NORTH ATTLEBORO — The town council is back live and in person.
For the first time since the state shut down most indoor public gatherings last March, councilors met Monday night in town hall in a meeting open to all.
“It’s great to be back and see everyone in person,” Vice President Justin Pare said.
The councilors had been meeting entirely remotely for most of the past year and then in a hybrid format for the last few months, with the public only able to participate online. Future meetings will also be open to the public now that the state’s emergency order will be lifted as of Tuesday.
And the first order of business Monday night was a very public tribute to retiring police Chief John Reilly. Colleagues, family and members of the council all praised Reilly’s 33 years of service, the last decade as chief. State Rep. Adam Scanlon, D-North Attleboro, and former representative Betty Poirier added their tributes. Scanlon presented Reilly with a proclamation from the Legislature.
Councilors also recognized Eagle Scout Dylan Desrosiers.
Council members put the final touches on the town’s operating budget for next year, formally approving funding for the $98.66 million spending plan. Council President Keith Lapointe said the lengthy budget process had been well put together and transparent and had put the town in good financial shape.
Councilors also OK’d $6 million for some major capital projects, including a new fire truck and bleachers at the high school. Those will be paid for through borrowing.
Other spending approved included transfers from the town’s “free cash” or surplus account, including $100,000 for police department body cams. Town Manager Michael Borg said that, while the town is still waiting for the state for final policies on the devices, “we expect within the year to have body cams.” Remaining free cash totals $1.6 million, Borg said.
The council also approved a bylaw that officially makes the town’s solid waste collection a division of the Department of Public Works.