Departments: Board of Selectmen
Board of Selectmen
The Board of Selectmen is composed of three members who are elected for three year terms. As the Chief Elected and Executive Officers of the Town, the Selectmen are vested with all the municipal authority not specifically retained by the Town's legislative body, Town Meeting, or other elected boards. The Selectmen appoint a Town Administrator who is responsible for the daily management of the Town.
The Selectmen issue the warrants for Town Meetings; initiate legislative policy by inserting articles in Town Meeting Warrants; and then implement the votes subsequently adopted. They adopt town administrative policies; review and set fiscal guidelines for the annual operating budget and the five-year capital improvement program and make recommendations to Town Meeting. The Selectmen appoint department heads and members of most official boards and commissions; hold public hearings on important town issues and periodic conferences with agencies under their jurisdiction and with community groups; represent the Town before the General Court; act as Police Commissioner; and enforce Town By-Laws and regulations.
The Selectmen also serve as the licensing board responsible for issuing and renewing over 70 licenses in more than 20 categories, including common victualler, limousine, liquor, inflammables, special events and entertainment.
Application for One Day Liquor License
2012 Annual Report
As the nation recovers from the great recession, we are glad to note that Massachusetts is making faster progress than many states. While challenges remain, and state revenues continue to fluctuate, there is evidence that in Hingham we have fared better than many.
The Board of Selectmen’s long-term goal of emphasizing fiscal stability during the economic crisis has borne fruit. With the aid of the Advisory Committee, the board has established sound policies that have allowed the town to maintain an adequate though somewhat reduced menu of services, while meeting the challenges of an ever-growing school population.
The town’s prudent financial management received a resounding endorsement at the time of the first borrowing for the middle school construction when the Fitch bond-rating agency reaffirmed Hingham’s AAa rating, resulting in a historically low interest rate. This pleasant outcome lowered the cost of the new middle school project by several million dollars overall. Construction is now underway and the new middle school promises to be a true twenty-first century facility of which the town will be justly proud.
The selectmen’s top goals this year were: 1) to carry on the community discussion relative to the purchase of the Aquarion Water Company assets, 2) to produce a proposal for property tax relief for consideration at the 2013 town meeting, 3) to continue to pursue infrastructure improvements in the South Hingham industrial zone which would encourage business development in order to relieve the burden on the residential tax base, 4) to make steps to improve the town’s facilities management functions, and 5) to engage in a study of the capacity of and demands on town’s athletic fields.
On the first goal, the Water Acquisition Study Committee authorized by Town Meeting in 2012, consisting of four former Advisory Committee chairs and the chairman of the Sewer Commission, has worked diligently to assemble the data needed to make a judgment on the wisdom of acquiring the company. While the committee has yet to make a recommendation as of this writing, the board has been following the work closely, and we are confident that the decision will come as the result of an exhaustive study which leaves no stone unturned, and no factor unconsidered.
As to tax relief, the board has pursued this goal because it is all too clear that the increases in property taxes caused by recent building projects, on top of economic hard times, have made it difficult for many in our community to meet their obligations. The board will present to Town Meeting a proposal to use the revenues produced by the meals tax to offset the increase in property taxes due in Fiscal Year 2015.
The meals tax, which was adopted by Town Meeting in 2011, is an attractive option for reducing the impact of property tax increases. The meals tax is paid only by diners in restaurants, making it a tax of choice, and in addition, many diners in Hingham restaurants come from other areas, due to Hingham’s increasing reputation as a restaurant destination. When proposing the new tax in 2011, the Board of Selectmen and Advisory Committee pledged that it would not be used to defray normal operating costs, but for special purposes. This will be our first opportunity to do so.
The improvement of sewer and water infrastructure in the industrial-zoned area of South Hingham is proving to be a complicated and slow-moving process. The facilities and fields management improvements are just getting underway. These three goals are likely to continue into 2013 as priorities of the board.
In 2012, a committee appointed by the Board of Selectmen began work studying the best location for a memorial for Herbert Foss, the only Hingham citizen ever to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
As always, none of these projects could be accomplished without the dedicated and talented staff of the Town of Hingham, to whom we owe our thanks. In particular, the board wishes to acknowledge and thank Town Administrator Ted Alexiades, Assistant Town Administrator Betty Foley, and the staff of the Selectmen’s office, Betty Tower and Kristin Currier, for their outstanding work in the past year.
We would also like to thank the four hundred or so volunteers, citizens of the town who give of their time and talents to work on projects and committees, and without whom only a fraction of what we would like to do could be accomplished.
L. Bruce Rabuffo