Your Top 5 in Town News
An easy to digest digest of Town Government news, served monthly.
1 - Survey: Virtual Classes at the AIC?
The Weston AIC (the makerspace branch of the Weston Public Library) is exploring virtual programming. We want to offer classes and events that best suit your creative and innovative needs. Please help us help you by providing some feedback on a quick online survey. The survey will be open until June 17th. Thank you!
2 - Public Information Session on Weston Power Choice
The Town of Weston, through the Sustainability Committee, has begun the process of developing a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program. This electricity aggregation program, to be called Weston Power Choice, will provide Weston residents and businesses with more renewable energy options, stable prices, consumer protections, and more.
On June 11th at 7:00 p.m., join members of the Sustainability Committee and the Town's consultant for an online information session that will outline the program and the draft aggregation plan. A summary of the program is available at Weston.org/WestonPowerChoice.
3 - A 1/12th Budget: A First for Weston
The public health emergency caused by the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on normalcy. The timing of it, too, was particularly problematic for many municipalities as March through May is when many towns like Weston are preparing for their Annual Town Meetings where annual operating budgets are approved. The coronavirus halted that process due to the manner in which Town Meetings are conducted, i.e. large gatherings, and left towns staring down the end of their fiscal year with no approved operating budget.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts implemented a new budgeting process for municipalities to "help keep the lights on" as the state slowly recovers and a new fiscal year begins. This process allows for the Select Board in each town to approve a monthly budget in order maintain basic operations for the Town.
On June 9th, the Select Board heard a presentation from Town Manager Leon Gaumond on the budget needed to pay the expenses for July 2020. This is a bare-bones budget to get the town through the month and excludes capital improvement projects or proposed hiring in the proposed fiscal budget. The Select Board approved this budget for July.
The 1/12th budget process will need to be followed each month until Town Meeting approves the fiscal year 2021 operating budget. Once Town Meeting adopts the entire fiscal operating budget, the monthly budget approvals will be null and void and the operations will follow the approved fiscal 2021 budget.
The proposed fiscal 2021 operating budget and the July 2020 1/12th budget are available online at Weston.org/Budget
. Town Meeting and Town Election have not yet been set but both events are anticipated to occur in early September.
4 - Watering Lawns, Fertilizers, Stormwater, Dog Waste...
It's all connected....
Warmer temperatures and infrequent rainfall means irrigation systems are set and going. But does your lawn actually need the water?
From May to October, grass lawns only need 1" of water per week. If you aren't measuring the amount of water getting sprayed on your grass, you could be watering your lawn with money and creating additional stormwater runoff. Here are a few tips to help you keep some green in your wallet and be water and stormwater conscious:
- Buy a rain gauge so you know what your lawn actually needs. Too much water creates insufficient root structure (& wastes $$$ and resources)
- Keep mower blades high to promote a deep & strong root system (water needs decrease, too)
- Water early in the morning to allow that water to seep deep into the ground
- If you don't know what your irrigation output and timing is, place jars out & time it so you're not wasting water (which is $$$)
Stormwater pollution is the fastest growing type of water pollution in the state
. Any natural or man-made contamination, such as dumped leaves and grass, dog waste or lawn fertilizers, that finds its way into our natural water sources (i.e. streams, ponds, rivers, groundwater) is stormwater pollution. Everyone can do their part to reduce pollutants for clean water and a healthier environment.
If the process to determine watering needs is too many steps to be bothered with or stormwater runoff has you concerned, then keep reading for some really good news. There is a growing movement encouraging homeowners to allow grass lawns to go au naturale. Instead of tending and spending money and resources on a traditional manicured lawn, allow your lawn to go native to the clover and other nature-friendly greens
for the bees and butterflies to enjoy. Traditional grass laws are known as green deserts because there is nothing of quality for wildlife, particularly our vital pollinators. Allowing a lawn to be green but with alternative plants will definitely you save time, money, and resources, but more importantly it will support our pollinators and addresses stormwater runoff to protect our waterways.
And, dog waste? It is harmful to everything (native plants, waterways, environment, ecosystems, animals, kids, peaceful walks in the woods...) The end. There is nothing good in it except relief for the dog. Pick it up and dispose of it properly.
5 - Seeking Public Comment on Weston's Updated
Hazard Mitigation Plan
Weston’s Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) is currently being revised to incorporate the results of a vulnerability assessment developed as part of the state’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant program - initiated by Weston's Sustainability Committee - and in accordance with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines.
The purpose of the Plan is to recommend actions and policies for the Town that are meant to reduce the social and economic losses resulting from natural hazards. Public feedback is an important component to the process of the updating the plan, the draft of which is available below. Public comments can be submitted through an online form, also available below.
Thank you in advance for your time and thoughtful comments. Comments are due June 11th. We recognize how valuable personal time is, so if you would like to help but want to know specifically where to look, we recommend providing input on the history of the identified hazards (Chapter 3) and mitigation actions (Chapter 6) identified in the draft plan below.
BONUS - A Silver Lining:
More Public Participation Online
The public health emergency has allowed for some unique opportunities in New England Town Government, most especially the state's allowance for Town Government board and committee members to meet via online meeting platforms, such as Zoom. This has also opened up the opportunity for more residents to attend and participate.
If you haven't tried it yet, here are some basics:
- All board/committee meetings must be posted at least 48 business hours in advance
- Meetings are posted to the online meeting calendar at Weston.org/Meetings and the meeting agenda with the meeting link and ID is posted to the Agenda/Minute Center
- Residents who are interested in attending a meeting of a particular board or committee can subscribe to receive email or text notification of when the agenda has been posted to the website
- Visit Weston.org/StayInformed and add your email or cell phone. Scroll down to "Agenda Center" and select the committee(s) of your choice. Be sure to verify the subscription.
Who to watch? The Select Board, which is the executive body in Town Government. If you have children in Weston Public Schools, the School Committee meetings will be of interest to you. All of the boards/committees are listed online with a description of their charge.
We understand the desire to escape from turbulent times. Who doesn't want normalcy with summer weather coming? But it is important to remain vigilant in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. It's still in the U.S., we're not in the clear yet. Continue reviewing Weston.org/Covid19 for the latest updates and reminders, as well as Weston.org/Status for town service and programming updates.
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