Scott: Water Supply Board and police pension main topics at FTM

Scott: Water Supply Board and police pension main topics at FTM

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2, one of Scituate’s most democratic processes took place: The annual Financial Town Meeting. This is the one opportunity where residents can approve, reject, comment, question, or amend our town’s proposed budget. Townspeople got up one by one and articulated in a clear and civil way the topics that are critical to our town. Two items of particular discussion were the renegotiation of the town’s tax status with the Providence Water Supply Board (PWSB) and the funding of our private police pension.

Regarding the police pension, it was made clear that attention to its performance and its proper management has significant ramifications for our town. If managed properly, we could lower the timeframe necessary to reach 100 percent funding, limit its liability shortfall, potentially increase our town’s bond rating, and decrease the financial annual burden to taxpayers. School Committee member Carolyn Dias also highlighted the most important issue: If we do not focus on managing this pension properly, there will not be any funds for our police officers who worked so hard for so many years.

A 2018 annual report by General Treasurer Seth Magaziner’s office found more than a third of the local pension plans in Rhode Island are in “critical status,” meaning the amount of assets they have saved will cover less than 60 percent of their retirement liabilities. And Scituate is among these. If Scituate’s pension fund continues to perform poorly and lack focus, it will become a higher annual burden to our town and could result in a lower bond rating (meaning that our town pays more when it bonds its expenditures).

Regarding the town’s most important natural resource, the Scituate Reservoir, the town has a long history of negotiating with the PWSB, and these negotiations will again take place in the coming month. It was clear at the financial meeting that our townspeople care so deeply about the outcome that they introduced a motion to amend the proposed budget to add back $75,000 for professional services to aid in the negotiation.

On April 23 the Scituate Democratic Town Committee will host an information session on the PWSB negotiation history at the North Scituate Community House (6:30 p.m.), to which all are invited.

Shawn Scott

Scituate Democratic Town Committee