Doreen Goodrich: Candidate for Selectman
Doreen Goodrich is a candidate for re-election to the Board of Selectmen. She is currently in her third term as selectman, and currently serves as the Board Chairman. Goodrich is the Director of Constituent Services for State Senator Michael O. Moore.
Originally from Shrewsbury, Goodrich moved to Auburn in 1989 and immediately became involved with town organizations.
“I was involved with Here We Grow preschool and with the PTO at Bryn Mawr and Julia Bancroft when my children attended” says Goodrich. “I was involved with soccer, scouts, vacation Bible school, I was always involved in town.
Goodrich was elected a Town Meeting member where she served until being elected a Selectman in 2009.
What do you feel are the top issues facing the Board of Selectmen?
We need to continue with the long-term planning and the financial policies that have been implemented by the town administration. Auburn is one of the few communities where the School Department works so closely with the municipal side. You often see an ‘us versus them’ when it comes to town budgets. But not in Auburn. The School Committee, Finance Committee, Board of Selectmen and administration have joint meetings and have worked closely to develop a long-term plan.
The plan includes financial and capital improvements so we can continue maintaining but also improving our town facilities. Auburn’s conservative financial policies have played a key role allowing us to do this. Our excellent bond rating allows us to save taxpayers thousands in interest on borrowing for things like the new schools. I think Auburn has great leadership right now, and we are holding our reserves right at the 20% recommended by the rating agencies. This has directly led to our strong bond ratings.
When I first ran for selectman, roads were the big issue I kept hearing, and there was no real plan in place. Now there is a 20 year plan in place to resurface, reconstruct and maintain all the roads, and Auburn is one of the few area communities to supplement the state Chapter 90 funds with municipal funds. Roads are always an issue, but before 2008, there was not even a plan.
Auburn’s property tax rate is one of the higher ones in our area. How do you address this concern?
Auburn’s budget and tax rates have been rising at about the same rate as surrounding communities. The difference is, other towns are seeking [proposition 2 ½ ] overrides just to meet their operating budgets, that’s without any capital improvements or putting additional money into roads or other areas. Auburn is meeting its operating budget, capital improvement budget, and contributing additional money to the Chapter 90 funds received for roads, all while keeping the levy well under the 2.5% levy limit. Auburn has not taxed to the levy limit in 5 or 6 years, at least.
Another factor is our dual tax rate, which we have been working to reduce. We value our businesses and our residents. We can’t go to a single tax rate overnight – it would devastate residential taxpayers. At the same time we have to balance the business needs and keep Auburn an attractive place to do business. So the move toward a single tax rate has been going on for years, and will go on for several more, but yes that impacts residential taxpayers.
Auburn is also paying off two schools – the high school and the newer middle school. We also had to contribute to the Baypath [Regional Technical Vocational High School] renovations, as we are part of that district. There is the Southhold Meadows acquisition. Adjusting for those items, which were all passed by voters, the tax rate would be about $16.86. That is in line with surrounding and many area communities.
What would you improve in local government?
I would like to see more people get involved, to see how their local government works and understand how it works. There are always a number of board and committee vacancies. I’d like to help get more people to invest in the community and learn the process. I helped on the Citizen Leadership Academy that started this past spring, and 17 people are going through that program now. It shows people where their taxes go and helps then gain knowledge, and knowledge is power. The town also offers a Citizens Police Academy and Citizens Fire Academy – which I have done – that also give unique insight into how these departments work.
What do you feel you personally bring to the Board?
Most importantly, I deeply care about the quality of life in Auburn. I live here, it’s my home. I am also accessible. I am responsive to residents and do my very best to assist however I can. I bring experience, having served three terms on the BOS. I also have a strong professional understanding of policy, procedure, state ethics laws, open meeting law, Robert’s Rules, and the Town of Auburn Charter as amended in 2009. The charter changes that residents voted for in 2009 modified the BOS role, and selectmen must understand that role as defined in the charter. I have that understanding and I fulfill that role to the best of my ability.
Kenneth Holstrom – Candidate for Selectman
Ken Holstrom is an Auburn native. He served as an Auburn firefighter for 42 years. He has been involved in town government in numerous capacities since 1969. He has been a town meeting member, emergency management director, school committee member, served on the charter committee, school buildings committee and emergency planning committees. He is seeking his third term on the Board of Selectmen, where he has served as the Chair and Vice Chair over the course of the last six years.
What do you think best qualifies you as a Selectman?
I’m excited. I love Auburn. My roots grow deep here. This town is awesome. Right now, we have a great town manager and a great CFO together with a great team. I am excited to continue the work we have been doing. I have a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities of a Selectman and will continue to work cooperatively with the town administration to keep Auburn moving in the positive direction it has been moving over the last eight years.
What do you feel are the top issues facing the Board of Selectmen in the coming years?
We need to stay focused on the sound financial policies and other policies drafted by the administration and brought to the Board. The financial policy has been saving taxpayers money, keeping a balanced budget, and keeping tax increases well below the 2.5% allowed by Proposition 2 ½. The Town Meeting has been supporting the budgets with very little pushback, which I credit to the work of the administration being open and thorough. It shows the Town Meeting members and elected officials have a lot of trust and confidence in the administration, as they should.
I think that balancing the desire to continue to move toward a single tax rate to keep our community an attractive place to do business, while also being fair to resident homeowners is one of the most challenging items. I’m retired now, so I am one of those on a fixed income. I am concerned about taxes like everyone. We have to be fair to both sides [business and residential], and that will alwsy be a challenge.
We need to continue to take care of obligations such as the retiree benefits. That was neglected for years, but we have been taking care of that every year now for the past few years, so we are on the right track. We just need to maintain our fiscal policy so that we have the money to reinvest in capital improvements, take care of our equipment and facilities, and we are able to do that in our budget. A lot of towns can’t. The way we are doing things costs taxpayers a lot less in the long run because of interest, and when we do borrow we are getting the best rates because of our strong bond rating. We need the boards and administration to keep working as a team like we have been so we can keep moving forward.
What would you improve in local government?
I’d like to see us continue improving facilities and roads. We are doing upgrades and repairs; the Town takes care of the buildings and equipment and property. That shows Auburn is a progressive town, that we have it together. We need to continue our long-term plan for the town.
Our DPW does an amazing job, and they are manpower short. Auburn has been adding internal funds to the Chapter 90 funds for maintaining roads, which is great. I think we can maintain that policy and keep building the DPW, and that will allow us to keep maintaining and improving our roads.
What will you personally bring to the Board?
I bring experience and I am excited to continue working for Auburn. I was a firefighter for 42 years and have been serving different positions in town for almost 50 years. I know the different departments and how they operate. I have seen a lot of changes in town affairs since 1969. I think that the town administration under the direction of Town Manager Julie Jacobson has done an excellent job Auburn forward. Auburn’s solid financial standing is no accident. The Town Manager and CFO Ed Kazanovicz. We are fortunate to have these two professional leaders in Auburn.
I’m excited we have a new economic development director, and we will see more positive changes as a result. I want to continue the work we have started with this great team and to keep Auburn moving forward.
Wayne Page – Candidate for Selectman
Mr. Page declined to be interviewed for a candidate profile, answer any questions or provide any information