October 22, 2020

Is anyone listening in Seekonk?

Posted

5/16/2020

After the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Wednesday, May 13th you have to wonder, “What are they thinking?” The most concerning is the Chairman and his willingness to utilize the Stabilization Fund to shore up a possible revenue shortage for the new fiscal year. If it were possible to reach through the television, I would have asked him just how much he was willing to gamble on our future.

Rewinding for just a second, everyone knows we have an uncertainty to state aid this coming year and why. When dealing with projections the first thing should have been “How do we keep the services and staffing we currently have in place?”

Contractual obligations keep the salary lines increased. Fixed costs are always on the rise and so on. Adding to staff is so far off the radar screen for the next fiscal year it should be invisible. Yet, the Town Administrator is asking for a Human Resource Director/Assistant Town Administrator to the tune of $90,000 annually. What is worst is that the Board voted to keep it in the budget with exception of Justin Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan took the responsible step in saying no, not now.

The question of the need for the position is not a doubt, however, the timing of such is totally irresponsible. To compound the problem, the Chairman suggested to utilize the Stabilization Fund in the event our revenue projections fall short. He could not be more wrong.

It has taken this Town many years to build a Stabilization Fund and for the following reason. Banks look at savings when we look to them for loans. Loans are based on favorable bond ratings. Those bond rates drive our interest rates. So again, ask the Chairman of the Board just how much of Stabilization is he willing to gamble?

We have a shopping list of projects coming that will require a debt exclusion for each. Below is just a sample of what we as taxpayers will be looking to do.

•The Senior Center – Phase II (completing the project)
•DPW Facility (should be priority)
•South End Fire Station (public safety)
•Library (monies already spent on plans)
•School Upgrades (possible changes to the Hurley Middle School, Athletic Field at the High School)

Our debt is coming down as the bond for the Martin/High School Project, started in 2003 will be done in 2023. It would be wise to keep our savings in check and not use it to balance operating budgets.

Looking at the request for a new position please keep this in mind. It is reorganizing a town department. We have never had this type of position before. According to the Seekonk Home Rule Charter, the Town Administrator has the right to make changes to the organization, but it is supposed to be finalized with a vote from the Board of Selectmen. This has never been done and it is not the first-time liberties have been taken with reorganization. Many times, questions have been submitted and ignored about holding (2) Department Heads in Animal Control. This too, is a reorganization of a town department without the proper procedure being followed. The Chairman of the Selectmen continues to allow it to happen.

A proper job description has not been produced for the new position much less voted on by the Board and seemingly we have a price tag attached to it. Does not make any sense.

We have a Home Rule Charter that is followed by convenience. Mr. Chairman wants to think “this is how the world works.” Well it is not. Many times, his Board and the Town Administrator use the Charter when it suits them, and they clearly sidestep it when it does not.

Hopefully with the coming election we can get back to having an Executive Board begin to act like one. Setting goals for the Town Administrator, evaluating the Town Administrator, and giving directives to the Town Administrator and not being spoon fed and told to swallow. Which by the way, has been common practice for about the last (6) six years?

This is simple nonsense that should not be permitted by the people of Seekonk.

Thank you
Doreen Taylor
Seekonk, MA 02771

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