Letter: Dear Fellow Upton Residents

letterDear Fellow Upton Residents,

As Monday May 2nd quickly approaches, each of you has an important opportunity to facilitate positive change both within our town government and, in so doing, in the fundamental way that town government serves you…its residents.  And it’s my strong hope that as many of you as possible embrace this opportunity, because as we near this year’s election, it is, without question, time for a change at Town Hall.

The current members of our Board of Selectmen have been in power for, on average, 9 years. And while I cannot and will not make any attack against the character of any of the gentlemen on the current Board, it is my strong contention that the length amount of time they have served together has resulted in an increasing level of complacency as well as a disturbing disconnect from the very reasons each of them first ran for the offices they hold today.

In the last five years, we’ve born witness to the Board of Selectmen taking a backseat with regard to how this town is run, opting instead to relinquish a bulk of their powers to a single individual, that person being the Town Manager.  Issues come up and situations arise, but our elected officials no longer step forward to on behalf of the citizens of Upton.  In fact, many residents I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to as I’ve walked from neighborhood to neighborhood during this campaign have spoken specifically to their belief that their opinions and viewpoints are no longer solicited or heeded by our current administration.  And that’s troubling to say the least.

We hear about opportunities for input into various issues.  But when Upton residents attend public meetings to express a view that may run counter to the wishes of the Town Manager and the BOS, they often leave that meeting feeling ignored at best, and scorned at worst.   And not only isn’t that right, it also runs counter to the way a town like Upton needs to run.

We’ve heard talk of transparency.  Yet it appears many votes are decided in advance of input.  And when things don’t go as planned, no one seems to be held accountable.  For instance, did you know:

  1. Our new $3.6-million water well had to be shut down last summer because it ran dry?
  1. That the Clear-Gov program that was rolled out quickly as a campaign tool to brag about transparency, because it was not thoroughly vetted, contains a multitude of inaccurate information?
  1. Or that the Upton Strategic Leadership Plan report cards were never completed for either 2014 or 2015?

And let’s look at our skyrocketing taxes.  A recent report listed Upton as a town with one of the fastest growing tax rates in the entire state!

If all of the above makes you frustrated, you are not alone.  I’m frustrated to.  In fact, it’s the reason why I’m willing to raise my hand and say, “I would like to be an agent of change on our Board of Selectmen.”  Because it is time for a change!

If elected, I will bring authority back to the Board.

If elected, I will enact and enable a policy for 360-degree reviews of ALL department heads, including the Town Manager.

And if elected, I will work WITH department heads, our FinCom, and YOU the taxpayers of this town, to find new and creative ways to curb tax growth.

Because, if elected, I will know that a majority of you agree with one simple premise…it is time for a change.

Thank you for your time.  And please make the time to have your voice heard on May 2.

Gary Daugherty

Upton

About Jennifer Doyle

Comments

  1. Ken Picard says:

    Gary, this campaign has been free of all the negativity that engulfs the current Federal election. Your letter is nicely composed but is not accurate. I also understand that your desire to run for Selectmen is not a reflection on my performance, but the performance of other departments. I can assure you that as a Selectman I will always expect continuous improvement from all parts of our Town government. I am compelled to respond with factual information with the three points that you brought up in your letter.
    • Our third municipal well did not run dry. The well was not shut down last summer. Last summer was very dry and water draw from our 3rd well was slowed down as not to impact the long term performance of this well. To maintain the capacity of the system the other two wells draws were increased. The Board discussed this issue in public session. With regards to accountability. When the 3rd well was put into production it was not meeting design results. The Board held the design firm accountable and the repairs were completed with no additional charges to the tax payer. The Board did not publicly chastise the design firm for its errors and omissions, but collaboratively worked with the design firm to implement changes that would meet design results at no cost to the tax payers. Providing better delivery of municipal services is a theme in the Strategic Leadership Plan. You are correct that the CY2014 & 2015 score cards have not been updated.
    • Early this year the Board signed an Executive Order agreement with the Lt. Governor to find better ways to report, present, and implement financial operations. With this $25,000 grant the Board will be hiring a firm to evaluate our financial policies and procedures. I am sure there will be some changes. On the Town website there is a tab called Financial – ClearGov. ClearGov is a private firm that collects data from the Department of Revenue (DOR) and compares similar communities with respect to their financial performance. Yes, there were some minor category and calculation errors when ClearGov was first launched. Those errors have been corrected. Providing better financial information is a theme in the Strategic Leadership Plan. You are correct that the CY2014 & 2015 score cards has not been updated.
    • Yes, our tax rate is high, but you fail to address that this is the will of the people. The citizens at Town Meeting and at an election determined with their vote to provide the school district with additional funding. The Board does not raise or levy taxes, but executes the voters’ decisions derived from the Town Meeting and election. Would you prefer an all powerful Board that does not provide the votes an ability to determine what they want to support or not support? We need to ask ourselves; are we getting value for our tax dollars, are our tax dollars being wasted? The three largest spending categories which account for 80% (Upon Budget Presentation 2017) of the budget are; Education, Public Safety, and Department of Public Works.
    a. Are you satisfied with the performance of Upton’s school districts?
    b. Are you satisfied with the performance of Upton’s public safety departments?
    c. Are you satisfied with the performance of Upton’s public works departments?
    I ask you again to check out the Financial – ClearGov tab on Upton’s web site and compare the Town’s historical data and trends. Upton’s government is not extravagant. In most cases it is spending below the mean when compared to similar Towns.
    • Yes, you are correct; the Strategic Leadership Plan score card has not been recently updated. That does not mean that the Board has not been attempting to implement objectives of the nine strategic themes. We are addressing fiscal transparency and accountability, we are addressing increasing value and utilization, we are addressing continuous improvement, and you are proof that we are addressing increased involvement. The Board is continuing to create positive impact for the residents of our community. Our latest initiative is addressing this theme with the Opioid Task Force.
    Is our Town government performing better now that it was nine years ago? I would answer yes. Does our Town government need to continue to improve? I would answer yes? I have been an agent of change my entire tenure in Town Government. I believe that Town government should strive for excellence with continuous improvement.
    Ken Picard

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