Candidate’s Letter: Peter LaPine for Board of Selectman

by beth on April 27, 2020

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[Editor’s note: The May election has been postponed, but Southborough voters can already apply for early ballots. This spring residents will choose from three candidates running for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. To help you make that decision, I have invited each of them to submit letters* to readers.

You may comment to endorse the candidate. No mudslinging allowed. ]

A big “Thank you!” to Beth Melo for providing me with the opportunity to connect with you in her mysouthborough blog!

I am running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen because I am passionate about this Town! I believe we must carefully balance the wishes of our Townspeople with the affordability of proposed projects.

My wife Atsuko (AHTS-ko), our son Christophe and I moved to Southborough 12 years ago, shortly before Christophe started first grade. He will be graduating from Algonquin Regional High School soon and will attend university this autumn. We fell head-over-heels for Southborough one winter evening when we attended a gathering at the home next door to, what would become, ours. It was serendipity at work when we learned a few months later the house we now live in was about to go on the market. We contacted the owners directly and a few months later moved in.

We love Southborough’s rural-feeling environment and appreciate its access to transportation networks linking the Town to neighboring metropolitan areas. Many of you are also familiar with Hana, our 3-year-old, miniature Australian Labradoodle.

I have worked 30+ years in Software Development, in both team lead and individual contributor roles, for such companies as: Digital Equipment, Lucent Technologies, Motorola and Sun. My experience learning various software systems, creating new features and identifying and resolving internal and customer related issues, provides me with a rich problem-solving background. Prior to that I owned a business for three years, initially as a framing subcontractor, then for 7 more years as a frame-to-finish carpenter in residential construction. With experience solving problems in both the physical and virtual environments, I am confident I can put these analytical and resolution skills to good use in the service of the Town of Southborough. 

A few years ago I circulated a petition among my neighbors on Parkerville Road in a drive to create a Truck Exclusion Zone from route 9 to Main St. Unfortunately, the results of the Traffic Survey eventually concluded the percentage of truck traffic didn’t meet the state’s threshold to allow for an exclusion.

More recently, you may have seen me at the Transfer Station obtaining Citizen’s Petition signatures to have a Noise Bylaw proposal added to the 2020 Town Warrant. While I am pleased to report the Article was added, it is likely it will not be heard until sometime later this year at a Special Town Meeting.

I met briefly with close to 100 of you while gathering signatures to have my name added to the 2020 ballot, and discussed some of your concerns for the Town. Among those issues are the following:

Financial Impact of COVID

We are witnessing an economic situation unprecedented in the lifetimes of most residents. With over 25 million Americans unemployed and businesses shuttered and on government subsidies for an indeterminate period, we need to start planning today for the impact this is going to have on our Town in the very near future.

With no income, how are families going to pay their property taxes – let alone feed themselves? How will closed businesses pay their real estate taxes? How will Town services be affected by the loss of these revenue streams? We must begin to plan today for a very different tomorrow than one envisioned until very recently!

What about the financial assistance the Town receives from the State? How is that going to change?

Since nobody yet knows how long the pandemic will go on, how will these revenue shortfalls play out for Southborough over the next 1,2, or even 3 years?

Taxes & Spending

Why do our real estate taxes continue to increase year after year? Why does increasing the housing stock in Southborough seem to have no effect on the real estate taxes we pay each year?

Admiral’s Lane
Carriage Hill Circle
Madison Place
Meeting House Lane
16 units
64 units
168 units
15 units
 

(Sourced through Google & Google maps web pages)

Why are businesses leaving the Town year after year? A drive down route 9 reveals many vacant office buildings on both sides of the road. Why can’t Southborough seem to attract and keep businesses in order to offset some of the real estate tax burden for the homeowners of Southborough? A single tax rate helps, however, by itself, it does not seem to be enough.

A “community of one” approach and collaboration among voters and Town government would serve to make Southborough an attractive business environment.

Do you receive a salary increase each and every year? Since the 2008 meltdown, many people received no raises for some time, then, over subsequent years, received such pitiful raises they did not even keep up with inflation. Why does it seem as though it’s like the National People’s Congress, providing rubber-stamp budget approval year after year, resulting in an ever-increasing real estate tax burden on Southborough homeowners?

Noise Bylaw

Why did we move to Southborough? Many people have stated it was for the beauty, peace and tranquility. How do you feel about being awakened by screaming leaf blowers, construction equipment and lawn mowers at 5:30 AM and/or on the weekends? Southborough has no noise bylaw. Let’s get this passed!

Unfunded Municipal Pensions

Perhaps the biggest “elephant in the room”, having been ignored for decades, are the issues with unfunded pensions and retirement medical benefits.

The Town needs to create a plan to work with the state in order to address these critical items.

Among the solutions I have read about is one, which requires changing the approach from defined benefits to defined contribution. Today, most people do not have a company provided pension. Their retirement benefits are self-funded through 401K and IRA vehicles.

Thank you for your interest and I encourage you to vote in the upcoming Town election!

I will work for you when elected!

Peter LaPine

*[Editor’s Note: Normally, candidates are capped at one letter before the election. This year, I’m allowing them to submit one now for early voters and a second letter closer to the yet-to-be-rescheduled election date.]

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tom McCarthy April 28, 2020 at 8:34 AM

Good to see a candidate that is concerned about tax payers. Peter moved to our town for its location and desires to keep our rural quality. Peg and I have lived in town since 1974 and have been disappointed in the constant push for new overdone expansions of our civic infrastructure, some of which were done by infringing on our scenic heritage. Maybe with Peter there is a chance to put the brakes on overspending and civic expansion.

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2 M April 28, 2020 at 8:38 PM

Nice letter. I don’t know this candidate but I plan to learn more about him. Good ideas. His concerns about the Corona impact on taxpayers as well as the town, are spot on! And I agree with Tom and Peg.

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