Friday, January 18, 2019

I requested a copy of a report that is suppose to be generated as a result of direction from Town Meeting (see Templeton Veterans Advisory Board by-law on Town web site)

Below is my emailed request and response received, followed by my rebuttal.
You make the call as to what you feel is the right approach to the operation of your Town.

jeff bennett
Fri 1/18/2019, 3:14 AM
Carter Terenzini;
Tom Harrington;
Town Clerk
Templeton general Town by-laws, Article II - Town Meeting, 
Section 14. All committees shall report as directed by the Town. If no report is made within a year after its appointment, a committee shall be discharged unless, in the meantime, the town shall have granted an extension of time. 

So, there is a directive from the Town; ie, Town Meeting per by-law, for the Veterans Advisory Board to report. The Veterans Advisory Board by-law directs said group to report. Why is there no report? Is there even a quorum or a board in existence to report? I can find no postings of any meetings of this board since July 1, 2018. Rather than change a by-law every time they are not followed, how about we hold people accountable and we start following the by-laws; the guiding policies of the Town? 

respectfully submitted;
Jeffrey Bennett

From: Carter Terenzini <>
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2019 8:37 AM
To: Tom Harrington; Town Clerk
Cc: Jeff Bennett
Subject: RE: report request
Good Day Jeff:

We haven’t received the report as of yet and Sheila is out today so we’ll get this to you over the next few days. 

Interestingly your request brings out some conflict/issue  within the by-laws that I’m asking Town Counsel to follow-up on in the codification process as you can see below.


Article LVI, Section 4. Says that “The Committee shall annually file a report on its work, to include such recommendations as it deems worthy of consideration, with the Board of Selectmen in December of each year.”

Article VIII, Section 2. Says that “All officers, boards, standing committees, and special committees of the town having charge of the expenditure of town money shall annually report thereon in writing… and may make therein such recommendations as they deem proper.  Such reports shall be submitted to the Selectmen for inclusion in the Annual Town Report on or before the thirty-first (31) day of January of each year.  

I note that the latter refers to only Boards spending “…town money…” and nowhere in the by-laws (excepting the Veterans Advisory Board) does it appear to require reports from bodies which do not spend “… town money…”.  I think it might be best to eliminate the issue of only money and simply require reports form any standing or ad-hoc entity and then eliminate S. 4 of the Veterans By-Laws

Many Thanks

Carter Terenzini
Town Administrator
Town of Templeton
160 Patriots Road
East Templeton, MA 01438

Thursday, January 17, 2019

What is in a name??

Today, on Templeton town web site, under meetings, there is a scheduled meeting of the Baldwinville Elementary School disposition advisory committee. Om, there are meeting minutes (approved) that are titled;
Town of Templeton
 Baldwinville Elementary school re-use committee, and then right below that is;

Baldwinville Elementart school re-use advisory committee.

So, does anyone have a guess at what the official name of this committee created by the selectmen is suppose to be? I mean a selectmen serves on it, one would think it would be easy to pick a name and stick with it. How do they plan to address request for proposals? This committee, no this committee, well, we mean this one, is looking for . . . . .

I think netflix is showing an episode of key stone cops, episode is titled "you sit on a throne of unstable banana peels"
Baldwinville Elementary school re-use committee;

A committee created by the Board of Selectmen has met 9 times since June 7, 2018.
One member, from the board of selectmen, Cameron Fortes, resigned from the board as of December, 2018. He was absent from five meetings. Hopefully the new representative from the board of selectmen, Diane Brooks, shows up for more meetings. Why does someone volunteer for a position, then does not show up for any meetings?

The first meeting, June 7, 2018, according to minutes available, shows 6 people present with 2 absent. The minutes of July 11, 2018 show:
Review of minutes: There were no minutes generated for the first meeting as there was no quorum and the meeting disbanded with no votes taken.

Under minutes for the above committee show a chairman and clerk were voted on June 7, 2018. So there seems to be a mix up of sorts when it comes to minutes of this committee. A department head, a member of the board of selectmen, Planning Board chairman present, perhaps it was just oversight of some kind. That said, since the minutes state members were given a copy of the most recent open meeting guide, residents should expect things to be done correctly. Unlike the Veterans Advisory Board and the economic development corporation, at least this committee actually meets.

Note: Templeton general Town By-laws state, under article II, section 14;

All committees shall report as directed by the Town. If no report is made within a year after its appointment, a committee shall be discharged unless, in the meantime, the town shall have granted an extension of time.

Although the Templeton veterans advisory board is not labeled as a committee (perhaps that is spitting hairs) I find no record of any meetings this year, should the town actually follow it's by-laws and this entity be disbanded? Perhaps a question for ole town counsel?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Selectmen, Town Administrator and Sewer Department:

from the 2009 financial review from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue:

Centralize the Collection of Taxes, Fees and Other Charges As a matter of sound financial management practice, those responsible for determining payments due the town should not also be charged with collecting those payments. Therefore, we recommend that officials separate responsibility for creating the commitment that authorizes the collection of taxes, fees or other charges due the municipality from the collection function. Presently, the light & water plant and sewer department create a commitment, and, at the same time, are responsible for receiving payments. This approach may require that personnel currently operating elsewhere be reallocated to the collector’s office in order to process the additional customer volume.

Note: No mention of billing, only collecting!

from 2010 Independent Audit report from Melanson Heath & Company:

Improve segregation of duties in Sewer department

The Sewer Dept. is now responsible for collecting customer receipts. Because of the small size of the dept., one clerk is responsible for performing all aspects of customer billing, collections, receipt postings, abatement/adjustment postings, and reconciliations to the Town's general ledger. This results in a lack of segregation of duties and increases the risk of errors or irregularities occurring and going undetected.

We recommend the Town segregate duties by transferring collection responsibilities to the Tax Collector's office. We also recommend the Sewer Dept.'s detail sewer receivables continue to be reconciled with the Town Accountant's general ledger, and that this reconciliation be documented on a form signed by both the Sewer clerk and Town accountant. This will result in an improved segregation of duties and improved documented oversight.

Note: No mention of billing.

Board of Selectmen meeting of April 2, 2018:

Selectmen Brooks asks if the sewer dept. quarterly bill collections were moved to the town collectors office, can the sewer department enterprise fund be billed for that work and could those dollars help the town's general fund budget. Could the current town hall staff handle the additional work?

Selectmen Caplis stated yes to charging sewer dept. enterprise fund for work, yes to those dollars helping town general fund and no to could the current staff handle the extra work.

Town Administrator Terenzini stated he disagreed with selectmen Caplis on staff levels.

Note: This was about moving collections to the collectors office. One other question was regarding to any possible savings to sewer users. Nothing about billing.

On first look, this seems to point out that selectmen do not have control of Sewer dept. and neither does the Town Administrator. If they did, this move would surely have already been completed. There is an elected entity of Sewer Commissioners. Since one of the impasses seem to be concerning pay raises for non-union sewer dept. employees, that do not come from taxation, but rather an enterprise fund, where all costs are paid for from fees, it seems like selectmen should instruct the Town Administrator and town accountant to process and allow these raises to be made and then some progress could be made on the collection front.

The only item involved is moving of collections of quarterly sewer billing to the Town Treasurer/Collector office. There appears no need for any employee reductions at the Sewer dept., nor any other control over sewer issues by the selectmen or town administrator. The retained earnings of the Sewer dept. and Sewer betterment are not funds to be raided by the selectmen to bolster the Town general fund expenditure items. But as selectmen Brooks stated, or asked, can these monies help the general fund budget? It is the money the selectmen are after, not efficiency, not a financial report, not an audit report, just more money.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

from a time long long ago: oops

from minutes of 10/11/2016 - board of selectmen
Present: John Caplis, Diane Brooks, Doug Morrison, John Columbus as well as Carter Terenzini/town administrator

h) Action RE: Codification of Ordinances~ Ms. Haley Brooks made a motion to move forward with the codification of the bylaws with Unicode and authorize the Chairman of the Board to sign the contract. Mr. Morrison seconded the motion. The vote was 4 yes.

from minutes of  11/14/2016 - board of selectmen

Present: John Caplis, Diane Brooks, Doug Morrison, John Columbus , Julie Richard as well as Carter Terenzini/town administrator.

3. Minutes ~ Ms. Haley Brooks made a motion to approve the minutes of 10.11.16. Ms. Richard seconded the motion. The vote was 5 yes. Ms. Haley Brooks made a motion to approve the minutes of 10.24.16. Ms. Richard seconded the motion. The vote was 5 yes.

When questioned, Town Administrator Carter Terenzini responded as:
  1. Yes; In error, Ms. Haley Brooks motioned for Unicode and no-one caught it at the time.  However, the paperwork forming the submission was for General Code;

So, the selectmen voted to have a contract signed by the chairman of the board of selectmen with unicode, but the chair signed a contract with a different firm. Since that is not what the board voted on, is that contract valid? Town Administrator is the chief procurement officer for Templeton.

Well, who knows, the selectmen still maintain they were correct in asking for money to buy a dump body for a 1984 Mack ten wheeler and then said they thought it best to buy a new dump truck with, ignoring a town meeting vote. Again, stop trying to manage the Advisory Committee and the Sewer department and get your house in order. Read and discuss, check what you are voting on and more importantly, do the right thing.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Watched the January 9, 2019 board of selectmen meeting. 
Online documents show a transfer from intergovernmental to various departments.

shown sub-fund number for intergovernmental as 120-000-51-5600-0000. However, if you checked the expenditure report, you would find the sub-fund number is 120-000-56-5600-0000. You would also find that the town meeting article giving  authority or the funds to do this transfer is listed as article 18 of the May 2018 annual town meeting. That article created the stabilization fund within the sewer department. It was actually article 21 where these funds were appropriated. In stating you are being transparent, the information needs to be correct. Perhaps less time spent trying to manage the Advisory Committee and more time spent, discussing, checking facts and ensuring the information put forth is correct and honest would be time well spent.
from the town administrator weekly report:

*protective services = full time ambulance employees.

Assessor: This week brings us back to a full work week and somewhat back to “normal”. Office traffic and phone calls have been steady with inquiries regarding the tax rate and property valuations on the recent 3rd & 4th quarter tax bill mailings. Residents are being reminded that the 3rd & 4th quarter bills not only show this increase, but they also make up for what was not assessed on the 1st & 2nd quarters. The reason for the tax increase was for the override funding protective services. Valuation increases are due to sales in town beyond asking prices during the calendar year 2017. This has been the trend for the last two years and you will most likely see this continue with increasing sale prices and the new school and police debt to be coming on the tax roll when the town goes out to borrow. Residents who have not filed for an exemption for FY19 still have time to file before March 31st and when approved, will be reflected on the 4th quarter tax bills. Applications must be filed yearly. Any residents applying for an abatement will need to get an application from the Assessor office and return it with proper documentation no later than February 4th. I have been sketching and adding information on property record cards for new construction with supplemental bills going out shortly for these. Field work done late last summer, and fall is also being recorded to property cards. Board of Assessors held their monthly meeting on Tuesday and follow-up work was done. FY2020 budget was discussed and the Board expressed concerns that will be addressed with the Town Administrator. I have been working with Vision to closeout values for FY2019. I attended the department head meeting Thursday morning and met with Carter to review FY2020 budget requests.

Your property increased in value and so your tax bill might also increase.