GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 7, 2013

Contract money, CPA choices confront Rockport voters

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ROCKPORT — Town voters are set to take up 15 articles Monday at the annual Fall Town Meeting, including funding requests to support new union contracts, proposals to back seawall and storm repairs, and the acceptance of a gift of South Street land.

Article C will ask voters for $20,237 to fund costs in a collective bargaining agreement between the town and the local municipal workers union. Also in the article is an allocation of $8,977 to fund a contract for supervisors union and $3,433 for the local police unions’ pacts.

Town Administrator Linda Sanders said those amounts are to pay increases in the contracts. The funds will be funneled right into the town accounts for fiscal 2014, which began in July of this year and runs until next June.

Police officers are also seeking $96,000 to pay three emergency dispatchers.

Voters Monday will also be poised about several articles dealing with repairs causes by the Blizzard of 2013.

Article G will allocate $800,000 to repair the Pigeon Cove inner and outer seawalls, and it comes with two possible outcomes.

The first provision asks to borrow the funds, the principal and interest on the borrowed money would be paid through the tax levy.

If that does not gain voter approval, the second motion would ask voters to approve at referendum a debt exclusion override of Proposition 2 1/2. If that were the case, property taxes would go up accordingly. For example, a home assessed at $475,000 would see an annual increase of about $132.

”A good amount of that money would be reimbursable,” Joe Parisi, director of the Department of Public Works said.

Another article asks to essentially combine two previous accounts to repair White Wharf into one fund.

The funds have different stipulations of what can be spent on design and construction.

Article I asks voters to spend $56,025 for the smaller projects caused by storms around town; areas affected were Bearskin Neck, Marmion Way at Gap Cove, Back Beach and Granite Pier.

Parisi said this amount represents 25 percent of the total costs, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to fund the rest, once the official disaster paperwork is finalized.

”A lot of the smaller projects are important,” he said.

Voters will also face a number of funding allocations coming from the Community Preservation Act, including $100,000 for the restoration and preservation of Millbrook Meadow Park, $113,000 for the restoration of the Rockport American Legion Band building, $100,000 for the restoration of the Pingree Park tennis courts, two $100,000 allocations to the Conservation Trust Fund and to an Action Inc. program that assists Rockport residents with community housing.

The Planning Board is also including an article that would reconfigure the methodology behind measuring building height; as it stands now there is no guidance about how to measure a building’s height. The article proposes the Building Inspector provide methodology with input from the board.

Voters will also choose to accept a gift of about three-quarters of an acre of land at the end of South Street abutting the water. The land is valued at $939,800 and is owned by a Tewksbury based company, according to assessing records.

Selectman Paul Murphy said gifts of land are not uncommon, but the lot cannot be built upon.

The Fall Town Meeting is set for Monday at 7 p.m. at the Rockport Middle/High School on Jerdens Lane, to view the full warrant visit the town’s website, townofrockport.com.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.

Fall Town Meeting What: Rockport Fall Town Meeting. When: Monday, 7 p.m. Where: Rockport Middle/High School.