Voters Have Awesome Responsibility
On July 26th the voters in the Town of Fairhaven will have an awesome responsibility in the Special Election.
The candidate you choose will be helping shape the future of the Town. The process to hire the Town’s next permanent Town Administrator is hanging in balance, waiting for the results of this Recall Election. That decision, alone, is of paramount importance, and will play a key role in the TA selection process.
The new Town Administrator will, in turn, be responsible for determining who will be appointed to a number of critical leadership positions and for working closely with those in other departments who have announced their retirement. The list includes our acting Police Chief, Captain, Lieutenants in the FPD, Council on Aging Director and our School Superintendent. The ripple effect is very significant.
I would recommend that, as you choose who to vote for, you consider, among other things, the following three areas.
1) Does the candidate have a strong grasp on the Town Administrator Act and have a clear understanding of the role of the Select Board vs. the Town Administrator? This is extremely important and I have heard things that lead me to believe that not all candidates understand this fundamental element of our Town Government.
2) Would the candidate support a Memorandum of Understanding between the School Department and the Town (as recommended by the Department of Revenue)? I truly believe that, if we had one in place, there would have been an equitable solution to the Turf Field issue that people are so passionate about right now.
This is one reason I have been advocating for the DOR Financial Management Review for the Town since last June.
The DOR says that “Many communities have avoided town-school struggles over resources by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding and, while the school is somewhat insulated because of provisions associated with net school spending requirements, the town has no similar avenue to preserve minimum expenditure levels. Therefore, when budget cuts occur, it typically has a more adverse impact on town operations, as opposed to the schools”
I am fairly certain the DOR would have reiterated their stance on an MOU in Fairhaven if my fellow Select Board members would have allowed the DOR study to move forward. I feel this is so important that I asked all TA candidates during the interview process if they would support an MOU for our Town/School Department. MOU’s provide stability in budget planning but also can establish criteria that govern what happens when there is a surplus of funds available from underspending on a particular budget.
3) Does the candidate support Tax incentives for new business growth in Fairhaven? Multiple candidates have stated their support for such Tax incentives. There is a reason why this strategy is not employed in most communities. There can be significant risks involved and we should research and understand those before we assume that it is a good strategy for Fairhaven.
Good luck making your decision and, most importantly, be sure to vote on Monday, July 26th.
Bob Espindola, Farhaven; Select Board member
Click here to download the entire 7/15/21 issue: 07-15-21 FhvnPride
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