Live-blogging the May 16, 2018 meeting of the Greenfield Town Council

I’ll be posting updates below throughout this evening’s meeting of the Greenfield Town Council (assuming my internet connection holds up). Stay tuned…

  • Meeting has been called to order. It is the 181st meeting of the Council.

Suspension of rules and the Junior Council

  • First motion by President Renaud to suspend the rules of order, seconded and carries unanimously.
  • With the rules suspended, the Council has left the table and the Junior Councilors have taken their seats to debate their motion.
  • The Junior Councilors’ motion is the Mayor’s budget for the Police Department, with the first amendment being to cut the funding for the School Resource Officers. Debate on the amendment is currently under way.
  • The amendment by the Junior Councilors to cut the SRO funding from the Mayor’s budget carries. On to debate on the main motion (i.e., the Police Department budget, now minus the $214k for the SROs).
  • Now there is an amendment by the Junior Council to add $107k **back** into the Police Department budget for one additional SRO (instead of the original two); amendment passes. Now back to debate on the overall motion.
  • No further debate. The Junior Council has passed the amended police budget and has now adjourned.
  • The regular Councilors have returned to the table and we are now back to regular order.

Public Comment

  • A bit of a grab-bag of public comments so far… support for single-payer healthcare, stigma-free discussion of addiction recovery, funding for schools.
  • A couple of commenters who are becoming somewhat regular fixtures at these events.
  • A number of comments in a row now in support of increasing the School budget and opposing additional School Resource Officers.

Public Hearing

  • Topic: “Appropriate $450,000 from Free Cash to Stabilization”
  • No one has signed up to comment, but hearing will remain open.

Communications from Mayor, Town Officers and Employees

Mayor Martin:

  • Mayor Martin is up first… he would like to be involved in discussion of the proposed charter amendments and encourages the Council to pass the TIF for Valley Steel Stamping.
  • The Mayor is pushing back against public comment suggestions that Greenfield has not kept up with funding its schools. Recommends using “alternative methods of funding.”
  • Mayor Martin says his proposal for adding SROs is “not reactionary,” but rather that he always knew the program would need to be expanded because of the dispersed school facilities. He also says that the SROs are “not just ‘cops'” and lists all the various benefits he sees to having more resource officers in the schools.
  • Question from Councilor Mass about the fencing that was put up at Eunice Williams Bridge—how the decision was made, where the money came from, etc. Mayor says the funding and RFP were from last year, but that the work wasn’t able to be done until this spring.
  • Councilor Dolan is asking Mayor Martin about what the primary responsibility of the SRO is, given that there have been various explanations. The Mayor is going back talking about stigmatizing cops, comparing concerns about SROs in schools to “hate speech.”
  • Councilor Sund suggests that students need to get to know the police.

School Committee

  • The School Committee has requested that the Council add ~$400k back to the GPS budget for FY2019.
  • The School Committee has not taken a vote on the SRO proposal. Deliberation has revealed the need for review and evaluation of the existing SRO program and the memo of understanding that governs it.
  • Sounds like 6 teaching positions and 12 instructional assistant positions are being looked at for elimination based on the FY2019 budget, although nothing has been voted on yet.
  • Councilor Allis is asking for detailed information about revolving funds going back five years. There is some back-and-forth nodding eye contact between Allis and Councilor Mass as he is asking these questions.
  • Councilor Mass states that he and Councilor Allis have proposed $489k in budget cuts “that might make itself available for the school budget.” Also states that he has “deep, deep concerns about the statement that there might be layoffs.”
  • Mass now making the argument that funding reserves (e.g., the Special Education Revolving Fund) should be held on the Town side rather that School side, as these funds affect the Town’s bond rating and its ability to borrow and make capital investments.

Council is heading into Executive Session now