Advisory Committee member Al Hamilton has resigned

On the eve of town meeting, Advisory Committee member Al Hamilton has unexpectedly resigned. Hamilton, a frequent commenter on this blog, has been outspoken on a number of topics, including spending down the stabilization fund and closing underutilized town buildings.

In an email, Hamilton explained his decision.

There is an old adage “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” This year I had hopes that the impending financial crisis would finally be the impetus for dealing with some of the Town’s ineffective and wasteful practices with the budget as the vehicle for making hard choices. I regret that my expectations were not met.

After 10 years on budget committees I think it is time for someone else to take up the burden and I have resigned, effective today, from the Advisory committee.

I have enjoyed my time on the Advisory Committee debating and discussing important issues. I admire and respect each member of Advisory whether I agree with them or not. Their long and often unheralded service to our community is an example of unselfish service. They have my gratitude and respect.

I suspect you have not heard the last of me.  I took my soap box with me.

The Advisory Committee’s nine members are appointed by the town moderator. Their primary charter as a finance board is to make recommendations on budgets and warrant articles to town meeting voters.

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Al Hamilton
12 years ago

From mid December until early April the Advisory Committee meets once a week and sometimes twice in meetings that often run from 7:30 until 11:00 in an effort to develop a town wide budget. The members often labor in obscurity. It has been my privilege to serve with many dedicated volunteers who give their time so freely in this capacity. Debate and discussion at these meetings is almost always lively and interesting. I have been honored to be chosen Chair and Vice Chair of this group.

Last night we put the finishing touches on the Advisory recommendation for this year. While I am proud of the work done by the committee, for about a year I have been deeply dissatisfied with the budget process, most importantly, the failure to address some of the wasteful and ineffective practices that are causing us to spend your money poorly. I had hoped that this year in light of the very difficult budget situation we would finally address some of these issues. In the end we did not. We cut paper clips and teachers but refused to seriously consider closing, consolidating or selling buildings. We trimmed services but did not take on our wasteful police cruiser plan. The list goes on and on, many of you have heard my rants before.

After 10 years of service on the Capital Budget and Advisory Committees I resigned this morning because I cannot support a budget that continues condone these wasteful practices.

I have been considering this action for some time but no one knew about my decision until this morning and, I am sorry to even have to say this, I did not get a nasty letter from Town Counsel to incent me to resign. Nothing in my actions should be considered a criticism of the other members of Advisory who labor ceaselessly on our behalf and have my respect and admiration even if I do not always agree with them.

Al Hamilton

John Boiardi
12 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

Al,

I have been away for a week missing the last meeting. I am shocked and saddened by your resignation from advisory. You have been a valuable member of the committee. Your research into the inner workings and historical trends in town finances has shown the light onto many budgetary issues giving the committee a perspective we did not always have. I can understand your frustration. I wish you would have stayed on the committe to continue the fight to bring fical change to our town.

Best wishes.

John

John Boiardi
12 years ago
Reply to  John Boiardi

Al,
Excuse my typos

Resident
12 years ago

This is a tremedous black eye for the town. An incredibly smart person who volunteeered so much of his time and effort got to the point where he could no longer deal with budget issues controlled by the bos. If we continue to lose talented volunteers with budget expertise in a time of budget crisis, the finger in the dike will break off. This is a perfect example of our town government in action.

Mark Ford
12 years ago

It has been my privilege to serve with Al for his entire tenure with Advisory. While he’s no doubt the cause of some of my grey hair, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of Southborough, and has always been ready to consider a well reasoned argument. His analysis is first rate, he digs into issues to find factual arguments, and he’s not afraid to take up a fight for what he believes is right.

I don’t think he’ll reconsider this, and that’s Southborough’s loss–his voice, though sometimes controversial, is an important one to Southborough. I hope we continue to hear from you, Al.

southsider
12 years ago

Al,

a terrible loss for the town. Here’s one guy who hopes you grab the mic at Town Meeting and make your feelings known again.
I think you can easily sway TM re: delay police car purchase for another 25k miles… maybe you can win from the florr what you couldn’t win from the stage??
Selling/consolidating buildings will be a tougher sell from the floor…. but you should try anyway!
best of luck ……… thanks for all you’ve done..

Claire Reynolds
12 years ago

Evan Lips (Reporter – Metrowest Daily News) emailed me on Friday asking for comments on Advisory’s 4/8 meeting and Al Hamilton’s resignation. I forwarded the following:

“For over 10 years, Al Hamilton has been a valuable contributor to the Town of Southborough. While working with Al on Advisory, I have seen his application of business expertise and financial knowledge to the annual budget process. Al’s contribution of countless hours attending meetings, researching topics, creating presentations and ‘educating’ is a gift to the town. His work has provided views of information, enabling Townspeople to think about their decisions. (Readers of the mysouthboroughma.com ‘blog’ certainly understand this.)

As long as I am on the Advisory Board, I know that I’ll still be calling Al to ask for his opinions and recommendations. I’m sure that the Advisory members join me in recognizing and thanking Al for his passion in serving the Town.”

Claire Reynolds
Chair
Southborough Advisory Board

Neil Rossen
12 years ago

Plain and simple, the Advisory Board has not taken a proper stand against the waste and failure to make tough decisions on the frankly ridiculous Southborough budget. It is quite clear that the Advisory Board, after much informed analysis, more or less ends up complicit in the wasteful budget proposal. No doubt this may have contributed to Al’s action.
I admit that last year was my first Town Meeting, and I was disturbed at the lack of vigor in the presentation of the Advisory Committee’s opinion on the budget. We can expect more of the same this year.

There should not even be talk any tax increase.let alone an override.

Kelly Roney
12 years ago
Reply to  Neil Rossen

Is there talk of an override? I haven’t heard any of that.

Al Hamilton
12 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Roney

The magic number is a tax increase of 4.80% anything above that number requires an override.

As of now when measured against the BOS budget we are about 27 k ahead under the cap (+ 18 for the Library and -45k for police) The Advisory budget, without the use of stabilzation, is above the 2.5 cap.

However, there remains 2 major items. First the k-8 Technology budget for 89k which I think is likely to pass. The Selectmens budget has this at 0 so that tips us into an override under the Selectmens scenario. (Not that this budget should be singled out it just happens later in the process).

The road budget will also potentially exacerbate the problem.

carrie
12 years ago

Al, your stepping down is a significant loss to the townspeople, your knowledge base is vast and while some may not have agreed with you the open discussions your information has provided–the springboards of conversation and countless banter–will be missed. I know that i for one have often times been on this blog and said aloud, “did not know that” after reading one of his posts.
I am another town resident who hopes you grab the mic at Town Meeting (i will cheer even though i am not supposed to) especially when the article comes up about the police car–.
i wish you the best

Annette Flaherty
12 years ago

I write this because you should know that there are many silent observers who have benefitted from your analysis and communication of important budget issues in Southborough. It is not just money; balancing priorities affect services for everyone. The disconnect between Advisory views and the BOS is worthy of further exploration. Why is Advisory being marginalized?

I am not as immersed in town politics as many yet seek to educate myself as much as possible. You have certainly helped that effort via this blog. Thank you for the immense amount of time, much of it out of the spotlight, that you have spent working on our behalf. Thank you as well for patiently and passionately communicating for the rest of us here. I’m hoping that your voice is not silenced, but amplified in some way. See everyone tonight at TM!

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