Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Finance Committee, March 13, 2024

Article 7 and 54: Private Way Betterment

Regarding Article 7, the major change proposed addresses how petitions for a group of private ways within a larger association should be handled when seeking a betterment. The revision allows groups of private ways to pursue betterments only requiring the actual abutters who will pay for those betterments to vote on the petition. Another key change is adjusting the required deposit before a project can proceed, changing from a one-third to a 50% deposit requirement. This is intended to improve cash flow and allow for simultaneous progress on multiple projects.

Article 54 relates to the need to reseed the private way revolving fund with a proposal of $100,000, reflecting the balance appropriated by town meeting in fiscal year ’22. The balance in the account is approximately $22,000, and the additional funding is to allow progress on projected betterment projects for fiscal year 24. Four projects were initially anticipated for 2024, but the funding at a 50% rate ensures that at least three projects can proceed.

The issues with deferred collections and project pacing due to financial logistics were also discussed, noting the past expenses and the faster rate at which funding has been depleted in recent years. The manager provided examples of associations and streets that have petitioned for betterments and the expected lists of potential projects.

Article 35: PEG Access

The Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) TV, ACMI, receives funding from subscriber fees which totaled an anticipated revenue of $756,000 for FY 25. However, ACMI is projecting a budget deficit of about $60,000 for the year, potentially leading to staff reductions or curtailed services. The primary source of revenue decline is attributed to the increasing trend of cord-cutting, which has reduced collected revenues in recent years. If the deficit is not addressed, ACMI will need to adjust its operations accordingly.

Article 36: Parking Benefit Districts

The Parking Benefit District is projecting to spend $110,000 more than its anticipated revenue. There are plans to conduct work in the Russell Common lot and a few other areas. Any issues with the parking meters offering only a 15-minute free function for parking less than that time were also clarified. The 15 minutes are not free towards longer parking durations.

Article 42: Transportation Infrastructure (Uber Money)

Appropriation of $23,615.20 based on calendar year ’22 rides was discussed for transportation infrastructure improvement. The manager suggested this funding could be purposed towards the operation of the town’s blue bike network, as currently there’s no separate funding source within the general fund to support the ongoing operation and maintenance of this system.

Article 48: Legal Defense and Indemnification

There is no appropriation required for the legal defense fund, and a sum of $15,161.34 was proposed to provide medical expenses for public safety employees on medical retirement.

Article 53: Stratton School

No appropriation is needed for Article 53, which involves the authorization for the takings associated with the installation of a sidewalk that will be funded by the $1.6 million MassDOT grant for the Stratton school. The Select Board will report on this article as it involves takings and temporary easements for the project.

Article 56: Prudent Investor Rule

Discussions revolved around adopting the Prudent Investor Act, which allows trust funds to be invested beyond the “legal list”. Currently, 22 stocks and 35 mutual funds comprise this legal list. Adoption of the act would enable town trustees or their appointed financial advisors (Rockland Trust in this case) to seek higher yielding investments. Concerns were raised about the town not having a written investment policy and the lack of historical performance data on such investments. The need for more information and the establishment of an investment policy before potentially expanding investment options were emphasized.

Parking Benefits and Transportation Infrastructure

Both articles related to parking benefits and transportation infrastructure (Uber Money) were voted upon and approved, aligning with the presented numbers.



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