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
2013 Annual Report
As we approach the end of FY2014, the outlook for Hingham's immediate future is cautiously optimistic.
Financially, in February Standard and Poor confirmed the Town's AAA rating, supporting the same level of confirmation reported by Fitch and Moody's. Just as those other evaluations, this one stated that strong management and budgetary flexibility with stable assessed values contributed to the Town's favorable position. Standard and Poor also recognized the Town's strengthened unassigned fund balance, now above 18 percent. That result is in keeping with the Town policy range of 16 to 20 percent. and compares favorably to the 8.9 percent position reported in 2009. These numbers permitted the Town to initiate prudent actions for the coming years.
This Town Meeting will consider a modest (2%) tax relief proposal by employing meals tax revenues and unused property tax capacity to mitigate the impact of upcoming tax increases. These increases occur because of the voter approved new Middle School and other Town projects. This relief not only continues our past practice of assisting our neediest neighbors but also now provides relief to all property owners. This financial strengthening also allowed the proposed budget to restore some staffing positions in our schools, police, fire and DPW. In addition, the proposed budget placed emphasis on capital projects delayed as a result of the economic downturn.
The caution on our optimism is the slow economic recovery with its degree of uncertainty. The Town needs to manage its rising demands for staff and expense increases against the economic burdens our citizens face in this economy. Certain indicators like excess tax capacity and our debt level suggest caution in future actions as the Town deals with expenditures. That approach will sustain the financial position the Town enjoys today.
In this vein, the Town has been focusing on good growth opportunities such as in South Hingham. The Board of Selectmen, together with the Planning Board, ZBA and Development and Industrial Commission, is studying plans for that area. The Boards have already begun to address the improvement of the Derby Street corridor with assistance from our state representatives. The Board is mindful as well of its commitment to Summer Street and waterfront neighborhoods whose future is key to maintaining Hingham.
Likewise, the Town has continued the examination of owning its municipal water company, as do most other towns in the Commonwealth. To date, the Town study has not identified any roadblocks to owning the water company. In fact, the Selectmen study has suggested considerable economic and environmental reasons for owning and managing our own water company. The Town is now in litigation to determine the price for such a purchase. If appropriate, a future Town Meeting will then ascertain, along with other proposed management and governance solutions, whether such ownership is in the best interests of the Town. While some may suggest the court action is risky, ownership of the water company will repay the taxpayers for their support of this action and lead to future cost avoidance, improved infrastructure and control of our destiny.
The Board understands as well that planning now underway must address serving other sections of our population such as the elderly, the fastest expanding component of the Town. That planning has identified infrastructure solutions in buildings, equipment and other assets to begin to serve that future by funding actions today.
That future has described a need for joint actions with other communities who may face similar issues. The Board has started those joint deliberations to seek common ground where appropriate.
Finally, the Board of Selectmen could not accomplish any of its many tasks without the support of so many volunteers. Those citizens who serve on Advisory and the other committees join with the other elected officials to make Hingham what it is. We thank them and the members of our staff for the service they render.
L. Bruce Rabuffo, Chairman
Irma H. Lauter
Paul K. Healey