Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rising health costs present challenge for budget writers

March 29, 2017

As legislative budget committees wrap up hearings on the governor’s $40.5 billion state revenue and spending recommendation for next year and release spending plans of their own, financing the state’s health insurance obligations remains a growing problem with no easy solutions.
The governor’s budget bill for fiscal 2018, filed in January, proposes $16.4 billion for the MassHealth (Medicaid) program funded from state revenues and federal reimbursements. This would represent roughly 40 percent of the state budget and an increase of nearly $1 billion over the expected level of spending for this year. It also reflects continued growth in enrollment in MassHealth programs that could approach 2 million participants next year.
The budget also proposes $1.6 billion to cover the cost of health insurance for state employees.
The governor’s bill includes a number of contentious health care cost containment provisions and health insurance-related revenues that are important to balancing the budget plan for next year without cuts in other areas or new revenues. This includes limits on coverage, caps on charges, and a fee on employers that do not provide health insurance or have low participation rates. The fee would provide an estimated $300 million in new revenue next year, according to the administration.
A hearing on education and municipal budget items for fiscal 2018 was held today in Amherst, where a panel of municipal officials provided testimony to a joint meeting of the House and Senate Ways and Means committees. The MMA panel was led by Brookline Town Administrator and MMA President Mel Kleckner and Amherst Select Board Chair Alisa Brewer. The panel included Greenfield Mayor William Martin and Buckland Town Administrator Andrea Llamas.
The testimony focused on municipal priorities based on the budget and finance resolution approved by city and town leaders at the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting in January. Key priorities in the MMA’s written testimony are the increase in general municipal aid under the governor’s revenue-sharing plan and higher levels of school aid than what was recommended by the governor.
The MMA asked the Legislature to move more quickly than the governor has proposed on the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission to update the Chapter 70 school finance law to fully fund the account to mitigate the fiscal impact of charter schools on local public schools and to improve funding for other accounts.
The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to release its take on a state budget bill on April 12, with the House approving a plan by the end of the month. The Senate is expected to approve its budget bill by the end of May. The two branches will then reconcile the differences in the two bills, with the goal of getting a final budget bill enacted and sent to the governor in time for the July 1 start of the fiscal year.
oops a daisy, as a Town resident mentioned at the selectmen meeting on Monday of this week, what good does it do to have Town by-laws and to spend money on getting them codified if no one follows them, the resident was apparently chastised by selectmen Julie Richards. Selectmen Richards seemed to follow up grilling fellow selectmen Doug Morrison with this action. If you get a chance to watch the movie, you can probably see this for yourselves.

Good Day:

Please remember that any capital item being put in front of Town Meeting for a vote must be submitted to the CIC  for review before the TM vote.  It does not matter what the source of funding is.

The below items are (will be) somewhere on the warrant or are being funded through the TWLP PILOT. 

TH Mini-Split; Conf/Accounting, Misc. *
Temp Center Fire/EMS - Roof Rplcmnt*
Senior Center Siding*
Dump Body - 1984 Mack 10 Wheel
S.C.B.A replacement tanks**
John Deere Tractor-X710**
2017 Ford Police Interceptor Utility***

At a quick review of the FY ’18 CIP memorandum, the items in yellow do not look  like they were submitted to the CIC.  In ADDITION it looks like the $12k for file cabinets (Assessors) and the Pleasant Street Pump Station still need to be submitted for review.

You may find the forms that you need if you follow this link.

I am asking you all to review your original submissions (Police it appears you only asked for one cruiser in FY ’18 so if you are looking for a 2nd cruiser in the fall you may want to follow-up) and make sure to submit follow-up requests no later than April 10 that we might be fully through the process by the time of Town Meeting.

Many Thanks

Carter Terenzini
Interim Town Administrator
Town of Templeton
160 Patriots Road
East Templeton, MA 01438
(978) 894-2753

posted by Jeff Bennett

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rising health care costs could put pressure on EMS revenue

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The issue of health care costs is front and center for the Legislature in the 2017-2018 legislative session.
Gov. Charlie Baker’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal would direct nearly 40 percent of its $40 billion total to MassHealth. The budget also contains outside sections that propose both health care cost containment measures and new revenue proposals to support health care costs that are likely to continue to climb.
On March 15, the Special Commission on Provider Price Variation released its extensive report with recommendations to reduce unwarranted price variations. The commission was tasked with identifying factors that contribute to price variation and determining whether those factors are acceptable. The report provides evidence to support its recommendations.
It now falls to the governor, Legislature and various state agencies to consider the report’s recommendations and take action as they see fit.
While many cost containment measures may help municipalities directly and indirectly, any type of rate capping structure could have unforeseen consequences on municipal budgets, specifically on municipal fire departments that provide emergency medical services. EMS tends to be more costly than other medical services due to a number of factors, including the requirement for immediate response and the fact that consumers aren’t able to choose an “in network” provider. The high cost of EMS could lead to these services being reimbursed at lower rates under some of the cost containment measures being considered.
Lower reimbursement rates could cause significant financial problems for municipal fire departments that provide EMS, as they could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue annually.
Local officials and fire chiefs appreciate the importance of implementing health care cost containment measures, but worry about doing so with too broad a brush. EMS is a unique type of service and treating it the same as other services could have unintended consequences. EMS providers have limited options for reducing costs, and may need to be addressed separately rather than being included with other services.
Legislation has not been filed specifically addressing EMS costs, but as the session continues and health care stays at the forefront, this and other health care cost issues are likely to be considered.
The MMA is working with fire chiefs and other interested parties to meet with legislators on this issue and will continue to monitor the situation.
For more information and to download the special commission report, see the report here.

posted by Jeff Bennett

Narragansett Regional School

Budget/Finance committee meeting
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 (Today)
5:00 PM - Central Office
          1. Review FY budget
          2. Other

The above should be a link to the town web site and the fiscal year budget book.
As I am technology challenged, if it does not work, let me know and I will try to fix but so far, it has worked several time for me. It is important, so please take a look.

posted by Jeff Bennett

As I posted before, the number given for the school assessment at a previous meeting of selectmen and Advisory Committee when the FY 2018 spending plan was handed out and discussed was NOT the actual school budget. It was an estimate and as the selectmen were told last night, that estimate was off and low and there will now have to be some adjustments to meet the school budget numbers presented to them (BOS) by the Town Administrator.

Weekly Town bills warrant; After checking on that, I learned that not much has changed since i served on the board, the warrant still comes with reference material in the form of bills, receipts, purchase orders etc., except for the legal bills. Apparently one change made by Bob Markel and also apparently okay with the selectmen, was that the details of the bill were removed from the warrant and now only a cover sheet is included in the warrant with date and some totals. Apparently the detailed "backup" or the when, who, what and how much is kept in the office of the selectmen. So Diane Brooks was telling the truth when she said the details of the legal bills were/are not in the warrant. My question now is, who or why would anyone sign off on a bill without seeing or knowing the details? i know I would not pay a credit card bill with out seeing dates, places, items and dollar figures first. However, from what Diane Brooks commented and from what I found out by checking on the warrant, it looks that is exactly what selectmen Brooks did and has done, signed off on paying a bill without any explanation of those bills, without any real invoice and perhaps this present practice should stop and the process should go back to the way it was, when the details of the legal billing was included in the warrant. Of course, the warrant being a public record that anyone can go to town hall and ask to see it. That is the way it is suppose to work anyway. Perhaps that is the reason for the change, so not just anyone can go to town hall and see the details of the legal billing. Of course, there is John Columbus who served as chairman of the selectmen and as he stated, he and Markel shared the same thoughts and ideas on alot of things.

The recommendations of the insurance committee were put off until the April 3 meeting, when the selectmen and advisory committee will be meeting jointly.

posted by Jeff Bennett

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Change of pace - School Project

Document notation: Sent via e-mail & certified mail on 10/17/16

To: M. Carter Terenzini
Town Hall
160 Patriots Road
East Templeton, MA 01438

Re: Templeton elementary School Project
MSBA ID # 200807200020

Mr. Terenzini:

This is a request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M.G.L. chapter 66, section 10) we are requesting the following documents for the referenced project.

1. Copies of the statement of qualifications (SOQ) submitted by each general contractor that submitted an SOQ in response to the request for qualifications for the referenced project.
2. Copy of written evaluation including composite rating and specific rating for each evaluation criteria for each of the general contractor firms that submitted an SOQ in response to the request for qualifications for the referenced project.
3. Copies of all references checked and feedback from references for all general contractors submitting an SOQ in response to the request for qualifications for the referenced project.
4. Copies of all third party information received by the prequalification committee or any other representatives or agents of the Town of Templeton regarding any general contractor that responded to the RFQ.

This request was filed by CTA construction co. Inc.
signed by Jeffrey R. Hazelwood jr.
Project executive

Sounds like somebody is peed off and after skimming thru 240 pages on CTA, I see why, but there are not many good things said of CTA and well there is or was about 36 million on the line here.

Funny thing is, within another pille of documents, such as RFQ interest form;

Awarding Authority - Town of Templeton
project name - Templeton elementary school project

Mail or fax RFQ interest form to:

Narragansett Regional School District
Office of the Superintendent
462 Baldwinville Road
Templeton, MA 01436

date submitted: July 14, 2016 - 55 pages long

another document titled Commonwealth of Massachusetts

standard forms
General contractor prequalification

Solicitation of request for prequalification
Town of Templeton - Templeton elementary school, 17 South Road, Templeton, MA
dated June 26, 2016

General project information:
awarding authority - Town of Templeton, project name - Templeton elementary school
project description - new elementary school,  submission deadline; July 27, 2016 by 2:00 P.M.

submission address;  drum roll please - Narragansett Regional School district
office of the superintendent
462 Baldwinville Road, Templeton, Ma 01436 - 978-939-5661

Now, the awarding authority is listed as Town of Templeton and last I checked, Town Hall is not located on Baldwinville Road, so with that in mind, consider this; "An original and 2 copies of the interested general contractor's SOQ application package must be received by the AWARDING AUTHORITY on or before the submission deadline as set forth in section I, as determined by the AWARDING AUTHORITY's date/time stamp.  So how does that work? send to the superintendent's office and then it goes to Templeton Town Hall to get time stamped. Perhaps selectmen Brooks has the answers, as she was serving on the school building committee at this time and she can ask the tough questions to explain how this works. It appears the selectmen as a group just let this whole thing be handled by the school district while the Town is left holding the bills and the spending of funds not there, as in shortfalls, again!
Who collected the fees for the public records request and who did the work?

posted by Jeff Bennett

Throwing heat? I don't need the heat. You've been on the Board as well when the $505,000 was found and no one until the last minute, which was you, claimed responsibility. I have brought many things to light. I am not a politician so nothing I post has anything to do with being re-elected. Julie and Cam could win the seats and I would still be in the audience point things out like you do. I have been involved and always will be. It doesn't matter what I say, you have zero patience for me and I'm fine with that. Why don't you throw some heat the on the other board members? Huh, maybe because they don't speak out as much or maybe they do and you find me a convenient target. There's much work to be done and we cannot accomplish it alone. I am not the only RESPONSIBLE one, we all are. I did not know until I read it on the blog that the lawyer reviewed that article. I will swear on a bible and my life about that. We never have seen the background and honestly, I never thought to ask. What about the other selectman?? Again, call them out as well.

First off, Diane, you say you are not a politician but when i go to Dave Smart's blog, Pauly's Templeton watch and click on the link for DHB face Book, i see Diane Haley Brooks, Select woman and over to the right, I see the heading Politician, so now I am wondering which is it?

secondly, are you telling us that you sign off on the warrant for the Town's bills with no reference material, no invoices, no explanation for total charges? Is that what you mean? Do you mean that you signed off on a legal bill without seeing the explanation of the charges? If that is so, that explains a lot of things. Again, I am asking do you sign off on bills without seeing documentation? i ask because that is what I get from your above comment. I hope you selectmen are not simply signing off on a paper with a list of departments and totals next to them!

Third; I remember sitting at a meeting of the Board of selectmen where you stated very plainly that when you look at the warrant, you read it and check on things, you ask questions, so my take from that statement was/is that you and all the other selectmen see the invoices and the back up material to justify or explain the charges. So now I have to ask myself, which statement do I trust. I believe it is time for me to pull a page out of my fathers playbook.

lastly, you may have missed it or had selective reading glasses on, but i have called out other selectmen here before, specifically John Columbus and one thing that stands out was when he was chairman, he stated it was a requirement of law that the director of building and grounds of NRHS district to be appointed to the school building committee. From the pages of MSBA and code of Massachusetts regulations, that is a false statement and you can check on that too.

You posted that "there is no money hidden on my watch" yet there is an email from Bob markel to advisory and all selectmen stating that there "is 10K buried in the selectmen's budget in case we need it." THE SELECTMEN'S BUDGET, 
 You state I have no patience for you but i believe i sent you an email of condolence for a family loss and another wishing you well when you were out sick and i did say i appreciated the emails being forwarded concerning school project funding or accounting of, but I still remember the dispatch thing and how you used that as a campaign slogan, which kind of says to me that you are a politician regardless of what you say. I also remember you making the motion to take no action on article 8 of the special town meeting, thus ending any debate or questions on the article. So much for democracy. 
See, I am taking Dave Smart's advice, i am not sitting down and shutting up. Speaking of Dave, you and the rest of the selectmen will be receiving a letter concerning him shortly, as i believe he could be putting the town at risk legally by his rants and since he is an actual town employee whom you and other selectmen oversee, as in you approve hiring, approve labor contracts and sign off on payroll and since selectmen are responsible for Town legal affairs, well you will see it all.

posted by Jeff Bennett
Now, about those shortfalls regarding the school:

Email received last year when I was asking questions concerning the school project.

From: "Alix, Timothy" <>
Date: March 2, 2016 at 7:37:05 PM EST
To: Diane Haley Brooks <>
Subject: RE: MSBA Information

This email seems to indicate that a secretary in the selectmen's office was doing the work on the records of the new school, rather than the treasurer. It also seems to indicate that the town accountant and treasurer "will be aware of what is getting reimbursed electronically and can have access to the propay system at any time to take a look at the status."

So, at least one member of the board of selectmen was aware of this strange arrangement of a secretary rather than the treasurer entering information on town debt, The debt exclusion for feasibility study and design, totaling $1,050,000.00. Still this was allowed to happen and now there is a shortfall in both items of over one million dollars.

posted by Jeff Bennett

1 comment:

  1. Are you kidding me right now? I spoke of this at several meetings and then I made a motion for it to go to the treasurer and for the MSBA training to be completed by September of last year. I made clear to the TA and at board meetings and at a finance meeting that the Selectman's office should NOT be processing propay and it was the job of the treasurer. Please go back and look at minutes or meetings. The MSBA training was not done until later than we voted and I believe it's still being processed in the Selectman's office. I have spoken to Carter and also made him aware of the vote. Stop throwing shade my way Jeff, it's not necessary and it's not warranted. I have spoken up, sent emails and the day to day operations befalls the TA. I will be sure to bring it up once again and ensure it's with the Treasurer at this time.
  2. No, I am not kidding you. You have been on the board of selectmen since January 2014. Two experience town administrators and full staff and yet the Town treasurer is not doing the job, as you stated in your comment above. As a selectmen, you are a member of a board that is responsible for the financial and legal affairs of the town. You were on the board of selectmen while that superior department crap was tossed about. You did forward me that email which I appreciate but that does not buy anyone a pass. I remember that you made the motion at the town meeting concerning the citizen petition to rescind the funding for the school. That motion was to stop debate or actually prevent debate and questions on the subject. The legal bills show that the selectmen went far to prevent disclosure of those very bills. And remember, I served on the board of selectmen so I know how the bills come in and what the warrant for the town's bills looks like. I also read face book pages and I see the one sided posts to ones "peeps" Now, I hate to be cynical, but it is election time and you are running for re-election, so I kind of expect all of this "I did this and I spoke to this and I tried this and on and on" It is politics and I get all of that, but, you are a selectmen and that means that you and the rest of the board are RESPONSIBLE for things. You can delegate authority but not responsibility. By the way, I am not throwing shade your way, I am throwing heat. I am going to find the email from Markel concerning the recommendation that department heads not meet with the Advisory Committee which if memory serves me, there was mention that some selectmen did not feel that the department heads should meet with the Advisory Committee either. So, do you still think it only costs Templeton $37,000.00 for dispatch service? 
  3. posted by Jeff Bennett
Interesting reading:

Request for transfer from Town reserve to Templeton highway town machinery supplies fund, which is stated that there was an original appropriation of $90,000.00.

Looking at the budget versus actual document provided to Advisory Committee, dated 2/1/2017, there is a notation stating 20K encumbered for fire truck with $70,000.00 now showing under the allocated amount, with $43,926.50 having been spent and $26,071.50 still available for spending.

Now when checking the annual town meeting warrant of May 14, 2016 to see the appropriations for fiscal 2017, I looked at article 4: fiscal year 2017 operating budget 7 salaries of the town.

Under "Total public works and facilities" there is an amount of $136,040.00 next to vehicle & machinery maintenance. So, what is the average citizen to think if they look at the annual town report of FY 2016 which should contain the above mentioned annual town meeting and they see this amount and see what the selectmen asked for in a town reserve fund transfer? What is the thought of anyone looking at the annual town meeting report on the Templeton town website and seeing an amount different from the line item spread sheet? Perhaps the people at town meeting should have requested to go over the FY2017 spread sheet line item by line item. Perhaps any confusion could be avoided if things were not lumped together for the convenience of some.

When you look at the spread sheet that has the line items and it shows the department request, the town administrator recommendation, the selectmen budget and the advisory recommendation, you see that under the item vehicle & machinery maintenance line, the salary for the mechanic and the amount for vehicle & machinery expense were added together. Since the town meeting voted against a line item by line item discussion, that clarification was not made.

posted by Jeff Bennett
Credibility . . . .

Request for transfer from Town reserve fund
Dated March 21, 2017
signed by Town Administrator and Town Accountant

Requesting $10,000.00.
States that as of March 17, 2017, that fund balance was $8,374.99

Letter from DPW director Alan Mayo
Request for transfer
Dated March 20, 2017

Within this letter, it states "I am requesting for a transfer from the Advisory Board reserve. I am requesting $15,000.00. The current balance is $5,862.78." The letter also states "This account was hit with an unexpected expense of $20,000.00 to repair a fire truck. The repair to the fire truck was incurred on 3/3/2017."

Included in the request is a wok order of some sort,

W.D. Perkins
Fire Pump Specialist
P.O. Box 547
Merrick, New Hampshire

There is a partial date at the top of 2-20 with the year missing because of an apparent fold over when making the copy.

This paper work lists parts at $13,626.36, labor at $8,900.00 and machine shop work at $600.00. Freight charge of $117.61 with a total listed at $23,243.97.

So, since i am a pain the ass, there is no Advisory Board, it is Advisory Committee. Next, it is not the Advisory Committee (Board) reserve, it is the Town of Templeton Reserve fund appropriated, as in set aside by the voters of Templeton at Town Meeting. Advisory Committee does over see it and approves/disapproves transfer from this fund.

We have one document dated March 21, 2017 stating a balance of $8,374.99 as of 3/17/17, then there is a letter from a department head, dated 3/20/17 stating a balance of $5,862.78 and requesting $15,000.00. So, do the selectmen, Town Administrator, Town Accountant read what they sign before they sign it?

A look back at the department request for the machinery maintenance fund for fiscal year 2017 was $104,600.00.

So Dave Smart may opine that I am uninformed because I missed a meeting and he may opine I am picking on him and a selectmen may opine I am a school kid, but I try to be informed as possible as a member of the Templeton Advisory Committee when tasked with spending money that belongs to the people of Templeton.

posted by Jeff Bennett

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A position that is close by, so if Dave Smart does not like how things are at Templeton highway, well,

Town of Hubbardston
Full-Time DPW Truck Driver/Laborer
Applicant must possess excellent driving record, current class B CDL with air brakes and hoisting license. Excellent benefit package & union agreement. Starting wage at $18.09/hr. Job desription and employment applications are available in the Slade Building or online at http:/ Send application and copy of your driving record to Town Administrator, 7 Main Street, Unit #3, Hubbardston, MA 01452. Position open until filled. Review of applications will be immediately. EOE.

posted by Jeff Bennett

Within the fiscal year 2018 budget book, under budget initiatives, under public works -

Highway: The major cost driver within the operating budget is in the emphasis on training for the staff, $1,750.00, an increase in the amount set aside for tree removal work ($6,500.00)
and the costs of mapping and developing a plan to more cost effectively deal with the new MS-4 requirements where many communities are planning up to $30k for FY'18 compliance. It will also help us plan for and develop a more cost effective approach to the annual catch basin cleaning given the capital investment needed to replace your 1974 vehicle and the annual labor cost of 100 +/- man days. (3 months or there about).

posted by Jeff Bennett
Now, about those shortfalls regarding the school:

Email received last year when I was asking questions concerning the school project.

From: "Alix, Timothy" <>
Date: March 2, 2016 at 7:37:05 PM EST
To: Diane Haley Brooks <>
Subject: RE: MSBA Information

This email seems to indicate that a secretary in the selectmen's office was doing the work on the records of the new school, rather than the treasurer. It also seems to indicate that the town accountant and treasurer "will be aware of what is getting reimbursed electronically and can have access to the propay system at any time to take a look at the status."

So, at least one member of the board of selectmen was aware of this strange arrangement of a secretary rather than the treasurer entering information on town debt, The debt exclusion for feasibility study and design, totaling $1,050,000.00. Still this was allowed to happen and now there is a shortfall in both items of over one million dollars.

posted by Jeff Bennett
Some thoughts from a Templeton town employee who may have the "I am entitled" attitude.

Secondly, legal bills are NOT personnel files. Secondly, school employees are covered under a completely separate legal entity and have completely separate labor contracts. Light & Water have separate labor contracts.
Last i knew the town eats from the same plate.
1-We pay for school costs.
2-we pay for light expenses
3- We pay for water expenses
I sometimes wonder how Jeff thinks,or over thinks issues he writes about.
The uniforms are so the workers all look professional.
Unlike the fleet we use day in and day or night out.
The paid boots are so when we ruin them in the salt/muck,we don't have to purchase again and again

Dave Smart seems to think taxpayers should pay his salary and buy his boots over and over again!

According to a report from the Templeton Town treasurer, Highway department employee David Smart was paid $46,804.46 for fiscal Year 2015. Not bad for a truck driver laborer.

Your highway team had business under control and your schools could have been open on time.
Just a note for people who use the roads in Templeton. The road conditions are due to the hard work and devoted staff who where good boot with warm yellow jackets and have safety glasses they can see well with. Right little JEFFY!!!
With a early start to the work day and a 24 hour shift that's how you highway team took care of the town business were tasked with.
I might add with what we are allowed to have to do it with.
Over rides needed for highway needs soon.
But you all should know that should be the case.
Check out the capital planning list
Davey Smart seems to think this is a game, rather than about the financial stability and planning for the future, five years out.
Smart seems to have a problem with the highway department being in the spot light, but what is the problem with pointing out things concerning the highway department. It is after all, one of the bigger budget lines on paper. What did that excavator cost taxpayers, somewhere around $200,000.00. So why is Davey all upset with those things being pointed out, he fought for them after all and seems to be the spokesman for the department.

posted by Jeff Bennett
The only thing the AC can do is suggest and that is it?
A well informed AC is their function and when they don't show for meetings why have one that's not well informed?

Or one that won't look forward and is only hell bent on the ridicule of other departments and elected boards. Look in the mirror when you say work together and see if you get it.
So when JEFFY stops with his shit about the highway I'll let up!
Until then the stuff will pile up. I have a nice blog i wrote some time ago and has a bit of history in it may be time to post soon.
Funny after time goes by we see what the players had for agendas.
I've never picked on anyone who was free from insults and inappropriate behavior to me or some who wouldn't speak up about it.
Remember the hair dresser Bev and the issue they went through?
There are good reasons to not shut up and sit down. One reason is when we do we have no voice and those who will do harm will.
Careful what you wish for. 

Davey, I told you once and I posted it here, i do not fall for threats, ultimatums or blackmail or anything else. Sorry you do not like the facts about the highway department being posted or the questions concerning highway department of Templeton. I guess when you are the union rep, you feel that way, but the highway department is an entity of the town of Templeton and that means it is public information, or it is suppose to be. It appears that when you post on the light & water department, that is different, well, you cannot have it both ways.

I do not consider it "shit" to post the labor contract of the highway department as it is posted on the town website. And like you stated, "there are good reasons to not  shut up and sit down, one reason is when we do, we have no voice." So Davey, I am just taking your advice, now that must be ironic!

posted by Jeff Bennett
Within the Fiscal Year 2018 budget book is snow & ice account history.

Under Fiscal Year 2017 is this

FY 2017:
Labor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $   52,297.00
Supplies & other . . . . . . $ 159,708.00

Expended to date . . . . . . $ 212,006.00

Deficit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$   (87,006.00)

That is the amount that has to be "found" to pay for the bill. This is from information as of February 27, 2017, so it will probably be higher when the snow & ice season is done. The Town Administrator is suggesting an increase for next year to $140,000.00. A small increase but with budget restrictions and future financial obligations, actual, such as labor contracts and estimated/expected increases, such as retirement, health insurance and school assessments, it is probably a realistic small increase.

posted by Jeff Bennett
Interesting Information from Town Administrator Report of 3-23-17.

(yes, this is cut and paste, because it saves time in retyping and/or prevents errors in posting)
This is not the entire report, which is available on Town website under the board of selectmen - town administrator.

TO: Board of Selectmen
FROM: Carter Terenzini, Town Administrator
RE: Administrator’s Weekly Report
DATE: March 23, 2017
CC: All Departments

g. Bond Counsel cannot complete its legal opinion on the Pleasant Street Pump Station until we can cure the default in not presenting the project to the Capital Planning Committee. This will resolve the problem

I attended the IAC (insurance advisory committee) meeting, met with a potential insurance consultant who might also provide some basic HR services within the scope of their work, worked on a public records request, followed up on the several bond issues (School Feasibility at $.125M and Design at $1.25M+/-) to try to have flotation prior to 06/30 to be able to have the cash on the books for FY ’17, worked with Alan on the seasonal laborer posting as well as adjusting the Buildings & Grounds budget to account for the HVAC maintenance at the Senior Center (+$2,750) and Diana to review the various items she proposed to cover from her FY ’18 formula grant. I’ll be meeting with the Library Trustees and others early next week in time to make a report at your next workshop on the potential Community Service budget changes for your consideration.

Treasurer/Collector: Nothing to report this week.

Highway Department: Some of the Highway crew worked on moving larger snow banks to increase visibility at intersections and to allow the banks to melt and flow into the catch basins. The sidewalk plow finished all of the sidewalks, opening them up for the public to access. At the Highway barn the crew was busy I the absence of the mechanic, changing plow blades and working on sanders and other snow and ice issues. They are prepping the Street sweeper for the Spring so it will be ready to go when the weather permits. Early in the day Wednesday a Snow Quall moved thru the area, we sanded/salted the roads to keep them safe. In the new administration we are looking at catch basins, the road inventory and many other projects

Templeton Police Department: PD – 297 Calls for service, 20 motor vehicle stops, 1 arrest, 0 PC. Cruiser 10 – a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria has been taken out of service and we are awaiting its replacement from MHQ. The Volunteer Cell Project: Working on water issues project is still moving along. Dispatch – 394 calls (does not include miscellaneous calls). Dispatch is still experiencing some radio issues we are working with both vendors to hopefully resolve the issues as soon as possible

Building Department Office: This week the Building Department received a total of four permit applications, two were issued and two are waiting for additional info. The ZBA appeal period is up for the property on 9 Grove St., once the property owner has filed the ZBA ruling with the Worcester Registry of Deeds, a building permit for demo and new build will be issued. A Building permit for Daymill Condos was issued for new roofs on all existing units. Four electrical permits and one plumbing permit were also issued. Administrative Asst. was out of the office Monday and Tuesday due to illness and Commissioner Hanks was out on Monday night. Administrative Asst. worked on research for abandoned/vacant property registry for FY18. Administrative Asst. helped research the property at 207 State Road; homeowner came in looking for info on approximate year his house was constructed, as he believed the information he was provided with at time of purchase was incorrect. With the help of the Assessors Assistant and information from the Worcester Registry of Deeds, we were able to determine a more correct date for homeowner.

posted by Jeff Bennett

Templeton selectmen are asking for a transfer of $10,000.00 from the town reserve fund to the Templeton Town vehicle/machinery fund under highway department to cover a shortfall in that fund.

Part of the reason for this request could be linked to the "unexpected' repair/replacement of a pump on a fire department truck. That is something that is appropriate for a reserve fund transfer.

This request is questionable, for this member of the Templeton Advisory Committee, as I believe the reserve fund is not intended to be used to cover such things as inadequate funding or budgeting, sloppy management or predictable funding fluctuations.

"As a town, we need to change the practice of relying upon uncertain sources of income, such as additional state lottery receipts for example, to fund routine reoccurring expenses such as the town operating budget."

That is a quote from the Advisory Report from years ago and I believe it still holds today.

posted by Jeff Bennett
Draw your own conclusion from these; I think they pretty much say it all.

No one is hiding funds on my watch!, those are the words of Diane Brooks and are represented in a comment to a post I made on my blog. Read it then read the email from May 2016, four days before town meeting.

No one is hiding funds on my watch. I have poured over that budget and I already gave some ideas and suggestions on Monday AND previously. perhaps if budgets didn't seem like a mystery reveal and given to the BOS at the last minute it wouldn't be quite so daunting to go through. There is nothing I saw as overstated, but the "lump sum disallowed" has me quite concerned. There was only one member of the advisory committee there in Monday when I have asked and asked for us to have a joint meeting and then it's approved by the Chairman and where was the rest of the committee? We have work to do and I hope we all dig in and ensure the budget is correct, makes sense and is viable for the coming years.

From: Robert Markel <>
To: Brooks, DianeColumbus, John, John Caplis <>, Morrison, DougRichard, Julie
Date: May 12, 2016 at 11:20 AM
Subject: Advisory Committee Recommendations

The proposed operating budget for Fiscal 2017 with Advisory Committee recommendations is attached.  
Their approach is based upon a reduction in expected revenue from New Growth.  For Fiscal 2016, new growth brought in an additional $94,000.  In the prior year, it was $69,000.  
I estimated new growth producing an additional $80,000 in revenue for FY'17.  Thought that this was a conservative estimate, below the current year, in an economy that is doing better.  The Advisory Committee cut the expected new growth revenue to $50,000, and they reduce the Town Administrator salary to $52,000 from $80,000 and they reduce the line item for wage and salary adjustments from $35,000 to $12,000 while giving a raise to the Deputy Assessor, the only Town employee given a raise directly in the budget of the Advisory Committee.  
Assessors are always ultra-conservative about estimating new growth.  Have never encountered Assessors who do it differently.  If our Assessors stand up at Town Meeting and support the lower number, the ATM will likely go along with Advisory Committee recommendations.  Singling out their Deputy Assessor for a raise will likely increase the pressure on the Assessors to support the AC new growth figure.
The BoS and I have supported a higher salary for the Deputy Assessor during the past year.  Her salary in FY'15 was $43K.  She was given two increases in FY'16 that brought her salary to $54K, and she was given an additional $2K in t our FY'17 budget.  Luanne is an excellent employee and she deserves a good salary.  I question why a $12K increase over two fiscal years is inadequate.  Is the AC attempting to influence the Assessors to support for their view of new growth?
I had $25,000 in the Selectmen's budget for raises for non-unionized employees.  It was raised to $35,000 in case we need to increase the Fire Chief's salary during recruitment.  The current Chief is paid $64K.  I put $70K in the FY'17 budget and an additional $10K buried in the BoS budget in case we need it.  
Also, the BoS has said that they want to recruit a permanent T.A. during Fiscal '17.  Why reduce the T.A. salary in the budget when it will have to be raised back to $80K or beyond during recruitment?
Kelli said that Jeff Bennett prevailed upon the AC to raise the budget for Veterans Benefits to $95K.  Not sure why.  AC supports the revolving fund which will use state reimbursements to fund Veterans Benefits.

posted by Jeff Bennett
Why are all of the Templeton Insurance Advisory Committee meetings held in the mornings rather than evenings when most people could attend the open meetings if they wished. Things such as health insurance cost to employees and to taxpayers are discussed at these meetings, so why hold them in the early morning when most people are at work? Maybe Dave Smart can answer that question.

posted by Jeff Bennett

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Interesting things to check out, but on face value:

for FY18 selectmen want to raise $227,605. for the Overlay (abatements & Exemptions)

in FY17 $175,551.94 (Pg 2 of Recap) was raised. 

If you look at the OL1 (Overlay page) from the FY17 Recap the overlay balance from previous years is $119,929.92 

the overlay used for FY2014 - $112,859.66
                                 FY2015 - $104,595.61
                                 FY2016 -  $98,630.43
                           3yr Total          $316,085.70     avg = $105,361.90

The only pending ATB case appears to be Verizon for which per the ATB will be $10,409.00

So my point is; There shouldl be about $90,000. left over from previous years after Verizon is paid.

Possible, there will be at least $90,000.00 left over after FY17 and $110,000.00 after FY18 
Total $290,000.00 
Now as you know none of this money cannot be moved to the Overlay Surplus account without a Board of Assessors vote and then can be used for what ever is voted at town meeting.
Why would the selectmen be "stock piling" money this way? 

inquiring minds wish to know if there is a trail to follow here, as in, "follow the money."

posted by Jeff Bennett