Southampton Invests in Future with Senior Center and Infrastructure Plans

In a recent Southampton Select Board meeting, the most significant news came from the Council on Aging (COA), which received a substantial $2.4 million check from the state for the construction of a new Senior Center. This development addresses the COA’s previously highlighted challenges with technology and lack of programming space.

The meeting, which focused on various community projects and administrative concerns, dedicated considerable attention to the COA’s report. The COA representative outlined the need for improved technology, citing the necessity for additional computers and a capital request for tech upgrades. The discussion also covered the limitations of the ARPA grant and the need to ensure funding for the Outreach worker position. Board members engaged with these topics.

Another point of interest was the Edwards Public Library, where the director presented a budget proposal that included a 3% increase for staff salaries. To offset this, the director proposed freezing or decreasing other budget lines. The proposal underlined the library’s growing patronage and the high demand for its meeting room. The board’s discussion with the library director touched upon maintenance issues, particularly the need to replace a septic system pump and update facility lighting. Addressing these priorities is important for the library’s continued operation and service to the community.

The library also reported a $10,000 grant for a sensory garden and upcoming events and programs. The Youth Department’s collaboration for educational storytimes and the success of the summer reading program were noted, and the Friends group was commended for their fundraising support.

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The Town Administrator updated on various operational challenges, including phone and network problems and the transition to a new server. He also mentioned attendance at the MMA legislative breakfast and provided details on ongoing projects such as the purchase and sale for a property on Clark Street, and upcoming meetings with committees and boards.

Infrastructure projects were another focus, with discussions on a grant for a bridge project at Manhan Meadows and concerns over the timeline and seasonal constraints for construction. The potential miscommunications between staff and engineers were noted, with an emphasis on the need for persistence in addressing grant-related issues.

The Select Board also tackled the school district’s budget, acknowledging the urgency of finalizing the budget and the need for ongoing dialogue to reconcile budget deficiencies. The impact of a board member’s emergency leave on the budget approval process was discussed, as was the importance of understanding budget guidelines and the implications of a 112th budget under State statute.

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Updates from various committees were shared, including the grant committee, public safety, and the Senior Center building committee. The board recognized the value of attending committee meetings for a deeper understanding of the issues at hand. The Colin Center classification update and the posting of positions for the principal assessor and administrative assistant were among the ongoing processes discussed.

The need for executive sessions to review draft scales and job descriptions was brought up, highlighting the significance of understanding the compensation scale and wage considerations in bargaining with non-union members.

A significant portion of the conversation revolved around a draft purchase and sale agreement for the acquisition of a property for the town meeting Warren, with the Select Board informed of the steps ahead, including a title search. The Public Safety Building Committee discussed the acquisition of land for their project, while the renewal of a contract with Charter Spectrum and the exploration of other options was considered.

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The town’s cable contract expiration in three years prompted a discussion about considering a municipal light committee and the need for specialized involvement in the process. The search for a new fire chief and the status of the assessment center were also addressed. Concerns about air quality in the fire department building and the necessity for remediation were mentioned, as well as the need to review cost estimates for repairs.

Financial matters included the FY23 closeout, reconciliations with the school, and a comprehensive understanding of the town’s debt structure. Revenue projections for FY25 were compared with actual revenues, noting the need for further discussion on ambulance receipts and the Cannabis tax. The board planned to meet with legal counsel to discuss the Cannabis tax situation.

Finally, concerns were raised about the delay in financial reporting and the frustration of not having real-time data for budget decisions. The board suggested modernizing the purchase ordering system and recruiting an assistant for the treasurer collector’s office to improve financial management.

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Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Town Administrator:
Scott Szczebak
City Council Officials:
Christine Fowles, Jon Lumbra, Joy Piper, Daniel LaValley, Stephen Johnson

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