Selectmen Seek Funding for Stormwater Accounting: Should We Give It to Them?

Article 6 on the warrant for Westford’s Special Town Meeting on October 28th seeks to support a decision made by the Board of Selectmen to initiate a fee program to pay for storm-water infrastructure upgrades mandated by the EPA. This article should be opposed.  We all want clean water, but the fee program is a controversial venture, which sets aside a long-standing principle of town government, that tax proposals shall originate in the legislative body (Town Meeting), not the executive body (the selectmen).

At the heart of this issue is the question of whether the fee program is a fee or a tax?    Despite town counsel’s assurance that it is a fee, questions remain that raise reasonable doubt about this claim. The fee program will impose a levy on all property owners in town, even non-profits, based upon the amount of “impervious surface”. This is the total square footage of the roof over your head, and the hardtop on your driveway.  The concern is a Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling called the “Emerson Rule,” which provides a clear legal line of demarcation between fees and taxes.   The former are financial assessments made upon subscribers for voluntary services rendered by a municipality.  If assessments are mandatory then the so-called fee is a tax.

The Board of Selectmen have offered assurances, that the fee program is voluntary, because it offers credits for property owners, who make improvements to curb storm-water runoff.  The credits are limited, however, and cannot be extended to all property owners because the funding program might collapse.  Additionally, the alterations needed to defray the assessment are so cost prohibitive for most home owners, that they render the claim of voluntariness illusionary.  If someone challenges the fee system under the Emerson rule and succeeds, the town could find itself in a financial world of hurt.  The revenue collected could conceivably have to be returned.  There is a better way.

The town can establish a Municipal Water Infrastructure Investment Fund. It would work like the CPA.  Each property tax payer would be assessed a surcharge, set by town meeting and ratified by town wide vote, preserving legislative authority over taxation.  Taxpayers would have notice of any changes in the surcharge.  Increases would have to come before the voters for approval.  In contrast,  the selectmen’s fee system is under their sole control and can be increased at their whim.  The only way you will know about an increase is when you receive a bill.  This is administrative taxation. If we are forced to raise this money, let’s do it in a way that preserves the town meeting’s fundamental right to decide local tax issues.  Vote No on this article. Send this matter back to the Selectmen with a strong message that Town Meeting does not wish to gamble with the law, and will jealously guard its traditional authority to tax.

– Dennis Galvin


The Green “New Steal” is here.  Like a stealthy, aggressive weed it will be creeping into the municipal budgets of all 350 cities and towns in this Commonwealth and will soon start sucking the financial lifeblood out of taxpayers.  Most of them won’t even know it.   Like a famished lamprey, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will be directly attaching itself to each and every municipal budget in the Commonwealth, forcing local officials to pay for compliance with its storm-water management mandates.  Under the Clean Water Act, the federal government has the authority to hold municipalities responsible for the purity of water run-off, that flows into lakes, rivers and streams after it rains.

What happened to federalism you say, the principle that keeps the federal government out of our backyard ?    Your ever progressive state legislature opened the door to direct EPA oversight back in 2013 by declining a state option to take over storm-water compliance, making Massachusetts only one of four states to do so.   The legislature refused to assume this responsibility, which would have allowed for more flexibility in compliance and a far less financial impact on municipalities.  They rejected it because it would have entailed a 9.5M state budget commitment. They had better things to do with your tax money, than to ensure clean water.   That decision subjected your city and town to direct oversight by the EPA, something that generally happens only by court order.

As the program rolls out, it is being met by a wide range of responses.   As to be expected, Milton and Brookline happily coughed up the money.   Lowell and Franklin, however, raised objections and are appealing the assessment of the EPA.   The Dracut Town Meeting approved an enterprise fund for compliance, but failed to put any money in it.    Many cities and towns aren’t even aware of the assessments yet.

One of the most surreptitious compliance schemes offered thus far, is that undertaken by the Town of Westford MA.   They intend to fund the compliance effort through the imposition of mandatory fees on every property owner, who maintains a roof over their head, or a hardtop driveway in their yard.  This approach makes King George III’s “tea tax” appear whimpish.  To get out of the tea tax, all you had to do was give up tea.  To get out of Westford’s “rain tax”, you have tear up your driveway and remove the roof on your home.

In an upcoming fall town meeting, the Westford selectmen will roll out a fee schedule, that will pro-rate assessments based upon estimated units of “impervious surface”, which is the total amount of hardtop and roofing on a particular property.  This wily approach is fraught with some risk.   The most obvious is that the fee scheme may actually be a de-facto property tax, which would by law require the selectmen to move forward utilizing the proposition 2 ½ override process.  The Westford selectmen don’t want to go through that, because they fear the measure might not pass.  Instead, they have decided to portray their financial imposition as a fee, which allows them not only to circumvent the proposition 2 ½ process, but  leaves the Town Meeting out of the rate setting discussion altogether, hence taxation without representation.

This gambit runs the risk that their fee scheme may be challenged under the Emerson Rule, a decision by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts,  which requires among other things that fees be voluntary.   Those assessed must have a chance to opt out.    The selectmen claim that they meet this legal standard because they are willing to grant reductions to property owners for improvements that reduce storm water flow on any particular property.  Their argument is illusionary however, because they have admitted that the amount of credits they can grant is limited.  At some point a financial wall will be met, where the granting of credits will undermine the funding for the compliance effort, and no further deferments can be given.

To  gain a deferment, property owners would have to make significant investments to reconstruct their driveways and roofs, which for many would be cost prohibitive.  If the selectmen lose this gambit and someone successfully sues, a state court could order the return of all the revenue gained, putting the town in a financial world of hurt.

And what will this new revenue pay for ?    Based on a roll out of anticipated expenditures in Westford, about 25% of the new funds will be earmarked for new staff and administrative equipment to issue compliance reports to the federal government.  Another 25% will go to relieve current financial commitments on infrastructure bonds.  The rest will be directed to actual operations, which involve purchasing street sweepers, up-scaling culverts and mains, and installing electronic leak detection equipment.  Municipal Department heads love this proposal because it will free previously encumbered general fund revenue for redistribution in the town budget making this in effect a backdoor proposition 2 ½ override.

This is a snapshot of the turmoil that has arisen due to the decision by our state legislature to defer jurisdiction over federal storm-water compliance.  Perhaps what is most unfair, is the fact that state roads and highways are perhaps the most significant contributors to storm water runoff.  Rather than assume their rightful financial responsibility for this, our legislature decided to push this onto local taxpayers.  If you are interested in how this matter is being handled by your city or town, contact the person in charge of your municipal water infrastructure, or your assessor and ask them.  Some municipalities have levied the assessment administratively, without anyone even knowing.  If you notice that your family budget is missing a few hundred dollars at the end of the year, it’s a good bet it was probably appropriated by the “Green New Steal”.

– Dennis Galvin

Proposed MA Bill Turns Colleges Into Abortion-Mills on Your Dime

On September 10, 2019, there was a hearing on House Bill 3841, titled “An Act to require public universities to provide medication abortion.” This bill would require all of our public college and university campuses to fund abortion centers for chemically-induced abortions.

There is significant concern over the safety of chemically-induced abortions. This can be a grueling multi-day process where a drug is given orally at the first office visit. The pill causes the lining of the uterus to break down. Then, tablets are taken orally or inserted vaginally about 36 to 72 hours after the first pill. The tablets cause contractions that expel a dead baby. Painful and risky side effects include cramping, contractions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heavy bleeding, hemorrhage, and infection. The procedure is unsuccessful up to 10% of the time with the potential of requiring an additional, risky surgical procedure. This terrible process that girls and young women go through can make them feel ashamed, frightened, alone, and forsaken. To call these facilities “health centers” is a misnomer, unless you think that killing infant human beings and forcing mothers to go through dangerous multi-day procedures is health.

This Bill would lead to more abortion-industry PROFIT without regard for the suffering of our young mothers and the condemning-to-death of babies growing in the womb. To the abortion industry, chemical abortions are a quick, cheap product they can sell, requiring no surgical equipment, doctor, or hospital. Our college students, who are unsuspecting consumers, are given every reason under the sun to go through with abortion. What mothers really need are resources to help them financially, emotionally, and physically to have the baby and keep it or give it up for adoption to a loving family. Fortunately, there are many such pregnancy centers throughout Massachusetts to help mothers in need.

With this proposed law, tuition and fees would be used to fund abortions. College administrators would have no recourse or ability to adjust to parental concerns. As if tuition and fees aren’t already high enough, now they would be increased along with your added tax dollars to pay for abortions. In effect, this bill turns public university and college health centers into abortion mills. Our daughters deserve better than the horror being pushed by the abortion industry. You will see the reality of chemical (and surgical) abortions by watching the movie, Unplanned, which depicts the personal and career life of Abby Johnson a past Planned Parenthood Director. Challenge your legislators to go see Unplanned HERE. Let them know you are opposed to colleges and universities being made into abortion mills as depicted so well in the movie.

There is a ballot initiative happening right now to help stop taxpayer funded abortion. 100,000 signatures are needed by November 20, 2019 to get this measure on the 2022 ballot. Please sign up to volunteer HERE.  You can find more information at

– Kathy Lynch

Galvin Seeks Second Term On Massachusetts Republican State Committee

DGalvin_FILE PHOTOGRAI have decided to run for re-election as your representative to the Massachusetts Republican State Committee.  Since 2016, when I was first elected, a lot has happened in our nation and state.  Confidence in our Federal government has eroded, following an attempt to remove our elected President from office, through rogue actions of the FBI, CIA and Justice Department.   Our President has faced vicious personal attacks on a daily basis intended to undermine his efforts to bring security and prosperity to our people.   Our state government finds itself in crisis as recent revelations about the MBTA, the Mass State Police and the Registry of Motor Vehicles, demonstrate massive incompetence and corruption.  Radicals are espousing the curtailment of our basic rights, and in some case are encouraging violence to intimidate our citizens from expressing themselves, and from participating in our democracy.  The Republican party has become their primary target.

I have been very active trying to meet the challenges we face as a society and as a party.  Our first order of business must be to organize and develop an effective party organization that can hold government accountable, and defend against the assaults we are facing daily. The Massachusetts Republican Party has for the last decade been unable to do this, consequently your liberty, prosperity, safety and security are at risk.

However, there is cause for hope.  In January of 2019, following the most disastrous political year the party has ever experienced, I along with other reformers were able to elect former state representative Jim Lyons as chair.  Since taking office, he has worked tirelessly to identify and correct problems within the party, which have impeded its effectiveness.   He is facing serious challenges in his effort to do this and will need strong support from the state committee membership.  I intend to provide that support.  He has included me on his reform team.  I have recently been appointed as chair of the by- law committee and I am now a member of the Executive Committee.

After all the struggle, sacrifice and frustration, that we have shared over the course of the many years of our mutual political efforts, there is finally a real opportunity to bring the people of Massachusetts an authentic and competitive Republican party.  I need your continued support in order to do my part to make this happen.  I am asking for your vote during the Massachusetts Presidential primary in March of 2020.    Thank you.

Dennis J. Galvin
First Middlesex
Republican State Committee

Kathy Lynch Announces Republican State Committee Race

Kathy Lynch announces candidacy for March 3rd, 2020 Republican State Committeewoman election

Chair of the Westford Republican Town Committee, Kathy Lynch has achieved the necessary certified signatures to join President Trump on the Republican Presidential Primary Ballot on Super Tuesday. Kathy Lynch looks forward to meeting the voters of the First Middlesex District of Lowell, Groton, Tyngsborough, Pepperell, Dunstable, and her hometown of Westford.

Kathy Lynch.jpgLynch declared, “As a former Republican candidate for State Representative, I understand firsthand the critical need for a strong base of organized Republican activists to break the Democrat super-majority riddling our Commonwealth with corruption and a lack of governmental transparency. Each Republican City and Town committee needs the resources, guidance, and support to grow, and then support Republican candidates up and down the ticket. My experience with multiple Republican campaigns can help other Republican candidates achieve success on Election Day!”

Lynch helped organize and conduct a number of recent political leadership and activist trainings to teach participants how the political process works and to equip and empower them to be effective change agents for life, liberty and overall good government. Recently, Lynch attended rallies at the Boston State House and testified against several bills that threaten the protection of life and go against the rule of law. Said Lynch, “I’m appalled at the utter lack of respect for life and the rule of law that is displayed in this predominantly-leftist legislature. We need more conservatives standing up for what we believe is right and true. I, for one, will do my part to help make that happen.” The vote for Republican State Committeewoman will occur at the 2020 Presidential Primary on Super Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020 — just six months from now.

The Republican State Committee is the governing body of the Massachusetts Republican Party and is comprised of one man and one woman from every State Senate District across the Commonwealth. The responsibilities include voting on the party platform and rules, building the party, and recruiting and supporting candidates at every level of government. The Massachusetts Republican Party is now under new leadership with Chairman Jim Lyons, a former State Representative intensely focused on growing the conservative grassroots. Many, including Lynch, are happy with the reform and new direction of the party under his leadership.

To learn more about the Vote Kathy Lynch campaign, visit Pitch in by emailing her at

MassGOP stands with the Boston Police Department

Sept. 3, 2019

BOSTON — Democrats are siding with individuals who engaged in mob tactics during this past weekend’s mayhem in downtown Boston, a predictable yet disturbing development.

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, the newest member of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, has quickly shown she’s the most radical, too. Pressley most recently moved to mount a legal defense fund via an anarchist bookstore for nearly 40 individuals criminally charged Saturday.

“It’s telling that the Radical Democrats are siding with the same mob that spat upon, tossed bottles of urine at, and assaulted Boston police officers,” Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons said. “What’s clear to me is that these individuals came to Boston to cause trouble, found it, and now Democrats don’t want them to face the consequences.

“They have no concept of personal responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins is refusing to press charges against these same individuals.

Saturday’s event, the so-called “Straight Pride” parade, drew thousands of counterprotesters, including many from out-of-state. A Boston Municipal Court judge is currently standing in the way of efforts by prosecutors under Rollins’ direction to dismiss criminal charges. Nine individuals have been charged with committing assault and battery on police officers, while four officers were treated for injuries.

“These individuals learned the hard way that Boston is nothing like Portland, Oregon, or any of the other cities that have given in to left-wing mob mayhem,” Lyons said. “Meanwhile, radical Democrats like Rep. Pressley want to reward this bad behavior. Boston Police officers should be commended for doing their job and protecting this city.”


Selectmen and Finance Committee to Go on Record With Recommendations This August

The discussion about how to fund compliance costs for an EPA imposed management plan continues in earnest this month.  The Board of Selectmen have decided to delay their decision on whether to back a fee or a tax approach until their August 27, 2019 meeting.   The Finance Committee will also opine on this issue at a meeting scheduled for 7.00PM at Town Hall on Tuesday August 13th.  One issue for discussion is town counsel’s recent report, which endorsed imposition of the fee approach.  However, the report contained information that would seem to undermine town counsel’s own position.

Town Counsel revealed that the Massachusetts Department of Revenue took issue with the “fee” approach.  The Department has apparently informed the town that the proposed “fee” scheme is “a tax not a fee”.   Additionally, town counsel’s analysis of the so-called “Emerson Rule”, a rule established by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, to differentiate between fees and taxes,  offered substantial ammunition to anyone, who might seek to challenge the “fee”.   The analysis presented a three pronged test, established by the state’s highest court,  to determine the difference between fees and taxes.

One element of the test is “particularization”.  Under this element, the town must show that any fee imposed on a rate payer, goes to support a service, which exclusively benefits the rate payer, and no one else.  If it can be shown that the service offers benefits beyond the rate payer, the fee is a tax.  Considering the fact that the stated intent of the storm-water program is to ensure clean water for the entire population, not just the rate payers, it would seem that an argument could be made that a fee system would fail this test.

A second test is “voluntariness”.   The town must show that the property owners, who are assessed fees, have the opportunity to refuse the service.  This is an extremely high bar that the “fee” proponents must clear.  Town counsel has advised the Board of Selectmen, that property owners can avoid the fee by removing all impervious surfaces on their properties.   Yet, this would be cost prohibitive for many.  In order to avoid the fee, property owners would have to tear-up all their hardtop, and make significant modifications to their roofs.  On its face this would appear absurd and hardly voluntary.  The rate payers would be forced into these expensive modifications, because of a compulsion generated by state action.  If the town’s property owners did remove or mitigate their impervious surfaces, and fees were avoided, the storm-water compliance effort would collapse according to Keith Reidling, the town’s consultant.  It is obvious that the proponents of the “fee approach” are betting on this subtle, but effective element of economic coercion to fund their program.

The third test is “specific compensation”.  According to the Emerson rule all revenue generated from the storm-water fees would have to replace all the funds currently applied out of the general fund to storm-water management.  This is the lowest hurdle for storm-water fee advocates.  However, it opens some very interesting issues.  Under “specific compensation”, the money charged by the fees cannot be used to generate revenue for anything other than the service it purports to provide.  The town manager has hinted that the fee based fund would free up approximately 650K in revenue to be applied elsewhere in the town budget.   If that re-application were to occur, could the argument be made that the storm-water fee was in fact used to generate general revenue ?  Proper deference to the “Emerson Rule” would seem to require a 650K rebate back to the taxpayers.

The Board of Selectmen are getting a bit anxious over this issue.  Assurances were made to the town by  Selectmen during a Town Meeting discussion last March.  At that time the Board expressed their enthusiastic willingness to promote dialogue over this issue.  However, at a July 23rd  meeting, the Selectmen appeared all in on the fee system.   Tom Clay, Scott Hazelton, Elizabeth Almeida, and Andrea Peraner Sweet all expressed their support for the fee system over all other approaches.   Member Mark Kost was not at the meeting, but has led the effort to move the fee approach forward.   For a moment, it appeared that the Board was going to vote in support of fees, in violation of their pledge to wait until August 15th.   Finance committee members, who attended the Board of Selectmen meeting, scrambled to remind them of their commitment to wait until the following  month to render a verdict.  It was also strongly recommended that an opinion from the Finance Committee be received before the Selectmen take their final vote.   This they agreed to do.

MassGOP Chairman Jim Lyons calls on lawmakers to review analysis of new abortion legislation

July 2, 2019

BOSTON — Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons is calling on lawmakers to read a detailed third-party analysis of legislation that would allow for abortions after 24 weeks.

A brief produced by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, titled Sweeping Away Commonsense Protections for Women and Children, exposes several of the latest proposal’s dangerous provisions.

The bill would repeal meaningful state protections for unborn children and pregnant women considering abortion and would eliminate explicit protections for children born alive during abortions,” writes the institute’s Mary E. Harned.

The analysis breaks down piece-by-piece the specifics of what the proposal, HB 3320 in the Houseand S 1209 in the Senate, would do to current state law.

“Every member of the state Legislature needs to read this analysis,” Lyons said. “Every member of the state Legislature should know the facts before even considering voting in support of this dangerous proposal.”

During the bill’s formal hearing last month, the vice president of the Massachusetts Medical Society was apparently unaware that Section 12P would be removed from current state law regulating abortion. Specifically, 12P requires doctors to “take all reasonable steps” to “preserve the life and health of the aborted child” in the event of a failed abortion.

“That was a dangerous example of ignorance,” Lyons said. “The fact that the Massachusetts Medical Society was somehow unaware of the most radical provision tucked inside of this bill underscores the need for this in-depth analysis.”

Democrats scheming to alter Massachusetts Constitution in bid to raise taxes

BOSTON — Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons is sounding the alarm on the Democrats’ newest scheme to unleash a graduated income tax system on the commonwealth, a proposal voters have previously rejected and the high court ruled was unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, Democrats are slated to advance the surtax proposal, a process that requires amending the Massachusetts Constitution.

Supporters of the measure claim it’s restricted to forcing the wealthy — who already pay the most in taxes — to fork over “their fair share.”

A closer look reveals Democrats want more. Three Democrats — Wellesley state Rep. Alice Peisch, Gloucester state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, and North Andover state Sen. Barry Finegold — want to dump the state’s constitutionally-protected flat tax system altogether.

Their amendment would abolish the “uniform rate,” meaning the Democrats would then be free to raise taxes on everyone.

“The same party that voted to give themselves a huge pay raise wants more of your money,” Lyons said. “This is a blatant cash grab masquerading as class warfare.”

A constitutional amendment is needed because the Massachusetts Constitution forbids a graduated tax system. Democrats say they want to earmark revenue generated by the new tax for transportation and education projects.

“We need to address spending first,” Lyons said. “For example, it costs Massachusetts seven times more than it does New Hampshire to build the same mile of roadway.”

The Democrats need yes votes from at least half of the state Legislature in successive sessions in order for the proposal to land on the November 2022 ballot. This week’s vote marks the first step. Another constitutional convention vote during the 2021-2022 legislative session will determine whether the proposal goes before voters.

“The tax is simply a bad idea,” Lyons said. “Massachusetts doesn’t have a revenue problem.

“It has a spending problem.”