Vision 2020 All Precincts Meeting - Apr 5th, 2017

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Annie LaCourt opened this meeting by explaining what town meeting is, what warrant articles are, how warrant articles are proposed, and how town meeting considers them.

After this introduction, proponents of five warrant articles gave brief presentations.

Article 17: Regulation of Plastic Bags. Article 17 would ban single-use plastic bags from the town of Arlington. There are a few exceptions where plastic bags would be allowed: bags to wrap produce, meat, and dry cleaning, for example. There's no exclusion for the use of paper bags.

Forty-five Massachusetts communities already have restrictions on single-use plastic bags. Many retailers have already switched to paper.

Article 18: Appraisal of town property interests. Article 18 would require the town to hire an appraiser before disposing of real property. Only town meeting can approve the disposition of town propery (i.e., real estate). This article would ensure that town meeting has a professional assessment of what the property is worth, and how the assessment was determined. The board of selectmen recommended favorable action on this article.

Article 26: Parking benefits district. This article asks town meeting to accept section 218 of the 2016 municipal modernization act. The 2016 municipal modernization acts allows cities and towns to do certain things, if the communities chose to adopt the act's provisions. Article 26 allows the town to establish special parking districts, where parking meter revenue can be used for improvements in the district. The improvements might take the form of lighting, plantings, and so forth.

Article 23: Veterans Property Tax Work off program. Article 23 is one of a set of four articles proposed by health and human services. This is another case of town meeting being asked to accept state legislation. This program allows veterans to do up to 90 hours of volunteer work per year, where work done reduces their property tax liability. It's effectively a way to pay property taxes by doing volunteer work. Another article would provide a similar benefit to seniors.

Article 37: Appropriation for public art. The finance committee recommended no action on Article 37. Instead, FinCom would like to to increase the appropriation for the Arlington commission on arts and culture, so they can make grants for public art.

Town Budget. The budget is one of the biggest articles that town meeting discusses. The finance committee and town manager's office put together the budget, which applies to all town departments, except for the schools. The school committee is responsible for coming up with the school budget. Some parts of the budget are tied to the community preservation act; those parts come from the community preservation committee. The community preservation committee reports directly to town meeting.