Each actionable item passed at last night’s Special Town Meeting. Most articles were approved unanimously or with at least 90 percent of Town Meeting Members voting in favor. Town Meeting Members had questions on some of the articles, but auxiliary statements were brief. The meeting lasted three hours.
Here’s a rundown of some of the items that passed at the Special Town Meeting:
Wellesley Takes Step Toward Liquor Licenses for Restaurants with Less Than 100 Seats
Special Town Meeting approved an article that moves the town closer to required by a restaurant to apply for a liquor license.
Because this item was approved, the Board of Selectmen will now petition the state legislature to write special legislation which will authorize the board to grant special alcohol service licenses to restaurants with between 50 to 99 seats, according to the Advisory Committee’s reports to Special Town Meeting.
Currently, a Wellesley restaurant must have 100 seats to qualify for a license to serve any alcohol.
There are now 12 licenses issued to restaurants and six to colleges and social clubs in town, which are each “all-alcohol” licenses. The state has capped the number of total possible liquor licenses for Wellesley at 29 all-alcohol and 12 wine and malt beverages (beer), according to the Virginia Ferko, chair of the Advisory Committee.
Selectman Katherine Babson said the board anticipates that it will only issue beer and wine licenses to restaurants with between 50 and 99 seats despite the ability to dispense all-alcohol licenses.
According to Advisory Committee reports, the state legislature could act upon a petition as early as January or February of next year. Babson said this item will then likely take shape as a town ballot question during the spring election.
Babson said assuming the state signs off and the town votes to accept this change next year, the board will consider further changes to alcohol regulations after a sufficient public input process.
Firefighters Union Removed from Civil Service; New Contract Approved
Town Meeting approved two articles regarding the Wellesley firefighter’s union (Local 1795 – IAFF): The first approved the new three-year contract, and the second removed the fire department from Civil Service provisions, which was a requirement of the new contract.
Based on the new contract, union employees will receive base salary increases of 1 percent this fiscal year, 1.5 percent in 2013 and 2 percent in 2014.
The contract also includes a $4,000 per-year pay increase for completion of a relevant bachelor’s or master’s degree program and a $2,000 per-year increase for completion of an associate’s degree program or 20 years of career experience.
The contract includes slight increases in weekly pay for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).
There are 55 department employees under the union contract, according to Advisory Committee reports.
The removal from Civil Service provisions is in an effort to improve the candidate pool of prospective hires and to improve the hiring process by using a “broader spectrum of selection tools than are available under Civil Service,” according to Advisory Committee reports.
Special Town Meeting Approves Enhanced Criminal Background Check Procedure for Certain Vendor Licenses
Special Town Meeting unanimously voted in favor of a bylaw that will enhance the police's ability to provide criminal background checks for certain license-seeking vendors in Wellesley.
The new bylaw would enable the to perform fingerprint-based checks on prospective hawker/peddlers, door-to-door salespeople, ice cream truck vendors and people in similar trades, according to the Advisory Committee reports.
The fingerprint check would allow police to crosscheck vendors’ criminal histories with databases in other states as well as the FBI, as opposed to the Massachusetts-only database provided by the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system. CORI checks are conducted only by name.
The bylaw will go into effect May 4, 2012 if approved by the state’s attorney general’s office, according to Selectman Terri Tsagaris.
Town Meeting Member Bob Seacrest asked Tsagaris why this bylaw would not apply to other jobs in town, referencing the , the custodian accused of stealing thousands of dollars of computer equipment from the school.
Tsagaris said school employees can only be checked by the CORI system, adding that it is against state law for schools to look into an employee’s criminal background nationally based on a fingerprint check.
Other items of note:
- Special Town Meeting approved an appropriation of $819,975 to go into a two-story, 8,220 square-foot addition to the garage. A $1,920,000 appropriation for a modernized administration building was approved at last year’s Annual Town Meeting, according to Advisory Committee reports. The total project cost is $2,739,975, which will be drawn from MLP funds.
- Special Town Meeting approved an appropriation of $665,000 from the Community Preservation Fund to implement Phase 3 of the , which will finalize the plan before the construction phase.
Moderator: Peg Metzger