Selectmen Return to Silence on West Suburban Health Group
by William Dowd 2/4/13
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.
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