The Select Board voted 3-0 to pursue a new home rule petition for senior tax relief at its August 6 meeting. The program, initiated three years ago, provides seniors who meet the qualifications with a reduction of their property tax bill and is designed to help long-term senior residents of Reading age in place. In Fiscal Year 2018 the program cost the average taxpayer $20 and in Fiscal Year 2019 it cost the average taxpayer $10. Tax Assessor Victor Santaniello called the savings, “substantive and meaningful” to the over 200 residents who have been assisted by the program. Santaniello did recommend that the amount of the compensation be set at 150% of the state circuit breaker savings for seniors, this would allow for more stability for planning purposes for town staff and for those receiving the benefit. It also would allow for a longer application period. Select Board member Mark Dockser agreed with the plan calling the set rate, “simple, reliable, and consistent.” In November, Town Meeting will be asked to approve the renewed home rule petition before it is submitted to the legislature. Select Board member Anne Landry recused herself from the vote because it was related to state legislative action.
Angela Binda and Meghan Young-Tafoya of the “Friends of Camille” presented a plan to honor former Board of Selectmen member Camille Anthony with a memorial clock, possibly to be located on Haven Street. The fundraising will be coordinated through the Reading Rotary and will be called the “Service is Timeless” fund. Donations are being accepted now and the team plans to have a presence at the Fall Street Faire.
The board voted 4-0 to allow the town to borrow $5,425,000 from itself to complete four capital projects: building security, the “turf 2” field at Reading Memorial High School, the Auburn Street water tank, and water main work on Grove Street. The money will be paid back by the end of the fiscal year. Select Board member John Halsey called the plan “cash flow management” and stressed that there were no new funds added to the projects all of which were approved by Town Meeting in April. The board also voted 4-0 to appoint the Barnstable Housing Authority as the monitoring agent for the affordable units at the Postmark Square 40R project on Haven Street.
Director of Public Works Jane Kinsella and Assistant Director of Public Works Christopher Cole presented a set of suggested updates to Select Board policies. Most of the changes and additions are intended to update policies to reflect current practices in the department. Included in the changes are updates to trash and recycling times, driveway regulations, work is done on newly paved roads, shade tree policies, and address standards. Kinsella also provided information regarding second water meters for residential properties and a possible vendor to encourage the recycling of textiles. Any changes to the policies would have to go through a public hearing process before being enacted.
The Select Board adjourned at 10:00 pm.