Marion's priorities are in order

Apr 21, 2018

To the Editor:

Every year the Capital Improvement Planning Committee sits down with the town departments to review their 10-year capital plans, focusing on those projects for the next fiscal year. The Committee rates all of next year's proposed projects and presents the prioritized list of capital projects to the selectmen and the Finance Committee.

For the next fiscal year the top five of the 22 proposed capital projects are:

  • 1. NPDES/AOC Permit Compliance
  • 2. Phase 2 Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrades
  • 3. County Rd. Water Main Replacement
  • 4. Mill St. Water Main Replacement
  • 5. Town House Preservation Project

Clearly the water and sewer projects are higher on the priority list. These and other capital projects will be voted on at Town Meeting; approving one capital item does not exclude another capital item.

The Board of Selectmen are a public body and have to comply with the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, the same as other committees, boards and subcommittees. The purpose of the Open Meeting Law is to ensure transparency in the deliberations on which public policy is based. The sub-committee to the Town House Building Committee was constituted by the selectmen for a specific purpose and required to report to the Board. When that sub-committee was ready to report, a special public hearing was scheduled and advertised so that both of the full reports could be presented to all voters and the Selectmen.

The specific purpose of a hearing is to allow residents to provide comments and recommendations for the record. The selectmen listened to both presentations, all of the resident’s comments, and noted the reactions of the voters. At the subsequent public meeting, the selectmen deliberated with respect to which articles would be presented at Town Meeting, a sole responsibility of the selectmen.

At no time has there been a violation of the Open Meeting Law that would reduce transparency to the voters. This is how democracy works.

Norman Hills

Comments (2)
Posted by: Ted North | Apr 21, 2018 20:09

Norm, you forgot to tell the Taxpayers:

· The capital committee’s 10-year forecast has $68.4 Million in listed capital expenditures; and

· That $40 million of these expenditures on the forecast list, mostly DWP projects are scheduled within the next 4 years,

· That Overall the existing and forecasted debt, capital spending, contingent and unfunded obligation and liabilities for our Town are estimated at $161,000,000. This is about 10% of the Town’s assessed valuation. The taxpayer share of this lability therefore is 10% of the assessed value of their property. If your house is assessed at $500,000 then your share of this obligation is $50,000.

· The THC forgot to include the $5,372,204 in interest expense in their taxpayer disclosures which is 67 percent of the $7,957,269 project cost. To say the least this is a material omission of a material fact for taxpayers.

· These are Town House Committee and Town Administration numbers not mine.

The Town House Committee (THC) has significantly mislead taxpayers on the cost of the TH renovation to garner support for approval at the May Town Meeting. The THC project costs are $ 7,957,269. The interest costs calculate by the Town’s financial advisors of debt financing with 30 years 5% Bonds are $ 5,372,504. The Total project and financing costs are $13,329,773. Add to this amount Town Meeting authorizations of $654,000 spent on consulting and design work since the beginning of this project in 2012 the aggregate project cost is $14,000,000 ($13,983,773). You can add to this another $2,500,00 in expected cost overruns.

I hope the taxpayers pay attention to the following Town Meeting warrant articles:

· Article 36 The Marion Town House continuous repair a maintenance bylaw which requires an annual general fund appropriation approved by taxpays to repair and maintain the Town House on a go forward basis.

· Article 37 A municipal governance by law designed to eliminate conflicts of interest, abuse of power and undue influence by precluding and individual serving on multiple elected boards at the same time. Limits Town employees severing as selectmen eliminating the question of who is the Boss.

· Article 39 A right to know bylaw requiring public hearing for items to be placed on the Town Meeting warrant and the requirement that such proposals be “scrubbed” by the finance committee by comments and recommendations to the Board of Selectmen eliminating the annual taxpayer” blow by” by lack of intelligent decision-making information.

Ted North, Marion

Posted by: Brian M Canto | Apr 22, 2018 06:57

Mr North,

Thank you again for pointing out the actual numbers that our town is staring at.  Yet again, our Selectman don’t present all the facts, seems like a pattern to me.....


Brian Canto

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