Natural Gas Pipeline — Board of Selectmen to Hear Input on 7/14 @ 830p

by Vera SpohrPipeline

Have you heard about the 36 inch pipeline, proposed to be built through neighboring towns and open space or alongside our highways? Imagine what digging and sinking and covering a 36 inch pipeline would be like. Imagine that this pipeline is filled with gas and look up how many explosions and other fatal accidents are attributed to similar pipelines. I did just that. The conservative, pro-industry, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) under the U.S. Dep’t of Transportation reports 300 “significant incidents” in 2013, including around 50 injuries and fatalities and property damage around $250 million. Wikipedia reports that a recent Wall Street Journal review states that there were1400 spills and accidents in the US between 2010 and 2013 and that 4 of every 5 of those accidents were discovered by local residents, not by the company owning the pipeline.

Kinder Morgan/Tennessee gas pipeline is checking out this area for just such a project.

see www.Grotonspace.com/pipeline 

Not only is a 36 inch pipeline destructive and dangerous immediately, but in the long run the time, money and effort going into this pipeline take away from time, money and effort which could be spent on environmentally friendly and sustainable energy projects. Consider also that the gas comes from fracking which contaminates both soil and water,  irreplaceable resources. Climate change with all its dangers is upon us and still we look to fossil fuel for help. When will we ever learn?

On Monday the Board of Selectmen is scheduled to hear input on the pipeline at 8:30 pm. Town Offices, Room 103.

Posted in Voter Participation | 2 Comments

Tax truth, and our shared path forward…

camp pic 2A letter was written and read to the Selectman on January  27, authored by a group of citizens, explaining the truth about Fire Station funding and other large capital projects.  This letter is available on OurLittleton.)

The letter calls attention to some simple truths.   If we build a $6m to $10m fire station, the taxpayers of Littleton will have to pay for it one way or another.  The conversation about “inside or outside of the levy” is just a political side show.   The truth is that we probably can’t afford it.  The letter outlined the political and financial realities at work:

1) Protecting the Taxpayer:  Recent history informs us that the current Board of Selectmen have put us on the path toward an operational override that will permanently increase taxes in the wake of disruptive governance.

2) Adherence to recognized Fiscal Policy:  The “fund within the levy” funding strategy clearly contradicts the sound fiscal policies that have elevated us from difficult times and to which we must now adhere in order to maintain our excellent AAA credit rating.  Our policies call for a “debt exclusion” strategy.

By funding within the levy, we would basically need to siphon all funds which otherwise become available to this project through the point of completion.  We tried this approach with the High School project and found numerous unintended consequences as a result.  Not the least of which was the need for a 2.5% override to raise enough money to cover our operational expenses when the cost of the project and related timing imperatives simply overwhelmed our funding capacity.

Unlike a “debt exclusion”, Proposition 2.5 overrides permanently increases the tax rate for our residents.   As stated within the linked Mass Dept of Revenue document“A community can permanently increase its levy limit by successfully voting an override. The amount of the override becomes a permanent part of the levy limit base.”   

For reference, “The property tax levy is the revenue a community can raise through real and personal property taxes.  We will refer to the property tax levy simply as the levy. In Massachusetts, municipal revenues to support local spending for schools, public safety and other public services are raised through the property tax levy, state aid, local receipts and other sources. The property tax levy is the largest source of revenue for most cities and towns.”  — Source: Mass Dept of Revenue.

With a debt exclusion, funding would be voted on by the taxpayer on Election Day for this specific limited project.  First, the voters decide if we need it and if we can afford it.   Therefore, the voters get to make a deliberate decision to pay X dollars over Y years against a well- defined project and cost projection.  To underscore this point, the debt exclusion path requires an anonymous ballot vote which is the path of maximum voter participation!  We hear the facts, needs, arguments, numbers, and then we vote.  Yes or No.

This false promise of taxpayer protection “under the levy” also brings with it disruptive governance.  While we drain the coffers to hopefully keep up with the funding needs of the project, we significantly erode our ability to fund any other capital projects during that time which, in the case of the High School, left problems which took years to resolve.  This means that other known projects remain unfunded, this also means that emergency capital projects (e.g. a roof repair of a School in the winter) will result in unplanned funding.  Emergency action often costs more, “kicking the can down the road” also usually ends up costing the taxpayer more…  During this period, departments and groups in town will be left (as one Selectman stated) to “fend for themselves.”   This results in us pitting the Schools against Parks and Recreation against the Council on Aging/Elder & Human Services, etc.   These groups will have funding requirements; therefore, disruption and turmoil will result from the “under the levy” strategy in addition to governmental distraction, dysfunction, and permanently higher taxes.   

 The “inside the levy” strategy is not the way to protect the taxpayer.  If we do decide to build a new fire station, funding “outside the levy” is the only way to responsibly manage the expense.  Unfortunately, not building a new fire station might be the only correct answer.  There are limits to what the taxpayers can absorb.

Our Board of Selectmen and community can find consensus on this and other tough issues when communication is open and honest.  We can do it!  That is why I feel so much hope. The next step on our shared path forward is election day, this Saturday.

Sincerely,

Chris Simone

Posted in Events & Dates, Littleton's Senior Citizens, Voter Participation

Prevent Financial Fiascos

By Kathy CoughlinA_Risky Business 1 primary

Stalwart citizens in Littleton fighting municipal sewer, and inside the levy financing (fire station), are helping us avoid the financial perils that have occurred in towns like Wayland, Tewksbury, and Groton, to name a few.

According to a recent WBZ-TV report, Wayland built a municipal sewer system to service approximately 75 properties.  The economic model sold to the residents of Wayland did not hold up and Wayland is now facing a lawsuit and other difficulties. One residential owner said she will owe almost $55,000.  Another resident said he owed $23,000.  Wayland town leaders are looking for a solution for these unintended consequences.  Will this mean that bills will be sent to ALL Wayland taxpayers, even those with private septic systems? Taxpayers in Wayland were told only the users of the system would pay.  Some pro-sewer forces in Littleton have made the same claim to Littleton residents.  Buyer Beware!

Tewksbury also reported new shortfalls in their sewer revenue model recently.  The systems in Wayland and Tewksbury are unique as are those in other towns listed and described in detail on www.No-Sewer.com.   However, taxpayers in Littleton are ultimately on the hook for unintended consequences as the sewer project would be underwritten by municipal bonds. The taxpayer holds the ultimate responsibility for repayment of the bonds under the law.  Failure could result in higher borrowing costs for future priorities and needs.  Higher borrowing costs will result in higher taxes.

 

 

Posted in Common Sewer Project, Littleton's Senior Citizens, Voter Participation

Honoring Lt. Ed Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy

On March 26th, two Firefighters in the City of Boston lost their lives in service to the Community.  Lt. Ed Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy died battling a nine-alarm fire on Beacon Street.

This tragedy is felt beyond Boston’s city limits. Firefighters, Patrolmen, EMS and other first responders everywhere, including Littleton, accept dangers in the name of duty and service to others.

I am writing to take this moment to honor Lt. Ed Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy while also saying thank you to our first responders in Littleton for working every day to keep us safe.

A memorial fund has been established for the fallen heroes.

BostonFire3

 

 “Lieutenant Walsh – Firefighter Kennedy Memorial Fund”
c/o Boston Firefighters Credit Union
60 Hallett Street
Dorchester, MA 02124
Posted in Voter Participation

Please join us on April 27th for some fun!

By Nancy Levine

SENIOR FOLLIES - ANGELS IN THE TOWN HOUSE

Sunday, April 27, 2014

3:00 pm

Russell Street Middle School

$5.00
For tickets, please call 978-540-2474
Or please pick up at the Senior Dinner

Continue reading

Posted in Events & Dates, Littleton's Senior Citizens

Free Spaghetti Luncheon in honor of Littleton’s Senior Citizens

By Nancy Levine

The Littleton School Department is sponsoring a Free Spaghetti Luncheon in honor of spaghettiLittleton’s Senior Citizens.  This event will be held on Monday, April 7, 2014, 1:00pm at the High School.  Please come and enjoy spending time with a few of our High School Seniors and other students that represent our school district community.

Please do not come early as students will be in session.  Parking:  Please drive all the way up the hill to the very back of the school and park in visitor parking or next to the playing fields. You will enter through the parking lot doors in the back of the school by the gymnasium/dumpsters. Please do not enter through the front doors of the school as school is in session.  Sitting is limited to 75 Seniors.  Reservations and tickets are a must.  Please call in advance at 978-540-2470 to reserve your seat.

Posted in Events & Dates, Littleton's Senior Citizens

FinCom update regarding Fire Station Funding

With many citizens in attendance, the Finance Committee voted tonight to recommend that the fire station be funded outside of the levy through a Debt Exclusion.  This strategy and recommendation is in alignment with the Town’s fiscal policies and the guidance of the Town of Littleton finance team. 

Committee Member Brian Tarbox made the motion for the FinCom vote which was seconded by Committee Member Allen McRae.  Every Finance Committee Member in attendance voted in favor.  Committee Chairman, Paul Glavey was not present for the vote.

Thank you to our Finance Committee and finance team for your hard work and to the citizens who participated in this process.  This vote protects the taxpayer and adheres to sound fiscal policy, acts in accordance with our principles, and preserves our Littleton.

Posted in Voter Participation | 2 Comments