Dear Lynnfield Residents,
On Monday, October 19 at Town Meeting, we will be voting on Article 4, in hopes of increasing the number of Selectmen from three to five. After much consideration, I am in favor of this Warrant article and believe its passing will be the right decision for Lynnfield. The three Selectmen Board in the past has served us well but, we are no longer a small “bedroom community” north of Boston. We now have a robust shopping area, four fairly new apartment buildings, an increase of new homes and more changes coming if we continue with this progressive agenda. After considering the following information, I hope you will attend town meeting and cast a positive vote for Article 4.
According to Massachusetts General Law, since 2 members would constitute a quorum, our Selectman cannot speak to each other outside of a public meeting. Nor can they speak to each other through the Town Administrator. A five member Board will allow them to work in groups of two to tackle current issues, similar to the way our School Committee works now, without violating the Open Meeting Law. The Town of Lynnfield is changing and our Charter with a three Selectmen Board, created 48 years ago should be changed to reflect the new realities. It is my opinion that we need to be represented by a larger, more collaborative Board of Selectmen with a more independent, diverse and objective outlook.
From my perspective, we need additional Selectmen who can commit the time to take a closer look at the issues to best position us for the future. We have many pending issues such as Pension and Healthcare funding for Town employees, rising taxes, Centre Farm, Perley Burrill, potential Market Street expansion with a movie theater, High Pressure Gas Pipelines installation, closing of Union Hospital, Market Street Traffic, a new Library, Reconfiguration of Lynnfield Center, road repairs, ongoing building and field maintenance, Route One Business Expansion, Digital Billboard Signage, addressing the “F” rating of route 129/Salem Street, the opening of the King Rail Golf Course and placement of cell towers. Never in the past have we had to deal with so much expansion and changes that affect our town.
Outstanding pension obligations (OPEB) are a continuing problem and could be a gating item for many of our Town improvement plans. In Wakefield, there are seven Selectmen and they have funded $8 Million of their OPEB obligations so far and are receiving interest on their invested funds. Our increasing OPEB obligation and our pool of employees continues to increase and is projected to cost the town taxpayers $56M for the life time of the benefit recipients. Former and existing Finance Committee Chairs have not made it a priority for funding and are pushing the debt into the future. Jim Boudreau, our new Town Administrator, at the last BOS Meeting, stated Lynnfield has contributed only $200 thousand to an UNFUNDED, current balance of $21M (OPEB Year-To-Date balance provided by Town Auditors). Healthcare and pension funding is THE issue crippling corporations, states and towns and we must get a handle on it and make a significant contribution to it yearly. We cannot continue to ignore it in the “Pollyanna” hopes that we, and all the other communities in the United States, will be rescued by the Federal Government.
Twice last year Town Meeting Vote was overturned by a 2 to 1 vote of our Board of Selectman (Please visit Lynnfieldtransparency.com for more details on these voting issues). In my opinion, a three person Board makes it too easy for two Members to march in blind “lock-step” and take such actions as thwarting the Will of the People by ignoring Town Meeting Votes. We have spent the last two years with Mr. Crawford and Mr. Nelson voting the same way and now Mr. Barrett has shown signs of the same behavior. Mr. Barrett immediately broke tradition when he did not vote the third year Selectman as Chairman (Mr. Terranova is our third year Selectman). The Chairman position is critical since it sets the Towns agenda and controls the Selectmen public meetings and discussions. Instead, Mr. Barret voted for Mr. Crawford as Chairman for a second term. In addition, our three person Board poses problems with the cleanup of the Perley Burrill property. We may end up having one Selectman able to vote on this issue and he could not do so because of absence of a quorum. (Mr. Barrett is a direct abutter and his property value could directly increase from the Town funded efforts he may be voting on. It is anticipated ethics charges will be filed to remove Mr. Barrett from voting on this issue. Mr. Terranova continues to recuse himself from this matter.)
It is time to stop the name calling and dysfunctional behavior. It is time to move forward and assemble a diverse, collaborative board that focus’ on the town issues and long range planning. It is clear that the lack of communication amongst our Selectman is not working for the citizens of Lynnfield. A five member Board of Selectmen will correct this problem and provide additional diversity and objectivity to the Board all to the benefit of the Town of Lynnfield.
I look forward to seeing you at town meeting and hope you vote “YES” for article 4.