April 25, 2022 by Glenn Mangurian
A Gathering of Neighbors
Preparations are underway for Hingham’s Annual Town Meeting. The Town Meeting is the simplest form of democracy. Incredibly, for almost four centuries Hingham’s incorporation as a town (the 12th town in the Massachusetts Bay Colony) neighbors still gather to make important decisions about our shared interests including approving a town budget. It may be hard to imagine that form of governance has survived so long in Hingham even as our population exceeds 24,000 and the shared operating budget is over $140 million.
Democracy in Action
The elected Select Board summons the Town Meeting to gather by issuing the Warrant, which is the list of items to be voted on. Invest your time to attend this year’s Town Meeting on Saturday, April 30, 2022 at 2:00 PM, outdoors at Hingham High School Multi-Purpose Field, Union Street. The rain dates are Saturday, May 1 at 2:00 PM or Indoors on Monday, May 9 at 7:00 PM. The Town Moderator officiates the meeting by reading each article, explaining it, and making sure the rules of parliamentary procedure are followed. All registered voters are free to attend, speak and vote on any and all articles.
Invest Your Time to Be Informed
Be informed by reading the Town Warrant and the important work that has transpired over the past six months to guide citizens’ decisions. Many Town Meeting articles deal with routine items such as amending zoning bylaws, accepting easements or transferring of funds between departments. This year there are several important warrant articles as well as significant operating budget and borrowing decisions. Some articles are complex and not easily explained in a few minutes or soundbite. Residents will likely advocate for and against the more complex articles based on their life experiences and stages of life.
The budget for FY23 reflects important investments in education, town services and infrastructure. The Advisory Committee report that if the proposed FY23 budget is adopted a tax increase to the average homeowner will be approximately $315.39 or 2.94%. This includes the 2.5% levy increase, new growth, and excluded debt. In addition, significant investment requests for the Foster School and Public Safety Building are anticipated at a special Town Meeting this Fall and an override at next Spring’s Town Meeting. I’m reminded that our property tax dollars stay in Hingham and don’t get sent to Washington or Beacon Hill.
Of course, the Town Meeting doesn’t happen without extensive preparation by town leaders and volunteer citizens board members who review proposals and budget submissions. The results of their review are included in the Town Warrant as commentary and recommendations. You can learn more about the warrant article deliberations by viewing Select Board, School Committee and Advisory Committee public meetings that are archived on the Harbor Media YouTube channel.
We Are Stewards of Hingham
Each Spring we elect several fellow residents as volunteers to govern our town. Hingham's 2022 Town Election will take place on May 14, which is two weeks after the April 30 Town Meeting to allow time for rain dates if needed. The decisions we make at Town Meeting and at the ballot box will impact the Hingham quality of life. Be informed. Remember the responsibility that we all have to each other and for future generations of Hingham citizens.