The Select Board at its meeting Tuesday night encouraged residents to arrive at Monday’s Special Town Meeting early, as attendance is expected to be high.
Four articles will be voted on, with the one generating the most interest being Article 1 on the proposed replacement building for Elmwood School.
Select Board chair Muriel Kramer said arriving early is critical because of the check-in procedure, which will for the first time involve the issuance of clickers for voting. There will be a practice session at the meeting’s start to make sure people know how to cast their votes electronically with the devices.
Members also urged carpooling and walking to the STM, located at the Hopkinton Middle School, because of traffic and parking considerations. Overflow rooms will be available, and child care will be provided by the Hopkinton PTO.
The second article is to approve a legislative petition to eliminate political caucuses and remove printed political affiliation for town-elected officers from local election ballots. The third is to adopt a municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code. The fourth is in regard to purchasing land for municipal parking in the vicinity of Town Hall.
The board also reminded the public about the Special Town Election on Tuesday, Nov. 28. Voters will decide on funding the Elmwood School building replacement project cost of nearly $158 million, necessitating an operational tax override.
This amount does not include reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Association for more than $61.5 million and possible rebates from MassSave and the Inflation Reduction Act (estimated at $1.7 million and $4 million, respectively).
The average homeowner peak year tax impact over the 30-year period will be $952, Khumalo said.
Polls will be open at the middle school from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
Marathon invitational policy fundraising target of $6,000 approved
The Select Board debated the fundraising commitment required by the 2024 Boston Marathon invitational entry policy. After discussion, it voted 4-0 to set the minimum financial commitment for people raising money for nonprofits at $6,000.
Each year, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) provides the town with a certain number of invitational applications for the Boston Marathon. These applications provide for waivers of the normal qualifying requirements for the race for people who run on behalf of local charities. The Select Board selects local organizations and charities based upon the number of invitational bibs it receives for this purpose.
During the public comment period, two residents questioned the spike in the fundraising criteria to obtain a bib. They said it would keep runners from participating in support of local nonprofits because of the difficulty in raising more than the expected amount.
“The runners have always been asked to raise $5,000 for nonprofits,” Dale Danahy pointed out, noting the $12,000 amount in the agenda packet. Nonprofits Danahy checked set their own parameters ranging from $5,000-$12,000.
Select Board member Mary Jo LaFreniere pointed out that the Select Board did not set the fee, which was being discussed later in the meeting.
Select Board member Amy Ritterbusch pointed out that there may have been some confusion about the policy among residents because of the way the item was worded in the Select Board packet. It stated: The Board requests that organizations who apply commit to raising a minimum of $12,000 per individual entry they receive through the random selection. The headline on the agenda item said the policy was “[a]dopted by the Select Board, November 07, 2023,” although the meeting had not yet been held. The agenda said the board would “review and set” the policy, which sparked the debate.
Town Manager Norman Khumalo explained that the Select Board must set a sub-policy each year regarding the marathon bibs awarded in this nature. He said the BAA gives the town “an indication of the face value” of these invitations.
Said Khumalo: “In the years that I have worked with the board on setting this policy, the board has always gone with a number that is lower than the face or market value that is set by the BAA.”
The $12,000 indicates the “face value” set by the BAA on the invitation, he added.
LaFreniere pushed for a lower amount, saying she did not see town nonprofits “getting a full slate of runners” if the fundraising bar is set too high. They also pursue this line of getting bibs because they don’t run in other qualifying races, she added, but want to run in support of a cause.
Chair Muriel Kramer noted that there is “no teeth” in the fundraising target because the town will not enforce it. Khumalo called the number “a guideline” that doesn’t affect a runner’s ability to secure a future invitation.
Kramer and LaFreniere supported a random draw for invitations. Ritterbusch said initially she was uncomfortable with it but voted in favor after discussion. All agreed that there needs to be a way to ensure that numbers are spread equitably among entities.
Khumalo announced that Hopkinton will be receiving 65 invitational entries for the Boston Marathon.
The board voted 4-0 to raise the minimum fundraising commitment from $5,000 to $6,000 because it hasn’t been raised in nearly a decade.
The application period begins Nov. 9 and closes Nov. 27, Khumalo said.
Tax classification rates set
After a presentation by Principal Assessor John Neas, the Select Board voted to set the local tax levy rate at $14.57 for residential property and $14.56 for commercial, industrial and personal property. This is an annual process for the town.
Neas noted that property values have increased over the past year.
Exemptions are available for older residents, veterans and people with disabilities. To learn more, contact Deputy Assessor Renee Chen at email@example.com.
The board voted 4-0 not to impose the residential tax factor, the open space exemption, the residential exemption or the small commercial exemption. The town historically never has imposed these factors.