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Selectmen Return to Silence on West Suburban Health Group

by William Dowd
February 4, 2013

After a broad and non-specific commentary from Chairman Jay Marsden at the Selectmen's meeting on January 23rd, the Board once again conducted an official meeting on January 30 - it's TENTH meeting since my inquiries of October 3, 2012 - and didn't even mention the West Suburban Health Group.

Even before last week’s awkward commentary from Chairman Marsden, I wrote to the WSHG Chairman of the Board, Marc Waldman, who is also the Treasurer/Collector for the Town of Wellesley. Having had zero response from Holliston officials, I thought going to the leader of the Group would be appropriate. Mr. Waldman is also identified in the Group's audit as the person to whom questions should be directed.

On January 24, 2013, Mr. Waldman replied to my letter, and also did not respond to any of my concerns or questions. Surprisingly, he referred me to the Holliston officials who participate in the Group meetings - the very people who've had nothing to say on this subject since October 3, 2012.

The unwillingness of anyone associated with the WSHG to answer questions, explain their operations, or describe their financial arrangements is simply unacceptable.  It only exacerbates a sense that there's a discomfort in addressing this topic - even among those who run the Group. What are they hiding and why?

The Group has accumulated a completely unnecessary $21 million in an unrestricted surplus - $1.1 million of that belonging to Holliston employees and taxpayers- by overcharging the Town for one of the most expensive things in the budget, it holds a one sided contract where the Town bears deficits but forfeits surpluses, and its FY11 audit disclosed a financial reporting deficiency.

And just when you think is can’t get any worse, consider this. The Board of Selectmen reviewed the employee benefits budget at its meeting this past Wednesday. This is the budget through which millions of dollars flow to WSHG. Neither the Group nor any of my concerns were even mentioned. This, despite assurances from Chairman Marsden back in November that Board was coming up to its "usual annual review" of WSHG - a review that in fact, has not occurred for at least the last two years.

I still don't know why our elected officials on the Board of Selectmen and FinCom won't engage on this subject, but the longer the silence continues, the more worried we all should be.
 

 

Posted in Comments.

Comments (1)

Thanks for continuing your spotlight on this '3rd rail' topic! It is difficult to comprehend why our appointed leaders are more interested in farewell parties for Towm employess and dissecting the the merits of fencing heights at Grasshopper Lansdscaping then actually accomplishing something that is MEANINGFUL to our town. Granted, it is a volunteer position and I commend all for donating their services in helping to operate our town, but if they are not willing to face the difficult challenges presented, then I beleive they should admit this to us (perhaps they are by their silence on this topic!?) and not run for this important office again. They certainly didn't bargain for having a knowledgeable and outspoken person attending all their meetings and reporting on their lack of progress on this HOT and costly topic. Other towns have begun their pursuit for the monetary overages due to them... Why not Holliston? There are 21 million reasons for WSHG to keep dodging this issue... $1,100,000 might actually help Hollistonians somehow! Why is it OK to keep ignoring Bill Dowd and his justified questions??? THANK YOU BILL!!

- Tax Payer | 2/5/13 2:38 PM

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