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Thread: Topics for the State Of Wayland Meeting in November

  1. #1
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    Default Topics for the State Of Wayland Meeting in November

    The selectmen were discussing the upcoming state of Wayland meeting and were trying to decide upon topics. I thought this might be a good forum to collect the community's thoughts for the selectmen. Do you have any topics you would like to see covered? If so please post.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default After all the Hub Bub

    About the SOS meeting I would have thought many folks would have had topics of interest. Anyone, anyone, anyone (channel Ferris Bueller's Day Off)

  3. #3
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    Default Moving Right Along

    BT, please be patient with us all. To me, the DF is like a slow discussion. That’s a good thing, where if you’re busy, away, or need time to decide what to say, there’s no rush to respond. But it does seem we have a participation problem. My latest theory is that people are happy/satisfied with the status quo in town. Taxes are not a burden, good value for money, excellent services, competently delivered by an honest and straightforward leadership, in a unified community, etc. Maybe there are no issues people are concerned about?

    While you wait, tell us about the SOS meeting. Oddly, I did’t get invited, so I know nothing. I do wish that that “awards committee” had been more imaginative and given half of the awards to those “watchdogs” (think I’d like to be a watch chihuahua), and half to some SOS members (they do a service also). It certainly would have been a more unifying gesture and not opened the door to people being rude.

    Since I’m crazy, I can think of all sorts of issues that need to be addressed in town. Let’s start with the biggest. Money. Looking at the 5-year Capital Investment Plan (which includes new high school, library, DPW building, maintenance of other buildings, etc.) it appears that our debt will increase to approx. 150M from the current 32M. That’s a big increase. Servicing this debt, plus employee contract negotiations going on (i.e., raises), upgrade to sewer treatment plant, better educational services, more technology, new web site, subsidized affordable housing, tax breaks for seniors, etc. and all the usual operating expenses continuously going up – additionally no longer able to pretend that the “at best” 750K tax revenues from the “Town Center”, or sharing the new Park & Rec Director will pay for all this, perhaps the selectmen might explain the probable effect of all these spending increases on our taxes. Or where additional revenues might come from?

    If I thought the town leadership or administration were doing their job, I’d hope they’d provide us with some data on the effect of taxes on people of more fixed or “diminished” income. And their thoughts on how ever-increasing town taxes burden them.

    donBustin@verizon.net

  4. #4
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    Default

    I have no children in school, so I don't know, but it seems some people think the elementary schools are too crowded. Is that an issue/topic?

  5. #5
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    Default

    Quick pass on things I'd like to see discussed:

    • building town spirit and unity;
    • a thorough review of the capital plan and what we can and should realistically do in the near future
    • transportation - making it easier for people to get out of their cars, particular on bikes and walking (via sidewalks, bike paths and road improvements), and improving traffic flow in town
    • the greening of Wayland, and efforts to improve both the Town's carbon footprint, and also to encourage the same for individuals within the Town
    • finding ways to lessen the tax burden on those less able to afford it, whether by shifting the tax burden where possible to those more able to afford it, or by finding ways to reduce costs generally

  6. #6
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    Default

    I think that I read that the BOS plans to tackle on the order of a half dozen topics. That doesn't mean that others aren't important, nor that public comment can't include others, just that those are the ones that fit the timing for the evening.

    FYI, on June 15, the School Committee held its annual "retreat" at the Public Safety Building. After hearing some year-end reports, a moderator talked the Committee through six main topics. That number seemed to work well--too many more might well have "swamped the boat." As it was, the Committee didn't really reach resolution on specific answers/actions, but got close enough that I'm optimistic that these can be arrived at as part of the 7/27 meeting.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    Since I’m crazy, I can think of all sorts of issues that need to be addressed in town. Let’s start with the biggest. Money.
    "Town finance" should certainly be one of the BOS topics.

    Quote Originally Posted by don Bustin View Post
    I have no children in school, so I don't know, but it seems some people think the elementary schools are too crowded. Is that an issue/topic?
    I suspect that the BOS will rightly say that this topic is the province of the School Committee. The broad topic of the quality of the elementary school program, which includes the question of crowding, was one suggested to the Committee but not one that received air time on 6/15. To be sure, though, it's one that's on the Administration's radar screen as well.

    The numbers this year were below that of all-time highs in the recent past, and enrollment at the elementary level is expected to decline next year. That said, numbers were up from 2007-2008, and any time there's a change in that direction, there will be an impact of some sort.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    • building town spirit and unity;
    • a thorough review of the capital plan and what we can and should realistically do in the near future
    • transportation - making it easier for people to get out of their cars, particular on bikes and walking (via sidewalks, bike paths and road improvements), and improving traffic flow in town
    • the greening of Wayland, and efforts to improve both the Town's carbon footprint, and also to encourage the same for individuals within the Town
    • finding ways to lessen the tax burden on those less able to afford it, whether by shifting the tax burden where possible to those more able to afford it, or by finding ways to reduce costs generally
    All of these are great candidates for discussion. Regarding Kim's last point, I'd love to explore income tax as a replacement for real estate tax at the local level. Doing so would take legislation at the state level, however, and prospects don't seem all that promising.

    A few more possible topics:

    • Status of the Town Center. However, there may not be enough new information to warrant more than a few minutes of time.
    • Report on and discussion of the Electronic Communications Committee work
    Last edited by Jeff Dieffenbach; 06-25-2009 at 01:46 PM. Reason: Addition of ECC topic

  7. #7
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    Default Don is Right-On

    I'll chime in here and echo Don's thoughts about Wayland's fiscal future. We were all told by the powers that be that increasing Wayland's commercial tax base was "critical". The Town Center project seems to be stopped in its' tracks, and whatever income we would have received from Stop & Shop and other "national stores" is stopped as well. So...what's that mean to our town? Any new and improved ideas for developing Town Center (hopefully something that won't turn Wayland into another strip mall), any plans to cut (gasp) budgets, or will it just be status quo and demand another override?

  8. #8
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    Exclamation Its possible to project the town budget going forward

    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Camp View Post
    ...any plans to cut (gasp) budgets, or will it just be status quo and demand another override?
    A topic that would serve Wayland and its citizens well would be for the BoS, the SC and the FinCom to provide a thought out model of what the future tax requirements would be under the following conditions:

    1. A new High School in the range of $80M (as an example) given a 60% town funding requirement plus...

    2. What the 2010 override request might look like in terms of existing obligations and were we think we are in approaching new contracts.

    The plan of record seems to be an override every other year and a cash transfer every other year with the two meshed.

    A model could be created which would project the town budget going forward 5 years or even 10 years with both of these factors in play.

    Do you think we could get to that level of detail?

  9. #9
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    Default

    Alan, do you think we (ourselves) could construct a reasonable estimation of what the town’s future funding/tax requirements will be? You were a selectman, Jeff was on the finance committee, there are many other intelligent and experienced people here and I’m a bookkeeper type person who likes nothing better than making boring financial reports (as long as the effort provides some added insight).

    I’d say why not, taxpayers should be involved in that kind of “discussion”. If we waited for the BOS to project the town budget, and especially if it appeared that the outcome was “negative”, they might not want the information publicized and the report might never happen.

    Of course, there’s much I don’t know about town budgeting, but it would be interesting to see to what extent the financial numbers would be made available to fill in the “blanks” for such an effort. I’m for starting a new thread about it and slowly developing the projection.

    Well? And what might we call this new thread? “Estimation of future town revenues and expenses and their projected effect on the average homeowner’s tax requirement.” Too long?

    donBustin@verizon.net

  10. #10
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    Default Yes start a new thread

    Don,

    Yes, I think you should start a new thread on this.... please do.
    I was thinking of taking a whack at it but the truth is that the FinCom is the best and most credible source for a projected cost analysis going forward which would combine the cost of funding a new high school plus an 'every other year' override appetite going forward.

    The question has been asked "can we afford it"?
    But that is an erroneous question because there is a segment of the population of Wayland that can afford it and there is a segment of the population who can't afford it and they will have to leave... that has been my observation of the attitude about this.

    There is also a segment of the population which can marginally afford it and they may be regarded to be in the middle. This largest segment really needs to make the decision as to whether they would want to continue to fund both an $80M project plus bi-annual overrides or not.

    So I think the FinCom at the direction of the BoS should create this accurate model.

    Don, which segment are you in?

  11. #11
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    Default

    Alan, of course the FinCom should be the body that makes any financial projection, but do you see any likelihood that they might consider doing so? I’ve given it a little thought and it shouldn’t be very difficult to get a ballpark estimation using average growth of revenues and expenses over the last three years (should account for new employee contracts), add an average override and debt exclusion every couple of years and new debt payments for school and capital improvements. But won’t we get what we think we will – taxes will go up, probably at a faster rate then they’ve gone up in the recent past (lots of new debt, remember). Worth the effort? I’m going on vacation in a few days so will wait until I return to see what I want to do.

    What segment am I in (too rich, too poor, or just right)? Do I have to own up to my situation? Well, just a divorced, working class stiff who couldn’t afford to buy in now, and should probably leave. Like my neighbor down the street, who lived in Wayland his whole life but last year moved to a small, but nicer house just into Framingham and pays half the taxes. And he’s glad to be shot of Wayland. Came to despise it. His hometown. That’s Wayland for you who think it’s so wonderful.

    Lots of “For Sale” signs around our neighborhood (“Lokerville”). For all you people whose taxes didn’t go up this year, the town sort of gave it to us. Raised our “neighborhood designation”, removed any “special considerations” and in my case raised my house value. Upshot? Taxes rose by almost 20% (whatever happened to 2½%) – up $2,000 in one year. I actually think that’s unconscionable – suppose I was a 75-year-old living on my dwindling 401k and Social Security? Bet there were some. (Prompted me to research the assessment and abatement process – seems something of a mess, but that’s for another thread... )

    Yes, people are leaving, and I should too. But I like my house. I’ve worked on it, I’ve become attached to it, I’ve made it my home. So, here I stay. Paying, and hoping there’s still some fun to be had in this old town yet.

    donBustin@verizon.net

  12. #12
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    Default Likely hood and survival

    Well Don, you've hit the nail on the head... haven't you?

    The likely hood is low but enough public pressure could change that. Certainly that would be a good topic for the open and public town meeting that our officials now owe us.... since we couldn't go to the first one this year. Show up at BoS and FinCom public comment and let them know how you feel.

    Your survival stories are very similar and numerous. These are the same stories I heard from many people at the landfill, on the street, near the library when I was campaigning. I only wonder why they didn't all come out and vote? Because 62% of the registered voters stayed home.

    Don, I'm sorry to say that it will get more expensive and those that are marginal will drop off the edge. So if you can't keep up then... "Pack your bags so to speak"...

    Else get out there and vote or help to get out the vote.

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