Meetings are held remotely. Go to truro-ma.gov, click on the meeting you want to watch, and open its agenda for instructions on how to watch or take part online.
Thursday, June 10
- Climate Action Committee, 10:30 a.m.
- Shellfish Advisory Committee, 2 p.m.
- Housing Authority, 4:15 p.m.
Friday, June 11
- Historical Commission site visit 10 a.m.
Monday, June 14
- Energy Committee, 4:30 p.m.
- Bike and Walkways Committee, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, June 15
- Board of Health, 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 16
- Planning Board, 5 p.m.
Thursday, June 17
- Climate Action Committee, 10:30 a.m.
Town Meeting Preview
Lots of interesting discussion marked the three-hour pre-town meeting warrant review last Thursday, with topics ranging from “Where did all that free cash come from?” to whether to ditch the town’s hand-crank ballot box.
First, the basics: The annual town meeting will be held at the Truro Central School ballfield on Saturday, June 26, unless it rains, bumping the date to Sunday, June 27.
While those who are vaccinated against Covid-19 can now ditch their masks in most venues, towns and businesses can set whatever restrictions they see fit. Masks are mandatory at town meeting. There will be a special section for those who can’t wear masks. Accessible seating will be available in the front, and nonvoters will be seated beyond the fence. No pets allowed. Hats, sunscreen, and water are advised. The town will provide sunscreen, bug spray, and water.
Town Accountant Trudi Brazil announced that the town has a whopping $2.7 million in free cash this year. Free cash is generally used for one-time expenses like capital purchases rather than recurring budget items. Some of this year’s transfers from free cash include purchase of a tractor, money for the stabilization and capital stabilization funds, and $50,000 for snow removal.
There’s more free cash than usual because of the belt-tightening the town did last year, including spending freezes. “You won’t see $2.7 million in free cash next year,” Brazil said.
One suggested use of the money will be to fund a child-care voucher program for two-year-olds. While the school district expanded its pre-kindergarten program, it accepts only three- and four-year olds. A petitioned article was submitted to create a voucher program to help with child-care costs for Truro residents and those working in town. That article is on the warrant, but the select board, working with the petitioners, put together another article, asking for $112,500 from free cash for a one-year voucher program to cover up to $7,500 in child care per child for the town’s two-year-olds. Vouchers could be used only in state-licensed programs. The program would not be for children who are three and older as of Aug. 31.
A handful of articles, submitted by petition, are aimed at addressing the desperate need for housing in town. The first proposes that the room tax be increased from 4 to 6 percent, putting it in line with neighboring towns. Finance committee chair Robert Panessiti said that people coming for short stays are using the beaches, public safety, and other local amenities and should chip in.
A second article proposes the establishment of an affordable housing stabilization fund. Half of the 6-percent room tax would be allocated to that fund.
Debi Best-Parker asked whether the money would be restricted to subsidized housing or could help with housing for teachers and other modest earners. “It could be used for a bunch of housing types,” said Town Manager Darrin Tangeman. “We’re facing a broad range of housing issues. This is to address all the tools needed.” Town meeting voters would ultimately decide where the money is spent.
Voters will also be asked to consider a petitioned article submitted by Raphael Richter that would establish a year-round market rate rental housing trust. Modeled on Provincetown’s provisions, it creates a place where money for such housing could go. The fund would be overseen by a board of trustees. The article doesn’t ask for any money.
A nonbinding article to see whether the town should invest in an ImageCast Precinct optical scan tabulator — an electronic voting machine — drew some comments at the pre-town meeting and will likely do so on June 26. Tangeman said it would replace the current hand-crank ballot box and increase efficiency.
It took 16 counters 2½ hours to count the 2016 ballots, said Assistant Town Manager Kelly Clark. The cost was over $500 in 2016, and minimum wage is going up, she said, so the system will save money as well as improve efficiency.
Resident Joan Holt said of the manual system, “It’s an old tradition in this town; are we going to throw that out? We love putting our ballot into that box. It’s something that’s symbolic of our town.”
Voter Registrar Tracey Rose said the difference of opinion on the system seems to be related to one’s age. “The older generation likes the old crank. It’s like a personal friend.
“It’s the total opposite with the younger people,” Rose said. “They’re digital kids, used to modern technology.”
Truro is offering a “sign on and stay on” vaccination bonus of up to $500 for eligible seasonal positions. The money is being offered to seasonal employees who present proof of vaccination. The amount will be distributed in two payments to encourage workers to stay on for the full season. The amount will be prorated for part-time seasonal workers. For more details, contact the Recreation and Beach Dept. at 508-485-1632. —Christine Legere