With 17 Days To Go, ‘Yes’ Supporters Rally at the Corner to Begin Election Season

Photo: The traditional site – the corner of Common Street and Concord Avenue – for campaign rallies sees the “Yes for Belmont” group gather to begin the election season in Belmont.

Blame it on the record snowfall, the lack of town-wide contested races or one of a number of other reasons, but so far, there hasn’t been much politicking around Belmont as the annual Town Election fast approaches. Besides some lawn/snow pile signs set outdoors, most of the electioneering in the “Town of Homes” has been taking place inside.

That changed on the first full day of Spring – Saturday, March 21 – as the committee supporting a Proposition 2 1/2 override marshaled its forces to revive the tradition of holding signs and garnering support at the corner of Common and Concord across from the commuter rail tunnel leading in and out of Belmont Center.

Holding large sherbet orange-colored signs proclaiming “Vote Yes April 7,” a wide array of supporters braved a final – hopefully – morning blast of snow to wave both hands and placards at passing motorists.

School Committee member Tom Caputo – who is running unopposed to fill the final two years of the term he holds in the coming election – brought his wife, Sarah, and two daughter, Allison and Jane, to man the site nearest the tunnel.

In the coming years, Belmont schools will face the challenges of dealing with higher enrollment and the costs associated with a top-tier district, “and it’s critical that we recognize that we need the funding of an override to make that possible,” said Caputo.

Preparing for his first-time voting, Belmont High senior Daniel Vernick is also helping garner support among his fellow student for the override’s passage which included holding voter registration at the school. .

“There’s an incredible amount of support at the high school at all [grades] but especially with the seniors because they see how these cuts will [impact] their classmates,” Vernick said.

For veteran campaigner Monty Allen, the primary reason for standing out in the snow is to support the schools that provided his son with “just an outstanding education.”

“It’s not about my son or my family. It’s about everybody else in town. There are some things that you can buy for yourself; there are other things like schools and town services that you can only buy them collectively. I’m for that,” said Allen.

Letter to the Editor: Please, Don’t Vote for Me Precinct 4 Voters

To the editor:

I don’t know the best way to do this and wonder if a letter to the editor is the appropriate forum. If not, perhaps you can suggest something else. Here is what I want to say:

Dear Precinct Four voters,

My name will be on the ballot in April for Town Meeting member. Due to recent illness in my family, I will be unavailable to attend town meeting. Please vote for another candidate. I hope to have the opportunity to serve on Town Meeting another year.

Christine O’Neill

Agassiz Avenue

Belmont’s ‘No’ on Override Committee Warrants Attention

Photo: A generic design asking for a no vote.

It has no lawn signs (yet), nor a web site (so far) and is keeping its campaign close to the vest (for now).

But last week, a group of Belmont residents made it official: it will campaign to defeat the $4.5 million Proposition 2 1/2 override on the April 7 Town Election ballot.

But unlike former override opponents who are content with authoring missives that populate the letters page of a weekly newspaper, this ensemble – officially known as the “Vote No on Ballot Question 1 Committee” – carries far more heft than any group in the past.

A cursory glance of those identified as ‘no’ supporters quickly reveals a common core; they are or have been members of the town’s influential Warrant Committee, the Town Meeting’s financial watchdog. The ‘No’ chair, Liz Allison, was for several years its head while ‘No’ treasurer, Raffi Manjikian, is joined by the Warrant Committee’s vice chair Robert Sarno and member Jim Gammill on the ‘No’ campaign.

In addition to his work on the Warrant Committee, Manjikian was one of the prime movers in the successful 2013 effort by Waverley Square residents to pass a general residence demolition delay bylaw protecting single-family homes from the wrecking ball.

To be fair, membership on the Warrant Committee doesn’t lead one exclusively onto the ‘No’ committee. Ellen Schreiber, a leader of ‘Yes for Belmont’ which supports the override, was recently selected to the Warrant Committee by Town Moderator Michael Widmer (The moderator selects residents to the committee) while current Chair Michael Libenson has written advocating for the three-year, $4.5 million increase.

The group – which includes Sarno’s wife, Judith Ananian Sarno, and Dawn MacKerron – has been quietly flying under the radar, collecting email address and putting out the word to those who will vote against the override.

This week, the first arguments from the ‘no’ campaign has emerged in public statements by the group, less than three weeks before the election. A “guest commentary” by Manjikian circulating throughout town via email provided a glimpse at the committee’s chief arguments. (The complete commentary is here: Letters-to-Editor_drafts-2

“As a parent of four children, I try my best to lead by example. Choices sometimes may not be popular, but one needs to stand for up for what he or she believes and at times to call upon others to join in. Voting ‘NO’ on Question 1 is not a vote against the town or the school system; it is a vote against how we have chosen to manage,” writes Manjikian.

In his statement, Masjikian argues the town doesn’t have a revenue problem as stated by the Financial Task Force which recommended the override, “we have a management problem,” specifically in managing expenses, pointing to four projects residents voted to pass in the past year-and-a-half costing taxpayers $12 million.

By voting no, “[we] will open the discourse to a balanced approach toward crafting a multi-year plan that impacts both the revenue and expense side of our budget.”

Manjikian rejected claims by Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan that turning down the override would have dire consequences to the Belmont School District; reducing classes, firing teachers, greater teacher-to-student ratios and forcing more free time onto students.

“We don’t agree that a “NO” vote will have a detrimental impact of education in Belmont,” he said. “We need to put this in perspective – voters are being asked to fund a ‘Mega Override’ of $4.5 million when the draft school budget is looking for $1.7 million,” Manjikian told the Belmontonian.

“If voters reject the override ballot question, the [selectmen], [warrant committee], [school committee] will do what has been done many, many times; identify revenue opportunities and cost saving in the draft budget that will allow the critical needs of the schools to be funded,” he said.

Only then, if a gap in revenue to expenses remains, “a ‘right sized’ override should be called for to support that need,” said Masjikian.

“Going to the taxpayers as a first step is just not right. We need to bear in mind that we will be going to the voters for more tax dollars in support of the numerous capital projects among which is the high school – the  debt exclusion would be $70 million, which could be as soon as [fiscal year] ’18,” he said.

As the No campaign has begun to surface, those supporting the override believe their assumptions simply don’t hold water.

“It borders on shocking that the leaders of the ‘No’ campaign are suggesting another band-aid fix to Belmont’s long-term financial challenges,” Sara Masucci, co-chair of YES for Belmont campaign. 

“In Belmont, we love to complain about the yearly “financial crisis,” yet that is exactly what they are doing – again. Belmont’s voters have an opportunity now to change that; to take a smart, fiscally responsible and proactive approach to town management,” she added.

Masucci said the issue before Belmont voters is not “a management problem” but a culture of short-term thinking.

“Rejecting the override is just kicking the can down the road, they make no proposals to address the real issues and they reject this carefully developed multi-year solution. This reckless approach – throwing around blame and avoiding tough choices – risks Belmont’s children’s futures,” she said.



And after that evaluation if there still is a gap, a “right sized” override should be called for to support that need. Going to the taxpayers as a first step is just not right. We need to bear in mind  that we will be going to the voters for more tax dollars in support of the numerous capital projects among which is the high school – the  debt exclusion would be $70 million, which could be as soon as FY18.


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Town Clerk: Know Where a Political Sign Can and Can’t Be Displayed


Here is a reminder from Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman to all residents who have or are about to display a political sign:

“The Town Clerk reminds residents that all campaign and political signs MUST only be placed for display on private property.

Specifically, the sidewalk strip” or “tree strip”  in front of your home, as well as the delta islands, playgrounds, school grounds and parks are all public property and no signs may be placed there. 

If a campaign or political sign is being held, the person holding the sign may stand or sit on the public property to display the sign, however the sign may not be left unattended or leaning against a wall or tree awaiting the next sign holder. At no time can a person holding the sign obstruct the public’s access to the public property.

If you are out and about in Belmont and notice a campaign or political sign located on public property, please email townclerk@belmont-ma.gov or phone the Town Clerk’s office at 617-993-2600. We will contact the campaign to have the sign moved immediately or have it removed.”

Selectman Candidates’ Question of the Week: Mitigating the Impact of Belmont Uplands

Photo: Jim Williams.

Every Wednesday leading up the Town Election on Tuesday, April 7, the Belmontonian will be asking a “Question of the Week” to the candidates running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen: incumbent Andy Rojas and Glenn Road resident Jim Williams.

This weekly feature will allow the candidates seeking a three-year term on the board to answer topical questions concerning Belmont and help demonstrate their ability to lead the town.

This week’s question: Over the three-year term beginning on April 8, what will you do to mitigate the expected effects of the 299-unit Belmont Uplands development on town resources and the local environment?

Jim Williams

The proposed development in the Uplands is a situation where we have to prepare for the worst, and collaborate to achieve the best outcome. While it is, of course, disheartening to see the Silver Maple Forest surrounding the Uplands disappearing, there is still much that I, as Belmont Selectman, can be done to ensure that the developer adheres to 40B affordable housing regulations. The environmental impact is also of utmost concern and traffic issues must be addressed. 

We must prepare now for the impact of an additional 299 housing units will have on town resources and our already over-crowded schools.  My plan is to work with the developer and the town with the goal of ensuring the best outcome for the Uplands and the Town of Belmont. 

First, we need to determine the net cost to the town based on the number of units, number of residents, and impact on our utilities. We do not have clear estimates for the number of additional children; nor do we know how traffic patterns and congestion will impact us. It is my understanding that, as of yet, the Board of Selectmen has not run a model nor have they asked the planning board to develop a model to estimate costs of services, and look at any benefits from tax or other revenue. How can we prepare for the strains on our system if we aren’t willing to make projections?

Second, major environmental concerns are two-fold: flooding and pollution. The developer is using storm water data from 1961; when in in actuality the 2011 rainfall statistics shows 150,000 gallons in excess storm water. Not only is there a risk of flooding, the excess storm water also impacts pollution at the site.

Third, the developer needs to proactively fund and put in place certain measures to mitigate traffic. The most practical change we can implement to help with traffic would be to build the tunnel under the railroad at Alexander Avenue. This has the potential to reduce traffic on Brighton Road, one of the roads which would be most severely affected by traffic from the Uplands development.

I believe the most alarming challenge we face with the Uplands development is the sheer increase in population; which means more cars on already less-than-acceptable roads and a further strain on our town services, such as police and fire, and utilities like sewer and water and electricity.  Furthermore, our school system is growing at an unprecedented rate, and an additional rapid in-flux of students into our already overcrowded schools may push us to a breaking point.  

All of this requires fiscal discipline and diplomatic solutions to ensure that we balance the outcome of the Uplands development with our current and future needs. I have a proven track record in ensuring that the best outcomes are achieved within the parameters of our financial constraints and available revenue. My plan shows promise and potentially and optimistic outlook for the Town. Facing our financial problems head-on is the only way we are going to preserve the town we love.

Andy Rojas

As required, because all necessary state permit conditions had been met, the Community Development Department recently issued a foundation permit for the Uplands residential development; project construction will now begin in earnest. The full impact of this project on Belmont will take a number of years to be felt. However, the town must prepare for the aftermath of this unfortunate occurrence and deal with any immediate effects.

  • This is an area where my extensive site development and mitigation experience will be extremely helpful to Belmont.

Since the project is comprised of five separate residential buildings, it is likely that the impact on Belmont’s services — schools, police, fire, etc. — will be felt in waves as each construction phase is completed. However, the primary environmental impacts on flooding and habitat destruction will likely be apparent as soon as the site has been cleared of vegetation in preparation for foundation construction.

Protecting the Belmont neighborhoods most directly affected by the environmental consequences of the Uplands development will be a central theme of ongoing reviews and approvals during construction. I am committed to using my site development and mitigation expertise in helping to protect these neighborhoods.

  1. I will work with the Community Development Department and our construction control team to make sure that all construction activity adheres to the law and to all applicable environmental regulations and best practices.
  2. All environmental impacts relating to water management, stormwater control/storage and natural habitat disturbance will be monitored to make sure that the project abides by approval conditions.
Andy & Smudge Rojas - IMG_0779

Andy Rojas and Smudge.

Accommodating the Uplands’ projected post-construction requirements for town services will be very challenging. Uplands property taxes will not cover costs.

As each project phase is completed, the school-age population will increase; students must be absorbed and placed appropriately. While projections of student numbers are an inexact science, Belmont will inevitably be faced with providing quality education, transportation and perhaps additional mandated services to this larger population. I will work closely with the Schools Superintendent and the School Committee to carefully gauge and accommodate this influx from start to finish.

The Uplands’ other projected demands on town services such as police, fire and emergency response will also require constant monitoring and adjustment; much of this will happen as each construction phase is completed. Given the Uplands’ geographic location, the town departments affected may require additional personnel and vehicles to properly service the completed project.

A police sub-station within one of the buildings is a possibility. While this will be a bigger burden for Belmont, as a community, we must support the life, safety and security of our new residents.

My experience with these departments as well as with my understanding of their capabilities, needs and budgets will allow me to work with them so we can address these challenges effectively.

I respectfully request your vote for Selectman on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Thank you.

Final Day to Register to Vote in Belmont’s Town Election is Wednesday, March 18

You have two days to register to have your voice heard in the coming town election.

Belmont residents who are 18 years or older and a citizen of the United States can register to vote, but they must be registered to do so.

In order to be eligible to vote in the April 7, 2015 annual Town Election, a voter registration form must be received or postmarked by Wednesday, March 18.  The Belmont Town Clerk’s office will be open until 8 p.m. on the 18th to receive voter registrations.

If you were a registered to vote in another town or state, you’ll need to register as a voter in Belmont in order to vote here.

If for some reason you can not make it to Town Hall to register, a Belmont resident can register to vote in Belmont at any Town or City clerks office in the Commonwealth. But it must be done by the March 18 deadline.

The deadline for registered Belmont voters who need to make changes to party affiliation, name or address (within Belmont) is also March 18.

Belmontonian/Belmont Media Hosting Selectmen Candidates Debate March 31

Photo: Two debates between the candidates for Belmont Selectman will be broadcast live by the Belmont Media Center. 

A pair of candidate debates focusing on the contested election for Selectman have been scheduled and will be televised on Belmont’s media outlets.

• On the evening of Tuesday, March 31, the Belmont Media Center will cablecast a live debate with candidates Jim Williams and Andy Rojas for Board of Selectmen sponsored by The Belmontonian and moderated by its editor, Franklin B. Tucker. The one-hour debate will be seen live on BMC Ch. 8 (Comcast) and 28 (Verizon), online at belmontmedia.org/live and on the Belmontonian news website. Stay tuned for more details.

• One week earlier, on Thursday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m., BMC will cover live the Belmont League of Women Voters “Candidates Night” which will include a question and answer panel with Williams and Rojas. This program will air on Ch 8 & 28, on online and will be replayed as part of the campaign programming block.

• On the BMC Community Bulletin Board (Ch. 96-Comcast and Ch. 30-Verizon and on the web @ belmontmedia.org/bulletin-board), BMC will provide town-wide office candidates the opportunity to host a “Candidate Page.” If interested, please submit a photo electronically, and the name and office for which you are running. Email all photos and information to julie@belmontmedia.org.

• BMC will cover the 2015 Town Election Live on Tuesday, April 7 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tune in to Channels 8 (Comcast) and 28 (Verizon) for results, analysis, and interviews.

Selectman Candidates’ Question of the Week: Where Do You Stand on the ‘McMansion’ Moratorium?

Every Wednesday leading up the Town Election on Tuesday, April 7, the Belmontonian will be asking a “Question of the Week” to the candidates running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen: incumbent Andy Rojas and Glenn Road resident Jim Williams.

This weekly feature will allow the candidates seeking a three-year term on the board to answer topical questions concerning Belmont and help demonstrate their ability to lead the town.

This week’s question: The construction of oversized and out-of-scale residential homes – known as “McMansions” – has become a hot button issue in Belmont and in neighboring towns. The annual Town Meeting in May will be presented a demolition moratorium on new homes that exceed a maximum height and mass in Precinct 7’s Shaw Estates neighborhood. Do you support the petition or not?

Andy Rojas

The character of Belmont’s neighborhoods has been under assault for at least a decade. Teardowns of existing residences have yielded much denser replacements that max out building height and mass while reducing open space, light and air. Increased density of units on existing lots also contributes to increased physical congestion and character erosion.

Development controls such as the recent GR District By-Law and the proposed Precinct 7 Demolition Moratorium By-Law are necessary to retain the architectural character and social demographics of our neighborhoods.

  • I support these actions and would like to see them extended to most of Belmont’s residential areas.

I will initiate and carry out work with the Planning Board, Community Development Department and other appropriate town agencies so a comprehensive Subdivision Control By-Law can be developed. Such a by-law is needed to preserve the historically large lots in many Belmont residential neighborhoods, including Belmont Hill, that are threatened by:

  1. subdivision pressure, increased density and traffic; and
  2. changes to their general character and ‘feel’.

This form of increased density is just as pervasive and destructive to Belmont’s character and charm as out-of-scale building on smaller lots. Both threats must be addressed.

While it is critical to balance benefits to the entire community with the private property rights of owners, we must act now to preserve and protect what has historically made Belmont so desirable as a residential community. The rights of residents should include not having the scale, density, mass and overall character of the neighborhood they chose to live in dramatically change due to unrestrained re-development. We must protect and enhance the basic, underlying characteristics that have evolved into our ‘Town of Homes’.

Preserving Belmont’s character requires effective and targeted use of zoning by-laws and overlay districts as well as approval of projects reflecting community context and values. Our Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals are often residents’ last line of defense against overbuilding. I pledge to appoint board members who will prioritize respect for the town’s character as well as residents’ rights.

Significant professional building and site experience, work as a landscape architect plus many years of Planning Board service qualified me to plan community-sensitive projects and draft bylaws including, but not limited to, the Oakley Village Overlay District; I actively supported the Demolition Delay By-Law. Understanding the past helps me plan Belmont’s future.

I am committed to intelligent residential development and re-development that expands Belmont’s tax base, serves residents and retains our physical, cultural and social character. Belmont can achieve this by utilizing my extensive experience and expertise.

I respectfully request your vote for Selectman on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Thank you.

Jim Williams

I support the proposed moratorium on over sized teardown replacements for a number of reasons.

First, this is an example of Belmont residents stepping forward to take action, through a democratic process, regarding something that directly affects their neighborhood and quality of life. It does not prevent landowners from selling or renovating their properties, nor does it prevent the teardown and replacement of similarly-sized dwellings. Instead, it provides for a period to re-evaluate this town-wide trend toward the demolition of modest homes in favor of large so-called McMansions.

Jim Williams

Jim Williams.

These large, over-sized dwellings, can have adverse impacts on a neighborhood, and it is in response to this concern that the residents have moved this article forward. During this one-year moratorium period, I hope we can, as a town, consider planning tools that both allow for responsible re-development and also protect the character of our neighborhoods.

Large, over-sized dwellings that fill small lots up to the zoning limits of height, set-back and lot coverage are often much greater in elevation and overall mass than their neighbors. They increase impervious surface and therefore contribute to increased storm-water runoff. In many cases, they replace more modest affordable dwellings thus reducing the diversity of housing stock, particularly for young families, first-time home buyers, and families on fixed incomes such as seniors. The size of these houses can, without extreme energy-saving measures, disproportionately increase the energy demand on the town and its infrastructure and thus drive up energy costs for the town. In several instances, this trend has resulted in the demolition of historic houses and the loss of irreplaceable reminders of Belmont’s history.

Ultimately, Town Meeting will decide the fate of the proposed moratorium. But, in the interim, I wholeheartedly support this article as an example of the neighborhood’s right to shape it’s own future, and more importantly, the message it sends to Town Government regarding the need to re-evaluate and direct future development in a responsible manner town-wide.

What to Know About Voting in the Belmont Town Election

The annual town election is fast coming upon residents, only five weeks on Tuesday, March 3. Here are some of the basic facts for Belmontians to know on voting on April 7 from Ellen Cushman, the Belmont Town Clerk.

Who can vote in Town Elections?

Any Belmont resident who is 18 years or older and a citizen of the United States can register to vote.  In order to be eligible to vote in the upcoming Annual Town Election the voter registration must be received or postmarked by the twentieth day preceding the election, Wednesday, March 18.  The Town Clerk’s office will be open until 8 p.m.to receive voter registrations on March 18.

Were you Registered To Vote in Another Town?

If you were a registered to vote in another town or state, you’ll need to register as a voter in Belmont in order to vote here.

Voter Changes to Party, Name or Address in Belmont

The deadline for registered Belmont voters who need to make changes to party affiliation, name or address within Belmont is also March 18.

Voter Registration Documents available at the Town Clerk’s office in Town Hall, 455 Concord Avenue or online at the Town Clerk’s web pages.

The following Voter Registration Forms can be found here.

Change of Belmont Address forms for registered Belmont voters

Change of Party Affiliation forms for registered Belmont voters

Absentee Ballot Application

Forms for individuals who qualify to receive an absentee ballot due to absence from Belmont on Election Day or physical disability preventing the voter from going to the polling place or religious belief. In lieu of using this form, a voter may simply submit a request for a ballot in writing but the request must include the voter’s signature.

Applications for absentee voting must be received by the Town Clerk’s office by Noon Monday, April 6, 2015; voted absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m., the close of polls Tuesday, April 7. Check the Town Clerk website for dates of in-office absentee voting or phone 617-993-2600.

Selectman Candidates’ Question of the Week: ‘Why Are You Running?’

Photo: Andy Rojas.

Beginning today and on every Wednesday leading up the Town Election on Tuesday, April 7, the Belmontonian will be asking a “Question of the Week” to the candidates running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen: incumbent Andy Rojas and Glenn Road resident Jim Williams.

This weekly feature will allow the candidates seeking a three-year term on the board to answer topical questions concerning Belmont and help demonstrate their ability to lead the town.

This week’s question: Why are you running for selectman?

The position of the answers will alternate each week with Rojas having the top spot this week.

Andy Rojas

I am running for re-election as Belmont Selectman to build on my first term achievements — significant results based on an in-depth understanding of the job, experienced leadership and excellent community-Selectman communications.

Belmont is truly a wonderful town but, in common with other towns, it faces many challenges ranging from the effects of increased use of town and school services, to the need for thoughtful residential and commercial development that preserves our green space. These challenges require experienced leadership, in-depth knowledge and skills in many areas — not merely a focus on one or two issues. I bring the right qualifications to the table.

My wife, Allison Miele Rojas and I have lived in Belmont for over 20 years. This is where we raised our two children both of whom are graduates of Belmont High School. Our son, Samuel, is a senior at St. Michael’s College. Our daughter, Lucy, is a sophomore at the University of Hartford. Smudge, our pug, rounds out the family.

Allison and I own Rojas Design, Inc., an architectural firm. I am a professional landscape architect with significant, sustainable building and site design experience. Allison is an experienced interior architect who is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional.

I have a Master of Landscape Architecture from Harvard University, studied Real Estate Development & Management at the Harvard Business School, received a Bachelor of Media Arts (Honorary) from the Massachusetts Communication College, and have a Bachelor of Science from the City College of New York School of Architecture.

My extensive knowledge of the issues that Belmont faces comes not just from living here for many years but from actual service to the town. This service includes, but is not limited to:

• Board of Selectmen — 2012 – present, Chair, April, 2014 – present;

• Warrant Committee — 2014 – present;

• Community Preservation Committee — 2012 – present;

• Planning Board — 2006 -2012, Vice Chair — 2010 – 2012;

• Capital Projects Overview Committee — 2007 – 2009;

• Capital Endowment Committee — 2012 – present;

• Benton Branch Library Re-Use Committee — 2007 – 2010;

• Police Station Feasibility Committee — 2007 – 2008;

• Harvard Lawn Fire Station Re-Use Committee — Chair – 2006 – 2007;

• Shade Tree Committee — 2005 – 2012;

• Town Meeting Member — 2007 – present; and,

• Coach for Belmont Youth Basketball and Baseball teams.

Allison and I have made it a practice to use our professional expertise to help the town. We’ve donated professional design services to the Butler School Playground, the Belmont High School Language Lab as well as the Winn Brook School Basketball Courts. I introduced the Grove Street Playground Master Plan concept and advocated for the study that is currently underway.

I have the experience, proven leadership, demonstrated commitment and knowledge of Belmont needed to meet the challenges we face. I respectfully ask for your vote for Selectman on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Thank you.

Jim Williams

Dear fellow Belmontonians, did you know that Belmont’s Management states in the current Annual Report that our town does not have the reserves necessary to “meet its ongoing short and long term obligations to its citizens or its creditors”? 

Did you know that we will need to come up with  nearly an additional  $400 million over the next 13 years to meet these obligations unless we change our financial strategies?

Did you know that the current $4.5 million override proposal is inadequate to meet the current scheduled unfunded pension assessments beyond 2019 and that another even larger override will be needed to cover the remaining payments thru 2028?

Did you know that the Town projects costs of a new high school, a new police station, and a new DPW Facility to be an additional $200 million which makes “planned” expenditures  total $600 million under current strategies? 

If you don’t,  you are in the majority and it’s not surprising since Town Management has not engaged us in a frank discussion of these looming obligations as they developed or  provided sensible  and timely strategies to address them.   

It should be clear that something’s going to have to give as  this plan  and its expenses are just simply too large for the Town to pay, incur or otherwise undertake with its $100 million in annual revenues. Also, it should be clear that it  can no longer be  resolved with  just overrides and/or service cuts (i.e. “cans kicked down the road.”)
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Jim Williams

I am running for Selectman because I think I have real solutions for the Town. What we need to do is to issue a 20-year bond in 2015 to pay off the pension liability which will return the scheduled pension  payments to the operating and capital budgets thru 2028; fund the healthcare retirement obligation with $2.5 million annually beginning in 2015 and control expense increases  going forward to less than three percent per year.
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By taking these three actions, we can resolve this crisis. Since the current Board has put a $4.5 million override on the ballot, our choice is to approve it or to face further service cuts. I recommend that you consider approving the proposed override to avoid the threatened services cuts.  By doing this, we can repurpose those funds provided  as we implement a more serious plan to resolve our very real financial difficulties and return the Town to fiscal stability.
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I don’t think of my candidacy as running against Andy, Mark, or Sami. Instead, I want to make sure Belmont remains a great town with level one schools for our children, roads that do not require slalom driving, great recreational opportunities and a green policy that makes us part of the solution to the climate change. This election is critical to the Town’s financial stability.  If you are as concerned as I am, please vote for the override, support my campaign and vote for Jim Williams on April 7th.