Annual Town Meeting (ATM) was held, as usual, inside the high school auditorium with the overflow accommodated in the gym. At one point early on the first night there were 920 people in attendance. The meeting lasted two long nights. Sarah Alger, Moderator, handled the meeting with grace and good humor. Below is a summary of articles of note:
Article 8 was the General Fund Operating Budget. The article sought $104,523,366 to run the Town for FY 2023 and it passed overwhelmingly. Article 10, General Fund Capital Expenditures also passed, adding another $36 million.
Harbor Master Building: ATM voted $2,000,000 in supplemental funding to replace the Harbor Master Building on Washington Street. This still has to pass as an override at the ballot.
10-12 Washington Street: The meeting voted to appropriate the funds ($4,750,000) to acquire by purchase, gift, or eminent domain, the transportation center, known as the Greenhound Building.
Affordable Housing Capital Expenditures: This article was sponsored by the Select Board in an effort to give them more flexibility when acquiring real estate for employee housing. Ten million dollars was approved, subject to an override at the ballot.
Short-Term Rental Regulations: There were 3 articles on the warrant – Articles 39 and 42 were sponsored by the Planning and Select Boards and Article 43 was sponsored by a representative of Ack-Now. Article 39, which put the framework in place to start identifying short-term rentals and putting in place regulations to deal with nuisance properties, passed by a large margin. The other two articles, which had been more controversial, were tabled and sent back to the Select Board, the Planning Board and the Finance Committee to form a committee with broad representation from the community to come up with suggestions for by-laws based upon factual information.