Harvard Graduate School of Education
Michelle Monsegur, Hingham Assistant Town Administrator
The capital budget has a profound and lasting impact on a town’s institutions and services. It funds some of the largest expenses- including school buildings, parks, ambulances, and critical infrastructure. Each proposal made to the capital budget committee has ardent supporters, fueled by both need and passion. However, towns inevitably are bestowed with limited resources, forcing the individuals serving on the capital committee to make hard choices. When should they say yes? When should they say no? When should they say, ‘not this year, but next?’ When should they advocate for a tax override? These are some of the questions we sought to illuminate for the town of Hingham. We found that Hingham already possesses a strong array of assets, including a capital planning process, and dedicated capital committee. To support the committee, we explored some approaches that can bolster transparency, equity, and sustainability within the fiscal and capital planning policy. Our work focused on the importance of increasing efficiency in the process from proposal to passing, and on potentially raising revenue for capital investments in perpetuity. We hope this work will provide this town with impactful options for communicate its values and goals clearly through the capital planning policies.