Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Massachusetts Municipal Association votes:

At its Nov. 14 meeting, the MMA Board of Directors discussed recommendations from the MMA Fiscal Policy Committee on two of the questions expected to be on the November 2018 election ballot.
The board voted to oppose a question that would reduce the state’s sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 5 percent, and decided to continue discussion on a ballot question that would increase the tax rate on incomes of more than $1 million.
The Fiscal Policy Committee unanimously recommended that the MMA Board oppose the sales tax ballot question, which would reduce state tax collections by an estimated $1.25 billion. The policy committee vote followed presentations by Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, which drafted and filed the ballot question, and Chris Dempsey, director of Transportation for Massachusetts, which opposes the plan. The committee recommendation was based on concerns about a substantial loss of revenue that is needed to help pay for state and local capital programs and balance the state’s operating budget.
The Fiscal Policy Committee had also recommended that the MMA Board support the proposal to amend the Massachusetts Constitution to impose a surtax on incomes of more than $1 million to be used for public education and transportation purposes. The committee recommended that support for the question be linked to using the new revenue to pay for updating the Chapter 70 school finance program and other school aid programs and to support an increase for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program.
The Fiscal Policy Committee took its vote following presentations by Eileen McAnneny, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, in opposition to the proposal, and by Noah Berger, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, in support. The committee supported the ballot question based on the need for new revenue to update and fully fund important school aid programs and to provide more Chapter 90 funds to help local officials keep municipal roads in a state of good repair.
The MMA Board decided to continue its consideration of the so-called millionaires tax question at a future board meeting to ensure time for full discussion. The question is expected to be back before the board early next year.
Proponents of the nearly two-dozen proposed ballot questions had until Nov. 22 to file enough signatures (64,750) with local elections officials to move forward with their questions. For any questions not approved by the Legislature early next year, proponents will have until June 19 to file an additional 10,792 signatures with Secretary of State William Galvin’s office in order to qualify for the November 2018 state ballot.
The income tax question, a proposed amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution, has already qualified for the ballot.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Board of Selectmen meeting agenda for Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 6:30 P.M.

One item strikes me as odd for this time of year - request for proposals for legal services.

Usually, town counsel is chosen in June, at the end of the fiscal year. Of course, this could be for something involving the elementary school project, but it does seem strange for this time of year. Last time town counsel services were discussed by this board of selectmen, it was agreed that no change was necessary. Unfortunately, with this group of selectmen, always expect the unexpected.

Whatever the reason for this subject, it will be interesting for the reasoning. Maybe it is for bond counsel -:) Oh, wait, Templeton does not have a bond rating!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Narragansett school district project - propane heat and wood chip system.

Who inspected the removal of oil fired boilers at the district school, NRHS? Who sign the permits, if indeed any were obtained? Who did the inspections for plumbing, gas and electrical for the installation of propane heating at the district school? Who paid for and who did the inspections fro the wood chip boiler?

So, when the town of Athol built a new elementary school, using MSBA, who paid for the inspections of that project? Since the selectmen stated it was against statute for the district to pay the town for these inspections, who paid for them? Are these inspection fees reimbursable from MSBA?

Remember, there is a revolving fund for inspection services and while there is a spending limit set (I believe it is $7,500.00) there seems to be a provision that it can be increased by selectmen and Advisory Committee.

Honesty and transparency in government - not in Templeton! (my opinion)

Follow the money - the town can only borrow so much and it has multiple projects, police station, sewer pump station, school, and it can barely borrow the amount to move along on these projects, especially the school. I do not say this, the selectmen say this via a part time town administrator.

Since so few showed up for town meeting, perhaps people do not care how their money is spent or saved?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The MMA encourages new municipal officials, including selectmen elected this spring, to attend. The morning of Jan. 19 will feature a special session for first-time attendees to help them get the most from the two-day event.
The advance program registration rate is $180 for members and $295 for registrants from other government entities. After the early registration deadline of Jan. 10, all registrations will be done on-site at a rate of $230 for members and $345 for other government entities. MMA Business Partners qualify for member rates.
Annual Meeting registration forms must be returned to the MMA, and no registrations can be accepted over the phone. Registrants are urged to return their form with payment. The MMA accepts credit cards for Annual Meeting transactions.
Reservations are also being accepted for the Women Elected Municipal Officials Leadership Luncheon on Friday, Jan. 19, and the Friday and Saturday evening dinners, which will feature engaging speakers and entertainment.
• See registration details
The Sheraton Boston Hotel, conveniently located adjacent to the Hynes, is the host hotel for 2018. The MMA negotiated a reduced room rate of $174 per night for a single or $184 per night for a double. The reduced-rate rooms are expected to sell out quickly, and reservations must be made by Dec. 22 to take advantage of the special rates.

Templeton Town Administrator has it in contract to attend and yes, you pay for it. Also, if all five selectmen attend, that is quite the bill just for attendance and rooms, there is also parking and meals. 
Looking at the so called special financial report, I find no reporting of all town employee salaries, no accounting of the individual trust accounts, only a total of all trust funds. No real accounting of town debt. A very lacking report from the treasurer, no showing of actual cash flow, no accounting of the spending of taxpayer dollars
If you think Town Counsel works for you, you are mistaken! If you think Town Counsel is at Town Meeting to help you out, you are mistaken. Town Counsel is there for the 'Town", the corporation. If you think the selectmen or Planning Board has done something wrong and you pursue it legally, you will be up against Town Counsel.

from Templeton General By-Laws:

Article VII – Legal Affairs

 Section 1. The Selectmen shall be agents of the town to institute, prosecute and defend any and all claims, actions and proceedings to which the town is a party or in which the interests of the town are or may be involved.

Section 4. The Selectmen shall annually in June appoint a Town Counsel, who is a member of the bar in good standing, to serve for the term of one year from the first day of July following and until his successor is appointed and enters upon the performance of his duties. They shall likewise fill any vacancies in said office for the unexpired term, and may employ special counsel to assist the said Town Counsel whenever, in their judgement, necessity therefore arises. Amended 8-31-78

If you recall, a resident at Town Meeting commented he got advice from Town Counsel, then selectmen Brooks jumped up demanding who gave you authority to contact Town Counsel? The resident responded he had spoken to them at the end of a previous town meeting. Shortly there after, selectmen Brooks is at a BOS meeting taking about looking at and for new Town Counsel.

An attorney is a licensed professional and an officer of the court, so when a question is asked pertaining to a subject that an attorney was not involved in or has no knowledge of the background facts, do not expect much. Expect what was given, a general description of the options available.

Remember also, that is the individuals responsibility to act legally and ethically, as all elected or appointed officials are suppose to take the ethics training and obtain open meeting law information as well as sign a document stating that.

I have spoken to different attorneys from different law firms after a Town Meeting and the information received or just the conversation was different than the perception arrived at by way of comments or opinions rendered during Town Meeting.
Town Counsel is employed/appointed by the BOS, retained or not by the BOS and firms are not in the business of losing clients, in this case, the client is the BOS.

Having served as a selectmen and having dealt with three different law firms, I can state with confidence that Templeton has a very good Town Counsel and can receive very good legal advice, but the selectmen have to want that to happen for it to come to fruition. The selectmen have to want good governance, transparency and honesty for that to happen. Remember who shut down conversation at Town Meeting with regards to the school funding; selectmen Brooks made the motion that resulted in Town Meeting, as in the people who took the time to attend, being unable to discuss that matter any longer. Town Counsel did his job for his client, the BOS. The selectmen wanted to shut down any talk of stopping the school and they did it. If you want that to change, elect new selectmen and demand they do things in the way in which you want them too. If they do not, either elect new ones or recall them, you have the power to do that. That is not going to happen with 66 people showing up for Town Meeting. Remember, that 66 includes selectmen, Advisory Committee, the checkers, etc, so how many residents actually showed up who were not required to be there?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Very low turn out for Templeton special Town meeting. Pretty embarrassing and disgusting when only a handful of town residents show up for their meeting!

The few that did show up demonstrated your vote does matter and you can have an effect on the out come. Two zoning changes were passed over at this meeting when those few citizens showed up and spoke, they made their case and put it to the voters - and they won!

Once again, in my opinion, it was shown that Town Counsel is not being utilized for the benefit of the Town. When there is an issue brought before the people, why was the regional school agreement not given to counsel and the question (s) asked: can we change town election dates without issue? Can we change the agreement so only Templeton residents vote on Templeton representatives and only Phillipston residents vote on Phillipston representatives?

On the zoning changes, what are the ethics challenges or solutions to bringing these two articles forward? Were businesses grandfathered  when zoning passed? Perhaps the big question is the land formerly owned by Bill Putnam and the class II / III licenses involved in the sale of that property; did the property lose it's grandfather clause with the sale? With zoning in place, is that large piece of property now limited to certain use by way of the present zoning regulations?

Templeton can and does get good legal advice when it is asked for, unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of that these days with this BOS.

If the school district cannot pay our inspectors, how were any inspections done when the district changed over to propane/wood chips? Was the project inspected? Who did the inspections and who paid for them?  With the constant changing of numbers, will the Tempeton tax recap sheet be done on time? Why is Templeton only borrowing 10 million dollars with the school project beginning shortly?

More piecemeal borrowing, more BANs which will probably cost taxpayers more.

Friday, November 10, 2017

TO:                        SelectBoard
FROM:            Carter Terenzini, Town Administrator
RE:                        Upcoming Borrowing
DATE:            November 1, 2017
CC:                        C. Richardson; K. Pontbriand; M. Carney

Our financial advisor has had preliminary conversations with Moody’s Investors Service relative to our seeking a rating for the Bond Anticipation Notes we are about to seek bids on.  For Municipal notes the ratings are as follows:
                                                            MIG 1, best quality
MIG 2, high quality
MIG 3, favorable quality; and
MIG 4, adequate quality.

The initial reaction is that we will not be able to obtain a MIG 1 rating.  There is a strong possibility we can achieve a MIG 2 rating but that is never certain until one formally submits the documentation for review.  Even if we achieve a MIG 2 rating it is at least .25% above the interest rate of a borrowing rated MIG 1 rating.  Our advisor has recommended, and I agree, that we not seek a formal bond rating at this time but instead finance our needs through unrated bank notes. 

The maximum for this in this calendar year will be $10,000,000 which is more than enough to cover our needs ($5M BAN, $1M Police, $2.3 Sewer, $1.7 new money).  This gives us $5.4M+/- for the school in CY ’18.  We will then seek an additional $10,000,000 in CY 2019 and continue to work toward an acceptable bond rating as your financial picture slowly improves.

This approach will take continual monitoring of your cash flow needs and does not deflate the opposition to the projects based upon their concerns over our financial condition.  However, it lets us get the projects underway, is not a negative of having submitted and not achieving a prime rating, buys us some time to improve how your financial condition is viewed by others, and keeps the pressure on to continue to make – and effect – the hard-financial choices that are needed to bring about longer term financial stability.

With respect to the actual bonding itself, Moody’s indicated that the underlying rating would be an A2.  Moody’s could not get the Town to the highest note rating due to the amount of debt authorized and the lack of a cash coverage ratio to pay the notes off if you couldn’t issue Bonds.  This is a highly unlikely scenario, but that’s their criteria.  For your information I have attached a graphic for the Moody’s Bond rating system so you can see how A2 would compare to the overall rating system for investment-grade issues.

5 million + 1 million +2.3 million + 1.7 million = 10 million, so 10 million is more than enough to cover our needs (Templeton needs?) I seem to remember a 5 million dollar BAN being mentioned at the audit report, along with the words, "do not spend it" - more paid for advice being ignored and yet no selectmen speaks up on this? No selectmen speak against this? You have or will have bills totaling 10 million dollars and yet the words of the part time town administrator are "more than enough to cover our needs" Apparently those very aggressive things on a very aggressive schedule did not materialize. I an already see all the bobble heads nodding at Town Meeting, just the old pictures of the soviet politburo on the nightly news. Yes sir ree bub, Tempeton is moving ahead!
November 10, 2017 - United States Marine Corps, going strong for 242 years.

Semper Fi to all Marines  (even the wing)

Tomorrow, Saturday, November 11, is Veterans Day!

Sunday, November 5, 2017


TO;            Board of Selectmen

FROM:      Carter Terenzini, Town Administrator (part time)

RE:             Administrator's Weekly Report

DATE:        November 2, 2017

CC:             ALL Departments


Important Notices

Positions Now Open: PT Police Officers and Dispatchers

Fall Town Meeting: 7:00 P.M. on November 14 at Narragansett Regional Middle School

Town Hall Hours Change 11/01 (Mon 7:30a to 6:30p; T/W/Th 7:30a to 4:30p)
Please post notices now and prepare to change web pages and printing CoB 10/31

It's not too early to begin to think about your  FY '19 OPEX and CAPEX budget requests.
Expect budget guidance on or about 12/01/17 and submissions due back on or about 01/01/18
Please make sure all of your units and committees are submitting their projects to the CPC!

Business Meeting or Workshop: The following is intended to supplement agenda items where a full memorandum may not have been required or updates are needed. N/A

Weekly Report: I taped a 1 hour show with Steve Castle to explain and discuss the various warrant articles and had the opportunity to do the same with the incoming Gardner News reporter who wil be replacing Christine Smith. Now that we have removed the "Interim" from the title, I'm looking to possibly do such informational show each month. I would appreciate suggestions of topics you think would be of interest to the community. I met with severa residents of Day Mil and subsequently attended the ZBA where - upon remand of the case - they did remove the over 55 condition from the development's comprehensive permit. This will resolve this matter. As you can see from the agenda, the major work effort was spent preparing FY "19 revenue projections, a staff response to the AC's presentation, working with our financial advisor on the next round of BANs, and preparing a Town Meeting Voter Information Guide for your consideration (please review the 10/27 report for possible distribution of article advocates) We have had a number of questions about whether or not the ConCom reviewed the elementary school project and if it complies with our storm water by-law. The bottom line is all requirements have been followed. I'l get you the detailed memo early next week. The management fellow started on Monday and has begun on special projects including the preparation of the information letter and affidavits for use of the finance team in clearing out the multitude of heck tailings. He has begun the development of a full organization chart on how this will be deployed and used for our web site and new email protocols.

Town Accountant: Laura and I worked on the benefits for all active and retired employees to make sure all the deductions and insurance coverage's are correct. Laura also has a the accrual numbers to enter for the employees to have their sick, personal and vacation appear on their cheks. We are waiting for Harpers to complete the set up and they hope to have this completed sometime in November. Continue to work with Cheryl each week on the different aspects of the Treasurer/Collector job that I can help with. Both Cheryl and Laura are making great strides in the learning of their positions.

Nothing personal here, but I think it would have been better if the selectmen had hired the experience and certified collector/treasure rather than going with an inexperienced person. That would have been in line with another Town Meeting vote and in my opinion, this board of selectmen seem to have a hard time with that subject. Following Town meeting votes, following Town by-laws and following state law seems to be a problem with this board of selectmen. This is not the past, this is in the here and now.

Templeton residents, by way of Town Meeting, approved money for a certified treasurer/collector, a full time Town administrator and a full time Town accountant. Templeton residents have gotten one out of the three, up until now. It may be for only a short time, but an employee using vacation time so as to work else where because of training being provided by the residents/taxpayers of Templeton raises a question; are Templeton residents/taxpayers getting what they asked for and are paying for?

Remember, Wednesday is the day that the bills of the Town and payroll of the Town are normally processed, looked over and signed by the selectmen. With the Town accountant away on "vacation", while actually working in another Town, who is there to answer any questions that may come up concerning those two important items? The assistant Town accountant? Do selectmen bother a full time Town employee who is on vacation for any questions? Did the selectmen hire an assistant Town accountant to allow the full time Town accountant to moon light at another Town?

More importantly, why are Tempeton taxpayers always aiding in the running of the Town of Phlliipston? Is that why Phillipston always seems to have a good financial picture while Templeton, well, not so much?  Phillipston pays little for dispatch (provided by Templeton taxpayers) while Templeton pays 300 thousand plus for dispatch (the same service) Templeton taxpayers pay for a senior center/food pantry and now Phillipston uses that facility and they pay what??  Now, Phillipston gets an accountant, training paid for by Templeton taxpayers, while Templeton pays for both a full time accountant and an assistant accountant. Templeton pays for vacation while Phillipston pays only for service. (is that double dipping by a Town employee?)

Seems like a pretty picture is being painted by the selectmen and the painting continues to be photo shopped so as to continue looking pretty, all the while, the frame is being eaten by termites.

Might be time for residents to take control and only put aside enough money for a part time Town administrator and put the rest in savings as it makes no sense to put aside $110,000.00 for a part time employees while the selectmen use the rest of those funds as a slush fund.
from the annual Town Meeting of 2012 (year of the big selectmen recall)

Article 30. Too see if the Town will vote to rescind the vote taken under Article 8 of the Special Town Meeting held on November 7, 2011, creating a Fire Department-Ambulance Receipts Reserved for Appropriation Account for ambulance receipts commencing in FY’13, rescinding this vote will remand ambulance receipts to the General Fund of the Town; or to take any other action relative thereto. 
Submitted by the Board of Selectmen 
Main Motion Defeated/May 16 th @ 9:49

Special Town meeting of November 7, 2011

Article 8 To see if the Town will vote to create a Fire Department-Ambulance Receipts Reserved for Appropriation Account where collected ambulance receipts for services are placed beginning with FY2013. Monies out of this fund are expended only through town meeting vote for the purpose of funding various Fire Department capital requests pursuant to the betterment of the Fire Department services as deemed by the Templeton Fire Chief. 
Submitted by the Templeton Fire Chief 

On a motion duly made and seconded the Town voted to create a Fire Ambulance Receipts Reserved for Appropriation Account where collected ambulance receipts for services are placed beginning with fiscal year 2013. 
Passed Unanimously/Nov. 7th @ 8:00

Friday, November 3, 2017

The following link should allow you to read a document, which seems to be from the Philipston Town accountant, who also happens to be the Templeton Town accountant. I believe Templeton hours are Monday to Thursday - 7:30 A.M. - 4:30 P.M. and on Mondays, back at 5:30 P.M. - 7:30 P.M.

So does this updated schedule have the Templeton Town accountant in Phillipston on the days the accountant is suppose to be in Templeton?!Ag8wbGi1Ag0zgXh0Lu4m12YlxICo

note: once you open the ink, you may have to use the "keys" in the grey drop box to rotate the document right side up.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Perhaps a lack of understanding on Town government?
Perhaps an attempted fast one?

Either way, the attempt to change how the Templeton Advisory Committee would be appointed in the future seems to be on the shelf - for now. One item needs to be brought to every ones attention; the NRHS school committee having any say on the appointment of any town committees - why would a selectmen wish to have members of another town have input on the Templeton finance (advisory) committee? The NRHS school committee is a separate legal entity from Templeton Town government, made up of some Phillipston residents. Granted, Phillipston already rides Templeton taxpayers like a rented mule (my opinion) but I do not feel it is correct (or smart) to have out of town residents choosing who will serve on such an important committee. Especially when said committee will be looking at their budgets and making recommendations to same.

While it (the change) appeared to be patterned after Littleton's way of doing things, I do not believe Littleton belongs to a regional school district, which makes a difference. (my opinion) Perhaps selectmen Fortes can or will focus on the budget process and the following of Templeton by-laws and "fight" for a true balanced budget that does not have to be back filled at a later date because of lack of revenue to cover expenses presented to Town Meeting. Just begin at fiscal 2015 and follow through to fiscal 2018; you will find alot of "fixing" of the finances, which indicates their is still things to do and work on for Templeton finance and budgeting. There is really no excuse for having to "back fill" a department budget, especially salaries, these are known expenses and should and must be covered by monies available. If the money is not there, do not present nor ask for those numbers.