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Here's how Barrington's FTM will work this Saturday

Financial town meeting will be held outside at the high school

By Josh Bickford
Posted 7/16/20

The forecast for Saturday is calling for sunshine and temperatures in the 80s. That is pretty typical for mid-July, and pretty inviting for a day at the beach.

Town officials are hoping that the …

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Here's how Barrington's FTM will work this Saturday

Financial town meeting will be held outside at the high school


The forecast for Saturday is calling for sunshine and temperatures in the 80s. That is pretty typical for mid-July, and pretty inviting for a day at the beach.

Town officials are hoping that the weather will play a minimal role, however, in the annual financial town meeting, which will be held outdoors at the high school on Saturday morning. Barrington Town Manager Jim Cunha said voter verification for the meeting will begin at 8 a.m., and the meeting is expected to start at 9.

"That's the plan," Mr. Cunha said. "We don't want to run this into the heat of the day."

Saturday's financial town meeting will not be the only one held outside in Barrington (there was the notorious "tent meeting" in 1991), but it will be the only one held outside in mid-July.

In early June, the town council voted 3-2 to hold the FTM outside, and later that month the council held a meeting on the football field (Victory Field) as a dry-run of sorts.

Mr. Cunha and other town officials have spent the last few weeks planning and preparing for the unique event.

"My goal is to get this done efficiently and effectively," Mr. Cunha said. "We're doing everything we can to protect people and keep them safe."

Mr. Cunha said it is important that anyone who is feeling sick or exhibiting any symptoms should not attend the FTM.

Here's what to expect at Saturday's FTM:

• Anyone who is sick should not attend the FTM.

• Voter verification will begin at 8 a.m. at tables set up near the two parking lots at the high school. Voters need to bring their ID to the meeting.

• Parking will be available in multiple lots: the BHS library lot is reserved for senior citizens; the school's main lot; and the RIPTA park and ride lot near located near the White Church. A police officer will be positioned there to assist people in crossing the road, and a gate in the fence will be opened to allow direct access to Victory Field.

• The meeting will be broadcast live on two radio frequencies: 102.9 FM and 700 AM. The signal can be picked up at and around the high school property for people who want to listen to the meeting from inside their parked cars.

• The meeting will be streamed live online.

• People can sit on Victory Field and on the surrounding high school fields. A robust speaker system will carry the audio across the Barrington High School campus, said Mr. Cunha.

• People will need to go to Victory Field to cast a vote or speak at the microphone.

• People should bring a face mask to wear whenever social distancing is not possible.

• Officials recommend people bring lawn chairs, blankets, sunblock and water.

• Two 30-by-30 tents will be erected for senior citizens.

• Town officials will be sitting at tables situated on the far side of the track (opposite the bleachers), as will be the town moderator.

• The Eagles Nest concession stand will be open to sell bottled water and other refreshments.

• People will be issued a name tag upon registering at the check-in table. Only those wearing name tags will be allowed to vote.

Two amendments filed

According to the town clerk, residents filed two proposed amendments that will be read at Saturday's financial town meeting.

• Tom Rimishytus filed an amendment to add $145,000 to the municipal budget to pay for the salaries and benefits for additional public works department employees. The funding had been eliminated by the Committee on Appropriations during the review process.

• Steve Primiano, the chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, filed an amendment to add $55,000 to the library budget. The money, which had been recommended or elimination by the COA during the review process, will pay for part-time salaries, Sunday hours pay, janitorial supplies and technology.

Capital budgets

• School capital: The school department has requested (and the planning board recommended) a $388,595 capital budget. That budget includes $269,595 for technology needs at the schools, such as the replacement of student Chromebooks. School officials also requested $95,000 for the replacement of wireless access points in local school buildings, and another $24,000 to replace a school department vehicle. The COA recommended fully funding the schools' capital requests.

• Municipal capital: The planning board recommended funding the municipal capital budget request of $1,144,200. The town manager made some changes to that budget, including a $200,000 increase for land conservation. That item was specific to the potential purchase of a piece of property on Sowams Road, which the town plans to leave undeveloped. The property would also serve as an access point for nature trails that run along the Palmer River.

Operating budgets

• School operating: Officials have requested a 3.9 percent increase to the district's operating budget, which would push the total to $54,500,526. The COA has recommended a slight decrease to that figure, calling for a total operating budget of $54,460,526. COA officials called for a $40,000 reduction in the area of supplies; officials said the district received a grant that would pay for those supplies.

• Municipal operating: The town manager requested a municipal operating budget of $17,949,827, which was a 4.95 percent increase, but the COA called for some reductions to that proposal. COA members are recommending a 3.1 percent increase for a total operating budget of $17,632,886. One of the cuts was about $149,000 which would have paid for two additional DPW workers.

Tax rate

Should voters approve the proposed budgets, there would be a 3.52 percent increase to the town's tax rate. The current tax rate is $20.10 (per $1,000 of assessed value). That figure would jump to $20.81 (per $1,000). Here's how that new tax rate would impact Barrington residents' tax bills:

Assessment — Current bill — Proposed tax bill

$200,000 — $4,020 — $4,160

$300,000 — $6,030 — $6,240

$400,000 — $8,040 — $8,324

$500,000 — $10,050 — $10,400

$600,000 — $12,060 — $12,480

$700,000 — $14,070 — $14,560

$800,000 — $16,080 — $16,640

$900,000 — $18,090 — $18,720

$1,000,000 — $20,100 — $20,800

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