NAME: Colette Aufranc
ADDRESS: 5 Hill Top Road
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND: Bachelor of Arts with distinctions in Accounting from Glasgow College of Technology. Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (the UK equivalent of a Chartered Public Accountant or CPA)
CURRENT OCCUPATION: Civic Volunteer
WHAT QUALIFIES YOU TO BE A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN? (INCLUDE BOTH RELEVANT PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS AND ANY TOWN GOVERNMENT AND CIVIC GROUP INVOLVEMENT.)
An effective member of the Board of Selectmen requires financial acumen, an understanding of Wellesley and its complex Town government, and a collaborative disposition; I have developed these qualities over decades of experience and engagement.
My education, combined with working as an auditor for twelve years and serving as the treasurer for multiple organizations in Wellesley, has given me broad financial experience. Municipal financing is unique and complex. In my third year on the Town’s Audit Committee (and as its current chair), I am familiar with Wellesley’s financial position, including sources and uses of funds, long term obligations, and the capital plan. Public education is Wellesley’s largest departmental budget. Having volunteered for over a decade in Wellesley Public School PTOs and served as a Town Meeting Member since 2018, I am familiar with the unique nature of school budgets including, but not limited to, turnback, turnover, circuit breaker and Chapter 70 funding, and the Special Education Stabilization reserve.
I have lived in Wellesley for 22 years and my husband grew up here. I first engaged in Town matters in 2006 as a neighborhood representative in the redevelopment of Linden Square. Working collaboratively with neighbors, developers, and Town officials I learned how large projects move through the various town departments and how to effectively make one’s voice heard in that process. This work served our neighborhood and Town well as we effected positive change in Linden Square.
Now, more than ever, we hear calls for civil discourse in our government. I have developed strong working relationships with residents and Town officials over more than fourteen years of volunteering and engagement and I am, by nature, a calm, polite, and persistent collaborator. My professional and civic experience combined with my personal working style is what Wellesley needs now.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE THREE MOST CRITICAL ISSUES CURRENTLY FACING THE TOWN?
An immediate issue facing Wellesley is managing the impacts of the pandemic while maintaining, as much as possible, the high quality services that residents have come to value and appreciate. We have to facilitate a safe reopening of our schools, support businesses as they emerge from unprecedented disruption, and help residents feel safe. The Town must have alternate plans in place should a change of course be necessitated by increased transmission in our community. These challenges require creative planning, thoughtful allocation of resources, and constant, clear communication. These near term challenges will be followed by medium and longer term impacts, including the effect of economic turbulence on homeowners’ ability to pay property taxes (the Town’s primary revenue source), State aid (a significant funding source), and the impact of market volatility on the funding of our long term debt obligations (pensions and other post retirement benefits). As information becomes available on State funding and we have actual tax receipt numbers, the difficult and delicate work of balancing resources and priorities really begins. The true impact of market volatility on our long term obligations may take several years to establish and address.
Public education is a top priority as identified by residents in our Unified Plan. Wellesley has been working for several years to upgrade school facilities. We anticipate upgrading systems in the Wellesley Middle School and building two new elementary schools. For the Hardy/Upham school building project, significant financial support is available from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). Wellesley must do what it can to secure MSBA funding, bring voters together to approve debt exclusions and continue to invest in our schools.
Our Unified Plan posed the question “Name one thing you would change about Wellesley?” The most common answer was “diversity” (achieving broader diversity in race, ethnicity and socio-economic status). There is unquestionably work to be done on this self-stated goal. As a town we must listen to the experiences of our residents, reflect on what we can do better, plan and enact change. Among other initiatives, an increased diversity of housing options will help make Wellesley more accessible to a broader range of home buyers and renters. It is an important strategic initiative Wellesley has been working on and must continue to pursue. By its nature, increasing housing stock takes thoughtful planning, careful communication with residents and advocacy groups, and persistence. It is a goal worth pursuing.
IF YOU WIN, WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO SEE THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN ACCOMPLISH IN THE SIX MONTHS OF YOUR SERVICE? (LIMIT: 250 WORDS)
Manage the short term financial impacts of the pandemic: Careful consideration has been given to cuts in planned cash capital spending to prepare for anticipated revenue reductions. In the fall, we will know with more certainty our sources of funds and the costs of operating in the new normal. The Selectmen will be faced with difficult decisions; I would like to help navigate those decisions.
Take steps forward to invest in our school buildings: Major capital projects for our public schools need to be ushered into the next stages. In the six months following this election, a debt exclusion to upgrade Wellesley Middle School systems will go to voters, and a decision must be made on the Hardy/Upham (H/U) project. Making the H/U decision in a transparent, thoughtful, and respectful way will be critical in bringing the town together as we move forward with whichever site is chosen. As a Selectman I will listen carefully, deliberate thoughtfully, and ultimately make this decision in the best interests of all our residents.
Support the necessary steps to foster greater diversity in Wellesley: In preparation for running for the Board I reached out to over 100 current and former town leaders, residents and neighbors to engage in individual conversations about what is important to them and what they are looking for in a Selectman. I commit to that same level of engagement in the work the Board must undertake to be a force for positive change in this regard.