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For more than a decade, the Town of Reading has left money on the table by not moving to become eligible for a major source of state grant money now enjoyed by 290 of 351 Massachusetts municipalities. Karen Herrick has been a driving force behind solving the problem. This is one of the reasons why she deserves your vote for re-election to the Reading Select Board on or before April 4.
Since 2010 the program, called “Green Communities,” has provided similar towns such as Stoneham, Winchester, Milton, and Andover an average of $125,000 annually for projects ranging from LED lighting retrofits at fire stations to weatherization improvements.
The required local contribution—about 40 cents on average monthly electric bills—will total about $64,000 annually in Reading. This implies that the Town stands to enjoy a two-for-one payback, plus ongoing cost savings from energy-efficiency improvements paid for by the grants.
Two roadblocks—both surmountable, it turns out—left Reading bereft of Green Communities greenbacks for 12 years. First, the Town had to meet several criteria to become eligible. Second, the Town had to agree to add the small Reading-only fee though our Town-owned electric utility, RMLD, which also serves three other towns.
In 2019, Karen placed an instructional motion before Town Meeting directing the Select Board to finally break the logjam and take steps to join the program. The motion passed. After her election to the Select Board in 2020, she was a strong advocate on Town eligibility efforts, including improvements to our local building code. She even testified before the state legislature to support a tweak to state law closing a loophole on the fee issue.
Final approval by Town Meeting lies ahead, but we’re close. Thanks are due also to our bipartisan state delegation, other boards and committees, and dedicated Town and RMLD staff who followed through on the matter.
For her many hours of hard work and characteristic persistence solving this problem to the benefit of our Town, Karen Herrick deserves our thanks—and our votes on or before April 4.
Member, RMLD Board of Commissioners
Town Meeting Member, Precinct 5