Incumbent Selectman Calls Maintaining Fiscal Stability Top Priority
Richard Powell seeks his third three-year term Tuesday. Write-in candidate Michael O'Shea also seeks the office.
Sharon's finances would remain Richard Powell's main focus if voters re-elect him to the board of selectmen Tuesday, he says.
"I think it's important that we maintain our fiscal stability. And I think we've done that in a lot of ways," Powell says.
"We've limited spending. We've reduced our borrowing. And most recently, we engaged in health insurance reform with town employees that has the potential to save up to $800,000 over the next two years. It's something that needed to be done. I think in the long term, it's certainly going to benefit the town. But I think it's also going to benefit the town employees by bringing a level of financial stability to the town going forward.
"It's certainly not unusual. I think there's up to 100 communities across the state that have done it. I think most of them have done it the way we've done it. I think the plan we provided to them was fair, reasonable, affordable. Why are we doing it now? Why wait for a crisis when you can plan for the future right now?"
Powell seeks a third three-year term at Tuesday's annual town election. Write-in candidate Michael O'Shea also seeks the office.
The Sharon High School polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Powell says last week's annual town meeting vote reducing the seating required to serve customers alcohol with their meals should help promote economic development, "particularly in the center of town."
"It's just not capable of handling large restaurants, because of the septic issues," says Powell, the chief of staff for state Sen. Cynthia Creem (D-Newton).
"I think that was an important economic development vote for the town, because the study we commissioned really pushed the fact that we should be trying to promote restaurants, that would be something that would fit in there."
Powell says there are "still things to be done" to promote economic development.
"Re-zoning the center of town was important," he says.
"Hopefully, we'll get some additional development out of the Sharon Commons project. I think we're all still optimistic that's going to happen."
Selectmen recently discussed Sharon's tax rate, which is the state's highest. More than 90 percent of Sharon's tax base is residential.
"What we'd like to see is keep taxes as low as possible while still maintaining the level of services that people expect. And it's not always easy," Powell says.
"That's another reason why we had to do what we did with health insurance. It's unsustainable to go forward without engaging in that type of reform."
Water rate structure reform is another topic selectmen have discussed, with the water management advisory committee.
"I don't really feel like the current system is particularly broken," Powell says.
"I personally don't feel that it needs, maybe, the complete overhaul that they're talking about. I think they've raised some issues with respect to equity. I don't know if you'll ever get to a perfectly equitable system."