Opinion: Be a Hingham Steward: Be Engaged

Glenn Mangurian

October 2, 2022 By Glenn Mangurian

Stew·ard·ship: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care

A few weeks ago I launched this series describing the importance of stewardship to our community. The previous installment discussed the importance of being informed. In this third installment I will describe ways for you to be engaged.

Special Town Meeting November 1
On Tuesday, November 1 (7PM indoors at Hingham High School) residents of Hingham will gather for a Special Town Meeting (STM). The attendees will deliberate and vote on three warrant articles. I discussed these articles in my previous essay, “Be a Hingham Steward: Be Informed”. There are two warrant articles related to capital project borrowing - rebuilding the Foster Elementary School and building a new Public Safety Facility. The third article seeks to transfer approximately$7 million from available reserves (“Rainy Day Fund”) into a “Capital Project Cost and Debt Service Stabilization Fund” earmarked to reduce the tax impact of both projects in early years associated with paying the debt service.

Strong Financial Management
Hingham residents have benefited from prudent financial management. This approach has maintained the Town’s bond rating at Aaa – the highest rating possible – allowing for the most favorable borrowing terms. According to the Sustainable Budget Task Force Report of January 2022, Hingham has requested only eight debt exclusions in the last 22 years. Those eight debt exclusions represent half the average number requested by our peer towns over that same period, placing us in the bottom third among the peer towns. There are additional infrastructure investment needs on the horizon including Hingham Harbor wharves resiliency improvements, renovation/expansion of the Senior Center, and a potential new fire station in South Hingham. The scale and timing of these improvements are yet to be determined.

Opportunities to Be Engaged
Over the next three weeks, Town leaders will be communicating with residents about the details and the estimated tax impact of the November 1 st STM warrant articles associated with the Foster School and Public Safety Facility projects. It is important to remember that 40 volunteer residents have been involved in the design, evaluation, and recommendations for each project. You have opportunities to discuss the work of the two building committees, Select Board, School Committee, and Advisory Committee, as well as other Town leaders. The upcoming STM public information session schedule is as follows:

  • Session #1: scheduled for Thursday, October 13 th from 7-9pm in person at Town Hall
  •  Session #2: scheduled for Wednesday, October 19 th from 7-9pm via Zoom url: www.zoom.us/join ; ID: 843 3346 2651; Passcode: 643405; Dial-in: 929-205-6099
  • Session #3: scheduled for Saturday, October 22 nd from 10am – 12pm in person at the Middle School

These sessions are opportunities for residents to ask questions, make comments, and better understand the rationale for the Advisory Committee’s recommendations to the Town Meeting. If you cannot attend one of these sessions, send your comments to AdvisoryCommittee@hingham-ma.gov.

Get Answers to Your Questions
Some of you have expressed questions on why Hingham needs each project now and whether one or both can be delayed. You may also want to understand the benefits of a “yes” vote as well the consequences of a “no” vote. The costs for each project are significant and together represent a large investment in future Hingham infrastructure. Each project will require a property tax increase over the life of the borrowing (expected to be 30 years) to fund the debt service.

Plan to Attend the Special Town Meeting, November 1 and Vote, November 8
The Special Town Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 1 and is open to all 19,468 registered Town voters. (If you are not currently registered to vote in Hingham, the deadline to register to vote to be eligible to participate at the STM is October 22 nd .) In recent years, participation has included only about 500 residents - about 2.6% of the registered voters. Some past Town Meetings have attracted over 1,000 residents. The warrant articles that relate to borrowing require a 2/3 majority to pass. Every vote counts. For example, if only 500 residents attend, only 331 residents (1.7% of the registered voters) need to vote in the affirmative to pass. Conversely, only 171 residents (about .9% of the registered voters) are needed to turn down the request. We can and should do better than that participation. Indifference is not on the ballot.

The Value of Engagement
A good steward is an engaged steward. Engaged stewards seek answers to their questions, make informed decisions and participate in town voting. Take the time to understand what is being requested, what the property tax impact would be, and what the stakes are for the town. We owe it to ourselves, our neighbors, and future residents to be involved and engaged. Be a Hingham steward.


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