Lynnfield/Wakefield Co-Funding Social Media Position?

Road Warriors Rule At Wakefield Town Meeting
Budgets approved on night one, but the talk of the town focused on the roads.
By Bob Holmes, Patch Staff | May 1, 2018 12:06 am ET
When Town Administrator Stephen Maio used lyrics from a Florida Georgia Line song in his opening remarks at the Wakefield Town Meeting, he had the right idea. But it was the wrong song. Given what happened the next three hours at the Galvin Middle School, Willie Nelson’s On The Road Again would have been far more appropriate.
With 25 articles in the warrant, Monday’s opening night only made it through No. 2. Though the subject was money, the conditions of Wakefield’s roads were front and center to the voting citizens and no matter what the topic, from social media to public works, it didn’t take much to nudge the discussion back on the road(s) again … and again. The scary thing is that article 15, the article the deals with roadway improvements, is still a long way off.
With Moderator Bill Carroll running the show, the discussion started with the General Government budget. Maio and the Town Council had submitted a budget that included $55,000 for a social media position. That individual would be shared with Lynnfield, which would pay an additional $30,000 toward the individual’s salary. He/she would be responsible for overseeing a major upgrade of the town website, something most felt was needed. But the Finance Committee didn’t endorse the position, saying the money could be better spent elsewhere. That opened the door for the town’s road warriors and most of the remaining first hour was spent debating social media vs. the need to fix the town’s horrible roads.
Town Councilor’s Julie Smith-Galvin and Ann Santos both spoke in support of the social media position and the need for the town to plan ahead. “I’m not comfortable taking a step backward,” said Santos.
Finally the matter was put to a vote and the social media position was approved,
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but the road warriors were just getting started. After approving Police and Fire, along with Human Services, Public Works was next up and it was Director Richard Stinson’s turn to face the town’s frustrated drivers.
After describing the three times a year his crew uses street sweepers in town, a question was asked about doing it just once and using the money to fix the roads instead of clean them. The answer was no. Resident Dan Lieber then asked if the $132,500 budgeted for roadway maintenance was enough. “Short answer, no,” said Stinson. In response, Lieber made a motion to add $100,000 to the Public Works budget with the money targeted for road repairs. Debate continued with some in the auditorium reminding their neighbors that it was more appropriate to deal with the roads when Article 15 rolled along. A hand vote on Lieber’s motion showed it was to close to call, even for Carroll. So hands were raised and this time counted and Lieber’s motion lost 119-99.
With Public Works approved, the School Department, Library, Vocational School, Unclassified, and Benefits and Administration budgets were all approved. Along the way, School Superintendent Dr. Kim Smith presented her last budget before she retires, a $40,143,324 budget that still earned her a round of applause for her 32 years of service.
With a last bit of energy, Town Meeting moved to Article 2 and capital outlays. Among the items, there was a 20-year-old lawn mower that needed to be replaced along with three police cruisers, windows at the high school, and cemetery roadway improvements totaling $40,000. Meaning … it was resident Christine Defelice’s turn. Defelice made a motion that the $40,000 should be removed from the capital outlay budget and added to the $350,000 in Article 15 because the cemetery roads were in far better shape than other town roads. Many agreed with her comments but at this point the room decided to wait until Article 15 to make their stand and her motion was defeated.
With that, the meeting was adjourned for the night with round 2 next Monday back at Galvin.
“Maybe some roadway talk then, if you know what I’m saying,” said Carroll.
Photo by Bob Holmes

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