Town Moving Forward On Goals And Objectives
Town Administrator provides progress update to selectmen.
Town Administrator Tom Younger is making headway with goals and objectives he and the Belmont Board of Selectmen prioritized over the past year to make Belmont a viable, improved place in the near and distant future.
At their Monday, June 20 meeting, Younger provided selectmen with an update on the progress he and other town employees have made in the last month.
The goals and objectives Younger and the board set for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 include five categories:
• Develop new sources of revenue as recommended by Selectman Angelo Firenze;
• Develop and implement ideas to control/reduce non-discretionary costs (health insurance, retirement, debt service) recommended by Selectmen Chairman Ralph Jones;
• Explore opportunities for greater efficiency/cost savings in delivering services through regionalization recommended by Selectmen Vice Chairman Mark Paolillo;
• Restructure and consolidate functions for more efficient/cost effective delivery of services recommended by Jones; and
• promote economic development recommended by Firenze.
The selectmen worked on a system over this past winter for prioritizing aspects of the objectives, with 1 as highest and 3 as lowest.
Over the past month, Younger reported the following progress:
Objective One: Develop new sources of revenue
- Priority 1: Create plans for disposition of surplus town-owned land including Woodfall Road. Although the town has not been getting inquiries about the property, Younger asked the Assessing Department if the market has improved enough to place it back up for sale and will be getting a new appraisal soon.
- Priority 3: Report on possibilities for 'smart parking' (parking meters) installation in high-demand areas. Younger and resident Paul Roberts are currently drafting a Request For Proposals for a meter program at the Lions Club. They expect to have the RFP completed within the next week or so.
Objective Two: Develop and implement ideas to control/reduce non-discretionary costs (health insurance, retirement, debt service).
- Priority 1: Semi-annually review cost/benefit of joining Group Insurance Commission, continuing with self-insurance or returning to full insurance model. Younger worked with legislative leadership regarding the municipal health insurance reform that is currently in Conference Committee between the state's House and Senate. So far, one final version is approved. Younger will discuss the town’s options with the selectmen after the Senate conference.
- Priority 2: Propose capital plan that minimizes debt service burden of future projects. Younger is waiting for the results of the library construction grant application, which are expected to be made public at the end of June. He said the town needs to set a schedule for a facility capital plan over the next 10 to 20 years.
“We have an idea but not a formal plan,” Younger said.
“The High School and Butler will have to come back into the plan,” he said.
The police station may be tied to the library, he pointed out.
“We need to understand what our needs are before putting together a formal plan.” Younger and the selectmen agreed a good idea is to have the new director of the joint school and town building maintenance program conduct an assessment of all school and town buildings.
Objective 3: Explore opportunities for greater efficiency/cost savings in delivering services through regionalization.
- Priority 2: Pursue proposals for shared services with surrounding municipalities. Younger submitted rental costs to Lexington for one-day-a-week rental of the Belder Bus (the bus used by the Council on Aging) and is waiting for a response. He also has a meeting later this month or in July to discuss shared ALS services. In addition, Younger filed a grant application for regional public safety dispatch service.
Objective 4: Restructure and consolidate functions for more efficient/cost effective delivery of services.
- Priority 1: Develop detailed plan for consolidation of buildings and facilities management with the school department. Younger pointed to the article approved by April Town Meeting pertaining to the consolidation and is currently working during the summer on an approved memorandum of agreement between the school department and the selectmen.
- Priority 3: Explore public/private partnership at the skating rink. Younger is currently working with the Recreation Department to determine new source of revenue for the rink (possibly increased hours for use at night and early in the morning, pending the approval of neighbors).
Objective 5: Promote economic development.
- Priority 2: Pursue study of MBTA station consolidation. Younger said Rep. Edward Markey’s office researched the matter and concluded the decision is with the MBTA. Younger will contact the Secretary of Transportation during the first week of July to discuss the issue.
- Priority 1: Establish an Economic Advisory Group to review economic development proposals. The Economic Advisory Council, established a little over three months ago, has been meeting twice a month on Thursdays at 8 a.m. in Town Hall. The group will be meeting with selectmen before the fall to provide an update on its work to date.
- Priority 1: Develop and implement plan for revitalized Leonard Street streetscape. The selectmen approved the plan proposed by the Community Development Department at their June 8 meeting and Younger is currently reviewing if the town has the funds to implement the design.
- Priority 1: Develop plan for purchase and sale/reuse of Purecoat property. The BMLD is still exploring the option of using one third of the property for an electrical substation and is looking for a possible November Town Meeting to approve purchasing the property.