ROCKPORT - Town Meeting has been officially rescheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8, at 8 a.m., and the warrant has been released to the public. 

The current plan is to hold the event outdoors at Rockport High School on Jerden's Lane. Town Moderator Robert Visnick previously told the Times he was looking into the possibility of participating in Town Meeting remotely. For example, voters could follow along online or on television and vote on articles from the safety of their homes. 

"The Legislature hasn’t yet allowed for a virtual town meeting," Visnick said Thursday evening by email. "I believe such a bill is circulating in the House or Senate. But that’ll likely only help us, if at all, for our next meeting."

Instead, Visnick said he hopes to hold the meeting in the open at the soccer field with an option, on a space available basis, to participate while sitting in a vehicle parked in the high school parking lot. Registered resident voters who plan to attend the meeting are asked to complete a short survey on which option they prefer at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/augusttownmeeting.

The moderator plans on speaking with town officials regarding meeting logistics this Friday. 

The 26-article warrant has also been published online. Registered voters will finally have the opportunity to confirm the town's proposed $36.5 million budget for fiscal 2021, which began July 1. Selectmen previously approved one-twelfth of the budget for July expenditures. 

Once voters have dispensed with budget items at the start of the meeting, articles will be taken up by lottery.

Article H seeks town funds to pay for its share of future FEMA mitigation projects at T Wharf, Bradley Wharf, White Wharf and Pigeon Cove Harbor. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's website, funds from its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program are used to help pay for "long-term solutions that reduce the impact of (natural) disasters in the future."

If passed, Article K and L would allow a 3% tax on short-term housing rentals, such as AirBnB bookings. Manchester recently had a 6% tax proposed on its Town Meeting warrant. The vote on it was tabled, however, as Manchester town officials found it was not "time sensitive."

Seven citizens petitions are on Rockport's warrant this year. A group of residents are seeking to ban the use of fluoride in the town's water supply. Article N seeks to have a town-owned wetland on Straitsmouth Way preserved for environmental conservation. Article Q hopes to set a three-term limit for selectmen, and Article R would restrict compensation to all elected officials besides the town clerk and moderator. 

Here's a summary of the 2020 Town Meeting warrant articles:

1: Select an agent for the various Rockport trust funds and any other necessary officers. 

2: Pay off unpaid bills and, or payroll from previous years.

3: Rescind any authorizations previously given to borrow funds for municipal purposes.

4: Amend or revise compensation schedules.

5: Fund the town's expenses and sewer (Article 5a) and water enterprises (Article 5b), as well as the Community Preservation Fund (Article 5c), for FY21.

6: Fund capital outlay items for the town, water (Article 6a) and sewer enterprises (Article 6b). 

LOTTERY SYSTEM ARTICLES

A: Accept the 2019 Annual Town Report.

B: Expend Chapter 9 funds allocated to the town.

C: Donate the following to Action, Inc., $4,000; HAWC, $3,000; Senior Care, $3,100; Open Door, $5,000.

D: Add  the following to pay for future expenditures:  General Stabilization Fund, $50,000; Capital Reserve Stabilization Fund, $200,000; Special Education Stabilization Fund, $200,000; Conservation Trust Fund, $450. 

E: Pay for assessor revaluation expenses.

F: Reserve funds for the unanticipated costs of coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, including personnel costs.

G: Transfer available funds to  town departments to balance the fiscal 2021 budget.

H: Pay town's share of FEMA mitigation projects at T Wharf, Bradley Wharf, White Wharf, and Pigeon Cove Harbor.

I: Transfer money from the SPED Stabilization Fund to the School Department to pay for fiscal 2021 special education obligations.

J: Fund the collective bargaining agreement between the town and AFSCME Local 1679 — General Unit union.

K: Impose a 3% community impact fee on the transfer of occupancy of a short-term rental in a "professionally-managed unit."

L: Impose a 3% community impact fee on the transfer of occupancy of a short-erm rental located in a two-family or three-family dwelling that includes the operator's primary residence.

M: Ban adding any fluoridation products to municipal water supplies. By citizen petition.

N: Designate the town-owned Parcel 26-81 on Straitsmouth Way for environmental preservation. By citizen petition.

O: Refuse any and all deposition of radioactive gasses, fallout particles or any form of ionizing radiation discharge in town. By citizen petition.

P: Recognize the intrinsic value of natural lands in their natural historic state. By citizen petition.

Q: Instate a three-year term limit for selectmen.  By citizen petition.

R: Prohibit compensation for elected town officials, excluding the town clerk and moderator. By citizen petition.

S: Remove the cottages at Long Beach and replace them with an ecologically sustainable parking lot and walking paths. By citizen petition.

T:  Receive and act upon the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Town Water Supply and extend the term of the committee.

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

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