Last night, the Finance Committee (Fincom) voted on the recommendations and guidance for the FY25 Budget as well as the 12 Warrant Articles for November’s Town Meeting. After a presentation from Town Accountant, Sharon Angstrom, Fincom voted 9-0 to use Free Cash to support the operating budget of $3.56 Million with $700k for extra Capital for a 4% increase.
Up next was the vote and discussion on the 12 Articles slated for Town Meeting in November. The first 11 Articles garnered the same amount of time on the night as just Article 12 but with a different result. All of the first 11 Articles requiring a financial vote passed 9-0, which included but not limited to $900k for the purchase of trash and recycling barrels, an additional $300k for roads which brings the resurfacing budget to $1.3 million and $200k for the purchase of Lot 5 on Grove Street from Meadow Brook Golf Course.
As for Article 12, the petitioners are seeking $200,000 to pay to build eight (8) temporary, outdoor pickleball courts on the land adjacent to the Burbank Ice Arena off Symonds Way. Chair Ed Ross, started off by thanking Burbank (the Ice Arena) for opening the window regarding the potential pickleball courts and was thrilled that they did it that way from a community perspective. His personal opinion though was that it would be a “slam dunk” from a dollar standpoint but his issue was the process. He was happy that the Reading Pickleball Players Association (RPPA) was going through the process and steps that Fincom recommended but it would be a slam dunk if they (the pickleball players) had more “skin in the game”. Minutes later, Mark Zarrow would “respectfully disagree” with that comment citing the RPPA has raised $16,000 already and would raise more funds if there was a commitment. Former Recreation Committee member and now Fincom member Emily Sisson, mentioned that Symnonds Way was the right spot for pickleball but questioned how long it would take. Joe McDonough was looking at things “purely transitionally” and since the money wasn’t being taken out of Free Cash and instead coming out of the Burbank Revolving Fund with at least $375k in it, to him it should be done “ASAP”.
After the Finance Committee finished their discussions, Angela Binda of the Symonds Way Exploratory Committee (SWEC) spoke. She heard that a developer who was shown around the Symonds Way area and possibly submitting a proposal, mentioned that “90-95% of the build-able land is the parking lot behind the Burbank Arena and development of the area would need to include that space”. She went on to say that she wants to see “what does the town want to do with this land and not a group (RPPA) that was established in January”. She agreed with Ed Ross about them needing to have more “skin in the game” and was not in favor of the article.
In the end, the Finance Committee voted 6-3 to not recommend Article 12 at Town Meeting. Marianne Downing, Joe McDonough and Mark Zarrow were the 3 votes in the minority. It’s now up to 192 Town Meeting members to cast their vote, which will require a 2/3rd majority to pass instead of the typical 50%, due to the Article being a Citizen’s Petition and funding source.