The Place for Sudbury's Citizen Reporters
Below - is a PDF file containing a guide to town meeting and a overview of the key issues.
At the writing of this document, it is not clear how we can vote on a budget at town meeting. With nearly $1M in savings from the GIC, it should surprise everyone to see the standard 2.5% tax increase on the ballot. In addition, there is nearly a $1M increase in reserves in the budget that as of press time, do not have an explanation as to their cause. We should not accept that the budget has to increase 2.5% per year, especially in years where there have been significant savings. More discussion is needed at town meeting.
In addition, with a shift to the GIC, there is approximately $6,843,707 in the town’s health care savings account that was used when the town was self-insured. This money belongs to both the employees who contributed money to health insurance but also to the taxpayers. The money, as I understand it, needs to stay in the account for at least 24 months while final claims are paid from it. However, as town citizens, we need to understand the process for deciding what to do with this sizable chunk of cash.
Citizens should pay attention to our increasing OPEB obligations for retirement and health care of our town employees. The numbers are contained in this report. While small in magnitude, the establishment of our Regional Housing Services office represents just how much we ignore these OPEB costs which will ultimately saddle all of us with higher taxes. Despite assurance that the Regional Housing Services Offices would be OPEB neutral, OPEB costs are not included in the cost to operate this service for OTHER towns.
Our schools are underfunded. To correct this, we need to fundamentally change the LS Regional Agreement to make it more in line with other town’s regional agreements. This will decrease the burden on the Sudbury taxpayer, while increasing money to the schools. While not in the budget articles this year, residents should pay attention to the regional agreement discussion in this document. Now that we have fought to get GIC insurance, it is time to get the regional agreement fixed to improve school funding, remove much of the disparity between LS and SPS teacher pay, and get more funding to the schools.
The Sudbury Housing Trust requires more citizen oversight. After they attempted to build 40B housing in a neighborhood that did not want it, they have now negotiated to terminate their contract with NOAH for the Maynard Road development. Yet this termination agreement does not appear in their meeting minutes and it is not clear they did not pay more money to NOAH to terminate in addition to the apparent $120K already spent. Voters will be asked to give SHT 10% of our CPC funding.
Pantry Brook has a 7 year cost avoidance ROI for limiting additional school age children to SPS and LS. This is a conservative estimate and makes this a project we should fund. The build out of 40B housing would be much worse. The real question with Pantry Brook is whether we allow the CPC to further bond the property, driving up the debt service to nearly equal the cash inflows from CPC funding. Unfortunately, at least as I understand it, whether it is bonded or not is the CPC’s decision leaving them in the position to get us deeper into debt with our money.