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Thread: Thank you for your support of article 4 and 5

  1. #1
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    Post Thank you for your support of article 4 and 5

    The petitioners’ of article 4 and 5 would like to thank all citizens for thoughtful consideration of the articles. We were encouraged by the informed and respectful debate on the issues and appreciative of everyone’s participation in that process.

    Over the past months, we have seen cooperation on behalf of our town government, working with concerned citizens that have resulted in positive changes for our citizens, positive changes for our schools, and for the greater good of the town.

    We are heartened by these developments and would like to see them continue.

    On March 28 a group of concerned citizens sent a request to our town’s finance committee asking them to reconsider many items in the FY 2013 budget as presented in the Warrant.

    As a result of this request and many additional individual requests for information and discussions, the Fincom was able to adjust the final budget that was approved at Annual Town Meeting.

    Further Adjustments were debated at Town Meeting and Residents voted their conscience. The art of true democracy.

    As a result taxpayers were able to see over $3.5 M in savings on the operating budget and a reduction in taxes of approximately $7M.

    The warrant as printed, represented a projected 5.6% tax INCREASE and a tax rate of $20.27 per thousand of evaluation. At the close of town meeting we ended with a 6.9% tax DECREASE and a tax rate projected to be in the $17.70 per thousand range. This represents a savings of $1,500 per average household versus the FY13 budget originally presented in the Warrant.

    In addition, working with our school committee and Dr. Stein, we were able to find a reasonable solution on how to return over $500,000 of excess reserves to our residents.

    Working with the Board of Public Works, we found a solution on how to return over $1.5M of excess water surplus back to our rate payers through reduction in water rates.

    Finally, we were able to extend the transparency and accountability with the passing of Article 28 and the audit of the school fiduciary bank accounts.

    As expressed by members of the Finance Committee, these current savings are temporary and it will be critical that we continue to work on refinements to our budgeting process to mitigate future tax increases.

    There is more work to be done and we will offer to help create a budget process that is based upon actual expenses instead of on prior year budgets, to find ways to fund services without increases... We look forward to continued work with town officials, elected and appointed to drive these substantive changes."

    Thank you to all the citizen’s that participated in the process.

    Finally, we are deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Steve Allen and our condolences are extended to his family.

    Donna Bouchard, Andrea Wagner, Kent George, Tony Boschetto, Lead Petitioners on Articles 4 and 5 and on behalf of a growing network of residents who seek positive change and sustainable financial solutions.

  2. #2
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    And many thanks to YOU Tony, Donna, Andrea and Kent, as well as everyone else who has done so much and worked so hard to bring positive change and sustainable financial solutions, as well as transparency in government and budgeting, to Wayland.
    John Flaherty

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

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    John - I do not understand what you mean by sustainable financial solutions. I would appreciate it if you could explain what you mean by that or maybe just give me a few examples. Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by BTDowns View Post
    John - I do not understand what you mean by sustainable financial solutions. I would appreciate it if you could explain what you mean by that or maybe just give me a few examples. Thanks
    Seems fairly clear to me (not that anyone was asking me). The majority of the town has decided that sustainable financial solutions are those in which the citizens are allowed to vote on every dollar we spend, and not have the town "overcharge" citizens and then apply those unauthorized overcharges to the budget. Come next town meeting, the citizens will be afforded the opportunity to hear what the town wants to spend, hear what levels of free cash the town has, and then determine a levy from citizens that optimizes both an appropriate level of free cash remaining and the tax dollars needed from the citizens to spend money of what the majority of zitizens believe makes sense. Truly transparent and fair!

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    Jeff B., the "Come next town meeting ..." scenario that you describe has actually long been in place. Certainly, it was in place when I first joined the Finance Committee back in 1995, and it has remained so since.

    In my opinion, what triggered the November 2011 Special Town Meeting and the ongoing discussion was the visible rising of Free Cash levels. As I understand it, those levels began to significantly exceed the Finance Committee's targets within the last two years. The excess was the result of conservative financial planning and external factors breaking in Wayland's favor. The excess has been returned (or is in the process of being returned), and I suspect that more attention will be paid to be sure that excesses don't accumulate going forward.

    In the end, however, the accumulation and return of the excesses will likely turn out to be a short-lived "one time" event. The accumulation/return isn't particularly relevant to "sustainable financial solutions," unfortunately. We will continue to face challenges in funding services at the (reasonable) level delivered over the past 10-20 years.

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    It just occurred to me that some may find the title of this thread to be a bit misleading. Unless I'm horribly misremembering things, voters at the recently completed Annual Town Meeting chose NOT to support Articles 4 (change from appointed to elected Finance Committee) and 5 (create an audit committee).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    In the end, however, the accumulation and return of the excesses will likely turn out to be a short-lived "one time" event. The accumulation/return isn't particularly relevant to "sustainable financial solutions," unfortunately. We will continue to face challenges in funding services at the (reasonable) level delivered over the past 10-20 years.
    Well, Jeff, that will be for TM to decide. I believe what makes the whole scenario sustainable is a citizen-centric view as opposed to a town-centric view. The clear exposure of free cash and the new focus on it will no longer allow the town to accumulate it and use it as a back-door tax. Sustainability, in my mind, is accrued to the citizens as they are now focused on making the tax levy more accurate and keeping the excess instead of giving it to the town to keep, spend, or (under duress, as was the case in the November STM where the town fought tooth and nail against the giveback). It also forces the town to examine the budget even closer knowing the excess is not available to just apply...

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    Jeff B., it's not clear what you're suggesting will be TM's to decide: (a) whether accumulations/returns of excesses address sustainability or (b) what level of services to fund. The former is certainly outside the ability of TM to control.

    Of course, it was the long-standing exposure of Free Cash that precipitated/allowed the November 2011 Special Town Meeting and the correction of the essentially one-time (thus far, anyway) excess aberration.

    Spending has always been under Town Meeting's control (that is, citizen's control). The recent excess was a special case that was not kept nor spent, but rather, returned ... because of that control.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Jeff B., it's not clear what you're suggesting will be TM's to decide: (a) whether accumulations/returns of excesses address sustainability or (b) what level of services to fund. The former is certainly outside the ability of TM to control.

    Of course, it was the long-standing exposure of Free Cash that precipitated/allowed the November 2011 Special Town Meeting and the correction of the essentially one-time (thus far, anyway) excess aberration.

    Spending has always been under Town Meeting's control (that is, citizen's control). The recent excess was a special case that was not kept nor spent, but rather, returned ... because of that control.
    1. I am suggesting both. It is now two times on free cash that concerned citizens forced the FinCom to apply free cash to the budget, Jeff (STM and ATM). It is, of course, the prerogative of TM to decide what level of services to fund as well.

    2. Precipitation, not allowance. It is simply ridiculous to think that FinCom allows me to get my money back.

    3. Of course, but the light shone on free cash accumulation, excess funding of things like OPEB, hugely conservative accumulations in the water reserves, etc. that allowed TM to have more control of taxation.

    Anyway, I know you'll keep arguing against this, so I state now that I have no interest in a continued back-and-forth. I didn't see you at TM, by the way. I was quite surprised to not see you at the mic arguing pro/con on many of the controversial articles given your rather public stances in print and always rather good attendance in the past. What happened?

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    Jeff B., you're of course free to opt out of the conversation at any time. As to your point 1, well, I simply have to disagree in part. The accumulation and return of excess funds has NOTHING to do with sustainability. Sustainability is about balancing revenue and expenses. Accumulations that are returned are NOT revenue.

    To your point 2, the visibility of Free Cash prompted petitioners to desire the November 2011 STM and the process allowed them to do so.

    To your point 3, that light has always been shining.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Jeff B., you're of course free to opt out of the conversation at any time. As to your point 1, well, I simply have to disagree in part. The accumulation and return of excess funds has NOTHING to do with sustainability. Sustainability is about balancing revenue and expenses. Accumulations that are returned are NOT revenue.
    It has everything to do with the sustainability of living in Wayland for the people paying the taxes. Now they will only pay what is needed instead of an inflated amount.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    To your point 2, the visibility of Free Cash prompted petitioners to desire the November 2011 STM and the process allowed them to do so.
    What a shame that we had to call an STM to force the town committee's to do the right thing. They were clearly not willing to do it on their own.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    To your point 3, that light has always been shining.
    Uh huh, and I know a 'Native American' Harvard law professor I'd like to introduce you if you believe that!

    You forgot my last question, Jeff. I'll repeat what I wrote, cause I'm curious. I didn't see you at TM, by the way. I was quite surprised to not see you at the mic arguing pro/con on many of the controversial articles given your rather public stances in print and always rather good attendance in the past. What happened?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post

    Uh huh, and I know a 'Native American' Harvard law professor I'd like to introduce you if you believe that!

    [/I]
    Couldn't let this one go by without a response.

    This from the NJ Star Ledger:

    A genealogist has found documents that confirm Warren’s great, great, great grandmother was Cherokee. Wonderful. But that doesn’t make Warren a minority, and it was foolish of her to claim so in any publication.

    But the kerfuffle provides a great piece of political theater for people who savor the inanities our campaign season: The same wing-nuts who hysterically claim Obama is Kenyan-born and not American are apoplectic about Warren proclaiming her connection to the first Americans. There’s no pleasing some people.
    And by the way, how about we all introduce you to a Mormon Hispanic while we are at it?

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    Kim, defending the Warren debacle is simply preposterous. To lie about your ethnicity in an attempt to get favorable treatment in job hiring, and then to lie again about why you did it is a demonstration of poor judgment and a reflection of fitness for office (or lack thereof).

    Might I suggest, however, that a continuation of this particular subject be moved to a new thread since it is severely off topic here.

  14. #14
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    Warren's claim of Native American heritage is about as accurate as claiming that returning excess cash is an example of sustainable financial solutions.

    There now the topics are related.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BTDowns View Post
    Warren's claim of Native American heritage is about as accurate as claiming that returning excess cash is an example of sustainable financial solutions.

    There now the topics are related.
    Stellar wit! [GRIN] (c)

    I never expected you'd understand/agree. Good news is the people have voted and it doesn't matter if you do. The majority of citizens define sustainability in the form of lower taxes and return of over taxation. The return itself may or may not be sustainable, but the tax rate sure can be. It will be our choice, in the end, and not the choice of government. We'll see.

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