2022 Town Meeting Segment B: Swan Song For Capital Budget’s Stalwarts As One-Time Windfall Meets This Year’s Needs

Photo: Anne Marie Mahoney, chair of the Capital Budget Committee, in action.

For 15 years, Anne Marie Mahoney has identified, found the funding for, and shepherd Belmont’s capital needs through the Town Meeting process with her usual aplomb as the longstanding chair of the Capital Budget Committee.

Known for her meticulous reports, having every fact down cold and at the ready all which she presented in a good natured but firm disposition of a school teacher she once was, Mahoney has long been the model in town of how to present – and importantly, pass – an article before, at times, testy audiences of nearly 300 Town Meeting Members.

On Wednesday, June 1, Mahoney – along with her fellow long-serving Capital Budget stalwarts Jenny Fallon and Betsy Vose – presented their final capital budget before Belmont’s legislative body on the first night of Segment B of the annual Town Meeting held virtually. (It is also the final action of the Capital Budget Committee as it has been absorbed into the newly-formed Comprehensive Capital Budget Committee.)

Calling the trio “the oldies but goodies,” Mahoney said she and her compatriots “loved our time working for the town particularly love capital” having served on the committee for so long. “But at the same time, it’s good to recognize when it’s time to move on and do other things,” she said before the meeting.

“If we were in person, we would have a loud standing ovation for these individuals,” said Town Moderator Mike Widmer.

And ending this chapter of their Town Meeting history with a flourish, Mahoney stated that in fiscal ’23, Belmont has more than enough money to meet its capital needs! Well, at least for this coming fiscal year.

“For the past ten years, I have stood before you and reminded you that the Capital Budget Committee needs at least $3 million a year to keep on top of routine requests,” said Mahoney, saying it would be lucky to come up with half that amount. This year, finally, all the financial stars aligning, with the sale of the Cushing Square parking lot ($1.043 million) and end-of-the -year turn backs to town coffers ($545,121) resulted in a robust $3.138 million in available revenue. And since half the total came from these one-time funds, “this windfall came with the obligation to choose wisely” which was to target one-time projects, said Mahoney.

Mahoney preceded to present the articles, with a significant amount of the facilities department’s allocation – $1.2 million – directed to the Butler Elementary School, the town’s oldest school building, which will include façade repair, replacement windows and a new PA system.

(The full list of capital allocations can be found at the bottom of the page.)

The extra revenue also allowed the committee to add a new Project Bid Reserve line item for $205,738. Like a building contingency fund, when the cost of a capital budget job runs over its allocated bid price, the department can use the funds rather than waiting until the next Town Meeting to seek the difference.

As part of the annual roads and sidewalks, $1,857,772 was appropriated for paving projects, and $237,730 for sidewalks.

By the end of the 10 separate votes, you could count on two hands the number of negative tallies as Mahoney left the stage one last time.

As a final word, Mahoney reminded the meeting that while the funds were available this year, there remains “projects without end” facing the town from building envelopes, roads, sidewalks, culverts and water mains that will quickly require attention.

And it wouldn’t be a Capital Budget presentation from Mahoney if there wasn’t a quote or, this year, a story enlightening the members on the process the committee followed. Mahoney was taken with a performance of a contemporary work at a recent Boston Symphony Orchestra Friday afternoon concert which featured non-musical items such as sandpaper and cellophane as important sounds in the work as well an artist playing two pianos simultaneously then plucking its strings.

“What is my capital budget takeaway? We have the score for the concerto to follow which is our process and our legal requirements. But we also have ingenuity within the limitations with unusual instruments such as creative playing techniques, everyday items play to deliver something exciting. We hope that what the Capital Budget Committee has done this year is equally exciting,” said Mahoney.

The complete list of Capital Budget expenditures which were accepted by Town Meeting include:

FACILITIES DEPT. $1,485,017

2022 Hybrid Utility Vehicle: $55,666
Butler Masonry Façade Repair: $487,000
Butler KalWal Replacement: $415,000
Butler PA System: $300,000
Electric Van: $54,756
Wellington Heat Pump: $97,595
Winn Brook Fire/PA Systems: $75,000

FIRE DEPT. $583,665
Air Packs: $376,584
Ambulance Replacement: $80,000
Cardiac Monitor Replacement: $7,000
Ambulance Power Load Cot System: $45,081
Replace Staff Car: $75,000

IT DEPT. $230,000
Fiber Optics Burbank/Wellington: $20,000
Network Storage:$60,000
Fiber Line to Antenna Site $150,000

POLICE DEPT. $42,000
Radio Amplifier: $30,000
Replace EMD Server: $12,000

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS $409,070
Tree Inventory: $55,000

Cemetery Pick-Up Truck: $58,310

Parks Front End Loader: $112,450

Parks Pick-up Truck: $58,310

Replace Trees $25,000
Sidewalks from Balances $100,000

OFFICE OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Roads Rebuild and Patch $150,000

Capital Roads Non-Discretionary $1,857,772
Sidewalks $ 237,730
Total Paving/Sidewalks $2,095,502

Project Bid Reserve $205,738

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