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Thread: Upcoming Annual Town Meeting - Changes to FY13 Operating and Capital Budget

  1. #1
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    Default Upcoming Annual Town Meeting - Changes to FY13 Operating and Capital Budget

    Today afternoon, I received an email from Wayland Voters Network drawing attention to changes made to the proposed FY13 Operating and Capital Budget. The factual information is on this website -

    http://www.wayland.ma.us/Pages/Wayla...8F5F9-000F8513

    In a space of 6 months, since the STM, the changes to the property tax burden have been remarkable - we had no increase in FY12 and as of now, a 4.55% reduction in 2013.

    I have sincere appreciation for Donna Bouchard, Tony Boschetto and Kent George, who are working tirelessly on our behalf. All of us may not agree with their intentions but we should definitely commend them for raising an alternate point of view.

    I also wish to commend the FinCom for expressing willingness to listen and also agreeing to some of the changes. This is a welcome change.

    I was surprised to find a lot of activity regarding the upcoming ATM in the letters to Editor @ http://www.wickedlocal.com/wayland and that richness of debate was missing in this forum.

  2. #2
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    Nick, I agree wholeheartedly. Donna, Tony and Kent have done a remarkable job working with the FinCom. And it is very refreshing indeed to see the FinCom's openness to the suggestions and ideas that these residents have brought to them. I commend the FinCom, as well, for recognizing the quality of the data and thoughtful analyses these folks are providing them. It is clear that with some restructuring and efficiencies, we really can have lower taxes without impacting our services.

    Nick, I'm not sure what you mean where you say we may not all agree with their intentions. Do you think they have bad intentions in some way? If you wouldn't mind clarifying that point, I'd appreciate it.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    John, although you don't quite come out and say it, my read between the lines suggests that not only do you agree with the intentions behind their budget questions, but that you also suspect that few if any would disagree with these intentions. I for one have no problem whatsoever with these intentions.

    Nick, to your point about the volume of activity on the Wicked Local/Town Crier site compared with this forum, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on improving the latter. The discourse here is certainly more civil than what one finds in the Town Crier Comments sections. And the access to the discourse here is worlds better. My best guess is that people submit columns and letters to the Town Crier because they expect a wider readership. Or perhaps they think that the print and online combination gives them a wider audience.

    For my part, I generally try to publish in both places. I've had two recent letters in the Town Crier, the first of which I also posted on this Discussion Forum (see post #3 here). I had meant to post my second one on the Discussion Forum as well, but that slipped my mind. I'll do so this evening or tomorrow morning. As a rule, if I'm submitting to the Town Crier, I won't post here until the Town Crier has come out. I don't know if it's their policy not to publish works that have been published elsewhere, but I've been proceeding as if that's their policy.

    It occurs to me that even if the original column/letter writers don't submit here, it may be permissible for anyone else to post the content here. That said, I'm not sure of the copyright implications of doing so--it might be best to reference, link to, and summarize the Town Crier piece rather than reference it and copy it verbatim. Either way, I would think that the Town Crier would see at least something of an increase in readership due to the presence on the Discussion Forum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Nick, I'm not sure what you mean where you say we may not all agree with their intentions. Do you think they have bad intentions in some way? If you wouldn't mind clarifying that point, I'd appreciate it.
    Please replace the word "intentions" with "proposed solutions."

    The changes being proposed are far reaching and not everybody may agree with the solutions.

  5. #5
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    Nick, thanks for the clarification.

    FinCom has come around quite a bit in the last couple of weeks and is supporting many of these solutions. I give them a lot of credit for listening to and recognizing the hard work that Donna Bouchard, Tony Boschetto and others have done in finding some creative solutions to lower our taxes without impacting services. In spite of some recent misleading emails that have been circulating that the sky is falling, I think most reasonable people who take the time to read and comprehend the Articles being put forth will recognize that most of these articles are good for the schools and the town as as a whole. This isn't about slashing the budget, it's about finding efficiencies and savings without cutting services.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

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    John, it's not clear to me what the "Articles" that you reference above have to do with the budget questions that Ms. Bouchard, Mr. Boschetto, and others have been asking. I'll assume that you're talking about Petitioner articles (please correct me if I'm mistaken). As I look through them, I see a lot that's NOT "good for the schools or the town as a whole."

    ARTICLE 4: Change Finance Committee from appointed to elected
    At one end of the spectrum, Finance Committees are appointed by a single individual (often the Moderator). At the other end, they are elected by the voters. In between is appointment by a group of officials (typically, elected). In Wayland, that appointing body is the Board of Selectmen--other towns use other appointing bodies. The Petitioners propose to move Wayland from the center to the extreme without any study of the experiences that other towns have had with different forms of Finance Committee selection. A cursory exploration shows that election (not at all common among our peer and surrounding towns) hasn't worked all that well for the minority of towns in MA that use that method. There is no evidence whatsoever that this rash and poorly thought out article would do anything to benefit the schools or the town.

    ARTICLE 5: Establish an Audit Committee
    This article proposes to duplicated responsibilities already held by existing boards, and as such, is pointless.

    ARTICLE 6: Eliminate funding for Community Preservation Act
    This article would eliminate funding for the CPA, which allows the town to purchase land and do other things to preserve our semi-rural character. Defunding the CPA does nothing to benefit the schools or the town--to the contrary, it would hinder our ability to improve the town.

    ARTICLE 9: Appropriate funds to study teacher compensation
    This article proposes to spend money investigating a mere 6 towns when the School Committee already studies more towns at no cost. This article does nothing to benefit the schools or the town.

    ARTICLE 19: Require tax rate hearing
    I don't have an informed opinion on this article, but am including it for completeness as it is a Petitioner article.

    ARTICLE 25: Definition of service stations
    I don't have an informed opinion on this article, but am including it for completeness as it is a Petitioner article.

    ARTICLE 28: Request audit of school fee-based programs
    Among numerous other flaws, this article places a large burden on our educators without providing the funds to accomplish their "day jobs" educating Wayland's children. As written, this article most definitely does NOT benefit the schools or the town.

    ARTICLE 31: Resolution in support of electronic voting
    I'm in favor of electronic voting to speed the counting of close votes, but not in the manner proposed. That said, that's merely a matter of opinion--I can't say that the proposed manner is demonstrably wrong or bad for the schools or the town.

  7. #7
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    After having studied the articles, I have come to the following decisions and these may change following the comments at tomorrow's ATM.


    ARTICLE 4: Change Finance Committee from appointed to elected
    I am in agreement with a mix of appointed and elected FinCom members. Traditionally FinCom members have gone on to get elected to BoS because voters value the experience gained by them. Therefore it is important to open these positions to others who are interested in playing a role in town administration. I trust the voters judgment in ensuring proper expertise to the elected FinCom members otherwise the town deserves what it gets.

    Also the current FinCom should have recused itself from this debate rather than arguing against it and voting 7-0 against it.

    Vote Yes


    ARTICLE 5: Establish an Audit Committee

    The more audit the better.

    Vote Yes


    ARTICLE 6: Eliminate funding for Community Preservation Act

    I am a supporter of CPA funding but there is no reason to be accumulating too much cash within it. Let us spend the remaining balance before we start funding it.

    Vote Yes

    ARTICLE 7: Water Enterprise Fund

    In all fairness, we cannot create another fund with excessive reserves in it. If the same logic of $3.4 Mn water reserve is used to the School budget, then we should have a reserve of at least $65 Mn in it.

    Vote No


    ARTICLE 9: Study Teacher Compensation

    The petitioners have earned enough goodwill that we should be willing to spend $16,000 on their request. If it doesn't work as per plan than we know better.

    Vote Yes


    ARTICLE 12: DPW Building

    Given that Weston spent $17 Mn on building a brand new facility, our spending is not out of line. I just wish both towns would have coordinated and built a single building.

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/art..._dpw_facility/

    Vote Yes


    ARTICLE 19: Tax Rate Hearing

    I will oppose this because a tax rate hearing will become as contentious as the US Debt Ceiling Law. Once we have passed the budget, there is no point in discussing the tax rate which is derived by mathematical formula.

    Vote No.


    ARTICLE 28: Request audit of school fee-based programs

    I understand that their were issues in the past and these have been well documented. I am sure the new School Superintendent and the School Committee will ensure that these mistakes are not repeated.

    Vote No.


    ARTICLE 31: Resolution in support of electronic voting

    Electronic voting is very quick.

    Vote Yes.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Sawrikar View Post
    ARTICLE 4: Change Finance Committee from appointed to elected
    I am in agreement with a mix of appointed and elected FinCom members. Traditionally FinCom members have gone on to get elected to BoS because voters value the experience gained by them. Therefore it is important to open these positions to others who are interested in playing a role in town administration. I trust the voters judgment in ensuring proper expertise to the elected FinCom members otherwise the town deserves what it gets.

    Also the current FinCom should have recused itself from this debate rather than arguing against it and voting 7-0 against it.

    Vote Yes
    Nick, please note that Article 4 does NOT propose a mix of appointed and elected Finance Committee members (except during the first few years as the terms of the current appointed members expire).

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Sawrikar View Post
    ARTICLE 6: Eliminate funding for Community Preservation Act
    I am a supporter of CPA funding but there is no reason to be accumulating too much cash within it. Let us spend the remaining balance before we start funding it.

    Vote Yes
    CPA funds can be effective only if they contain sufficient amounts to make purchases when the purchase opportunities arrive. Spending down the balance negates this ability.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Sawrikar View Post
    ARTICLE 9: Study Teacher Compensation
    The petitioners have earned enough goodwill that we should be willing to spend $16,000 on their request. If it doesn't work as per plan than we know better.

    Vote Yes
    I'm not sure that the earning of goodwill is sufficient reason to vote in favor of a Town Meeting article. The question isn't whether the proposed idea will work, but rather, whether it's needed at all. The School Committee already does a more in-depth analysis at no cost to the town. In addition, this work cannot be public, as it directly impacts negotiation strategy. As I see it, there's too much risk that the proposed work will become public.

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