The state of local finances is “very troubled” and Arlington needs to change the way it does business or face layoffs for public employees, Board of Selectmen Chair Clarissa Rowe said Monday.
In her State of the Town address, Rowe told the audience at Town Hall that failure to change key aspects of how Arlington conducts finances could result in fewer teachers, firefighters, police officers and workers at the Department of Public Works.
One of the options she suggested is urging state officials to give Arlington the ability to put employees into a different healthcare program, one that would save money while maintaining high-quality benefits. Failure to do so could result in cuts on much-needed services, she added.
“We will lose the sense of Arlington that we enjoy today,” Rowe said. “We have already cut too much.”
Rowe’s State of the Town address opened the first night of this year’s Town Meeting, which included discussions on less-controversial—yet much-discussed—items, such as an article to give town government the power to rezone parts of the town for deposit of cremated remains. That article was defeated.
This year's speech, Rowe said, was much more difficult than the one she delivered in 2008. Then, the town was in the fourth year of a five-year plan. And according to Rowe, “things were running smoothly.”
“Now is a different time,” she said. “The recession has left us wary and frightened, and mostly concerned about the future of our pocketbooks. The state of our town is strong, but the state of local finances—here and everywhere—is very troubled.”
Articles discussed Monday
Read the Town Meeting Warrant for details on each article. The status of discussions stands as follows:
- Article 7: defeated, 122-67 (although there were more yay votes, this article needed a two-thirds majority to pass)
- Article 8: passed, 168-4
- Article 9: passed, 166-12
- Article 10: passed, 167-2
- Article 11: passed, 171-1
- Article 12: passed, 167-0
- Article 13: no action
- Article 14: passed unanimously
- Article 15: no action
- Article 16: no action
- Article 17: no action
Several articles with high fiscal impact were not discussed Monday. Some of the items coming up are:
- Whether the town should sell or lease Crosby and Parmenter Schools to help rebuild the Thompson School;
- Whether Arlington should consolidate functions of the town and school Human Resources Department;
- Whether the town should rework the way Arlington and its schools handle their financial affairs;
- And whether it is time for Arlington to adopt the proposed Pay As You Throw program.
The next Town Meeting will begin at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27, at .