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12:53 p.m. Hamilton Town Meeting is adjourned.
12:53 p.m. Hamilton Avenue resident Jim Kent takes the microphone to thank the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee for "ushering in a new day of intelligence and caring for all members of Hamilton."
12:52 p.m. Article 5-4 passes.
12:50 p.m. The final article is under consideration, Article 5-4, to transfer $275,000 from free cash towards the budget - the amount of money voters were .
12:49 p.m. Article 5-4 passes with a voice vote with a handful of votes in opposition.
12:45 p.m. Article 5-4 is up for consideration. Board of Selectman Chairman Jennifer Scuteri makes the motion to submit a home rule petition to the state Legislature that would allow the town to negotiate health care coverage including copayments and deductibles outside of collective bargaining and to offer tiered plans.
12:44 p.m. Article 5-3 is approved by two thirds in a voice vote, approving an easement for National Grid at to .
12:43 p.m. Article 5-3 is up for consideration, which requires a two third vote to establish an easement for National Grid for the new lights at Patton Park.
12:42 p.m. Article 5-2 is passed by a voice vote, establishing expedited permitting.
12:40 p.m. Selectman Marc Johnson is speaking about Article 5-2 to set up expedited permitting for the landfill.
12:39 p.m. The voice vote on Article 5-1 has gone to a card count. It passes with a few votes in opposition.
12:38 p.m. Bullivant says it was an excellent recommendation by Lawrence.
12:38 p.m. Willow Street resident Barbara Lawrence says that she supports establishing the Development Corporation but that its membership should include a resident of the downtown neighborhood.
"We need someone who speaks for those neighborhoods," Lawrence says.
12:35 p.m. Everything that comes out of the proposed corporation will have to have the full support of every board and committee in the town, Bullivant says in response to McKean's comments.
"It isn't possible to have progress in this town without consensus," Bullivant says.
Members will be chosen by the Board of Selectmen and accountable to the Selectmen, Bullivant says.
12:32 p.m. Robert Mckean of Woodland Meade, a member of the Planning Board, says that the plan for the Development Corp. was never brought to the Planing Board. It gives too much power to the proposed corporation, he says.
12:29 p.m. Bullivant says that instead of moving local meals tax revenue into the Commercial Economic Development Stabilization Fund (voters approved taking no action on that in Article 2-10) it should be moved to the Hamilton Development Corp., where the money would be used to .
12:25 p.m. Bob Bullivant is talking about Article 5-1, establishing the Hamilton Development Corp. It would tax-exempt holding company to help plan commercial development and would use financial tools to attract businesses to Hamilton.
12:24 p.m. Article 4-2 is approved, a move that makes the accounting for the easier for town accountants.
12:21 p.m. Article 4-2 is up for discussion. "It is not giving any more power to anyone," says Gretel Clark.
12:18 p.m. Article 2-13 passes unanimously by a voice vote to transfer $185,940 from the Capital Library Fund to the Capital Landfill fund to help pay to cap the landfill.
12:16 p.m. Article 2-13 is up for discussion. Town Manager Michael Lombardo says that it proposes to transfer $185,940 from the library capital fund to the landfill capital fund pay to cap the landfill. The money is from the bond to build the combined library and must be used on a similar project of a similar length, Lombardo said in response to a question from resident Lauren Prior.
12:15 p.m. Article 2-12 for the town to enter into a five year contract to purchase MUNIS accounting software is approved in a voice vote.
12:13 p.m. Ramsey declares the motion approved by a two-thirds vote based on the cards held up in the air by voters. Article 2-11 for a bond to cap the landfill passes and now goes to a ballot vote on May 26.
12:13 p.m. Since Article 2-11 to asks to incur debt and it will require two thirds approval, Ramsey says.
12:13 p.m. Lombardo says DEP has said that the landfill needs to be capped by 2015. It depends on how the vote goes as to how strict DEP will be in handing down enforcement.
12:12 Lombardo said with a solar field the town would get a return on the investment within a year.
12:10 p.m. Resident Jerry Fallon asks when the town may start getting new revenue from development on the capped landfill.
12:07 p.m. Selectman Marc Johnson says the landfill closure was done 20-25 years ago to a previous standard and neither the DEP or town have any of the documents detailing the closure. In addition, one of two cells have not been closed to DEP standards.
12:06 p.m. Lombardo says that the cost of the bond would equal a 9 cent increase on the tax rate for 20 years.
11:59 a.m. Spang says that if the town does not vote to fund capping the landfill, an uncapped landfill could open the possibility of $3,450 to $25,000 per day fine from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
11:55 a.m. Betsy Spang is at the microphone to talk about Article 2-11, the $2 million debt exclusion override to pay to cap the landfill on Chebacco Road.
11:55 a.m. By voicevote, voters approve taking no action on Article 2-10, which would transfer local meals tax revenue to the Commercial Economic Development Stabilization Fund.
11:54 a.m. CPC Chairman Tom Catalano presents a PowerPoint presentation about the CPA spending for the coming year, which was just approved.
11:48 a.m. Article 2-6 is passed in a voice vote, funding the CPC's proposed spending, which includes $42,000 for restoration of of the heating system at the , $10,925 to restore a historic map of Essex County, $26,950 for restoration projects at the and $25,000 to pay for trail easement acquisitions and deed research for the Discover Hamilton trail.
11:43 Hamilton Town Meeting is back in session. The Community Preservation Committee's requests for Community Preservation Act spending is being considered.
11:38 a.m. Ramsey says the meeting is in recess.
11:37 a.m. The full motion passes with voters raising their cards. This sends the school budget back to the School Committee.
11:36 a.m. The motion to amend the school budget to the "giveback" amount - Hamilton's share being $15,307,333 - is approved 181-121.
11:33 a.m. Ramsey tells one voter who inquired that a simple majority is required to amend the school budget to the lower "giveback" amount. A vote on the main motion - either on the School Committee number or the "giveback" number - will still be required.
11:31 a.m. The count of voters in favor of the amendment to lower the school budget amount is complete. Voters opposed to the amendment are being tallied now.
11:28 a.m. The teller count on the school budget amendment continues, with the tally remaining to be completed in the center section of the seats.
11:21 a.m. The vote on the school budget is happening. A tally with voters raising their cards was not conclusive. Tellers are now moving around the auditorium doing a voter-by-voter count.
11:18 a.m. Bill Dery of Chebacco Road is outlining some areas of the school budget where he thinks overspending is proposed, including a $5,000 water bubbler.
11:15 a.m. "I sense an eagerness to vote," Ramsey said.
Town Counsel Donna Brewer is explaining the consequences of the vote. If the School Committee's budget is not approved, the budget goes back to the School Committee for it to recertify a new budget.
If the School Committee votes a school budget that is the same or less than the budget voted today, a new Town Meeting will not be needed. If the School Committee recertifies a new budget that is higher than the budget approved at Hamilton Town Meeting, a new Town Meeting would be required.
11:13 a.m."I trust the School Committee," says Kimberley Jaeger of Moulton Street, who says the School Committee is elected to support the children.
11:09 a.m. School Superintendent Dr. Raleigh Buchanan is at the microphone explaining that the district is a No. 2 district on a five point scale, with one the highest. The four new teachers in the budget are to get the district back to level one. New teachers includes teacher for language arts development at .
"I do not think this community deserves a school system that is ranked number two," he says. "We need to work to get back to number one."
11:06 a.m. Former Selectman Dick Lowe says he supports the "giveback" budget because it lessens the burden on the taxpayers while retaining staffing levels.
"I don't think we should be building cash reserves to address long term structural deficits," Lowe said.
11:05 a.m. Woman at microphone says past overrides have been for "basic needs and not luxuries" and the schools need a sufficient amount of money in its reserves.
11:03 a.m. Jim Kent says School Committee's vote in favor of its budget was not unanimous and the opposing votes on the School Committee made sense.
"We're making this way more complicated that it needs to be," Kent says.
11:01 a.m. Scuteri says towns with a similar amount of special education students are spending less than Hamilton-Wenham and per pupil spending in peer districts spend in lower too.
"We are spending significantly more on our special education program and we need to address it," Scuteri said.
10:55 a.m. Board of Selectmen Chairman Jennifer Scuteri is addressing the audience. She says Hamilton-Wenham spends $1,000 to $2,000 more than other high-performing peer schools.
10:53 a.m. Rick Mitchell of Rock Maple Avenue says "it is not about the numbers, it is about the principle."
"Collectively the School Committee doesn't get it," and it is time to recognize the taxpayers' hard work, Mitchell says.
10:51 a.m. Tracy Mayor says 10 people in the back of the auditorium have to go to soccer and she said there is confusion about the process.
Ramsey says that the first vote will be on an amendment to decide on the amount of the budget that will go to a final vote.
10:50 a.m. Lynette Fallon says Hamilton-Wenham schools spend 6.3 percent above the state average.
"Whether you think that is a good thing or a terrible thing, I don't know but I want you to have that in your head."
10:46 a.m. Jean Towne of Savoy Road says that her children learned in Hamilton-Wenham schools about "social justice" there is no "social justice" that seniors do not have their own .
Towne calls the School Committee "ruthless springtime money grabbers" and several members of the crowd yells "time."
10:44 a.m. Several members of the crowd yell "time" when the clock hits five minutes while Jay Burnham is speaking.
"Let's me civil here, the clock is a guideline," says Moderator Bruce Ramsey.
10:42 a.m. is addressing Town Meeting, representing Enough is Enough. He says the School Committee's budget is an override request disguised as a school budget.
10:31 McWane moves to amend the school budget to the "giveback" amount that is supported by the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee.
10:29 a.m. Gray has gone over his five minute presentation time limit. He is wrapping up his outline of the 2012 school budget and explaining why the schools need more money in the "excess and deficiency fund."
10:11 a.m. School Committee Vice-chairman Jack O'Keefe makes a motion on the school budget. Assistant Superintendent Peter Gray steps up to the microphone to explain the budget.
10:10 p.m. The library budget is being discussed. Mr. Willnow of Mill Street says he uses the library often but considers it a luxury and wonders why the focus is on the school budget and not on the library. The $555,000 library budget is approved with a voice vote.
10:08 a.m. There were three holds, on "Protection of persons and property," library and schools. "Protection of persons and property" budget is approved in a voice vote.
Mena said that salaries for all town employees is up 1.5 percent.
9:58 a.m. The town budget is being introduced. Each department budget is being read, line by line. Ramsey is asking voters to yell out "hold" for items that they want more discussion.
9:56 a.m. The first action has been taken at the 2012 Hamilton Annual Town Meeting. Ten of the 24 articles on the Town Meeting warrant have been approved using a "consent motion." Those articles are 1-2, 2-1, 2-3, 2-4, 2-5, 2-7, 2-8, 2-9, 2-15 and 4-1. Check the town meeting warrant, attached to this blog as a PDF, for the details about those articles.
9:48 a.m. Ramsey is explaining the that are counted by the tellers. He is also showing the new time clock on the screen on the stage; five minutes for presenters and three minutes for speakers from the audience.
9:45 a.m. Selectman David Carey is explaining the formation of the Hamilton Housing Trust.
9:43 a.m. Lombardo is talking about the increases in the budget and explains that the Police Department's increase is larger than it looks because it is calculated based on 60 hours of unpaid time in past years for many officers, based on a settlement with the state Office of Emergency Medical Services.
"That reflected a lower budget in the past," Lombardo said.
The Police Department has been reduced from a 15 person department to 12 in recent years and to cover all the shifts the budget includes increased overtime costs of $50,000, Lombardo said.
9:40 a.m. Lombardo is outlining 2012 budget "challenges," which includes significant increases in health insurance and retirement costs.
9:38 a.m. Tax bills were due on May 1, but 50 bills totaling $1 million are still unpaid, McWane said. This is a reflection on the tough times and should be remembered when considering voting on articles that impact the tax rate.
9:31 a.m. The town and school budget is $23 million, up $99,000 in 2012, McWane said.
The tax levy for 2012 will be down $258,000, which comes out as a 20 cent reduction on the tax rate, based on the current property values.
"This hasn't happened in my lifetime," McWane said, which was met with applause from the audience.
9:29 p.m. McWane is outlining the to support a $500,000 "giveback" in the school budget.
9:27 a.m. "The right thing to do is give it back and that is what we are doing in this line item," McWane said, in explaining use of the town's free cash in the budget, an amount equal to the amount that taxpayers was overcharged.
9:24 a.m. Lombardo gets an applause for the new energy and perspective he has brought to town government.
9:23 a.m. Finance Committee Chairman John McWane is giving a report about the financial health of the town.
9:22 a.m. Ramsey is introducing the town officials on the stage and at the front of the auditorium, which includes the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, Town Clerk Jane Wetson, Town Manager Michael Lombardo, Lombardo's assistant Chris Lindberg, Finance Director Deb Mena and Town Attorney Donna Brewer.
9:21 a.m. Scuteri is reviewing the articles on the warrant where the Board of Selectmen seek voter support.
9:18 a.m. Scuteri is talking about the capital improvement plan and citizen survey that have been undertaken recently.
9:09 a.m. Board of Selectmen Chairman Jennifer Scuteri and Town Manager Michael Lombardo is offering opening remarks, sharing some of the town accomplishments since the Special Town Meeting last October. Accomplishments include energy efficiency upgrades at town building, organic recycling and settling several union contracts.
9:05 a.m. Moderator Bruce Ramsey is introducing the procedures for the meeting.