Archive 2008 - 2019

Holliston Legislation to Assist with Long-term Fiscal Planning Signed into Law

by Leah Robins

“Holliston residents and town officials have made a strong statement that they are committed to protecting the town’s economic future and meeting its commitments to employees. With this legislation, the town is showing real leadership in addressing OPEB liability and laying the groundwork for long-term fiscal stability," said Representative Carolyn Dykema. “It’s been great working with the town to implement this forward-thinking initiative.”

“This legislation allows Holliston to take the important step of ensuring that the retirement system continues to be a valuable benefit for all of our public sector employees,” said Senator Karen Spilka. “We have a responsibility to uphold security and fairness for retirees, and I am pleased that Holliston is now able to further demonstrate this commitment to the public employees in our community.”

Representative Carolyn Dykema and Senator Karen Spilka worked with town officials to file the legislation at the request of Holliston’s Special Town Meeting.  The new legislation allows Holliston to create its own OPEB trust fund for setting aside savings to pay for retirement benefits of its current and future employees. The legislation also enables the Town to invest funds not currently due to retirees, to seek advice from actuaries and accountants, and to retain interest gained on the trust’s holdings.

“This is certainly a step in the right direction for the Town of Holliston, and one that allows us to stay the course and continue to help ensure that we can honor our future obligations to Town employees,” said Selectmen Jay Marsden on behalf of the Holliston Board of Selectmen. “At the same time, a long term vision like this does not come without continued corresponding near term fiscal austerity. We are grateful to our legislative partners Carolyn and Karen, who continue to be supportive of our efforts.”

“This is an important component of the Town’s long term plan to fully fund all of its obligations while maintaining adequate reserves,” said Holliston Town Administrator Paul LeBeau.

Across the Commonwealth, many cities and towns are considering how to address similar concerns with debt related to employee pensions and retirement benefits such as healthcare.  A recently published report by a legislatively established Special Commission to Study Retiree Healthcare and Other Non-Pension Benefits highlighted the significant shortfall faced by many municipalities in saving for their OPEB obligations. The estimated total unfunded municipal liability statewide is approximately $30 billion.  OPEB refers to all benefits, other than pensions, that retirees receive and largely consists of retiree health insurance.