Friday, February 23, 2018

TO:           Board of Selectmen
FROM:     Carter Terenzini, Town Administrator
RE:            Administrator's weekly report
DATE:       February 22, 2018
CC:            All Departments

Important Notices

Now accepting applications for one full-time police officer position.

Business meeting or workshop: The following is intended to supplement agenda items where a full memorandum may not have been required or updates are needed.

5. a. We had four submissions and the top two rated firms were invited to interview with you. They provide an interesting contrast of the sole practitioner and a team of two larger firms. Pricing is discussed after you determine which firm you like better

5. b. We are seeking your approval to proceed to negotiate a contract with the top ranked firm.

The entire administrator weekly report can be read on the Town's website.

Hello all,

Thank you to those that were able to participate in the survey. The date of Wednesday, February 28th at 5:30pm was determined to be the date that worked best for the majority of the group. The meeting will be held in the Narragansett Regional High School, and the agenda will be posted on the District website. 

Thank you.
Would any provision or new by-law to prevent hemp Agriculture or farming be considered a conflicting by-law? Does the Attorney General look at all of the other Town by-laws when considering any new by-laws sent to the attorney general for legal consideration?

I believe if you check, the answer is no, which probably, in part, is the reason for the many conflicting by-law issues in Templeton already. I also believe that anyone making statements such as "I can't believe the state was stupid enough to legalize pot" is basically calling voters stupid, which is most likely not a smart thing to do, especially if you are elected. Since some in Templeton once thought it was a good idea financially to have the Town be a dumping ground for trash, material, some of which was sure to be hazardous material, and the like, perhaps farming or growing pot rather than dispensing it by way of retail establishments should be something the Town considers in a logical fashion rather than on an emotional level? Would that be a good re-use of say the old Temple Stuart property. Keep in mind, before we get all hysterical one way or another, there has been a reported shortage of ending entities to provide start up money for any pot facilities. Apparently there is concern within the banking industry about possible federal interference concerning the conflict with passed state laws and the continued federal opinion/law about pot being illegal at the federal level. Apparently, the federal government has a hard time accepting the will of the people.
Since there have been some comments about pot, the effects of and possible sales tax revenue on this issue, I found some information that may be of interest to those who posted said comments.

I found this on the Massachusetts Municipal Association web site;

Look under Resource Library - Annual Labor Law update/ Mirick O'Connell 2018.

3. Marijuana Law -
On November 8, 2016, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question legalizing marijuana for recreational and commercial use, Chapter 334 of the Acts of 2016 (the "Marijuana Law"). This past July, however, the Marijuana Law underwent a fairly significant re-write via Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017, known as "An Act to Ensure Safe Access to Marijuana." As revised, the Marijuana Law includes several key points relative to municipalities:

(a) Prohibiting/ Regulating Marijuana Establishments:
• Communities that voted 'Yes' on Question 4 in November of2016 may prohibit one or all types of recreational marijuana establishments by local referendum.
• Communities that voted 'No' on Question 4 may prohibit one or all types of recreational marijuana establishments by town meeting or city council vote only, up until December 31, 2019.
• In lieu of a full or partial ban, communities may still adopt bylaws or ordinances imposing reasonable regulations on the time, place and manner of marijuana establishment operations.
• The new Marijuana Act clarifies that zoning provisions may not prevent a medical marijuana establishment licensed as of July 1, 2017 from converting to a recreational facility.
(b) Local Referenda:
• The Marijuana Law now provides a form of ballot question for the local referendum seeking to prohibit recreational marijuana establishments, and provides authorization to place such a question on a regular or special election ballot.
• Municipal acts regulating or prohibiting recreational or medical marijuana establishments prior to July 1, 2017 are not affected by the new Marijuana Law.

(c) Host Agreements:
• Recreational and medical marijuana establishments must enter a Host Community Agreement with the municipality.
• Impact fees under a Host Community Agreement are capped at 3% of the facility's gross sales and are effective for no longer than 5 years. (d) Local Sales Tax:
• Municipalities may, by local option, adopt a local sales tax on recreational marijuana establishments of up to 3 % of sales (increased from 2%)

(e) Cannabis Control Commission:
• The Cannabis Control Commission expands to a 5-member body, with consolidated regulatory powers over both recreational and medical marijuana establishments.

On December 28, 2017, the state's Cannabis Control Commission released draft regulations. Once finalized, the regulations will govern the Ii censure of recreational marijuana established in Massachusetts, a process intended to start this spring. The draft regulations do not provide much in the way of additional guidance on the local regulation of recreational marijuana, beyond the limitations set forth in the statute approved by voters in November of2016 and amended by the Legislature in July of 2017.

Under the draft regulations, marijuana operators would need to hold "community outreach hearings" before submitting a license application to the Cannabis Control Commission. In addition, the draft regulations provide that upon written request from the Cannabis Control Commission, municipalities have 60 days to certify that a proposed marijuana establishment complies with local zoning provisions. The draft regulations also provide that if a municipality has no local siting requirements, recreational marijuana establishments may not be sited within 500 feet of a public or private school, daycare center, or any facility in which children commonly congregate.

The final regulations are due by March 15, 2018. The Cannabis Control Commission will hold public hearings on the draft regulations in February
On Feb. 16, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a supplemental budget bill for fiscal 2018 that includes $15 million for school districts hosting students displaced by hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands last October.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is charged with developing guidelines and application procedures for the education grants. Grant amounts will be allocated consistent with the method for calculating Chapter 70 education aid.
According to DESE, about 85 percent of the roughly 2,400 displaced students now enrolled in Massachusetts public schools are in 12 districts: Boston, Chicopee, Fall River, Fitchburg, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, New Bedford, Southbridge, Springfield and Worcester.
The supplemental budget act (Chapter 24) includes $1.1 million to defray local costs of implementing the early voting law for the 2016 state election. State Auditor Suzanne Bump determined that the law, enacted in 2014, constitutes an unfunded mandate, and the state is obligated to reimburse cities and towns. The amounts to be reimbursed to individual cities and towns are the certified amounts prepared by the state auditor.
The governor filed an additional supplemental budget bill last month totaling $160 million to cover expected funding shortfalls this year in a range of state budget accounts, including $45 million for human service programs and $42 million in funding for sheriffs. The bill includes a number of technical corrections to the so-called Municipal Modernization Act that became law in 2016 and new ways that the state can finance Chapter 40R housing production incentive payments.
A number of legislators raised the issue of the shortfall this year in the special education “circuit breaker” program, and the MMA is supporting a supplemental appropriation for this important account for school districts across the Commonwealth.
The two supplemental budget bills come at a welcome moment of relative fiscal stability for state government. The forecast for state tax collections this year was revised upward in January by $157 million to $26.7 billion. Collections through the end of January were $810 million above the target for the seven-month mark.
Revenue Commissioner Christopher Harding warned, however, that the above-benchmark numbers in December and January resulted mainly from estimated personal income tax payments and that actual collections by the end of the year will likely settle back toward the January estimate.
Federal tax law changes have had an impact on taxpayer behavior, making it more difficult to forecast state tax collections this year.
A federal item that could have effects on Templeton.
from the Massachusetts Municipal Association website:

On Jan. 22, President Donald Trump signed a short-term federal spending bill that included another two-year delay of the “Cadillac tax” on employer-sponsored health plans.
The excise tax, created as part of the Affordable Care Act, was originally due to take effect in 2018, but has been delayed twice, now until 2022.
Despite a further delay of its implementation and talk of possibly repealing the tax, municipal employers are advised to continue to factor the tax into health plan design decisions.
The tax was intended as a health cost-control mechanism that would discourage employers from offering high-cost health plans. The Cadillac tax will assess a 40 percent annual excise on individual health plans that cost more than $10,200 per year and family plans that cost more than $27,500.
Massachusetts municipal employers are likely to reach these thresholds in greater numbers than employers in other regions of the country, due to the higher cost of health care here, the use of benefit plans to attract and retain top-notch employees, and the plans that municipal labor unions have negotiated through collective bargaining. The tax thresholds will rise more slowly than health care inflation, meaning that more plans will be subject to the tax over time.
In an effort to manage health insurance costs and avoid the Cadillac tax, municipal employers may pursue higher copays and deductibles, the initiation of co-insurance, the elimination of high-cost plans, a phase-out of flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts and health reimbursement accounts, and the adoption of lower-cost limited network plans.
There is bipartisan support in Congress for repealing the Cadillac tax, but there is no consensus yet on how to replace the revenue that would be lost from a repeal.