Short Takes from the Selectmen’s Meeting, February 6, 2017

By Deb Parkhurst

In their February 6 meeting, the selectmen signed a new agreement with Town Manager Richard Reed and held public hearings on the Sewer System Bylaw, changes to the funding structure for revolving funds, and a special revenue account for cable television funds.

New Five-Year Agreement with Town Manager Richard Reed

At their February 6 meeting, the Selectmen reached a new five-year agreement with Town Manager Rick Reed, which will take effect in July 2017.  Reed has held his current position since 1988.

Public Hearing – Sewer System Bylaw

In other business, the Selectmen held a hearing to amend the Sewer System Bylaw regarding collecting fees for new hotel and motel connections.   Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations determine that such rooms use only one- third the amount of a typical residence, and the fee will be set accordingly.  There are a few other minor “housekeeping” amendments proposed as well.  The bylaw changes take effect after Town Meeting vote and upon approval of the Attorney General.

Public Hearing – Municipal Modernization Act – Revolving Funds

A public hearing was held for a General Bylaw Amendment regarding the revolving funds.  Town Manager Reed explained that this change mandates revolving funds under the new Municipal Modernization Act set by the Commonwealth.  Under this act, the Town does not have to re-authorize the revolving funds each year.  However, each year the limits of each account will still be approved by the Town.

Public Hearing – Municipal Modernization Act / Cable TV Revenues

In a related matter, under the the Municipal Modernization Act, PEG (public, education, government access) cable TV franchise fees from wireless carriers may no longer be placed in Revolving Accounts, and towns need to establish either Special Revenue or Enterprise Accounts instead once the Department of Revenue determined that revolving fund accounts are for fee-related programs.

Finance Director Victor Garofalo said that the Town has chosen to create a special revenue account at this time.  The current account will cease to exist on June 30, and existing funds will be transferred to the new special revenue account.  Under a soon-to-be-released RFP, the Cable Committee will establish a budget for the new PEG accounts.

Greg Dolan of Bedford TV again spoke to the issue of declining cable revenues while viewership is increasing through other avenues such as the internet and social media.  With current funding, Bedford TV is not able to be competitive in retaining employees.  Selectman Bill Moonan, liaison to the Cable Committee, suggested that a plan should be devised whereby funds can flow into the special revenue account from other sources.  Ralph Hammond, a volunteer with Bedford TV, said that Bedford TV provides video production and editing courses for middle and high school students along with local programming; he rated Bedford TV  “A+.”

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