Findlen named deputy chief; selectmen oppose CPABy Mike Berger
The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday approved the appointment of Lt. Helena Findlen as the Canton Police Department’s new deputy police chief.
All three lieutenants, including Tom Keleher Jr. and Patty Sherrill, applied for the position. Police Chief Ken Berkowitz said it was a tough choice for him since he has worked with all three officers for the past 20 years, adding that he is lucky to have all three in the department.
Berkowitz said Findlen is already doing much of the work he envisions for the position, including budgeting and scheduling.
“Helena is the right person for the job based on her knowledge, dedication, and personal integrity,” said Berkowitz.
The chief also announced the promotion of Officer Chuck Rae to sergeant, replacing Sergeant Mark Ronayne, who will retire this month.
In other major news Tuesday night, selectmen backed the Canton Association of Business and Industry and voted 4-1 to oppose a November 6 ballot question on the adoption of the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA).
This is the second time in less than a year that both the selectmen and CABI have voted to oppose the act, which would enable the town to establish a dedicated funding source, matched annually by the state at a certain percentage, for the preservation of open space, historical resources, affordable housing, and outdoor recreation. The program would be funded through a 1 percent surcharge on property tax bills, with exemptions for low-income property owners and the first $100,000 of residential real property. The state legislature has allowed communities to extend the $100,000 exemption to commercial properties, but Canton would have to formally approve it at a future town meeting.
CABI Chairman Gene Manning said if the commercial exemption were to be approved, he would bring the proposal up for reconsideration by the CABI board. However, he stressed that the exemption as it stands now is theoretical.
Manning said the objectives of the CPA are admirable, but CABI wants to keep businesses in town and keep taxes as low as possible. He noted that many of the towns that have opposed the act have different tax rates for residential and commercial properties, while most communities that have adopted it have a flat tax rate. Paul Clark, CABI vice chairman and president of Phoenix Electric, said he would like to expand his business here, but an increase in taxes could affect whether his business remains in Canton.
Deb Sundin, who led the petition drive to get the CPA back on the ballot, said she is very respectful of CABI and what they have done for the town. Sundin said she would support the exemption for commercial owners and also noted some of the legislative changes that have been made since the CPA was last defeated by Canton voters in the April town election. For instance, she said the CPA now covers repairs for existing recreational sites and the legislature has pledged an additional $25 million for the statewide CPA trust.
“The CPA is a plan for the future, a 401K for the town,” she said. “We are missing out on matching money. Braintree, which has a similar tax structure as Canton, was an early adopter of this program and has done 47 projects.”
Diane Gustavson, former FinCom chairman, said she he has gone back and forth on the issue but said Tuesday night that the town is leaving a lot of money on the table. “I feel it does make good economic sense,” she said. “When real estate improves, there will be a lot more transfer transactions.”
Selectman Victor Del Vecchio, the lone CPA supporter, recommended that people read the commentary of Canton Citizen columnist Joe DeFelice, who, according to Del Vecchio, accurately summarizes why Canton voters should support it. “Even Joe DeFelice, of all people, supports it,” he said.
Selectman Avril Elkort said it is not a good time to pass the measure, noting the full page of tax foreclosures published in the Canton Citizen last week. “This is very sad news,” she said.
Selectmen Chairman Bob Burr said the bottom line for him is that the economy is still struggling, the need is not that great, and the state cannot be counted on every year to support the matching funds.
In other news:
* Selectman Sal Salvatori said the Water Department has received calls from two residents reporting that Water Dept. employees have come to their front door and asked to enter the residence to check water meters. Salvatori said the town does not conduct interior checks and any future requests such as these should be reported to the Water Department and to police.
* Town Administrator Bill Friel announced that the Washington Street paving from Hickory Lane to Route 138 is progressing and the base paving for that section as well as Sassamon Street was slated for Wednesday, October 3, weather permitting. Once the paving is done, the detour will be removed and sidewalk repairs will be done. Toward the end of October, a final paving will be done and the detours will be up for two days.
* Selectmen formally endorsed a Betterment Policy for converting private roads into public ways. The only change from the policy discussed two weeks ago was that residents will have 10 years to pay off the betterment tax instead of 15 years. Salvatori proposed the change because he said the town is fronting the money for the project. Once the entire betterment project is done, the town can finance another project. The new policy will be applied at the next town meeting to the pending cases of Historical Way, Knob Hill and Heather Lane.
* Selectmen approved $10,000 to augment a state grant application of up to $11,000 (if approved) for recycling bins at public athletic fields. The application and research was conducted by Girl Scout Samantha Rizzo.
* Selectmen named Karen Tunguska as town director of assessing and Joshua Heal as a part-time animal control officer.
* Selectmen approved a new common victualler license for the Neponset Grill at 480 Neponset Street, replacing the former Pizza Works. The restaurant should reopen next week.
* Selectmen held a moment of silence for Jack Gregor, father of Lisa Gregor, assistant town engineer.
* The Fire Department will host an open house on October 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at CFD headquarters on Revere Street. Trucks will be displayed, and there will be free pizza and a moonwalk. The Red Cross will be conducting a blood drive.
* State Senator Brian Joyce will hold Canton office hours on Monday, October 29, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. in the Salah Meeting Room at Town Hall.
* Selectmen will next meet on Tuesday, October 16, at 7 p.m.
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