Published: 06/04/2022 21:20:51
Modified: 06/04/2022 21:19:25
SOUTHAMPTON – The ad hoc technology committee has been studying how to bring high-speed fiber optic services to Southampton.
In examining what other neighboring communities, such as South Hadley and Westfield, are doing, the committee learned that the city must build a city lighting system or city-owned utilities to continue this exploration work.
Voters will decide whether this work can go ahead at Southampton’s annual town meeting on Tuesday.
The results of a city survey related to funding for the American Rescue Plan Act, released earlier this year, show that residents ranked access to broadband and affordability of services as their top priorities.
“The main complaint from residents is their internet service,” said City Manager Ed Gibson.
If voters approve an article on Tuesday, it would empower the city to further explore the possibility. It doesn’t require the city to construct a municipal lighting system, he said. This coordination is the first prerequisite of a multi-year process. The article is one of 33 others on the City Assembly ordinance.
Residents will also vote on the city’s $19 million annual operating budget for fiscal year 2023, according to Gibson, an increase of about $800,000 from the previous fiscal year.
In addition, voters will also be asked to approve a repeal of the debt waiver in Proposition 2½ to pay for the Highway Department’s $231,000 purchase of a new loader. Residents backed the measure by a vote of 155 to 148 in the May 17 election, according to city clerk Luci Dalton. The ballot question failed in District 1 but was supported by District 2.
If the article is approved, Gibson estimates that the average single-family homeowner will pay a little less than $12 annually.
Several warrant articles were introduced by the Bylaw Review Advisory Committee to change the wording in some of the city’s existing statutes.
Among them are two articles that, if approved, would remove two statutes related to solid waste and the city’s landfill, which closed in 1997. The Highway Department operates the Moose Brook Road Transfer Station, located on the site of the former municipal landfill.
“The committee’s job is to go through the existing bylaws and modernize or update them,” Gibson said.
The Town Meeting is scheduled for 7pm at the William E. Norris School, 34 Pomeroy Meadow Road, Southampton. Masks are not required but are recommended by city authorities.
Contributor Emily Thurlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.