***VOTE YES TODAY on Question #1***
Polls open 7 AM – 8 PM
Vote will be close and we need every vote to succeed.
Thank you so much for your support!
Message from Our Campaign
Time is NOW for Effective Town Governance:
YES for Town Manager, YES for Wellesley’s Future
On March 15th, voters will decide whether Wellesley will adopt a Town Manager form of government. We are a committee of more than 40 current and former Town leaders, Town Meeting Members, and informed residents who believe the time has come to make this change and ensure that the Town’s management structure is equipped to meet present needs and the demands and challenges of the future. It is time for Wellesley to provide our residents with effective governance with appropriate authority and full accountability.
Wellesley is a forward-thinking, highly educated community, rich with dedicated volunteers. Yet, our municipal government structure lags behind comparable towns. It is time for professional management oversight by a skilled, experienced and accountable executive. We cannot wait until there is a crisis; we need to make carefully considered improvements now. The ever-increasing complexity of providing municipal services requires professional management with a town-wide view of finances, human resource practices, and strategic objectives. The current structure is fractured and inefficient:
- Budget resources are not prioritized and annual increases are not targeted for highest-priority projects;
- Operational decision-making is diffuse and inconsistent;
- Long-term planning is ineffective and lacks town-wide vision.
Town Meeting approved stronger strategic planning and a Unified Plan process has been initiated. However, without a Town Manager there will be no one responsible for reflecting Unified Plan initiatives in operating and capital budgets and for implementing the goals and objectives of the Unified Plan.
In 20 years the Town’s budget has tripled and our operations have grown to keep pace with the changing needs of our community. Yet, no one currently has clear authority to develop or finalize a balanced budget. We need a Town Manager to ensure that resources are directed effectively to advance Town priorities. No one is currently empowered to ensure that staff work aligns to achieve Town goals and improve customer service. Department heads are appointed and managed independently by volunteers. An experienced professional should be supervising, evaluating and mentoring senior staff in a consistent manner.
We have long had central professional management of our schools. The School Superintendent is responsible for managing the breadth of operations from preschool through high school and held accountable for ensuring that the quality of education in Wellesley schools remains top-rated. In contrast, on the Town side, no one is responsible for coordinating the delivery of all Town services and no one is ultimately accountable to Town Meeting for the administration of town affairs. We must invest in a collaborative professional manager with the experience and skills to strengthen operations in all sectors of Town government, working with staff and volunteers alike. This will bring returns multiple-fold, in cost efficiencies and capacity for targeted resource allocation in areas such as transportation, sustainability, historical preservation, and housing.
A Town Manager will indeed change how Wellesley is managed. We understand that those who oppose this change feel strongly about protecting their roles as volunteers in what they consider to be a functioning structure. But it is important to understand what will NOT change. Wellesley will retain not only its 240 Town Meeting Members but all 10 elected Boards, all 23 currently appointed boards, and its elected Town Clerk. Boards will continue to focus on setting and guiding the implementation of policy and program initiatives. The Town Manager will appoint department heads, subject to approval of Boards. Department heads will continue to appoint their staff and run their departments.
The Town Government Study Committee recommended a Town Manager structure with more limited authority than that used in many other towns. During a process of deliberation between November and February Town Meetings, dozens of amendments were made to accommodate concerns of boards and departments. While not every proposal was accepted by Town Meeting, the end result augments checks and balances on the Town Manager, clarifies the role of the Human Resources Director and Board, and provides for transparency and dialogue in the budget process.
The new Bylaws require MORE transparency, not less. Budget reviews and other decisions will be conducted, as always, in open, public sessions. Town Meeting approval is required for budgets, capital projects, bylaw changes, and the construction, renovations or closing of buildings– including schools.
The Town Manager is supported unanimously by the Board of Selectmen and by many other current and former elected and appointed board members, including 19 of the 21 Advisory Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs who served from 2004 to 2015 (the Moderator, who chaired Advisory during this period, has not taken a public position).
The time is NOW to move Wellesley forward. We urge you to vote YES For Wellesley’s Future on March 15th.
David Murphy and Katherine Babson
Co-Chairs, Yes For Wellesley’s Future Committee
Why you should vote YES!
- Responsible, Professional Management
- Accountability and Budget Transparency
- Strengthen the Policy Role of Town Boards
- Preserve Effective Citizen Participation
- Smart Change that Builds on Wellesley’s Strengths