Hingham Anchor Opinion by Chrissy Roberts
Town Meeting Is The New Coachella
Town Meeting is the new Coachella. OK, I may be exaggerating a bit, but it is long, sometimes boring, sometimes riveting, and loaded with colorful characters. If you’ve never been, hands down this is the one to go to. The water company vote will impact generations to come. Why should you care?
In 2012 the Board of Selectmen realized that water mains were not being replaced in a timely manner, emergency breaks were frequent, yet our water rates were the fifth highest in the state. They thought we could probably do better and launched a Study Committee to find out. Several years of litigation determined a purchase price and thousands of hours of research confirmed that this was the smart move for Hingham.
This is where you come in.
We rely on our dedicated town officials and volunteers to research and make decisions with one goal: doing what’s best for Hingham and its citizens. Their overwhelming answer is that buying the water company makes sense for many reasons, but we need 2/3 of you to show up and vote YES at Town Meeting.
We can afford it. Instead of paying shareholder profit we’ll pay off the bond. After 30 years we own the asset and save many millions. It’s like leasing forever versus buying and paying off the mortgage. It does NOT impact taxes, does not raise water rates higher than Aquarion's, and does not impact other projects like Foster School.
We can run it. Here was the big ah-ha moment for me. Over 96% of other Massachusetts towns already do this. Do you think Hingham is a good place to live? Do you find that your friends in other towns lose power for days when we don’t? We are an incredibly well run town and already run one utility very well - HMLP.
But the biggest reason to buy it? Local control. Climate change is worsening. Water is becoming more scarce. Who do we want making future decisions about our precious and critical resource - outside investors or local citizens? Aquarion is accountable to shareholders. I would rather have the people who pay for the water, drink the water, bathe their kids in the water and rely on the water making these decisions. Hingham can do this. As one expert has said, we NEED to do this.
So please join me at Town Meeting at the high school on 4/22. Consider booking a sitter so all voters can come - 2/3 is a big hurdle. It’ll be a late night so bring a snack. But a few hours to spare for generations of benefit is a good deal. What if you don’t show and we lose by one vote? What if every time there is brown water or another main break you think, would this have been different if the town took control? We need you. It may not be Coachella, but you will get to hear the words aquifer, stewardship and watershed ‘sung’ to your heart’s content!