I currently own property in two Massachusetts communities. Both communities have a Board of Selectmen-Town Manager form of governance. One community has three unpaid selectmen (the 3 Town) and the other has five unpaid selectmen (the 5 Town).
The 3 Town has been struggling for several years to understand, fund and justify a waste water system. The 5 Town had a shovel ready program and received federal stimulus funds two years ago to finance its’ new waste water system.
The 3 Town has been struggling for decades to understand what type of bicycle trail would be best for the Town. The 5 Town has miles of bicycle trails for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike.
The 3 Town limits citizen participation at Board of Selectmen (BOS) meetings to agenda items that have been submitted and approved by the BOS prior to the meeting. The 5 Town works to an agenda but welcomes citizen participation at BOS meetings and specifically schedules time for citizens’ comments.
The 3 Town has a BOS majority of high tenure members who do not need to discuss or debate many topics because they have discussed and debated most topics before. The 5 Town has more frequent turnover within the BOS and is frequently challenged with new ideas from new members; all topics before the board are debated to the benefit of the new members and the benefit of new citizens.
The 3 Town has high assessed property values. The 5 Town has higher assessed property values and the 5 Town has a higher rate of appreciation in housing values.
The 3 Town has one of the highest property tax burdens in the state. The 5 Town has one of the lowest property tax burdens in the state.
The 3 Town has a AAA bond rating. The 5 Town also has a AAA bond rating.
I could continue but the arithmetic of this letter should be pretty straight forward; an increase in Selectmen from 3 to 5 offers any community the opportunity for more experience, more creativity, more involvement and better representation in town government.
Attend Town Meeting Sept. 24, 2012. Vote yes on Warrant Article 4 to increase the Selectmen membership to 5. Enable Sudbury to do better.