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History Is Made With Very Little Fanfare At Tewksbury Annual Town Meeting

May 03, 2016 02:53PM ● By Bill Gilman

Resident Warren Carey speaks on an article at Monday's Annual Town Meeting

Tewksbury voters made history with the passage of a $100 million Town Budget on Day 1 of the Annual Town Meeting, Monday night at Tewksbury High School.
You just couldn't tell from their reaction.
Voters were remarkably subdued throughout the evening, as article after article passed with virtually no debate. This included the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, which topped nine figures ($100,241,010) for the first time ever. Town manager Richard Montuori said the budget was representative of the fiscal progress the town has made over the past six years.
"In the first time in my years here, we're talking about, not deferred priorities but addressed priorities," said Montuori. "We're talking about adding items, not cutting items."
Bruce Panilaitis, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, praised the budget for funding Sunday hours for the Town Library and the addition of a Facilities Manager for the town.
"For the first time, department heads can put their (full) focus on managing their departments and not have to worry about their facilities."
The budget also provided the needed funding for the School Department to establish the long sought after free, all-day kindergarten program in the fall.
In all, voters approved 24 articles on the 34 article warrant. The other 10 (mostly zoning items), along with 18 articles on the Special Town Meeting Warrant, will be addressed Wednesday night, starting at 7 p.m.
Among the items that quietly passed on Monday was an article that established a Cable Television Enterprise Fund, to be funded with revenue received from Comcast and Verizon each year from cable television fees. The money will be used for the establishment and operation of Tewksbury's first-ever Cable Television Studio, including a Public Access TV channel.
Of the 20 articles addressed and passed Monday night, the one that generated the most discussion was a request to use $35,000 in Community Preservation Fund money toward the cleanup of Long Pond. The pond was closed to all recreation use earlier this year because of unsafe levels of e.coli bacteria and algae.
Residents Elizabeth and Warren Carey both argued against using the funds for that purpose, saying the pond hasn't been "clean" for generations and that spending the money now would commit the town to spending considerably more money in the future to try and keep it clean.
However, other residents said the money was a good investment to try and re-establish the town's only public access pond for recreation purposes.
The article passed overwhelmingly.

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