Sewer Commissioner says Article 19 will not create a sewer "district"

Mar 30, 2016

To the Editor:

This letter to the voters, sewer rate payers and taxpayers of the Town of Wareham is for clarification of Article 19, a Citizens Petition to amend the Act Enabling Elected Sewer Commissioners in the Town of Wareham.

This amendment will not create a “District” or alter in any way the Town’s authority or ownership over the Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) as a department of the Town of Wareham.

This petition article was initiated, reviewed, and is supported by 4 of the 5 current Sewer Commissioners. This is not the single action of one member of the Board of Sewer Commissioners. It was a collaborative effort to address the difficulties and delays the Sewer Commissioners have encountered in the performance of their duties to the rate payers as stewards of the Enterprise Fund and as duly elected Sewer Commissioners answerable to the voters.

Further, it was agreed upon, by a majority of the members of the Board of Sewer Commissioners to present this amendment as a Citizens’ Petition insuring placement on the Spring Town Meeting Warrant. This allows the voters at Town Meeting to decide the merits of the article in total transparency. We sought the advice of the Massachusetts Ethics Commission in drafting and presenting this article. The Sewer Commissioners are in receipt of a letter stating their approval.

The WPCF will continue, as it has always been, to be a department of the Town, subject to all the provisions of Town Charter and Town Meeting. These provisions, as set forth in Town Charter include, but are not limited to, continued control, authority and oversight by the Board of Selectmen and the Town Administrator of salaries, benefits, insurance, labor negotiations, contracts, inter-municipal agreements, labor relations, the hiring and firing of town and WPCF employees, as well as review and oversight of all bills associated with the WPCF, etc.

It will have no financial impact on the Town tax rate or the sewer user fees. In no way does it seek or is it the intent of the current Sewer Commissioners, myself included, to get involved with the day to day business of the WPCF. That is, and will remain, in the hands of the Town Administrator and the current Director of the Water Pollution Control Facility.

Funding for the WPCF will continue, as currently constructed, funded by the sewer Enterprise Fund by means of sewer user fees, betterments, septage fees, etc. The WPCF Enterprise Fund will continue to pay “Indirect” and “Direct” costs to the Town of Wareham’s general fund for services and employee benefits provided by the Town on behalf of the WPCF.

What it will do is change the manner in which the elected Board of Sewer Commissions are allowed to perform their sworn duties and responsibilities, as a Town of Wareham elected Board, to the rate payers, taxpayers and the voters of the Town of Wareham.

 

Marilyn Jordan
Petitioner
Article 19

Comments (12)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 30, 2016 12:26

Non sewer users should not be voting on anything to do with sewered areas. They didn't want to pay for the sewering so its none of their business.



Posted by: WWreader | Mar 30, 2016 13:53

"What it will do is change the manner in which the elected Board of Sewer Commissions are allowed to perform their sworn duties and responsibilities." Am I the only one here who sees a long letter saying what the article won't do and nothing about what it will do? You have got to be kidding me. Change the manner? What does that mean? This tells me nothing about article 19.



Posted by: Steve Holmes | Mar 30, 2016 18:40

I read this 3 times now. Still don't get it. If it does not change anything why the article. I understand the gamesmanship of using a citizens petition rather than a normal article because it could have been blocked apparently by the BOS. The BOS since I have been on it for 6 years has blocked very few items often being scolded for letting some go through so this one must take away something from some Body that is allegedly causing delays in what the Sewer Commissioners want to do. We shall see. Maybe the Chairperson could come back and be more specific about the "manner"



Posted by: bob | Mar 31, 2016 07:26

As Steve has said,I to cant make sense in what the article would do ....



Posted by: Knocked for six | Mar 31, 2016 12:37

I disagree, eventually everyone will be sewed it's a entire town issue.



Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 31, 2016 13:03

If it was a Town issue than everyone in Town should have stepped up and paid to have certain areas of Town sewered. Why should they be involved now.



Posted by: WWreader | Mar 31, 2016 13:07

There is a rebuttal to this article in the Courier. It actually discusses what is in the warrant article and explains the problems with it.

http://wareham.wickedlocal.com/article/20160331/NEWS/160339102



Posted by: Steve Holmes | Mar 31, 2016 14:44

I just read the article in the other news outlet. Pete has done a lot of research for the Board of Selectman on this issue. While the Title of this article states that the Warrant Article does not create a "District" in name only the article certainly creates a "District" without calling it that. We have spent the last several years finding ways to reduce the cost of the Treatment Facility, and have been very successful at doing just that. In reading Pete's Article, (and it would be nice if he posted here as well) HINT HINT Pete. He spells out very clearly the objectives and the potential additional costs associated with the passage of this Article. I voted NO at the BOS meeting and urge you all to vote NO as well when the Article comes before Town Meeting. Many of you complain about having 2 Fire/Water Districts and the duplication in cost, well passage of this Article could do the same and create another separate Town District at the Treatment Facility. Do your own research into this and I think you may come to the same conclusion.



Posted by: Andrea Smith | Apr 02, 2016 16:36

I have spent the better part of Saturday afternoon researching this issue online. I've read the above letter multiple times, reviewed the Town's Website Sewer Commissioners overview which includes a description of Powers and Duties, all available Sewer Commissioner meeting minutes, Article 19 as it appears on the Warrant and every related media article I could find and I am still confused. After all that review I realized my confusion comes down to the last paragraph of the above letter, which I now quote:

 

"What it will do is change the manner in which the elected Board of Sewer Commissions are allowed to perform their sworn duties and responsibilities, as a Town of Wareham elected Board, to the rate payers, taxpayers and the voters of the Town of Wareham."

 

And so I ask for the following clarifications:

 

What is the "current manner in which the elected Board of Sewer Commissions are allowed to perform their sworn duties and responsibilities, as a Town of Wareham elected Board, to the rate payers, taxpayers and the voters of the Town of Wareham?"

 

If Article 19 receives an affirmative vote at Town Meeting and the required subsequent Attorney General approval, how specifically will "the manner in which the elected Board of Sewer Commissions are allowed to perform their sworn duties and responsibilities" change?



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Apr 03, 2016 15:21

WWREADER wrote:

"Change the manner? What does that mean? This tells me nothing about article 19."
===================================


I had a hard time with that too wwreader.  It took me a while but I finally tracked down the full text of Article 19 as filed by the petitioners.

You may find the PDF here...

http://www.warehamforum.com/main1/index.php/forum/town-talk/66-tm-spring-2016-article-19-sewer-commissioners



Posted by: Andrea Smith | Apr 03, 2016 19:16

ARTICLE 19 – SEWER COMMISSIONERS CHARTER CHANGE

To see if the Town will vote to request the General Court of the Commonwealth to amend Chapter 114

of the Acts of 2014, the “Sewer Commission Act”, so-called a home rule petition bill and related

Wareham Town Charter provisions to amend, clarify and define the powers and duties of the elected

sewer commissioners.

 

http://www.wareham.ma.us/sites/warehamma/files/uploads/2016spring_warrant.pdf

 



Posted by: Peter W. Teitelbaum | Apr 03, 2016 22:20

In response to Steve's request, below is the link to the letter I submitted to the Wareham Courier last week:

 

http://wareham.wickedlocal.com/article/20160331/NEWS/160339102

 

 



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