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WVN #251: Capital plan, school nurses, 40B

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear Wayland Voter, The Finance Committee has introduced its new Capital Improvement Program, which is designed to help manage projects in the coming years
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 24, 2008
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      Dear Wayland Voter,

      The Finance Committee has introduced its new Capital Improvement Program, which is designed to help manage projects in the coming years including such big-ticket items as a new highway garage, a municipal building and
      improvements at the high School.

      Also in this newsletter:

      -- The public health director fears that elementary school nursing services may be compromised.

      --  A large affordable housing project proposed for Route 30 has drawn criticism from officials as well as residents. Two recent court decisions offer the possibility of more control over the project and better tools to deal with
      drainage problems around town.

      -- The principal of Wayland Middle School apologized for violating state campaign law, but minimized the extent of the violation.


      CAPITAL PLAN UNVEILED

      The long-awaited, twice-postponed presentation by the Finance Committee of the new Capital Improvement Program on June 16  was short and provoked few questions from the audience of about 20.

      The Capital Improvement Program (CIP)  comprises a Capital Budget and a Capital Plan. The Capital Budget is included in the Town Meeting warrant and outlines the coming fiscal year's capital spending plan. This part has
      been in place for many years.


      The Capital Plan outlines and prioritizes potential Capital Projects (new buildings, renovations, equipment costing at least $25,000 and with a useful life of greater than five years) in a 5 to 10-year timeframe. The procedures
      for creating a Capital Plan had not previously been formalized.

      The FinCom  produced the program in the wake of an unsuccessful petition from residents for a comprehensive process to ensure that improvements are completed on time and on budget. The FinCom  program  doesn't
      include volunteer experts in architecture, planning and construction as envisioned by the  petitioners.

      After the plan was presented, former Selectman Alan Reiss asked about the difference between projects costing $25,000, the lower threshold for consideration as a capital project and those costing $100,000, which required
      prioritization by special evaluation criteria. Reiss wondered if the $100,000 limit would exclude repairs and renovations. FinCom Chair  Karlson replied that even repairs and renovations were often likely to cost more than
      $100,000.

      Former Selectman Linda Segal had several comments about the Capital Improvement Plan document (http://www.wayland.ma.us/accounting/CIP.htm ). Segal noted that in the "Related Policies and References" only the Board of
      Selectmen  Policy on Proposition 2 1/2 ballot questions was mentioned, not the full BoS Policy manual, which she felt was relevant. In addition, Segal asked that Appendix A: Capital Facility Projects (approval, implementation)
      be incorporated in the main document rather than left as an Appendix as it was an essential part of the document.

      Segal also asked if further deliberations on the CIP would continue to be done by a working group (exempt from the Open Meeting Law) or would be done in public meetings. Karlson replied that the working group was now
      disbanded.

      Malcolm Astley, a  library trustee, asked about the evaluation criterion IV.1.d on page 4 of the CIP "consistency with community goals and plans".

      Astley asked whether the town master plan would be used in determining community goals and plans.  Karlson replied that the Finance Committee did not determine community goals and plans and that proposers of projects
      were obliged to make a case that their project did indeed further community goals and plans.

      Wayland's master plan, (http://www.wayland.ma.us/planning/Masterplan_Main.htm), was the culmination of intensive work by a large committee from 2002 to 2004. It does not appear in the CIP. However, one of the
      recommendations of the master plan is to "prepare and adopt Long-Range Capital Facilities Plan". It was suggested by several people that the master plan should be reviewed. It was noted that the master plan was not voted
      on by Town Meeting, which is not required. It was accepted by the Planning Board and reported  to Town Meeting.

      In the regular FinCom meeting that followed the presentation,  Karlson suggested that adding a reference to the entire Board of Selectmen's Policy manual would not be as helpful as pointing out sections of it that were relevant
      to the CIP.

      She suggested that if someone would list those relevant sections, it could be added. Member (and chairman-elect) Sam  Peper remarked that the appendix had once been part of the main document and that in any case the
      document would be revised after the first year of operation, and the appendix could be placed in the main document when the next revision was made.

      Karlson said she was disappointed that most  town boards hadn't commented on the CIP drafts.

      The Finance Committee seemed anxious to conclude this work. The final draft was posted on the website  (http://www.wayland.ma.us/accounting/CIP.htm) by the next morning.

      Articles for the fall special Town Meeting requiring finances were briefly mentioned. The Water Department has requested funds for electronic meter reading. As mentioned by Water Commission member Ed Lewis before the
      CIP presentation, if funds for electronic meter reading are not included in the fall warrant, this meter reading could not begin until January 2010. Electronic meter reading enables users to get monthly bills, which may
      contribute to conservation since it would be more clear to customers which of their water uses costs them the most.

      A second possible item for the fall meeting is a request from the School Nurse Working Group. See  below for details.

      The Finance Committee will meet again briefly on Monday, June 30 and then not again until September, when  the Capital Improvement Program will be initiated, reviewing projects already under way.


      NURSING COVERAGE FOR CLAYPIT HILL CHILDREN

      Wayland's public heath director warns that nursing coverage for the more than  600 children scheduled to attend Claypit Hill Elementary School next year may be compromised. because of a budget cut.

      In an interview with WVN, Director Steve Calichman said Superintendent Gary Burton predicted last  spring that with  Loker School becoming kindergarden-only, 0.5 or 0.6 of a school nurse salary would be removed from the
      Health Department budget.  Calichman objected, warning that the larger enrollment at Claypit would  require additional nursing coverage.

      Later, when the budget was finalized, in a meeting with the School Committee and the Finance Committee but not the Board of Health, the reduction was included in the  town budget approved by Town Meeting.

      Nurses who serve in the schools are called "community nurses" and their salaries are part of the  Health Department budget, not the School Department. Until three years ago, these nurses were under contract with Parmenter
      Health Services.

      At the April Town Meeting, a brief meeting with representatives of the Board of Health, the School Committee and FinCom at the back of the room resulted in an agreement not to try to amend the budget during the town
      meeting, but to establish a School Nurse Working Group  to look into the lost 0.5 to 0.6 of a nurse salary and to determine whether Claypit needed more coverage. If so, an article addressing this need would be placed in the fall
      town warrant.

      The School Nurse Working Group, consisting of the Public Health Nurse of Wayland (who supervises the community nurses), Ruth Mori,  Dr. Mark Neuman of the Board of Health and a representative of the FinCom and a
      representative of the School Committee met for the first time on June 18.

      -- Betty Salzberg

      NEW FINCOM MEMBER

      Selectmen described  the three candidates as exceptionally qualified,  then unanimously appointed  David J. Gutschenritter of State Street Corp. to  a vacancy on the Finance Committee.

      Gutschenritter is executive vice president and treasurer of State Street, which calls itself the world's leading provider of financial services to institutional investors.

      He and his wife have two children in Wayland schools and have lived here since 1992.

      Selectmen said they leaned toward Gutschenritter because of his experience  in capital planning, which is much on the mind of the FinCom these days. He will fill the remaining two years of the term of  Steve Correia, who was
      elected to the Board of Selectmen in April.

      Before the vote at their  June 23  meeting, the selectmen also spoke enthusiastically about the other two candidates. Stephen Barnard is chief financial officer and budget director of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health
      and Human Services. John Bladon, retired after 24 years with Arthur Anderson consulting,  owns or operates several small companies.


      COURT DECISIONS MAY BE HELPFUL

      Recent legal decisions may be applicable to Wayland concerns – such as the proposed 371-373 Commonwealth Avenue 40B affordable housing development and drainage issues.

      The state Supreme Court upheld the Woburn Board of Appeals' downsizing of a 40B, ruling the developer had "not proven that the conditions [imposed by the Woburn Board of Appeals] make the building or operation of the
      housing uneconomic." The ruling was in SJC-10014 on June 10.

      The 40B refers to comprehensive permits that are granted by local boards of appeals in which many local regulations do not apply, other than safety, public health, and conservation. 40B projects require that 25 percent of the
      units be sold at affordable prices. See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waylandvotersnetwork/message/255

      The original Woburn project encompassed 640 units, with 25 percent affordable, on a 74.46 acre parcel. The Woburn Board of Appeals in 2001 granted a comprehensive permit with conditions limiting the development to 300
      units. This case had been reviewed twice by the state's Housing Appeals Committee, with various decisions first for 420 units, then 540 units.

      The Woburn Board of Appeals went to court, which found the Housing Appeals Committee had overstepped its boundaries and "may review an approval with conditions only if those conditions render the project uneconomic."
      In addition, the Housing Appeals Committee has to find the conditions uneconomic before it can even begin to consider whether they are "consistent with local needs."

      The ruling points toward the need for the Department of Housing and Community Development, of which the Housing Appeals Committee is part, to write regulations to address the issues presented in this case, the notes to
      the case indicated.

      Further notes on the case denied the claim by the Housing Committee that Chapter 21 of the 40B act "precludes a local board from limiting the number of units in a proposed development as a condition of approval. That
      assertion is an insufficient appellate argument."

      In Wayland, Oak Tree Management proposes to build 56 rental units within a single structure at 371-373 Commonwealth Road, site of the former Kathryn Barton nursing home, and the Zoning Board of Appeals, as well as
      Conservation Commission, are conducting hearings on the application. Citizens and officials have raised issues of health, safety and appropriate size.

      Clean Runoff Mandated

      A Federal court judge ruled that the Massachusetts Highway Department violated federal clean water law by failing to develop an adequate stormwater cleanup plan. Federal Judge William Young ordered MassHighway to
      commit to a two-year schedule adopting a revised stormwater pollution cleanup plan, beginning with the Charles River watershed and the Lancaster area.

      MassHighway oversees 2,500 miles of roads and bridges, such as Wayland's Route 20.

      This ruling does not immediately affect local highway departments such as Wayland's, but serves as an indication that the new stormwater regulations may be backed by fiat, if necessary. There are several areas in Wayland
      where road drainage flows unfiltered into adjacent wetlands. One is on Route 27 across from the Middle School.

      -- Molly Upton

      CAMPAIGN VIOLATION AFTERMATH

      Middle School Principal Charlie Schlegel has apologized for violating state campaign laws but minimized the  extent of the violation.

      As WVN Newsletter #249 reported, Schlegel sent an email urging parents to vote the next day when a $1.9 million tax override was on the April town election ballot. The state Office of Campaign and Political Finance was
      informed of the email and ruled that Schlegel had violated the law. 

      Then Boston Globe followed up with a story explaining that the email "at first appeared to simply encourage residents to vote" but "went on to warn residents about how a failed override would hurt the town and its schools."
      Schlegel  linked to a memo on the school district  website in which he had listed nine consequences  to the Middle School of  a failed override. 

      "I didn't know it to be a violation of anything when I sent it," Schlegel told the Globe. He apologized in a June 8 letter to the school administration. Before sending the pre-election email, Schlegel had announced that he is
      leaving   Wayland to run a charter school in Indianapolis. 

      Schlegel told the Wayland Town Crier, "The entire e-mail would have been fine if the last paragraph had asked voters to contact me about potential cuts from the override instead of giving (the Web link)  to them."  He said
      OCPF officials had told him that only the paragraph containing the link violated the law.

      However, OCPF's general counsel, Gregory Birne, says the letter Schlegel received contains the only official response to the complaint that spurred the agency's investigation. The letter doesn't mention the link.

      "Public resources may not ... be used to distribute information regarding a ballot question, even if it is intended to be objective and factual, unless expressly authorized by state law," wrote Michael J. Sullivan, director of the
      Office of Campaign and Political Finance, on June 2.

      "It is my understanding that the Wayland Middle School, with your authorization, used its server and e-mail list to send an e-mail advocating for passage of the override. Public resources, namely use of the school server, the
      e-mail list and the time of the school staff, were used to distribute the document." 

      Sullivan said that because Schlegel acknowledged the violation when the OCPF inquired, no further action would be taken. But  Sullivan  added that  the incident should be a warning to  other Wayland officials to obey the law.

      Former Selectman Alan J. Reiss, in a guest column in the Crier, urged residents to demand a resolution from the School Committee and superintendent denouncing the violation and vowing not to break the law again. In online
      comments about the column, some readers supported Reiss while others  judged the violation trivial or  advocated allowing school employees to advocate for overrides.

      In its intent the campaign law is related to the Hatch Act, which  forbids federal employees from using time and resources paid for by taxpayers to engage in political action.

      In 2004 the Wayland School Committee attempted to minimize a finding by the Middlesex County district attorney that it had violated the Open Meeting Law. The Committee asserted that the violation was merely technical,
      though the circumstances of the violation indicate a clear intent to exclude the public from a meeting. 

      -- Michael Short 


       VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

      Volunteers are still needed for moderator-appointed town positions:

      -- Electronic Communications Committee, which will recommend improvements to the Wayland website.

      -- Wayland representative to the School Committee of the Minuteman Regional High School. May be of special interest to parents of Wayland students enrolled at Minuteman.

      -- Wayland Public Ceremonies Committee. Duties include helping to produce the traditional Memorial Day parade and other town-wide observances and festivities.
      To apply, or learn more about the positions, contact Town Moderator Peter Gossels, 508-358-7438, 617-742-9310, pgossels@..., or 32 Hampshire Road, Wayland 01778.

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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor
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