The Board of Selectmen did two things last night related to affordable housing.
First the selectmen heard a report from the Senior Housing Study Committee about its seeking to have the town donate the nine acre Hinkley land next to The Center for the purpose of building 5-6 moderately priced ranch houses per acre there. About half of the Hinkley land is wetlands, so that could amount to about 25 homes. The committee said it would put its slides online.
Second, the selectmen hired the Community Opportunities Group as our consultant to assist the town with planning and executing the town’s affordable housing strategy. We hired the Community Opportunities Group for its $38,000 bid amount. Community Opportunities Group submitted the only response to the town’s RFP, with a not to exceed $40,000 limit. Community Opportunities Group assisted the town in preparation of the Housing Production Plan that we approved last fall, and Assistant Town Administrator, Kristine Trierweiler, stated that she was more than satisfied with its past work for the town. Click this link to see its proposal – 20170117-community-opportunities-group-inc-proposal
Yesterday afternoon from 6-7 PM before the regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen there was a well attended session that was billed as a working meeting of the Board of Selectmen with Chief Kingsbury and Lieutenant Bennotti of the Medfield Fire Department to discuss the possible solutions for the town to the provision of Advanced Life Support (ALS) services to town residents. The MFD currently only provides intermediate basic life support (EMT) ambulance services to residents, and only one of the current seven full time firefighters is a paramedic.
One firefighter recently resigned, and will be replaced with a paramedic, however, until the whole service is staffed with paramedics, the two paramedics will not be able to provide paramedic services.
The ALS session was not covered by Medfield.TV – I do not know why not, as I was not involved in making that decision. Personally, I would have put it on TV.
Basically the Chief and the Lieutenant
- expect that the MFD will have increasing problems in the future staffing a call department,
- expect the current towns providing the ALS intercept services (Westwood, Walpole, and Norfolk) as tiring of doing so if we are not making efforts to solve our situation,
- see no likely chance of doing a regional ALS with other towns (Dover and Sherborn are the logical ones),
- generally see no interest in current EMT’s becoming paramedics,
- see the cost of using a private ALS provider as similar to the cost to expand the MFD (they have been quoted $600,000 per year, plus $250 per run by private providers), and
- therefore that the best solution is for the town to hire eight new full time firefighter/paramedics at a cost of about $650,000 per year, plus start up costs.
Whether to hire the paramedics will be a decision for residents to make at at the annual town meeting (ATM).
Below are the Chief’s cost projections:
I suggest that these figures do not reflect the true cost to the town of the additional employees, as these estimates do not include the present value of the future retirement benefits the town will ultimately have to pay. Those retirement benefits (i.e. pension and health care) are called Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB). To truly tell us the cost, the estimates should include the present value of the actuarial costs we incur each year to pay future retirement benefits to such employees.
The town was only recently required to figure out the value of its OPEB liability. Currently the unfunded actuarial cost for the town’s OPEB is over $40m. OPEB costs currently cost the town about $1.5m. per year, and the town only just recently (a couple of years ago) started to budget $400,000 a year to pay into a trust fund to partially cover the future OPEB as they come due. Therefore the town is still adding over $1m. a year to its OPEB liability, which is basically pushing off current town costs to be paid by future residents.
OPEB benefits to retired former town employees were until relatively recently not funded at all while those retirees were working, and even now the town is not fully funding its future OPEB liability. As we add new town employees, we may want to include the OPEB liabilities in our cost estimates.
The Medfield Foundation volunteer awards for volunteers of the year are open through January 31. Fill out the nomination form at www.MedfieldFoundation.org to give your extraordinary volunteer the recognition he or she deserves.
All nominees with be celebrated at the Volunteer Awards reception at 3PM on March 19 at The Center.
Brothers Marketplace generously sponsors the MFi Volunteer Awards, and support is also received from The Rockland Trust Charitable Foundation.
These were our residents nominated in 2014:
The Mega-B has been redesigned and reconfigured. Below is a rendering of what it is now proposed to look like, and in the PDF files below one can see the new plans and layout in detail – 182 units, in three buildings, on just over six acres.
Medfield is fortunate to have Jeremy Marsette on its Water and Sewer Board, since in his day job Jeremy runs the Natick DPW. Jeremy sent along the following information that compares water and sewer rates from around greater Boston –
The annual survey of Water and Sewer Retail Rates performed by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Advisory Board was just published. They included Medfield as one of the communities surveyed. Attached are several pages of note from the survey.
Based on an AWWA standard for historical usage of 120 HCF of annual water consumption the average combined water and sewer bill for all MWRA serviced communities was found to be $1,524.84 for the calendar year 2016. For comparison, a bill from Medfield for the same usage was found to be $1,073.48. This represents that Medfield’s rate structure for combined water and sewer usage is 30% less than the average of all 60 MWRA serviced communities.
The major difference in costs is on the sewer side of the bill. The MWWTP is the key contribution in making Medfield’s sewer costs much lower than the costs seen by MWRA communities.
On average MWRA communities increased water/sewer rates by 3.4% from 2015 to 2016. Medfield increased rates by 2.4%, based on the survey’s calculations.
I have copies of the full rate survey, and it is also available on the MWRA Advisory Board’s website at http://www.mwraadvisoryboard.com . Please feel free to forward this information.
Jeremy Marsette, PE
Director of Public Works
Town of Natick