Town Manager's Update - April 3, 2020

Please see the following informational update from Melissa G. Arrighi, Town Manager, as of Friday, April 3, 2020:

LOCAL TOWN ELECTION

Town Clerk Laurence Pizer recommends postponing the Town Election to Saturday, June 20, 2020 (originally scheduled for May 16, 2020).    The terms of both existing selectmen, whose terms are ending, will extend until that time.  The Select Board will vote on this recommendation at its upcoming meeting. 

TOWN MEETING – SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2020 - UPDATE ON MEETING BOOKS

Yesterday, I wrote about the Town Meeting Books, formerly and officially known as the Advisory and Finance Committee Report and Recommendations, which Town Meeting Members read in order to prepare for Town Meeting.   As an update, we have received confirmation that the printing company, Powderhorn Press, can accommodate our request to directly mail out these books to Town Meeting Members, as long as a Town employee can drop off the envelopes and School Budget Books to their garage.   That is being arranged, now.  If all goes as expected, Town Meeting Members should receive their backup information, including the School Budget Books, at the end of next week.

MEALS ON WHEELS PROGRAM

Plymouth’s Meals on Wheels Program is a state funded program through Old Colony Elder Services.

We have a pretty large Meals on Wheels program in Plymouth.  It has expanded recently to approximately 190 meals daily.  There is an extensive amount of hands-on work that must be done to ensure this program occurs.   This includes the preparation work, which staff and volunteers need to do at the Center for Active Living, to organize the meals, and then the actual delivery of the meals to the 190 residents.  

As you know, we are trying our best to keep the program going with volunteers and staff at the Center for Active Living.  We are separating them to the greatest extent possible.  However, providing them with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) would be beneficial to ensure further safety measures.   Although the program is extremely important, the supplies and limited shipments of PPE that we may receive are going to be dedicated to police/fire/ambulance.   We would love to continue this program, however, we must maintain the safety of the employees and volunteers as a top priority.  Although we are not ending the program at this point, I did want to let the public know that we are doing everything within our power to make it sustainable; however, that may not be possible.  I will keep you informed. 

HOUSE BILL 4697 SUMMARY

The following information comes directly from the Masachusetts Muncipal Assocation ("MMA") regarding recent legislative actions taken to assist cities and towns:

April 3, 2020

Last night, the House and Senate enacted a key bill to assist cities and towns with a broad range of governance and budgeting issues during the COVID-19 emergency. This act has an emergency preamble, and will take effect immediately when signed by the Governor, which is expected today. The MMA worked closely with lawmakers and the Baker-Polito Administration on these measures, and deeply appreciates the passage of these important provisions.

The Division of Local Services will have a major role in implementing the finance provisions in the bill, and will be issuing a Bulletin to cities and towns with further details within the coming days. DLS has been a key source of information and guidance during the emergency, and MMA appreciates all of their efforts.

Please click here to download the text of the bill:

https://www.mma.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/H4617.pdf

The following is MMA’s summary of the key sections of An Act to Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19:

Town Meeting Delay Beyond June 30. Allows Town Meetings to be delayed beyond June 30 if Governor has declared a state of emergency related to public health or safety. (Section 1).

Recess and Continuance of Town Meeting. Allows the Moderator to recess and continue an already-called Town Meeting during (and until 5 days after) a public health, safety or weather emergency for up to 30 days, renewable for up to 30 days at time during the emergency, but not to a date more than 30 days following the rescission of the state of emergency. If a town does not have a moderator, the Select Board may recess and continue Town Meeting accordingly. A public safety or public health official designated by the Select Board shall submit a report to the Attorney General providing justification for the recess and continuance. These changes are effective as of March 10, 2020. (Sections 2, 3 and 4).

Adoption of Temporary Fiscal 2021 Budgets. If Town Meeting is unable to adopt an annual budget by June 30 due to a declared emergency, the Select Board shall notify the Director of Accounts at DLS, and the Director may approve expenditures from any appropriate fund or account of an amount sufficient for the operations of the Town during the month of July of not less than 1/12 of the total budget approved in the most recent fiscal year, pursuant to a plan approved by the Select Board, with such authority continuing for each successive month that the emergency prevents the adoption of a budget by Town Meeting. (Section 5).

Use of Free Cash and Undesignated Fund Balances. If a Town is delayed from adopting an annual budget due to the COVID-19 emergency, the Director of Accounts may authorize the Town to appropriate (for use in fiscal 2021) from the available undesignated fund balance or free cash certified by DLS as of July 1, 2019, including undesignated fund balances in enterprise funds or special revenue accounts. (Section 6).

Amortization of Fiscal 2020 Deficits. Allows cities and towns to amortize its fiscal 2020 deficit resulting from the COVID-19 emergency over fiscal years 2021 to 2023, to be funded in equal or more rapid installments, such amortization to be adopted prior to setting the fiscal 2021 tax rate. (Section 7).

Use of Revolving Funds. Allows cities and towns that are unable to adopt their fiscal 2021 annual budget due to the COVID-19 emergency to expend amounts from revolving funds not to exceed the authorized expenditure in fiscal 2020. The legislative body shall vote on the total amount to be expended from each revolving fund when the annual budget is adopted. (Section 8).

Tolling Required Action on “Chapter” Lands. Suspends the time period that municipalities are required to act, respond, effectuate or exercise an option to purchase Chapter 61 forest land, Chapter 61A agricultural land, or Chapter 61B recreational land until 90 days after the governor’s March 10, 2020 emergency declaration is terminated. (Section 9).

Option to Delay Property Tax Due Date to June 1. Allows the municipal chief executive to delay the due date for municipal property tax bills to June 1. (Section 10).

Option to Waive Interest and Penalties for Late Payments. Allows the municipal chief executive to waive the payment of interest and other penalties on late payments that were due after March 10, 2020 and paid before June 30, 2020, for any excise, tax, betterment assessment, water or sewer bill, or other charge added to a tax. (Section 11).

Non-Termination of Services to Residents Due to Late Payment. Cities and towns shall not terminate an essential service of a resident, including water, trash collection or electricity, for nonpayment of taxes or fees due on or after March 10, 2020 and paid after the due date but before June 30, 2020, if the nonpayment resulted from a demonstrated inability to pay due to the COVID-19 outbreak or the March 10, 2020 emergency declaration by the governor, provided that the inability to pay shall include a demonstrated financial hardship of a resident, including but not limited to loss of employment, serious illness or death of someone within the home. (Section 11).

State Income Tax Deadline Delayed. Postpones the deadline for filing Massachusetts state income tax returns and payments from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. (Section 12).

Sale of Alcohol by Take-Out Restaurants. Allows restaurants licensed to sell alcoholic beverages on-premises may sell sealed containers of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption as part of take-out food transactions. (Section 13). [SEE ABCC ADVISORY, ATTACHED AT BOTTOM OF PAGE]

Facilitating Return to Service by Retirees. Allows state and municipal employees to return to work for the state or a municipality regardless of mandatory retirement ages or a statutory limit on hours worked and earnings received, to help with workforce needs. Those on disability retirement are not eligible. (Section 14).

Remote Meetings for Shareholder Corporations. Allows public corporations (private shareholder entities) to hold annual or special meetings of shareholders remotely for up to 60 days after the termination of the March 10, 2020 state of emergency. (Section 15).

Provisions for Nonprofit Corporations. Allows nonprofit entities (incorporated under Chapter 180) to conduct or postpone necessary business and meet remotely for up to 60 days after the termination of the March 10, 2020 state of emergency. (Section 16).

Tolling Municipal Requirements on Permits and Quasi-Judicial Public Meetings and Hearings (the “constructive approval” issue). Tolls required municipal actions on permits until 45 days after the termination of the COVID-19 emergency, and no permit shall be considered granted, approved or denied, constructively or otherwise due to the failure of a permit granting authority to act within timelines that would otherwise be in effect. This section also clarifies that permit granting authorities may conduct meetings and public hearings remotely during the COVID-19 emergency, consistent with the Governor’s March 12 Executive Order regarding the Open Meeting Law. This section also applies to the conduct of public meetings, public hearings or other actions taken in a quasi-judicial capacity by all local boards and commissions during the emergency declaration by the governor. (Section 17).

HOMETOWN LITTER CLEANUP - NOTICE FROM EVELYN STRAWN

The Network of Open Space Friends is planning to cancel the cleanup scheduled for May 2. While people can go out alone or at 6’ distances to pick up trash there just doesn’t seem to be any safe way to distribute the purple bags. And having DPW staff pick up the bags does not seem to be an essential service and we shouldn’t be putting anyone at more risk. I will be sending out that notice in the next few days.

NOTICE TO VISITORS COMING IN FROM OUT OF STATE - REMINDER

Beginning March 27, all travelers arriving to Massachusetts are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. This guidance will be displayed as posters at service plazas along 1-90 eastbound, distributed as flyers at major transportation hubs and on posted on highway message boards. Visitors are instructed not to travel to Massachusetts if they are displaying symptoms. Health care workers, public health workers, public safety workers, transportation workers and designated essential workers are exempt from this requirement.

HOUSING & URBAN DEVELOPMENT

Community Resources Director Peggy Whalen has a noon call today with the Office of Housing & Urban Development ("HUD").  It looks like HUD is allocating an additional $227,000 in funds to Plymouth.  On today's call, HUD will break down how Plymouth can use these funds.  The funds are specific to helping people through this crisis.  We will keep you posted.

AIRPORT ACTIVITY - NOTICE FROM THE AIRPORT MANAGER

“The weather (wx) this week has been poor, so the activity level may not be indicative of activity if the wx was decent. This past Friday and Saturday were pretty active; Sunday nothing other than Medflight. I think in another week or two, we will have a feeling for what the average activity level may be like for the duration. Not surprisingly, the only consistent flyers are Medflight and the State Police (SPs). I’ll guess at this point that we may end up at under 10% of our normal activity averaged over any given week. I’m working on an economic impact comparison and will keep you informed."

Q n A

Q: What do I do about water & sewer Permit Signoff’s During COVID-19 Operations

A: Mail or email permits to the applicable DPW Division below for processing.

Water Entrance Permit Application link:

https://www.plymouth-ma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif3691/f/uploads/new_water...

Sewer Connection Permit Application link:

https://www.plymouth-ma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif3691/f/uploads/sewer_con...

Permit application will be sent inter-office between DPW and then on to Inspectional Services

Once the permit is ready for pick up, the office of Inspectional Services will contact you

Please email or call with any questions you may have to each DPW Superintendent listed below:

Sewer: Chad Whiting, [email protected], 131 Camelot Drive, Plymouth, MA 02360, 508-830-4159 x213

Water: Peter Gordon, [email protected], 169 Camelot Drive, Plymouth, MA 02360, 508-830-4162 x12141

Inspectional Services: Paul McAuliffe, Director of Inspectional Services, [email protected], 26 Court Street, Plymouth, MA 02360, 508-747-1620 x10116

 

Melissa G. Arrighi, Plymouth Town Manager

‘Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Stay Informed’

#bepartofthesolution

#inthistogether

https://www.plymouth-ma.gov/

[email protected]