Town Manager Sarah Stanton recommended canceling Town-sponsored events for the rest of 2020, including Bedford Day, the Citizen of the Year reception, Oktoberfest, Veteran’s Day events, and all road races.
Board member Emily Mitchell agreed that this decision was not an easy one to make, adding “I think we all experience some regret that we have to cancel all of these things in the Fall, and I just want to make that clear that we’re not doing this because it’s easy, we’re not doing this because we don’t care, we’re doing it because we have to, and we understand it’s disappointing to all of us.”
In addition to approving the cancelations, the Select Board approved the continued closure of the Council on Aging and barred rentals of Old Town Hall through 2020.
Stanton also presented a list of programs whose upcoming futures are still in the air including Fall sports, afterschool activities, recreational programming, and the November Special Town Meeting.
With indoor gatherings in Massachusetts currently limited to 25 people and the prospect of frigid November weather, there is no plan under which a Special Town Meeting can be held safely. Stanton noted that it’s possible the meeting may not need to happen this year, saying “The only major item that I think would trigger the need for a November Special Town Meeting was if, in some sort of extreme scenario, the schools expended significant resources that went beyond the additional reserve transfer the Finance Committee has approved, requiring an additional appropriation,” although she added that a reserve transfer of this nature was unlikely to be required.
Stanton informed the Select Board of Ultragenyx’s recent decision to not pursue a TIF Agreement with the town. The TIF, which would have provided property tax relief as the corporation develops its new site at 170 Middlesex Turnpike, was approved at Town Meeting earlier this month. Stanton said that Ultragenyx will continue with their project, beginning in the autumn of 2020, but “decided that after a lot of careful consideration they didn’t feel right pursuing any tax relief from a smaller local government. In light of the global health pandemic they felt it was not the right optics and message to accept that sort of relief,” Stanton said, noting they will continue to accept financial support from the Commonwealth.
Bedford and Burlington are joint recipients of a $321,578 grant to establish a program to train low- and middle-income residents for careers in health and life sciences. The towns will partner with MassHire to develop the program, with more details to be released soon.
The Finance Department reported that the town’s revenue for FY20 exceeded projections. While the report is preliminary and comes as the department is closing the books on FY20, the town’s revenue exceeded projections by 120%, or about $2.1 million. Free cash is projected to be between $10.5 and $11 million.