Q: Why hasn't anyone, including the Selectmen, seen their new financial model?
A: The answer to that is unclear since taxpayers paid for it. The Selectmen's presentation, which corrected their $90 million in errors, was simply a summary. No one in Hingham has seen the detailed financial model, including the Selectmen. Residents have been asking for it out of concern that there may be additional errors, but their requests have been ignored.
Q: How unusual would our arrangement with Hull and Cohasset be?
A: It would be unprecedented and highly risky. Hingham would become the only water system in Massachusetts to manage all aspects of the water supply and service - including setting rates and maintaining infrastructure - for other towns. An inter-municipal agreement could provide some protections for all parties involved. However, for some reason the Selectmen have stated that one will not be put in place.
Q: Would we lose protections under Town ownership?
A: Yes. The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) oversees all rate increases proposed by privately-owned utilities and ensures equitable investment in infrastructure. The Attorney General acts as a consumer advocate and protects our interests. That independent oversight would go away completely. The town-owned Scituate water company has run amok with skyrocketing rates and deteriorating water quality.
Q: How much public discussion has there been on this issue?
A: Aquarion has held many public forums in the past year alone. To date, the Town of Hingham has held none. Additionally, the Water Company Acquisition Study Committee has only met twice in the past two years - once in January 2017 and once in May 2018 in executive session.
In 2014, the Board of Selectmen created the WCASC to explore the financial, governance and engineering components of the purchase of the water company and to share those results with Hingham voters. There is no record of them having done any of this in legal open meetings.
Q: Didn't I hear a WCASC presentation at a recent house party?
A: WCASC members are bound by their own principles of operation and are charged with the task of remaining impartial. If any member is unable to abide by this charge and disseminate information at an official public town meeting in an impartial manner, they should be replaced. A private house party put on by Citizens for Hingham Water does not constitute an official, public town meeting.