BCTF candidate at Candidates Night (Updated)

Above: Sam Stivers answered voters questions about his running to replace Bill Boland, who didn’t attend the forum. (photo by Beth Melo)

Here’s my final post about Thursday’s Candidates Night.

As I previously noted, the segment on Board of Commissioners of Trust Funds featured only Sam Stivers. (Bill Boland informed the Trustees the night prior that he would be working late that night.)

Moderator Janey Maney opened the discussion with a description of the lesser known board.

The board manages 21 trust funds currently totaling about $4M. These trusts have been created by individuals over the past many decades, typically as part of their estate distributed by their wills when they died. Funds from these trusts, usually only the income not the principal amounts, can be spent only for specific purposes that they’ve designated. These purposes include Cemetery Maintenance, Aid to the Needy, and Scholarships. The board approves grants from these trusts, recently totaling about $15,000 annually, and supports other groups such as the scholarship committee as they approve Grant applications for these trust funds. It’s a three-member board with one position becoming available each year and there are two candidates for the current Year’s position.

Stivers’ introduction referenced his membership on the Select Board and other past committees he has served on. 

Explaining his motivation, he stated that he was doing it “for the money”. He followed:

I think there’s opportunity out there to create an endowment structure for philanthropy in town. . . there’s been no new money going into those trust funds because it’s difficult to do from a legal standpoint. no new trust funds have been established for decades now

Stivers said he’d like the board to create a few funds for specific purposes that people can contribute to, to take pressure off the tax base. He noted that it isn’t a quick fix, but won’t happen if you don’t start the process.

The candidate said our community is generous and we have some very wealthy residents. He believes there may be interest in making donations or doing estate planning to support the funds. 

Oleg Sheyner said that $15K on a $4M principal doesn’t seem like a lot. He asked if Stivers was considering any changes to how the principal is invested. 

Stivers responded that he has a financial background and agrees the interest is disappointing. He explained that there are regulations constraining how funds are invested. But he is interested in finding structures that give more flexibility for a better rate of return.

Patricia Burns Fiore said had intended to ask Boland a question but would direct it to Stivers instead. Raising Boland’s violation of the Open Meeting Law (as Chair of the Public Works Planning Board) she asked Stivers whether following state law was important to him. She also asked whether he believed the BCTF had stalled and how he would change that

Stivers said following the law was important to him. He didn’t answer if the board had stalled, but indicated that the members on the board that aren’t up for reelection seemed interested in moving in the direction he is talking about.

Marguerite Landry asked what new areas other than scholarships he was interested in using the funds for. He suggested that Recreation would make sense as one people might like to support investment in and maintenance of recreation facilities. Possibly also for Affordable Housing as they look to use the Affordable Housing Trust Fund for potential projects.

Stivers cautioned it could take years to build funds but also noted it was worth asking some residents who sold their businesses for over a billion dollars about their interest.

To watch the Southborough Access Media video of the discussion, click here.

You can also look for more of my election coverage here, and find the Town’s election page here.

Updated (5/8/23 8:36 am): You can find both Stivers’ and Boland’s Candidates Statements here.

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