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WVN Newsletter #209: Election and Town Meeting

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  • waylandvoters
    Dear Wayland Voter, This newsletter recaps the April 24 election and  previews the Sunday April 29 Town Meeting. DEVELOPERS CHOICES WIN AT POLLS The slate of
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 27, 2007
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      Dear Wayland Voter,

      This newsletter recaps the April 24 election and  previews the Sunday April 29 Town
      Meeting.

      DEVELOPERS' CHOICES WIN AT POLLS

      The slate of candidates approved by the town center developers and activist groups  won
      handily at the polls on April 24.

      The developers denied published reports that they had specified the people they wanted
      to head the Board of Road Commissioners and the Planning Board. But they had made it
      clear that they won't  negotiate  unless the chairmanships change.

      Selectman Michael Tichnor, who defeated Steven Glovsky 1,718-701 for a second three-
      year term, said he looked forward to encouraging  Twenty Wayland  LLC back to the table
      to resume negotiations on the proposed $100-million Route 20 project.

      The rest of the slate included:

      -- Kevin Murphy, an investment portfolio manager who defeated architect Harvey
      Montague 1,570-771 for a seat on the Planning Board.

      -- Consultant Eric Knapp (1,659 votes), and consultant Alan Shubin  (1,552), who  finished
      far ahead of incumbent Stewart Millerd (812) for two road commissioner positions.

      Voters approved by a 1,663-605 vote a ballot question authorizing $1.85 million in new
      debt. Final action on  the debt and the entire Wayland budget will be taken at annual Town
      Meeting beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday April 29 at the High School field house.  

      Though there was no candidate on the ballot for a seat on the Board of Health, phone
      calls, emails and letters resulted in 835 write-in votes for Arnold Soslow, a physician and
      former BoH member who defeated Bill Currier  (134).

      The voter turnout of 2,534 was 29 percent of the 8,613 registered voters,  far below some
      recent contests.  

      Running unopposed were:

      -- Susan  Rufo, Jack Wilson and Bruce Cummings, Board of Assessors.

      -- Deb Cohen, School Committee.

      -- Joel Goodmonson, Board of Water Commissioners.

      -- Jerrold Mitchell, commissioner of Trust Funds.

      -- Mary Antes, Housing Authority.

      -=-Lois Toombs, the longtime assistant town clerk who takes over for Judy St. Croix. St.
      Croix  retired after 21 years.

      -- Phyllis Thomason and Robert Virzi, Park & Recreation Commission.

      TOWN MEETING EXPERIMENT

      Please note the new time and date for annual Town Meeting. If it is deemed a success,  it
      could be continued.  Moderator Peter Gossels has predicted that most is not all of the
      town's business could be completed in that one afternoon.

      There could be  debate on articles designed to save taxpayer money by changing Wayland
      employees' medical coverage and pension fund. See Molly Upton's report below.

      Citizens filed a petitioners'  article for a feasibility study on dealing with flooding on
      Pelham Island Road, which at WVN's  deadline was still partly underwater and closed to
      through traffic.

      Another timely petitioners' article is a resolution  to "Protect Wayland Drinking Water."  The
      Finance Committee and the selectmen did not recommend approval even though it leaves
      implementation to the Board of Water Commissioners and outlines ideas that could save
      the town money. This comes at a time when Wayland water has been in  the news because
      of  increasing complaints of brown water and action by the state to prevent harm to town
      wells from existing practices as well as planned artificial turf at the High School.  The
      resolution argues that a proactive Water Department action plan could reduce costs for
      such things contamination cleanups and dealing with state requirements.

      -- Michael Short

      PENSION CHANGE PROPOSED

      Voters at town meeting will have an opportunity to withdraw from the Middlesex
      Retirement system and transfer management of the town¹s pension for current employees
      to the state¹s system, the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board (PRIM).

      The town¹s ad hoc committee  identified exiting the Middlesex retirement system as one
      of the more important measures the town should take to reduce its expenditures.  
      "Wayland has seen its annual pension contribution rise from $1,097,575 in Fiscal 2001 to
      $2,490,000 in 2008. This increase is partly a result of inferior investment returns for the
      Middlesex portfolio," the warrant states.

      The Middlesex retirement system has come under scrutiny by the inspector general for
      several reasons, and "voluntarily" transferred management of pension funds to the state
      for three years when it was faced with an order to merge its assets into the state fund.
      This article proposes to make that transfer permanent.  In addition to questionable large
      expense accounts and lack of competitive bidding, the Middlesex Retirement System lost
      $37 million, or 7 percent of its value, in currency markets in 2003, according to a Nov. 10,
      2006 article in the Boston Globe. This amounted to a $1.75 million loss to Wayland, Chris
      Riley told WVN. Riley is a member of the ad hoc and finance committees.

      By state law, the town is responsible for pension obligations regardless of investment
      performance or lack thereof.  
      The PRIM has outperformed the Middlesex-administered pension for several years. In the
      last five years, PRIM annual returns averaged 7.04 percent, well ahead of Middlesex¹
      average of 4.26 percent , according to a letter in the town crier by Riley. <http://
      www.townonline.com/wayland/opinions/x456684643>http://www.townonline.com/
      wayland/opinions/x456684643.  Riley also notes the state PRIM handles $43 billion in
      assets and has delivered higher returns for the past 1, 5, 10 and 20 years.

      Had Wayland been part of PRIM in the last decade, Wayland¹s pension fund would have
      gained approximately $6 million more than it did in the Middlesex system, according to
      information in the warrant. Wayland¹s pension fund is about $25 million. To meet future
      state requirements of fully funding pensions, Wayland needs $52 million in the fund, Riley
      said.  

      Despite the advantages to the town and its employees, the administrators of the
      Middlesex system are attempting to cast fear uncertainty and doubt on the merits of the
      article by sending letters to employees as well as to the Town Crier. The letter in the Crier
      states, in part, "As a result, this article places the retirement security of employees of the
      town of Wayland at risk."  The letter to employees proclaims, "It is the firm opinion of the
      Middlesex Retirement Board that the goals of Article 18 jeopardize the retirement security
      earned by our membersŠ"  Several board members of the Middlesex retirement system are
      former firefighters.

      The warrant is available online at <http://www.wayland.ma.us/selectmen/
      ATMwarrant2007.pdf>www.wayland.ma.us/selectmen/ATMwarrant2007.pdf

      -- Molly Upton


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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor
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