TRURO – At the annual city meeting on Saturday on the ball field of the Truro Central School, the city’s voters pushed initiatives to maintain and build a year-round community.
Items approved by voters during the four-hour session included the city’s annual budget of $ 21.6 million for the next fiscal year, a pilot program of childcare vouchers for 2-year-old children, an excise tax hike for local room occupancy, a stabilization fund for Affordable living space, regulatory changes to facilitate the construction of ancillary housing and a year-round rental housing foundation.
Voters made proposals to change whether three city regulators should be appointed or elected.
According to town clerk Kaci Fullerton, an estimated 189 voters gathered for the 10am meeting. A quorum of 100 registered voters had to be present before the meeting began and was counted once towards the end of the meeting.
The meeting was originally scheduled for May 1st but was extended to Saturday and held outdoors as a precaution against COVID-19.
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Extra free cash
Nearly $ 1 million in additional free cash gave the city an opportunity to offset the tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year, purchase a $ 170,000 heavy tractor, windows, clapboard, siding, and siding for $ 228,000 at the School to repair and replace. and add money to several city stabilization and trust funds as approved by voters on Saturday.
For Truro, the free cash includes government-certified money from the beach and wire transfer fees that are levied year-round, said Finance Committee chairman Robert Panessiti
“The number is particularly high because of COVID last year,” said Panessiti. The summer season was more robust than expected, which resulted in higher fee collections. Typically the city’s annual free cash is around $ 2 million, but this year it was around $ 2.7 million, he said.
Law on residential units streamlined
Several changes to the building code have been passed to make it easier for property owners to add additional housing units. A citizens’ petition in Article 22, which was approved, removed a review by the planning body and allowed an additional unit “by law”.
A handful of voters described the supervision of the planning committee as “arduous” and “expensive”. Article 22 follows state guidelines in efforts to resolve the housing crisis across the region, State Senator Julian Cyr, D-Truro, said in support of the article.
According to city planner Barbara Carboni, there are nine secondary apartments according to the city’s current statutes. Some speaking on Saturday said the current statute should have built more than nine units. Other voters felt that the abolition of the planning committee would reduce neighbors’ comments and leave them no room for appeal.
In addition to passing Article 22, voters reduced parking requirements for secondary apartments, reduced physical application copies and added digital application copies, eliminated filing obligations outside the responsibility of the planning committee, eliminated building elevation plans if no external changes were made, and a handful of other measures, all of which are both be supported by the Select Board and the Planning Board.
Affordable housing fund created
Two more articles that have been passed will approach the real estate crisis from a different angle.
“I can’t say that any stronger. We had a housing crisis before the pandemic. Now it’s on steroids, ”Cyr said while discussing petition articles 19 and 20. These measures will increase the local consumption tax on room occupancy by 2% and create an affordable stabilization fund for apartments – with 33% of the annual local consumption tax devoted to this fund.
Many parishioners were unable to attend because they either worked or were at home with their children, resident Mara Glatzel told the gathering voters in support of the two articles.
“We pretend everyone is in the room,” said Glatzel.
Efforts like an affordable housing stabilization fund are essential, and so much more will be needed, she said.
Some voters have expressed concerns that they do not want another fund to be set up because several funds already exist, such as the city’s general fund or the city’s affordable housing trust fund.
Setting aside funds for a specific goal will keep the money from simply evaporating, Cyr said on the importance of the Stabilization Fund. He compared it to a savings account for housing projects. Allocation of funds within the fund will be discussed at future city assemblies, supporters said.
Pilot passes for childcare vouchers
A pilot program for childcare vouchers for 2-year-old children, as requested by the Select Board, with changes due to a citizens’ petition.
The school currently offers a Pre-K program for children aged 3 and over.
The voucher program modeled on one in Eastham is aimed at Truro families or Truro City employees with children. The program is designed for one year. The voucher would be a study grant for state-licensed childcare directly to the provider, up to a maximum of USD 7,500 for each eligible child.
While one citizen spoke out against the article, sometimes saying that the program should be based on financial need, many others spoke out in favor of it.
“We want families to thrive here,” said one voter.
In addition to helping young families, the voucher program would help maintain a year-round economy, supporters said.
The similar citizen petition did not have a payment mechanism for the program and was postponed indefinitely on Saturday.
Year-round trustee passes for rental apartments
A public petition for the creation of a year-round rental housing foundation was also passed.
The establishment of the trust is a first step in helping families who make more money than the traditional affordable housing categories but still cannot afford an apartment in Truro, said petitioner Raphael Richter.
A family that makes around $ 80,000 annually and has a few children often has to leave Truro because the rental market lets them down and disqualifies them for something traditionally considered affordable housing, Richter said.
In the vote to establish the trust, no money was asked of the city voters, said Richter. This could be a possibility in the future, although the trust can also be funded through other means such as grants, he said.