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:


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

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

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

Pair Of Public Meetings This Week: Belmont Middle/High Building Committee And American Rescue Act

Photo: Two public forums will be held this week

The Select Board will be joining several committees and groups for two virtual joint public meetings that will effect the lives of every resident in Belmont.

On Tuesday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m., the Select Board will be joined by the Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee and the School Committee to discuss aspects of the construction of the $295 million 7-12 school that has been in the news. One area that will be brought up will be design and construction concerns at Concord Avenue and Goden Street, the new traffic lights at the intersection, site design review as well as public comments on the evaluation of construction impacts to neighboring properties.

The Transportation Advisory Committee and the High School Traffic Working Group have also been invited to join the meeting.

The meeting will be conducted Via Zoom Meeting. By computer or smartphone, go to:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89055600185?pwd=alNQLzVHOFM3bEZuU2dUWjczaTVYdz09 and follow on-screen instructions.

On Wednesday, Aug. 18, the public is invited to join the Select Board’s joint meeting with the School, Warrant Committee, and Capital Budget Committee also at 7 p.m. via Zoom to discussing the how the town will distribute the approximately $7.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding the town received earlier in the year.

By computer or smartphone, go to: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84474554147

Both meetings can be seen live at the Belmont Media Center:
Channel 8 on Comcast
Channel 28 or 2130 on Verizon
Or watch online at belmontmedia.org/watch/govtv

If you have any questions, please reach out to the Town Administrator’s Office at townadministrator@belmont-ma.gov or call 617-993-2610

Selectmen To Give $386K to Capital Budget Rather than Taxpayers

Photo: Belmont Board of Selectmen.

What would you do with an extra $386,000 in next year’s budget? Give it back to taxpayers? How about spending it right off to repair the roads? 

“That $386,000 has generated quite a bit of discussion around town,” said Sami Baghdady, the chair of the Belmont Board of Selectmen.

Before Town Meeting on Monday, May 4, the Selectmen tentatively decided the $386,000 in additional state aid the town was not expecting into next fiscal town budget will be heading over to the Capital Budget Committee to be used to assist big-ticket items.

“Finally, all our pleading paid off,” said Anne Marie Mahoney, chair of the Capital Budget Committee, after the meeting.

Town Meeting will need to approve the allocation to Capital Budget in June when budget articles are voted.

After debating for more than a month what to do with the funds, the Selectmen’s decision to park the money in a Capital Budget Stabilization Fund comes at the expense of taxpayers. By not increasing the tax levy by the “extra” state funding, residential homeowners would have saved on next year’s tax bill, according to Town Treasurer Floyd Carman.

“Having just voting a considerable override, this would be a little bit of relief, maybe $40 to $50 or so to the taxpayers,” said Baghdady. 

“I’d really like to turn the money back to the residents, but we need to give direction,” said Selectman Mark Paolillo. 

Yet during last week’s Warrant Committee meeting, Town Moderator Mike Widmer called the tax relief move “a gimmick” as there are real needs to be serviced in town. 

Other possible uses included replenishing the Belmont School Department’s special education stabilization fund, the entire $250,000 in the account will be used to fill a $500,000 budget gap facing the department this year.

But there is a real need for the Capital Budget Committee to obtain additional funds since the $240,000 it will receive from the $4.5 million Proposition 2 1/2 override approve by voters in April to finance a million dollars in bonds for miscellaneous items, is about to be used to replace to the 45-year-old fire alarm system at Belmont High School. Belmont’s Fire Chief David Frizzell said if the system fails, the high school building will be closed.

“So the intention of giving us more money to fund our pay-as-you-go capital budget is not happening because it’s going to the fire alarm system,” said Mahoney.

“It’s frustrating to us … expecting that when the override passed we would get some more money to deal with our list,” she said.

When Paolillo asked Mahoney if the committee needed the money, she listed off a half dozen “immediate” projects that requires action. 

By the end of the meeting, the Selectmen believed the best use of the $386,000 is by providing Capital Budget with the extra cash.

The Capital Budget Committee is meeting on Wednesday, May 6, at 6 p.m. at Belmont High School to discuss how the extra money will be allocated.