745WVN #545: Tax holiday in OPEB article
- Mar 17, 2014Dear Wayland Voter,
The warrant for the April 3 Annual Town Meeting, which was mailed to residents last week, calls for expenditures including the largest increase in the school budget in at least a decade. The obscure-seeming Article 4 (“OPEB Funding”), though, proposes giving taxpayers a break in the immediate future and many years beyond.
OPEB FUNDING HOLIDAY
In the wake of disclosures about largely unexplained contributions in recent years to a health benefits fund for retired town employees, the selectmen appointed a special committee to wrestle with the challenge of determining the appropriate funding for and management of the Other Post Retirement Benefits fund. The state had required special OPEB accounts, forcing municipalities to plan far ahead.
The OPEB committee of five residents with relevant expertise studied the problem and ultimately concluded that annual contributions needn’t be as disturbingly large as projected earlier.
Their work resulted in Article 4, setting out a number of fiscal transfers. One result is what the Committee calls a “holiday” for taxpayers for Fiscal 2015: No contribution from the year’s budget to the OPEB Investment Account. Instead, $594,833 would be transferred to the town’s general fund from specialized revolving and enterprise accounts.
Enterprise funds are activities funded entirely by customers. Revolving funds account for their receipts from a specific revenue source separately from the general fund. Examples include the Transfer Station and Recreation.
In addition to the transfer, the seven funds would contribute $36,330.70 directly to the OPEB Account.
The rationale is that these funds should have contributed their share to OPEB in years past.
Of the $594,833 added to the general fund, the Committee is asking that only $249,094 be deposited in the OPEB Fund. The difference, $382,069, will remain in the general fund.
As a result of the financial shuffle, $285,425 (including the $36,330.79 contributed by revolving and enterprise funds) would be deposited into the OPEB Fund.
In addition, the Committee says it is saving the town about $141,000 annually by offering lower-cost Medicare plans, with lower premiums, to retirees over age 65.
Article 4 is endorsed by the Finance Committee, School Committee and the Personnel Board.
Arguments against the article include the assertion that Wayland has been “overly aggressive” in funding OPEB.
The Committee’s summary:
Prior WVN coverage:
-- WVN Staff
Wayland Candidates’ Night: Tuesday, March 18. Residents are urged to attend candidates night to chat with candidates, hear campaign statements and ask questions. The event, conducted by the League of Women Voters, will start at 7:30 p.m. in the large hearing room of Town Building. Refreshments at 7:15. WayCAM will broadcast live.
Ask the Candidates Live call-in show: Thursday, March 20 on WayCAM, Comcast Channel 8 or 9 and Verizon channel 37 or 38. Candidates respond to residents’ phoned questions and the town’s former moderator, Peter Gossels, will moderate. The schedule: 7 p.m., candidates for the selectmen’s three-year seats; 8:05 p.m., candidates for the one-year selectman seat; 8:40 p.m. until 9:25 p.m., School Committee candidates.
April 1. Polls open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Middle School for Precincts 2 and 3, and Town Building for Precincts 1 and 4.
April 3, 7:30 p.m. and continuing during the week of April 7 in the High School Field House. The Selectmen’s Warrant Hearing for Town Meeting articles will be held on March 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the large hearing room.
Planning to attend Town Meeting? Please help prepare by answering a very brief, anonymous survey to assist in ordering adequate supply of electronic voting devices.
Tree Trimmers Coming
March 17, 7:10 p.m. -- NStar will present its 2014 tree trimming program to the Board of Public Works in the large hearing room
Tour Concord Mews
March 20, 10 a.m. Those interested in seeing a large apartment complex that is not age-restricted are invited to a tour, gathering at town building at 10 a.m. To reserve space on the bus, please contact the town planner at ssarkisian@...
This is the second tour organized by the Economic Development Committee. The first focused on residences for seniors only.
The Town Meeting warrant article to rezone the former septage facility area for housing now specifies the senior quotient at 25% of the 190 units. Thus, the Mews may offer a better comparison because the Shillman House, toured previously, had many services and activity spaces for senior residents.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor