The Natick Annual Town Report for 2020 is now online and it’s quite the beach read. Numbers in this report will be tough to compare to those from past years due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on everything, but there is still a lot to chew on.
Here are 15 takeaways:
- The Town of Natick 2020 Annual Report is dedicated “to each and every employee of the Town, in recognition of their exceptional contributions throughout the year to the well-being and quality of life of those who live, work, or spend time in our community.”
- The term “unprecedented” appears 7 times in the report, up from zero the year before. The Select Board used it 3 times in its summary. That’s impressive, and unprecedented.
- The Town Clerk’s report includes this grim observation: “In 2020 the number of vital records registered was directly related to the pandemic. The number of births (364) was only slightly less than the previous year but the number of deaths (414) was a up significantly (15%) and is most likely directly related to the pandemic and the large number of deaths in nursing homes.
- The average single-family home value increased from $613,133 to $617,960, and it’s up from $570,732 the year before. Schmantzy.
- The Open Space Advisory Committee reported that “Trail use more than doubled, as schools, businesses, restaurants, and entertainment venues shut down.”
- This report weighed in at 271 pages, down from 289 last year, 332 in 2018 and 334 in 2017. It’s definitely heading in the right direction.
- The Health Department reported 74 cases of Lyme Disease, up from 54 the year before. The town received notice of its first positive COVID-19 case on March 7, three days before Gov. Baker declared a State of Emergency.
- This past year, the Health Department “had a noticeable increase in construction permits for septic system repairs or replacements. This was in large part due to overuse from residents honoring the pandemic ‘Stay at Home’ policy and the robust real estate market.”
- 12 Natick community members were trained to train others in Youth Mental Health First Aid, a program that prepares parents, teachers, coaches, and other caring adults to recognize and respond to youth mental health and substance use behaviors. These trainers subsequently trained 62 adults in Natick who work with or serve youth.
- Veterans’ Services launched a second addiction group, dubbed Smart Recovery. This is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy method of dealing with addictions.
- The Natick Police Department reported significant declines in most violations as well as car crashes, likely due to people hunkering down during the pandemic. Civil motor vehicle infractions (123) numbered about a third of the previous year’s count. Written warnings, arrests, and criminal complaints all fell. OUIs dropped off only slightly. Car crashes declined from 889 in FY19 to 612 in FY20.
- On the animal front, 33 cases of animal cruelty were investigated, there was 1 bear sighting, and felines were on their best behavior: No reported cat bites.
- The Department of Public Works’ Equipment Maintenance Division implemented a new asset tracking system to track the Town’s growing fleet and assets. So no more disappearing plows or whatever.
- As always, for the nosy, the annual report sheds light on town employee salaries. We won’t get into the specifics here, but if you’re raising money for a charity run or something, hit up the town’s senior first responders…that’s where the money is.
- FY 19 vs FY 20 spending. Not too much changed from year to year though the share of overall spending on education dropped 2% and the share of overall spending on debt rose 4%.
Obtaining the Town Report
A limited number of printed copies of the Annual Town Reports can be found in the Select Board’s Office:
13 E. Central St.
Natick, MA 01760