Due to new work commitments and a busy family life, I have decided not to run for a third term on the Wayland Board of Selectmen.
The decision was an extremely difficult one for me because I care deeply about Wayland, and there are still many important issues that our future leaders will need to address. I do plan to stay actively involved although from the sidelines as I did before taking an official role.
I entered Wayland town government eight years ago when veteran Chris Riley contacted me to replace Charlie D’Ambrosio on the Finance Committee. At that point, I had dabbled in conservation preservation and always wanted to get more involved in Wayland government and contribute more to our community. Sound familiar? Have you ever said the same thing? What better place to learn how Wayland runs? The Finance Committee works with every Department, Board and Committee in town and it has overall responsibility for keeping our finances on the right track.
My 25 years of professional experience in finance, accounting, strategic planning and business reengineering was a perfect fit with the goals of the Finance Committee: maintain fiscal responsibility, recognize value of tax dollars and maintain core services. They are the same goals today. It is incredible how much I learned in those years and I had the opportunity to work on some great projects such as a new capital appropriation policy and the Ad Hoc Financial Overview Committee. Both projects looked at ways to streamline operations and processes to save time and money. We accomplished a great deal on behalf of Wayland residents.
I decided to run for the Board of Selectmen in 2008 on a platform that supported a new town center and a new high school, as well as an operational override. Remember Propostion 2 ½ overrides? They were a critical piece of our yearly budget process and important to maintaining quality services. While I supported these overrides, it was clear we couldn’t fiscally survive having one every year. The Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, many boards, committees, and incredible employees across all departments all knew the same thing and worked hard to figure out how to save millions of dollars from operations. It took a lot of leadership, brainstorming and sacrifice to get where we are today. The last operational override was 8 years ago. We now save millions dollars annually and have a sufficiently solid balance sheet with predominately the same amount of services 10 years ago. We have consistently maintained a Moody’s triple A rating, a solid cash balance and a declining debt that puts us firmly in a growth position.
Mindful of the economic struggles of the community, the Selectmen, Finance Committee and School Committee worked together to coordinate efforts to implement the key elements of the town’s long-range financial plans. We also expanded our strategic thinking by creating a number of talented teams such as The Energy Initiatives Advisory Committee, The Economic Development Committee, The Permanent Building Committee, Audit Committee and OPEB Advisory Committee, The Operational Review Committee and the Dudley Area Advisory Committee. Wayland is fortunate to have many residents willing to devote their talent to our Town.
Having resolved many planning and startup issues, we now have a Town Center (first-phase completed) to be proud of that is generating commercial revenue and bringing economic stability to the town. While there is plenty more to do on the site, the planning is well underway and I am excited to see it take shape. Every new store opening means more tax relief for our residential base. The Town Center does not only provide financial benefits, it also addresses our affordable housing requirements. The nearby Rivers Edge project will also make a huge impact on our 40B requirements if approved at the Annual Town Meeting in April.
An incredible High School Building Committee deserves most of the credit on our new high school. Almost every Town board, committee and department had some involvement in its completion. It took thousands of hours in volunteer work to finally get a new home for one of the top public education systems in the country. There were hundreds of problems and issues worked through by dedicated individuals. We even figured out how to keep WayCam on the site.
After 8 years, I look back proudly at where we have brought Wayland today thanks to the strong and competent members on many Boards and Committees that were dedicated to our future. Equally important, we also need to continue hiring strong and competent leaders in our departments who are consistent and able to work effectively with all levels of volunteer support. While volunteers (like me) will come, and go, the continuity of experienced municipal talent and leadership is essential for sustained progress; otherwise Wayland will slip backwards. That is why it is so important to pay attention to our town elections and to get involved. We must stay on a path of continuous improvement . Let’s not lose ground.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make Wayland a better place and to make so many new friends in this great town.