On Tuesday, the Town Council approved using some of the funds left over from the Fiscal Year 2021 budget to fund the creation of a Climate and Energy Master Plan.
Town Manager Michael Driscoll told the Town Council that the Town’s share of state aid and new growth came in higher than projected when the FY21 budget was created. As a result, the Town ended up with $1.57 million in additional revenues. He proposed using the money in multiple ways, including the Climate and Energy Plan.
Watertown studied the Town’s vulnerabilities to climate change and energy needs, and applied for an Action Grant form the State’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program to create the Climate and Energy Plan. Recently the Town learned it did not receive the grant, said Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon.
“The $102,000 replaces that grant funding we hoped to get,” Magoon said. “We are putting together the RFP (request for proposals) … We hope to get moving and start moving in earnest. There are several components of it. The funding is important to let us get started with that work. “
According to the State’s MVP Program Action Grant website, such a plan could:
- Identify, inventory, assess, and prioritize people, places, resources, and/or critical facilities or infrastructure that may be impacted by climate change in order to propose strategies for improving resiliency.
- Develop and formally adopt planning documents and regulations that encourage climate change adaptation.
- Develop and implement plans that will increase social resiliency and public health
The funding for the Climate and Energy Master Plan was just one use of the revenue surplus. Most of the money, $1.369 million, will be placed into the Town Council’s Reserve Fund. Driscoll said the money, which will raise the Council Reserve to $3.1 million, will help deal with uncertainties in the Town’s Budget.
“The number one concern for Fiscal Year ’21, as well as for the development of the of Fiscal Year ’22 budget, being the COVID-19 Pandemic and related budget issues,” Driscoll said.
In addition, $90,000 was designated to help run the Commander’s Mansion (the Town-owned historic mansion in the former Watertown Arsenal) through the end of FY21. Magoon said the facility is able to host “petite” events, with reduced capacities, but has struggled to book weddings and other events due to the pandemic. The Mansion’s facility managers are booking events farther in the future in hopes that they will be able to go ahead, Magoon said.
The Council also approved the addition of $10,000 to the Town Clerk’s budget to help with the Nov. 3 election. The Town moved a precinct from Hosmer Elementary School to the Hellenic Cultural Center, Driscoll said. which increased the rental fee paid by the Town.
Town Councilor Tony Palomba said he would have like to have seen some of the additional funds used to hire positions in Town such as a recycling coordinator for the Department of Public Works and a communication and outreach director for the Town.
“I respectfully disagree with the decision to place the rest of funds in Town Council Reserve,” Palomba said. “I understand Mr. Driscoll’s concern with the future cost of COVID, but I believe other budget requests could have been filled.”
2021 Road Program
Also Tuesday, the Town Council approved the Department of Public Works’ 2021 road repair program.
The streets recommended for reconstruction are:
- Alden Road
- Sheldon Road
- Hazel Street (Quimby Street to Dexter Avenue)
- Gertrude Street
- Goldie Street
- Elmwood Avenue
- Grandview Avenue (Chapman Street to Copeland Streets)