Ken Holstrom – Candidate for Selectman
What do you feel qualifies you to be an Auburn Selectman?
Auburn is my home. I’ve spent a good part of my life serving the town in various capacities: call firefighter, town meeting member, emergency management director, school committee member, charter committee, school buildings committee and emergency planning committees, and I am finishing my first three year term on the Board of Selectmen.
I love Auburn. My roots grow deep here. 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 five years.
What would you improve in local government?
I think that the town administration under the direction of Town Manager Julie Jacobson has done an excellent job over the last five years of moving Auburn forward, creating efficiencies and reducing costs in almost every area of local government.
Now that we are on the cusp of meeting our school facility needs with the completion of the new middle school and the renovated Swanson Road Intermediate School, I would like to see the town concentrate on some of the other department facility and personnel needs, particularly the public works department which has been understaffed for many years. I would also like to find an appropriate reuse for Mary D. Stone and Julia Bancroft schools, and continue to work with and support the town administration on achieving additional efficiencies in town operations.
What do you feel are the top two issues facing the Board of Selectmen?
I think that balancing the need for tax relief for our senior citizen homeowners against the desire to continue to move toward a single tax rate to keep our community an attractive place to do business is one of the most challenging.
Because of increases in debt service from the new high school, new middle school and Bay Path renovations as well as the purchase of the land off Pakachoag Street, Auburn homeowners and businesses alike are seeing increases in their tax bills of almost 1.75% outside the limits of proposition 2 ½.
Setting an equitable tax rate in the coming years will be crucial. In addition, I think that working together amicably as a Board in the best interest of the town has been and will continue to be a challenge.
What will you personally bring to the Board?
I will bring not only my love for Auburn but also a strong commitment to continue to work hard for the town, I will be responsive to questions and concerns of residents, be open minded to different opinions, and will listen carefully to the recommendations of the professionals who manage our community in order to make well thought out and informed decisions on any of the issues that come before the board.
Do you have any suggestions to keep Auburn on its solid financial track?
Auburn’s solid financial standing is no accident. It is the result of strategic, careful financial planning led by the Town Manager and CFO Ed Kazanovicz. We are so fortunate to have these two highly professional leaders managing the town’s finances.
As a member of the Board of Selectmen I will continue to follow their advice as it relates to financial policies and procedures to ensure continued upgrades to the town’s bond rating which will result in significant savings to Auburn’s taxpayers. The most recent upgrade to AA+ has already saved the town $3 million in interest costs over the ten-year life of the borrowing for the high school. That is real savings for us all.