In 1959, OPEB programs were first established, unfortunately without benefit of any foresight as to how these lifetime benefits would ever be paid for. Mattapoisett truly is “special” for funding its OPEB obligation.
“Mattapoisett is only the third town in over 300 communities that has stepped up with a funding schedule,” Town Administrator Michael Gagne told the board. “Residents aren’t going to kick [funding OPEB] down the road for future generations to have to deal with.”
The Board of Selectmen voted affirmatively to establish an irrevocable trust that will be funded by investing approximately $295,000 per year over the next 30 years, ensuring that contractual post employment benefits won’t bankrupt the town. The trust cannot be used for any other purpose, thus protecting it. The Finance Committee with Gagne and the Selectmen have been working on this important issue since 2010.
The press release reads in part: “May 13, 2013: During Town Meeting, the town voted to adopt a 30-year funding schedule; under this schedule, $297,720 per year for 30 years with the goal of plan assets equaling or exceeding the accrued postretirement benefits obligation (APBO) at that time; the purpose of this approach attempts to ensure generational and taxpayer equity whereby today’s taxpayers are paying the expenses incurred today and not pushing them off to future taxpayers.”
The full press release is available at the Town Hall and includes actuarial projections.
In other updates from Gagne to the Board, he cited necessary repairs for the bathhouse at town beach, the restrooms at Ned’s Point Park, and sidewalk repairs that are not part of the current sidewalk master plan. He told the Board members that he is working with an architect on plans for the bathhouse that will include cost estimates. He hoped to be able to present a request for funding at the Fall Town Meeting so the project can go out to bid and be completed before the summer of ’14. Regarding the sidewalks, he has received complaints from resident about trip hazards on streets outside the current waterfront plan. He suggested that he and the Highway Department could come up with some cost estimates for their review. He’ll move forward working with Barry Denham, Highway Department Superintendent.
Sidewalks came up again when Gagne said he received correspondence regarding “Inclusion of Active Streets Program In Transportation Bond Bill.” This bill was written to “establishing an active streets certification program within the Department of Transportation to encourage walking, cycling, and the use of public transportation in municipalities.”
It is also hoped that by providing better roads and sidewalks residents will be encouraged to leave their cars at home helping to curb green house gases.
On the theme of keeping the streets and sidewalks clean, the town has purchased six new dog waste stations, giving the two-legged animals walking their four legged animals more opportunities to keep the town clean. Those stations will be set up at the end of Good Speed, Center School, bike path, Ned’s Point, and the Land Trust space beside the town piers.
At the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen, several town residents were recognized for exceptional service to the town. First up was Grace Knox, whose many years of service on the School Committee was acknowledged, she received a plaque in appreciation.
Jeffrey McMahon received a Citation of Honor for valor in action. While working he assisted a resident with first aid, which resulted in saving the person’s life.
Seth Mendell, whose many years of dedicated service as historian of the town and a member of the Historical Commission, was recognized. He, too, received a plaque but noted for those in attendance, “This doesn’t mean I’m done. I have several books coming.”
Finally, the Highway Department received hearty thanks for the Board for their outstanding work on many levels throughout the summer months, of which the town can be very proud.
Other announcements included that shellfish season will begin on October 1st if the town receives permission from Department of Marine Fisheries, and the Fall Town Meeting will be on November 18th at ORR starting at 6:30 p.m.
The next Selectmen’s Meeting is Oct 8 at 7pm.
By Marilou Newell