This would reduce Hopkinton’s excess levy capacity (its ability to tax without an override) by $1,250,000. In recent years Hopkinton has not taxed to the full 2 1/2% increase allowed by state law and therefore has an excess levy capacity.
  • Article #14 – Pay-As-You-Go Capital Expenses
    • Pierce/Sabre Fit-out Rescue Equipment – Fire Dept. $112,149
    • Replacement of Two Front-Line Cruisers and One Mobile Data Terminal – Police Dept. $71,727
    • Two Building and Grounds Department Trucks – School Dept. $90,000
    • Hopkins School Ceiling Tile Replacement – School Dept. $203,000
    • Upgrade Middle School Auditorium Stage Components – School Dept. $32,000
    • Upgrade Fire Alarm System – Horns/Strobes – School Dept. $25,000
    • Joint IT Upgrades at the Center and Elmwood Schools – School Dept. $100,000
    • Hayden Rowe Drainage – DPW $80,000
    • Keefe Regional Technical School Roof $69,850
    • Read more about the Pay-As-You-Go articles…
  • Article #15 – Library Construction – $6,255,000
    • In March, Hopkinton moved up to #3 on the waiting list for a state Library Construction Grant. If Hopkinton residents approve funding for the renovation and expansion of our library at Town Meeting on May 5 and at the Town Election on May 19, then Hopkinton may proceed to signing a grant agreement with MBLC as soon as July. Once a grant agreement is signed, Hopkinton will get its first payment of the $4.5 million grant and the town may begin design refinement. The target date for opening of the renovated and expanded library is December 2016. Read more at the HPLF website.
  • Article #16 – Sidewalk Construction & Rehabilitation Program $1,519,000
    • Construction of 10,000 feet of new sidewalks on various streets over the next five years, including three different spots on Ash Street and sections of Wood, Elm and East and West Main streets.
  • Article #17 – Hayden Rowe Traffic Calming near the schools $400,000
  • Article #18 – Main Fire Station Roof $400,000
  • Article #19 – International Horton Ambulance $270,000
  • Article #20 – Vactor Truck – $395,000
  • Article #21 – Evaluation Studies for School Roof Repairs (Hopkins and High School) – $30,000
  • Article #22 – School Safety and Security – $152,400
  • Article #25 – Bylaw Change: Farmer’s Market Wine Sampling on Town Common
  • Article #32 – Zoning Bylaw Change: Open Space Mixed Use Development (OSMUD) Overlay District – Hockey Rink
  • Article #39 – Acquisition of Property at 25 Ash Street (abutting Center School property)
  • Article #41 – Scenic Road Designation – Chamberlain Street

Click Here to Read the Full Warrant

Article 16 - Sidewalk Constructionand Rehabilitation Program, $1,519,000
Article 16 – Sidewalk Constructionand Rehabilitation Program, $1,519,000 (click to enlarge)
Article 17 - Hayden Rowe Traffic Calming near the schools, $400,000
Article 17 – Hayden Rowe Traffic Calming near the schools, $400,000 (click to enlarge)

Hopkinton Compared to Districts that are Similar Based on Grade Configuration, District Wealth and Enrollment

Educate Hopkinton has compiled a chart of district comparison data for your reference, which we have recently posted to our website. School districts that are similar to Hopkinton include: Belmont, Burlington, Canton, Duxbury, Holliston, Marblehead, Medfield, Scituate, Sharon, Westborough and Westwood. While Hopkinton is very similar to these towns, one statistic that stood out was that 23% of Hopkinton’s population is children enrolled in the public schools, in many similar towns a much smaller percentage of the population was enrolled in the schools, this may be because they have more residents without school-age children or may be because more children in those towns attend private schools. Only Medfield had a higher percentage with 24% of its population enrolled in the public schools. http://www.educatehopkinton.com/pdf/Hopkinton_Compared_to_Similar_Districts_09-25-11.pdf

A Blog Debate – Eight Questions and Responses from the Board of Selectmen Candidates

Educate Hopkinton posed the following eight questions to our Selectman Candidates, including why are you running (question #1), your experience on town committees (#2), thoughts on 2 1/2% (#3), improving communication (#4), the Center School challenge (#5), library expansion (#6), DPW facility (#7) and tax exemptions for seniors (#8). We thank them for their responses and for their commitment to Hopkinton. In addition we recommend voters watch the HCAM News Candidate Focus on the HCAM.tv website. 

FRANCIS J. D’URSO, JR. (Democratic Caucus), 173 Saddle Hill Road, www.frankdurso4selectman.orgfdurso@comcast.net, H 508.435.1002, M 617.642.1173

BRIAN J. HERR (Republican Caucus), 31 Elizabeth Road, brian@brianherr.com

QUESTION 1: Why are you running for Selectman? (What are your skill sets and objectives? How do you define your budget priorities when tough decisions have to be made? What are your ideas for improvements on the board of Selectmen?)

Frank D’Urso: 

I am running for the board of selectmen because I believe that the board needs some balance. I know that I can bring a strong degree of fiscal responsibility. I have over 25 years of business experience, in small and large companies, I know what it means to have to live within a budget. I think that it is time to return a Democrat to the board, and I know that I can work well with the republican and independent selectmen. I would work to instill a stronger sense of fiscal discipline.
When tough decisions have to be made, they should not be made in a vacuum or in haste. I would work with the other selectmen to build consensus. In any group dynamic it is important to include all viewpoints when discussing an issue. I would also reach out to town workers as well as the citizens to get the full picture of what is needed. I will ask for people to bring solutions to the board as well as their problems.

Brian Herr:
Why are you running for Selectman?
I believe in community service and I believe we need to continue to lead Hopkinton into the future with a positive vision for the town. I am running to build on our efforts from 2007 through 2010. 
What are your skill sets and objectives? My skills are those that I demonstrated and used over the last many years on various boards and committees in town and in my professional life. I am an engineer by degree. I think sequentially and  follow decision trees to make decisions. I also have a master’s degree in government. I recognize the  inherit nature of “politics” in all aspects of life. I use my “6th sense” (empathy) to understand how individuals (and groups) think and feel about various issues and then politely guide those individuals to decisions that most are comfortable with in town. My objectives are to restore a healthy and productive debate in town on the issues we all face together, to maintain excellent services for the taxpayers by driving new efficiencies annually into all segments of town government, to balance the needs of a strong school system with the economic pressures many feel due to a continued weak economy, to develop a realistic plan with the SC to address the needs of Center School, to continue to press for further commercial development (tax revenue) in the South Street area of town now that the Milford WWTP deal is in place, to facilitate the revenue positive aspects of development at Legacy Farms and to enhance community life by working with the Parks and Recreation Department and a private youth organization to develop a hockey rink/skating center at no taxpayer expense. 
How do you define your budget priorities when tough decisions have to be made? Public education and public safety are tied for first place. 
What are your ideas for improvements on the board of Selectmen? Each year we elect one or two new members to the Board. This regular shifting of ideas and experience benefits the Board and the community as a whole. If elected, I believe my previous experience on the BoS, Planning Board, Zoning Advisory Committee, Personnel Committee and various building committees will bring additional depth and understanding of the overall governing process.


QUESTION 2: Describe one activity or (sub)committee you’ve been involved with within the town. What it meant to you? How it shaped and impacted the town?

Frank D’Urso: 

I am one of the founding members of the Hopkinton Sustainable Green Committee, chartered in 2008 by then selectman Matthew Zettek.  I think HopGreen has done a very good job of pulling together a large committee of people from various backgrounds who can get a lot done with little to no budget.  Our purpose is to investigate sustainable solutions for the town.  We have earned the “Green Committees Act” designation for Hopkinton, our application and process we undertook was most impressive, Governor Patrick chose to launch the Green Communities Act in Massachusetts in a speech he made in front of our Police Station last year.  Through this Act we have been granted over $130,000.00 in funds to help improve the schools and municipal buildings with energy conservation projects. 
I am quite proud of this team effort.  John Mosher, Aubrey Doyle and John Keane had done most of the brainwork, I helped cobble information together from the Town manager’s office (during a late night work session and a last minute afternoon group finalization effort) and I drove the completed application into Boston with less than an hour left before the deadline.  One of the reasons that we took so long is that we had asked for the maximum amount of grant money that we could. We applied for one million dollars, but the extra effort was worth it as we are prepared to apply for our second round of grants right now.  (Note: Green Communities money does not come from income taxes, it is collected from the energy industry as a fee to help offset pollution).
We are also in our third year of the ANNUAL SPRING GREEN UP, this year’s event will be Saturday May 7th and begins on the town common.  The idea is that citizens of Hopkinton form neighborhood groups to help clean our neighborhoods.
HopGreen also sponsors green projects in town, like the power purchase agreement that Rebecca Robak and Brian Mayne put together for the High and Middle Schools and Police and Fire stations.  John Mosher and I got to tour the High School roof and it really is very impressive when you see the size and amount of the PV arrays that we have up there.
We also run public forums, through the library.  I organized the Solar Forum last year that included Energy industry professionals, I also made sure that the $500 residential rebate (part of our Power Purchase agreement) was still in place after a merger of two Solar companies.

Brian Herr:
Describe one activity or (sub) committee you’ve been involved with within the town. BoS Chair. 
What it meant to you? Being Chair of the BOS is the most rewarding position in town government, but is also the most time consuming. While I was Chair, I spent 30 – 40 hours per week working with staff and residents to keep the ship headed in the right direction and to implement the will of Town Meeting. I enjoyed this role immensely but believe the position should ideally rotate amongst the members of the BOS. It is a privilege to serve the residents on the BOS and a special honor to serve as Chairman. 
How it shaped and impacted the town? We made significant progress in town on the Fruit Street site (fields and WWTP), implemented sound fiscal policy during unprecedented economic times, raised our Standard & Poor’s bond rating to AA+,completed the Milford WWTP Inter-Municipal Agreement, supported the Legacy Farms development, etc. AFTER everyone realized we were not going to return to the days of Ethics Complaints, media feuds and other non-productive political behavior. Positive, respectful leadership produces positive community results.


QUESTION 3: For the last two years the town has not taken the full 2 ½% tax increase allowed each year without an override. Do you support gradually taking back some of the excess levy reserve in the coming years? (i.e. to bring back some of the services that have been cut, purchases that have been put on hold, maintenance that has been deferred, etc.)

Frank D’Urso:
I am against taking ANY of the money that was not taxed in previous years.  While this move may be legal, it does not feel like it can be justified.  Proposition 2 ½  must be respected.  Ideally the town should RARELY have over-rides, with better management and fiscally responsible planning we should be able to cover our expenses every year for less than a 2.5% increase on property taxes.  We had almost $400,000.00 in “free money” in our accounts this fiscal year, and that money is already being appropriated for quite a few items (to be voted on at Annual Town Meeting).  The Problem that I have with this is that money should go back into our accounts and result in helping to keep the NEXT year’s taxes below 2.5% increase.  I know that there are some important purchases involved each year (like the new Firetruck requested) but if it wasn’t part of our spending plan last year, it should wait for next year and let Capitol Improvements line up which projects that we can afford to pay for instead of just throwing EVERY project up to the Selectmen and the Town Meeting every year.  There has to be more discipline on spending and better advanced planning.  We’re spending money that we don’t have.

Brian Herr:
Not unless a demonstrated need is presented to the BoS. I do not believe in raising taxes just because we have excess levy and/or because Prop 2 ½ says we can. I reject the position that we should automatically raise taxes 2 ½ % annually without a thorough review of our finances and a thorough review of the operating model for each department. The private sector does this annually, if not quarterly. We should do the same. I led the effort to hold taxes in check the last two fiscal years given the economy and our ability to restructure the organization and reduce our cost model. I believe in forcing all department heads to submit annual budgets that include looking under every rock for cost savings and efficiency ideas. I would expect the department heads to document what changes they can make/made annually to improve their operational efficiency. Once I am comfortable that the cost model is as tight as it can be, I am then open to looking at revenue needs to provide the best services possible to the community. For FY11 we added funds back into the SC overall budget after they presented all of their steps taken to run as efficiently as possible and they presented their demonstrated need for additional teaching positions at the elementary level. Furthermore, perceived automatic tax increases annually will result in automatic budget increases and automatic labor union assumptions on annual raises. The BoS sets the tone for how the community will see the finances at Town Meeting. If we automatically raise taxes 2 ½ % from the outset, with no review and critique of departmental costs, we are not managing the process but instead allowing it to manage us. All this said, Town Meeting is ultimate authority and if TM Members want to increase spending on a budget item, they have the right to make that amendment on the floor and have a vote up or down. If the BoS, Appropriations, CIC, etc do their work and gain a full understanding of the mood of the community through their combined empathy skills, the number of floor battles over major budget decisions at TM is limited.


QUESTION 4: Working within the State Open Meeting Law do you have suggestions for improving communication between town boards and residents? (i.e. scheduling of critical meetings, making sure accurate information is being communicated, rather than rumors) 

Frank D’Urso:
I was a founding member of the Civic Engagement Committee a decade ago.  We worked with the results of the Voices For Vision Forum, which was a scientific consensus building exercise that gathered @150 citizens together and we talked out all the important issues that faced the town back then.  To paraphrase former selectmen Eric Sennett, I’d wager that the issues that were important then are the same issues that are important now. 
Brian Herr:

This is symptomatic of the larger issue in town right now….there is no trust because the various boards
assumed they were in control of the critical decisions. As mentioned above, TM Members are the
ultimate authority. If the boards and committees understand and work within this reality, then the
communications would naturally improve as they did from 2007 – 2010. Recall in 2007 there were
serious trust issues at that time with the BoS in particular. Positive leadership and an understanding of
how town government works will correct this problem. The mechanics are there…in my opinion…now
we need to work on the approach and style of leadership across the community always remembering
the residents have the last say. Some believe political leadership is all about speeches. I believe
effective political leadership is all about listening and then responding appropriately.


QUESTION 5: How do you suggest the town to move forward with the Center School challenge? What process would you suggest to gain consensus among community members?

Frank D’Urso:
I have suggested to the board of selectmen that we create a similar citizens forum, with a wide range of the town’s citizens involved. Current Selectmen Chair Dourney seems to like this idea. I’d like the town to think outside of the box on this, and I’d like to see a standalone fullday Kindergarten program that can pay for a new building of it’s own. Further, I’d like to see the School Administration office move into the Woodville Firehouse, the upstairs could easily be converted to office space.

Brian Herr:
How do you suggest the town to move forward with the Center School challenge? The School Committee needs to take the lead with the Elem. Sch. Bldg. Cmte. and look at additional viable options. The SC needs to hear the concerns of the community and then come back to the community with some preliminary options for the town to ponder collectively. After a few months of dialogue, the SC should then limit the number of options and bring them to a STM or ATM and ask for a referendum vote to gauge community support for each.
What process would you suggest to gain consensus among community members? I do not believe in full consensus nor should we strive to achieve it. Full consensus in a town meeting form of democracy such as ours in Hopkinton is not possible or necessary. What is important is listening to all the ideas put forth in a responsible manner (blogs do not count) and then look to understand what the majority of the citizens will support. Too often we strive towards consensus and then get frustrated when it is not achieved. Understanding the general will (majority opinion) is the best we can hope for and is doable. There is an option out there that the majority of residents will support. We simply have not found it yet.


QUESTION 6: The Permanent Building Committee and Library Trustees are requesting approval of the preliminary design for an expanded library at its current site. Do you support this, and would you be in favor of the Town contributing 25-50% of the cost of the project in order to receive a state grant for the remaining 50%?

Frank D’Urso:
I support the library expansion, BUT would prefer a smaller footprint, and would ask that they leave the rental property intact and producing income for the Library’s budget (saving the town money). Parking and zoning can be worked out. I believe the town would only be asked to provide 25% of the funds needed, which would come from a debt exclusion, as opposed to a general over-ride to the town budget.

Brian Herr:
I support expanding at the current site. I support the 25% figure for the community to absorb. I would
not support any figure above that. The proposed plan in place for several years now has always
included a 25% investment from the taxpayers. Upward slippage on the taxpayer amount will derail the
effort in my opinion. I am concerned with the size however. I believe the building as designed today is
too large for the site and should be scaled back to a more reasonable size. We will not be able to get
the perfect library for Hopkinton downtown. We will need to compromise a bit to keep the project on
track and reasonable for many residents that live in the downtown section of town. I support the
concept of libraries and their positive impact on communities. I also support the fiscal model for this
plan as proposed. A 25% investment to get a 100% asset is an excellent investment for any
organization, public or private.


QUESTION 7: Do you support the new DPW facility? A vote for a $375K for the design is coming up at Town Meeting, with an estimated cost of $11million for the construction at a later date.

Frank D’Urso:
I think that a new DPW center should be put off for at least one year (if not longer). I understand that they are not in comfortable offices, but I would ask the DPW to bear with us on this issue and start examining it again next year.
When you talk about the insurance money, it should be used to repair the garage/shed that the winter storms knocked down. Insurance should pay for the full amount, or else we didn’t have the proper coverage.

Brian Herr:
Not at this time. The DPW does a good job for Hopkinton. I believe it can do a better job with
stronger management now in place. A new Director is on board. He needs to get the department and
its employees better organized and more efficient first and foremost. I do not want a new facility to
distract him or his team from these objectives. Moreover, our town “economy”, housing prices,
community activities, etc. all center on our schools. The DPW is vitally important for public safety and
many other factors, but a new facility does not impact our community in the same manner as our
schools. We need to table this project for several years in my opinion. That said, we do need some
immediate improvements to the current facilities for the DPW following the heavy snow damage this
past winter.


QUESTION 8: Would you support a “Means Tested Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption” like Sudbury recently passed in conjunction with a school project in January.
http://sudbury.patch.com/articles/town-to-vote-on-unique-tax-break-for-seniors

Frank D’Urso:
I think that’s a wonderful solution for Sudbury, but in Hopkinton we have many families that cannot have even a small tax increase. As RJ Dourney pointed out, we already have a voluntary program in place.
My solution would be to work with the town (Civic Engagement Committee?) and work to publicize the voluntary tax relief fund, we could do a better job of letting people know about it and increasing the money that they collect for the elderly to have some property tax relief.
I’ve been working with Project Just Because (through our Cub Scout Troop 26) for the past two years, and they inform me that requests for help has risen dramatically this year, This is something that we should keep in mind when we consider tax increases.
I want to mention that Project Just Because has the STAMP OUT HUNGER FOOD DRIVE
on May 14th that I would like to alert your members to.

Brian Herr:
I would need to study this concept more and get input from the Board of Assessors and our
professionals in Town Hall before rendering a full opinion on this matter. I like the idea of helping our
seniors but we would need to understand all the ramifications first. If we annoy the businesses by
increasing the tax burden on them, and they end up leaving, then our seniors, along with the rest of us
will have to make up that lost revenue source. Certainly this tax relief idea and perhaps others for our
seniors are something to consider, but also something we need to get a better handle on before
presenting to the town for consideration.


Don’t Forget To Vote Monday, May 16!
Polls are open 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM in the Middle School Gym, 88 Hayden Rowe St (enter by Grove Street). There are several offices up for election including School Committee and Selectmen as well as one ballot question. Read the full ballot at 2011 Annual Town Election Ballot.
Absentee ballots are due Friday, May 13 by 5:00 p.m. to the Town Clerk.

FY12 Town Budget Updates

Hopkinton’s Budget Process is underway. Decisions made over the next few days and weeks will determine the funding of our schools, police, fire, and DPW, etc. For the past three years, our property tax was not increased by the standard amount (2 1/2%) in an effort to be sensitive to residents impacted by the economy. With less money available, all town departments had to cut back on necessary programs and equipment. Now there are difficult decisions to be made in order to make up for lost ground. Your voice and input matters. Please read the recently published articles to learn about the decisions that need to be made. If you have input for our Selectmen and Town Manager, please contact them before Tuesday’s meeting:
nkhumalo@hopkinton.org, geri@hopkinton.org, rjdourney@hopkinton.org, tcestari@hopkinton.org, mgates@hopkinton.org, jmindesign@gmail.com, ben@palleiko.com


FY12 Budget Message
The next Board of Selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 9 at 6:30PM. Visit the HCAM-TV website for a sneak peak at the upcoming agenda. The Selectmen are expected to issue a budget statement at this meeting with recommendations on how much if any increase over current year’s budget departments should target in budgets next year.
http://www.hcam.tv/videos/bos-meeting-preview

Hopkinton looks at options for raising property tax
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff, Hopkinton Crier – Nov. 4, 2010
http://www.wickedlocal.com/hopkinton/news/x1673648150/Hopkinton-looks-at-options-for-raising-property-tax

Selectmen Vote Sewer Betterments for Phase VI and Discuss the Financial Forecast
by Muriel Kramer, HopNews – Nov. 4, 2010
http://hopnews.com/bos_11_04_10.html

In Hopkinton, a look at the budget forecast
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff, Hopkinton Crier – Oct. 27, 2010

http://www.wickedlocal.com/hopkinton/news/x370072793/In-Hopkinton-a-look-at-the-budget-forecast

Difficult Budget Process Begins: Structural Deficit Big and Getting Bigger
by Robert Falcione, HopNews – Oct. 26, 2010
http://hopnews.com/bos_10_26_10.html

Hopkinton-Milford sewer connection may debut next month

By Michael Morton/Daily News staff, Hopkinton Crier – Oct. 13, 2010
http://www.wickedlocal.com/hopkinton/news/x427652458/Hopkinton-Milford-sewer-connection-may-debut-next-month

Don’t Forget To Vote Tomorrow! Monday, May 17

Polls are open 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM in the Middle School Gym, 88 Hayden Rowe St (enter by Grove Street. There are several Offices up for election including Selectmen and Planning Board. Read the full ballot at http://www.hopkinton.org/BallotATE2010.pdf. Here’s what’s going on:

BALLOT QUESTIONS

Question #1 Elmwood School Boiler – Needs Repair
This ballot question pertains to “the repair, maintenance, renovation and improvement of the boiler and heating system at the Elmwood Elementary School.” The Elmwood School has two boilers; one is out of operation and the other is failing. The funds are needed to ensure proper heating for the students at the Elmwood School. Fortunately when the boiler was replaced at Center School, the project came in under budget. There is money remaining in the Center School account that should cover the cost of the Elmwood boiler replacement. However approval of ballot question #1 is needed to transfer these funds to the Elmwood Project. A yes vote on Question #1 simply allows the transfer of the funds to the appropriate account. There is no additional cost to the taxpayer. This transfer of $145,000 was recommended by both the Appropriations and the Capital Improvements Committees.

Question #2 Downtown Design – Gives the town state money to improve our downtown at minimal cost to us – town supported by a 2/3 majority at town meeting, but must also pass tomorrow at the polls. This ballot question pertains to the Downtown Revitalization Plan. If Hopkinton voters approve the $400,000 Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion, Hopkinton will qualify for up to $4 million in state construction grants, which will be used to beautify downtown, improve pedestrian access and safety, improve traffic flow and driver safety. The Plan applies to the stretch of Route 135 from Ash to Wood Street. The $400,000 loan will increase taxes by a maximum of $16/year, over five years and is supported by all Town Boards and the Hopkinton Chamber of Commerce. Click to read a summary of this question by Peter LaGoy, Chairman, Downtown Revitalization Committee.

Hopkinton voters face property tax requests
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff
http://www.wickedlocal.com/hopkinton/news/x1773731833/Hopkinton-voters-face-property-tax-requests

HCAM News Special
2010 Ballot Question #2, Downtown Revitalization with Town Manager Norman Khumalo and Downtown Revitalization Committee Chair Peter Lagoy.
Watch the Video

SELECTMAN RACE
There are four running for two seats – choose wisely. Hopkinton will undergo more change in a matter of years than it has in decades. Your Board of Selectmen play a critical role in how our town develops. 
Todd S. Holbrook http://www.holbrookforselectman.com/ 508-435-3116
John M. Mosher http://johnmosher.net/ 
Joseph E. Nealon http://joenealon.com/ 508-435-2312
Benjamin L. Palleiko http://www.palleiko.com/ 617-548-1970

Hopkinton selectmen candidates tackle taxation issue
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff
http://www.wickedlocal.com/hopkinton/news/x1773731831/Hopkinton-selectmen-candidates-tackle-taxation-issue


HopNews Video
Four Hopkinton Selectmen Candidates Introduce Themselves & Andrew Sweeney Interviews Each Selectman candidate
http://www.youtube.com/user/HopNews


Recap of Selectmen’s Debate
by Mark Collins, HCAM Staff Reporter
Read the Summary
Watch the Video

PLANNING BOARD, BOARD OF HEALTH AND PUBLIC WORKS ELECTIONS
These are important positions. They make vital decisions that shape the buildings and infrastructure/zoning/resources of our town.

Planning Board, Department of Public Works candidates
By Michael Morton/staff writer GateHouse News Service
http://www.wickedlocal.com/hopkinton/topstories/x1381043847/Planning-Board-Department-of-Public-Works-candidates

Women’s Club Candidates’ Night 2010
by Michelle Murdock, HCAM News Director
Read the Summary
Watch the Video


Hopkinton candidates: Balance town charm vs. growth
By Michael Morton/Daily News staff
Read the Article

State of the Town Tomorrow Morning, Candidates Debate on Wednesday, FY11 Budget Recap

2010 State of the Town Forum by the Hopkinton Chamber of CommerceTuesday, April 27 at 7:30-9:00 a.m.
First Congregational Church of Hopkinton, 146 East Main St, Hopkinton MA 01748
(Also broadcast on HCAM-TV, Comcast Channel 8/Verizon Channel 30)
Hear from a variety of Hopkinton Town Officials on the current state of our Town. A great primer for the upcoming Town Meeting on May 3! This event is both free and open to the public.

Candidates Debate Sponsored by the Hopkinton Independent

Wednesday, April 28, 7:00 p.m.

HCAM-TV, 77 Main St, Hopkinton MA 01748
Comcast Channel 8/Verizon Channel 30

Annual Town Meeting
Begins Monday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. (continues on consecutive days until complete)
Hopkinton Middle School Auditorium, 88 Hayden Rowe St, Hopkinton MA 01748
(Also broadcast on HCAM-TV, Comcast Channel 8/Verizon Channel 30)

Meet the Candidates Night Sponsored by the Hopkinton Women’s Club

Thursday, May 6, 7:00 p.m.

HCAM Studios, 77 Main St, Hopkinton MA 01748
Comcast Channel 8/Verizon Channel 30

RECAP Appropriations Committee Public Hearing on the FY11 Budget

Overview: The Appropriations Committee held a public hearing on the 2010-11 Budget this past Thursday evening. It was NOT televised. The Chairman noted attendance was greater than they have had in many years. The Appropriations Committee presented a $61,356,071.17 Recommended Budget. Massachusetts state aid to towns is still unknown at this time. The proposed budget assumes a 4% cut in state aid. As the budget stands now, Hopkinton will be taking a 1.8% tax increase (of the available 2.5%) for FY11. If the proposed budget is passed, Eldridge stated that Hopkinton will have roughly $1,000,000 in untapped proposition 2.5% levy reserves from the last two years, which could be tapped in future years without an override. As the economy improves in future years, Chairman Eldridge expects that the town will take the full 2.5% tax increase and perhaps even more. In addition Hopkinton will have roughly $1,000,000 in its stabilization fund if the proposed budget passes.

CPA: The Appropriations Committee recommends a reduction in taxpayer contributions to the Community Preservation Act (CPA) fund from 2% to 1.1% next year. [NOTE: The Community Preservation Committee does not support the reduction and voted in an earlier meeting not to reduce the CPA contribution, but to keep the contribution at 2% next year.] Hopkinton puts about $310,000 into the CPA fund each year. The 100% match from the state has been reduced to approximately 31-32%. Residents will have a chance to weigh in at Town Meeting.

Highlighted Changes: Chairman Eldridge highlighted some recent changes to the budget from the first one voted on by the Board of Selectmen. The new proposed budget includes a $290,000 increase in pavement management funds, because the town has a large backlog of bad roads needing repairs. It also includes a $352,000 increase in the cost of healthcare benefits for town and school employees. The town pays 75% of a town or school employee’s family healthcare plan and it pays 85% of a single employee’s healthcare plan. The proposed budget includes a $144,000 increase in Information Technology (IT) improvements for Town Hall, which had been very out of date.

School Department: Chairman Eldridge also noted that the School Department is receiving $300,000 in stimulus funding this year, but this revenue source will not be available next year. School Committee Chair Nancy Burdick noted that the stimulus money was not used for salaries, but for other school budget items, such as prepaying out-of-district SPED tuition. The Appropriations Committee’s recommended budget allocates $170,000 less to the schools than they requested. The School Committee has not yet determined what items will have to be cut from their budget to account for this discrepancy of $170,000.

After submitting their budget to the Town Manager, the School Department learned it would receive $106,477 (part of the $300,000 stimulus total listed above) in federal stimulus money for FY11 only. This amount had originally been earmarked for higher education, but was reassigned by the governor to local education due to cuts in state education aid. Rather than put this money toward the $170,000 budget discrepancy, the Appropriations Committee recommends reducing the amount paid by Hopkinton taxpayers toward the School Budget by $106,477. The tax savings would be minimal: about a $18/year or $1.50/month for the average homeowner.

For More Information:
The following budget documents are available on the Hopkinton town and school websites.
PDF 2009 Town Report
PDF Fiscal year 2011 Proposed Budget
PDF Annual Town Meeting Warrant May 3, 2010
PDF School Committee’s Preliminary FY 11 Budget Jan 28, 2010
PPT School Committee Public Hearing FY 11 Budget Presentation
PPT Superintendent’s Preliminary FY 11 Budget Presentation
Video State of the Schools Forum