Sunday, December 31, 2017

Time for a change . . . . and a real step forward for Templeton.

I think if there is one thing to wish for in the coming new year, it is a change, more people at Town Meeting and more than a simple yes or no recommendation from the finance (Advisory) committee. Perhaps this is the year where that committee can/will really "bring it".

Bring things like a real report with real explanations for it's recommendations.
Explanations from the "minority report" as to why any members who vote or recommend against an article. Time to perhaps change it up and for some of this to happen, the moderator is going to have to allow these explanations to happen . . . the residents/voters/taxpayers deserve it. When the Advisory Committee states it wants or needs to explain a recommendation, the moderator needs to let this happen. What would be a reason to deprive the people at Town Meeting of this information or explanation? It should not be politics nor jockeying from say the selectmen or Town Administrator.

I hope the New Year brings a well attended and informed Town Meeting with real explanations with regards to any recommendations for / against/ or no action. My hope for the New Year is there will be no more selectmen (individually or collectively) attempts to stifle discussion on any article presented to Templeton's Town Meeting. Let discussion happen and let true democracy take place.

This might be a pretty large wish for the New Year but you either "go big or stay home." As the British SAS say, "who dares wins."

Happy New Year to all.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hope everyone is paying attention; on Beacon Hill, the state politicians are looking to make some moves with regards to alcohol sales and taxes. Increase taxes and use that money for more alcohol enforcement people - as in grow the government, which will cost more than the taxes collected, so New Hampshire, here I come.

Happy New Year!
Some places where your tax dollars go

Please use this rate for your mileage reimbursements in your budget you

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car
(also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

* 54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven, up 1 cent from
the rate for 2017.

Kelli Pontbriand
Town of Templeton

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Capital Planning Committee:
Tempeton has a Town by-law concerning capital planning, in fact several Town Meeting votes were redone because these items did not foow that by-law and did not go before the capital panning committee.

There has also been mention of accuracy on the town web site;

Right now, the web site shows capital planning committee as follows:

Doug Morrison
Charles Carroll II
Wil Spring
Lori Mattson

Tuesday, December 19, 2017 - Capital Planning Committee

Agenda shows the supposed membership of this committee;

Doug Morrison - Chairman
Robert May - vice-chairman
Cheryl Richardson - (Town Treasurer)
member at large - vacant
member at large - vacant
Carter Terezini, Town Administrator
Ex-officio member

While attending this meeting, I observed Doug Morrison and Cheryl Richardson present. Also present and apparently counted as a member was Eric Pollitt.

Question; was there an actual quorum present so the planning committee could conduct business?
Question; is it the policy of the board of selectmen to allow this kind of merry go 'round as to anyone can fill in on this committee?
Question; is there really enough members on this committee for it to function as designed?

To me, it looks similar to all of those selectmen policies, there on paper but not much substance. If anyone is going to make issue about how much time is spent on A and should Town entities B, C and D  perhaps "pay" for service provided by Town Employee M, perhaps the Capital Planning Committee should become functioning and maybe devise a true plan and follow it.

I might follow the lead of Capital Planning committee members; when I cannot make a meeting, I wi simply send someone in my place so they may conduct business.

The term “ex-officio” is a common Latin phrase which when literally translated means “from the office.

Ex-officio” means “by virtue of office”. An ex-officio committee member is a person who is automatically entitled to a position on a committee, for as long as he or she holds a certain office in the organization. An ex-officio position on a committee exists only if a governing document (legislation or bylaws) provides for it.

from the Tempeton Town genera by-laws:

Article XLII – Capital Planning By-Law Section 1:
Capital Improvements Committee:
There is hereby authorized a Capital Improvements Committee, to be composed of five members, as follows:
• One (1) from the Board of Selectmen;
• One (1) from the Advisory Committee;
• Two (2) from the community at large to be appointed by the Board of Selectmen; and
 • The Town Treasurer/Collector

The Town Administrator, or designee, shall serve as a non-voting ex-officio member provided, however, that this person shall be designated by the Chairman as a voting member whenever the Committee lacks a quorum because of a recusal of a member or to provide a sufficient number of members to establish a quorum and conduct business.

This by-law was amended May 13, 2017 and approved by the attorney general on August 1, 2017 which is when the by-law may legally take affect. So, are there some minutes of a recorded meeting where a designee was voted on to fill in or take over for the town administrator or does this just happen on a whim and whenever it is convenient?

Once again, a very confusing by-law - a five member committee, apparently with "spare" in waiting.
Does that mean it is actually a 6 member committee? Was or is there an official change from the town administrator to a designee or is that also carried out on a whim when one does not feel like attending?  Again, perhaps before we go counting pennies and making things complicated, perhaps we should get the foundation solid first.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Working the holiday:

Someone wrote on here that "highway was out plowing the roads being paid time and half.

From the highway labor contract: Overtime / compensatory time.

"Overtime for work on Sundays and Holidays shall be paid at the double time rate."

The following was voted for in 1998 by Templeton Town Meeting:

Section 23C: Persons acting on behalf of selectmen; appointment and removal

Section 23C. No person shall be authorized by vote of a town to act on behalf of the board of selectmen unless the vote provides that such person shall be appointed and may be removed by said board.

I do not believe that Templeton Town Meeting ever voted for this:

Section 23A: Executive secretary or town administrator; appointment; tenure

Section 23A. A town may by vote or by-law authorize and empower the selectmen to appoint an executive secretary or town administrator who may be appointed by them for a term of one or three years and to remove him at their discretion. An executive secretary or town administrator appointed under the provisions of this section shall be sworn to the faithful performance of his duties. During the time that he holds office he shall hold no elective town office, but he may be appointed by the selectmen or, with their approval, by any other town officer, board, committee or commission, to any other town office or position consistent with his office. He shall receive such aggregate compensation, not exceeding the amount appropriated therefor, as the selectmen may determine. He shall act by and for the selectmen in any matter which they may assign to him relating to the administration of the affairs of the town or of any town office or department under their supervision and control, or, with the approval of the selectmen, may perform such other duties as may be requested of him by any other town officer, board, committee or commission.

So has Templeton legally established the position of Town Administrator? Does Templeton have to vote for section 23A to be able to legally have the position of Town Administrator under Massachusetts General Law?

The following is from the Templeton Town website, contained in the contract for Treasurer/Collector.
d. No sooner than february 1, 2020 and no ater than February 28, 2020, the treasurer/collector shal notify the administrator in writing of their desire to be reappointed to a subsequent term of office and negotiate the terms of employment for such subsequent term. Should the treasurer/collector provide such notice, then the administrator shall give the treasurer/collector notice no later than April 1, 2020, either that (1) the administrator does not intend to reappoint the treasurer/collector to a subsequent term, in which case the treasurer/collector's employment shall terminate on the termination date. 

MGL chapter 41:
Section 108N 1/2. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, a city or town, acting through the appointing authority for the treasurer, assessor or collector in that city or town, may establish an employment contract to provide for the salary, fringe benefits and other conditions of employment including, but not limited to, severance pay, relocation expenses, reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performances of duties of the office, liability insurance and leave for an appointed treasurer, assessor or collector or a person performing the duties of an appointed treasurer, assessor or collector under a different title.
  The contract shall be in accordance with and subject to the city or town charter and shall prevail over a conflicting local personnel by-law, ordinance, rule or regulation. In addition to the benefits provided to municipal employees under chapters 32 and 32B, the contract may provide for supplemental retirement and insurance benefits.
  This section shall not affect the appointment or removal powers of an appointing authority over the treasurer, assessor or collector of the city or town or a person performing the duties of a treasurer, assessor or collector under a different title. This section shall not grant tenure to such an officer, affect section 67 of chapter 44 or apply to an elected treasurer, assessor or collector.

Who is the appointing authority in Templeton??
The fiscal 2018 budget book has a "new" list; chart of accounts and it shows 400 as highway.

The October 2017/fiscal 2018 ledger history - allocated summary - expenditure edger

400 - unamed

Personnel                               $362,804.00

Employee support                  $  13,250.00

Purchase of services              $   37,500.00

Supplies                                  $160,000.00

Intergovernmental                  $     2,500.00

Can anyone show me where the mechanic's salary is listed, how much it is, how much has been paid to date? Anyone?

To me, that is the bigger problem / issue here; lack of transparency with regards to spending public money. Maybe the selectmen can come up with a policy to cover that whie they are handing out lapel pins!
Tracking expenses:

Before anyone can track expenses, one must be able to see them, if you look on the October 2017 (fiscal 2018) expense report, no where can you see the salary expense for the TOWN mechanic. In the fiscal 2018 budget book, there is a line item for the mechanic's salary: $47,715.00 and since he is the Town mechanic, how or why does it matter how much of his time is spent on a police vehicle versus a COA van? He is a town employee paid a salary to work on town vehicles. Keep in mind there are invoices for services and parts, etc and the Templeton Town accountant told me face to face that the Town only pays bills based on invoices.

At one time, police cruisers were worked on by Akin automotive and this service was paid out of the police expense fund. Again, almost impossible to track department budgets and expenses because they are no longer listed as such because the selectmen allow the town administrator to do this, with the town administrator telling the town accountant to do things this way. It all falls on the selectmen because they are ultimately responsible. I believe there should be work orders at the highway barn for each and every vehicle worked on showing what repairs or maintenance was done, showing corresponding invoices for parts etc. This creates a record (s) and these records would enable the department head to know and justify how much money is needed for vehicle maintenance. How else could the department head along with the town administrator state it is so costly to keep up the old equipment? Another thing s how does one pan for a large unexpected expense, such as an engine blow up, I mean S*** happens. You need an emergency fund that is adequately funded.

That is the main reason there was a fuss and attention paid to the town vehicle maintenance fund last year; because around $25,000.00 was used to pay for an unexpected pump failure and that money should have come from the emergency fund rather than a maintenance budget. Again, a town employee, the town mechanic who is paid a salary from town taxes to work on town vehicles; I am more concerned with the lack of transparency of the budget versus actual and being unable to distinguish between the mechanic's salary and what is paid to the labor's because the departments are no longer listed on that report. That should be the bigger concern of everyone, lack of transparency in the spending of public money - your tax dollars. Hopefully we do not spend to much of those tax dollars on reports trying to track every penny while the costs of those reports end up costing more than the pennies being tracked. Hopefully we do not get distracted from that fact. lack of transparency on the budget versus actual document; created and maintained by the individual who is suppose to track it all, the town accountant!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

So, for the sanding issue, the pattern of sand on the road can be attributed to different things, equipment not operating properly; hydraulic valve sticking or not functioning correctly (lack of preventative maintenance) sander not operating correctly (lack of maintenance) bearings needing grease, chain frozen or out of adjustment, spinner motor junk or on its way. With sand, it is possible due to it being stockpiled out doors, it is wet and heavy and will not spread efficiently. Sand like salt needs to be dry (as in stored under cover) to work best. When you are using a screening plant in the winter to re-screen sand (as in doing the job at least twice/repeating it) that tells of an issue with storage. This also adds to the cost - fuel/time/labor all equate to dollars = tax money wasted!

For budgeting, I do not know about anyone else, but how do I estimate how much money to put aside for electricity without considering how much my cost was for the previous year? What do I use as a basis for an electric budget? Do I pull a number out of my butt? I believe you look at last year's cost, say it was an average of $100.00 per month, so I say I need to put aside at least $1200.00 for the next year, plus a little bit more, in case electric costs go up, it is a colder winter and I use more electricity, it is warmer so I run the A/C or fans more.

Another item,town vehicles, as in owned by the Town, as in owned by the Taxpayers. Whatever Town owned vehicles are maintained or repaired by the TOWN mechanic who is paid by Town revenue - as in TAXES, I believe there is an item voted on at Town Meeting and voted on by the Tax payers /residents and it is called (or was) Town vehicle maintenance expense and I would tell anyone to request a copy of the Town budget versus actual document so you could see the fund name, how much was appropriated and the fund/account number, I cannot do that now because the Town Administrator and the town accountant will tell you that ya'll voted for a new format and those individual items are no longer listed by name and there fore, you as a taxpayer can no longer easily find and check on these numbers. But, since there is an amount of money set aside by town meeting vote to repair town vehicles, why are we going to complicate things by trying to have the fire department or the police department or the COA now have to set money aside to reimburse the highway department for work done to COA vehicles? I mean seriously, WTF? That would be a continuation of simply moving money around to pay for things, as in robbing peter to pay paul. Since there is a fund for town vehicle expense and these vehicles belong to the town, it is not the highway department's money or budget, it is taxpayer money and whether it is money used to maintain a highway department truck or a COA van, that is how that money was voted and the department head is the one who submits that budget knowing it is for ALL town vehicles so if more money is needed, then ask for it, and if the town administrator/selectmen lower it, then they can explain any short falls or situations that may come up.

My thought is this: if the town administrator was/is such a financial guru, then a town where he worked for 8 or more years would not have let him go so easily and another town would not have had an article to abolish the position of town administrator just to get rid of him.

Before anyone plans on spending anything, how much taxes do we have to spend?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sand and Salt: A Model for Change

A nature of the human condition is to resist change. However, in most cases, change turns out to be a good thing, particularly in the areas of science and technology.
In snow and ice control, one of the most difficult changes for an agency is to change from a policy of abrasives treatment (sand) priority to a policy of chemical treatment (salts and other chemicals) priority.

Abrasives priority is a policy of using a mixture of abrasives and ice control chemicals, or straight abrasives, to treat snow and ice situations. A chemical priority policy uses straight ice control chemicals, without abrasives, to produce the desired result. The strategy of anti-icing (trying to prevent ice/pavement bond) is inherent in most chemical priority programs.
To transition from an abrasive to a chemical priority policy, examine these steps that have been used successfully by others.
  • Decide that chemical priority is something to try, and WHY
  • Research relevant literature and web-based information
  • Get help from knowledgeable peers: the Cornell Local Roads Program; NYSDOT; FHWA; and consultants
  • Decide which roads or areas are good candidates for such a policy
  • Conduct trials that yield data on costs, operational characteristics, and performance
  • If successful, get legislative buy-in and educate your agency by using local “champions” who have seen the experimental results first hand
  • Educate the public (people who use your highway system)

Train, evaluate, and refine

Warren County in New York State and the State of Maine have successfully managed the transition from an abrasives to a chemical priority policy.

Environmental protection and improved level of service

Warren County is situated in the Adirondack Mountains. Most of the western watershed of Lake George is in this county. In the early 1990s the loadings of silt and abrasives accumulating in Lake George were generating a high level of environmental concern. The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Warren County Department of Public Works (DPW) installed many containment features to trap silt and abrasives before they reached Lake George. They also instituted aggressive sweeping programs to pick up abrasives before they entered the drainage system.
In the late 1990s, to further reduce abrasives loadings, the Warren County DPW decided to move from its long-standing abrasives priority policy to a chemical priority policy, and improve their level of snow and ice service. Coincidentally, researchers from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) contacted Warren County to participate in a field study to compare the cost and performance of a chemical priority policy with those of an abrasives priority policy - A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN.
Warren County agreed to collect the necessary data. The researchers provided substantial training, experimental design, data collection forms, and data analysis. The results of the three-winter study were compelling. The data showed that an equal or higher level of service could be provided, at less cost, by using a chemical priority approach when compared with an abrasives priority approach. THE DATA SHOWED LESS SALT WOULD BE USED.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Advisory Committee is made up of seven members, all volunteers, who are appointed by the Town Moderator for a term of three years. The Town’s General Bylaws direct the Advisory Committee to give recommendations that it deems best for the interests of the Town and its citizens on all department budgets, transfer requests, warrant articles, zoning articles and by law articles. One can look at the Templeton general Town by-laws to see the exact wording/direction given by way of Town Meeting and their by-law votes which show the direction residents wanted and voted for the Advisory Committee to proceed.The Advisory Committee's goal is to give Town residents an objective viewpoint on all matters to be considered at Annual and Special Town Meetings. Their recommendations are intended to ensure the residents of Templeton are receiving the best mix of services for the amount of taxes being collected. Since the members of the Advisory Committee are appointed by the Town Moderator, they act as a check and balance to the Town’s elected boards and committees as well as those individuals, boards and committees appointed by the Board of Selectmen and the Town Administrator.

Please be advised there are sometimes openings on the committee during the year and there are some appointments up each year and if you feel you are not getting what was voted for, please step up and volunteer. Since the committee is directed to be in the "checks and balance business", it is imperative that the committee have the access to information and that information is required to be clear, up to date and easily available to the committee.

Hopefully this year, Templeton residents will see a different format on recommendations from the Advisory Committee, and these recommendations will be available in different formats and places.

Massachusetts General Law, chapter 39

Section 16: Appropriation, advisory or finance committees; appointment; tenure; powers and duties

Section 16. Every town whose valuation for the purpose of apportioning the state tax exceeds one million dollars shall, and any other town may, by by-law provide for the election or the appointment and duties of appropriation, advisory or finance committees, who shall consider any or all municipal questions for the purpose of making reports or recommendations to the town; and such by-laws may provide that committees so appointed or elected may continue in office for terms not exceeding three years from the date of appointment or election.
In every town having a committee appointed under authority of this section, such committee, or the selectmen if authorized by a by-law of the town, and, in any town not having such a committee, the selectmen, shall submit a budget at the annual town meeting.

So, first off, Templeton has two conflicting Town by-laws concerning budget presentation; is the Attorney General's office aware of this?

Secondly, kind of hard to make a report or recommendation (s) to town meeting if the committee is kept out of the loop. Kind of hard to make a report or show a report to the Town Meeting when the information is unclear or hidden, such as the budget versus actual documents. Kind of hard for departments to know this information if it is unclear or hidden as well.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Narragansett Regional School Committee forms a District Re-Organization Advisory Committee. One purpose of this committee will be to help guide the administrative team and school committee shape a vision for the future of the NRHS district.

Within this letter, which was distributed through the Town office, as was explained to me. The school committee wished the committee to be made up as follows;

1 school committee representative from each district town (Templeton & Phillipston)
1 select board member from each town
1 community member from each town
1 teacher from each school (5)
1 UFCW member from each unit (cafeteria, secretary, paraprofessional)
1 member from each town's Advisory/Finance committee
Town Administrator or equivalent from each town.

Here in lies my concern; Templeton Advisory Committee did not receive the invitation/notification; not a phone call, no email, no letter, which would or should have come by way of town hall, as in the board of selectmen's office. I found out by way of a newspaper article and then contacted the school district.
There was a deadline of sorts within the original letter; December 11, 2017.

My conclusion is this was a deliberate move to leave Advisory Committee out of the loop and make it appear Advisory did not care or was not paying attention. ( I suppose it could have been a lapse because of the holidays approaching ) :) I draw this conclusion based on past actions by the current town administrator and board of selectmen. Games, plain and simple, as in those calls for resignation and bogus open meeting law violations, which after much bluster and newspaper coverage, never went anywhere. The responses from the Advisory Committee were never appealed to the attorney general's office. Selectmen Fortes stated at a recorded meeting "that we have to be the adults here." - Then he posts a tweet of himself doing a face first plunge into a swimming pool with a beer in hand, now that is an adult!

I was at the BOS meeting when mention of the creation of this district committee was stated and that the district was looking for a member of the board of selectmen to serve on it, no mention of Advisory Committee, even as I sat there at that meeting. Sorry boys and girls, I am now on that committee! I thank the Narragansett School district Committee and the superintendent of schools for their consideration.
School building committee;

Ground breaking should begin/ is planned for spring of 2018. There will be a website through the school district where information will be posted on progress with regards to the project. Residents will also be able to contact town hall, the school district, the school committee as well as attend meetings and or watch the recording on tv. Also mentioned was a planned announcement of when the existing building will come down and that should be sometime after the first of the year.

Actual digging for the new school again will be in the spring, as in warm weather, so the people in the pictures with shovels and such will be comfy.

Missing in action was committee member Diane Haley Brooks, who did manage a "drive by" after the meeting had adjourned, picking up some paper work from committee member Hank Mason in the parking lot. Now that is dedication

Capital planning managed a quorum and conducted some business while agreeing to hopefully have recommendations ready by end of January, 2018 for the upcoming Annual Town Meeting.

Note; While there may be work going on at the site now, I believe the "ground breaking" will include the usual group photo with shovels and the actual work involved in building the new structure rather than site work such as erecting fences, bringing in equipment and probably demolition of the existing building. Feel free to contact the school district for more information.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

TO:            Board of Selectmen
FROM:      Carter Terenzini, Town Administrator
RE:             Administrator's Weekly Report
DATE:        December 14, 2017
CC:             All Departments

Town Hall will be closing at noon on Thursday, December 21, for the Holiday. Other Town
Offices will be closed at noon on Friday, December 22, for the Holiday.
All Town offices will re-open on Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Important Notices

Budget and Legislative Packages Are Due January 2, 2018
Please make sure all of your units and committees are submitting their projects to the CPC

We are having a continuing problem with CH. 30B procurements. Please confer with this
office before entering into any purchase or contract with a value of greater than $2,500.00. 
More formal guidance will be issued in mid January after conferring with the BOS.

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.

Weekly Report:  We opened the bids for the timber cut at the landfill and highway site (s). Our estimate was for a gross income of $15k with a net of $10k. The actual bids are closer to a gross income of $21k with a net of $15k. This will be on your 1/08 agenda. We have rejected the Police Station bids. The Chief met with the project manager and others to try and see where the major differences were between the estimates and the final bids. He will be prepared to brief you at your January workshop along with a plan to go forward. The several offices of the Treasurer/Collector and Development Services have been relocated. While we have a few more things to do over the coming year, this should address the safety concerns expressed by the Town Auditor. That said, the new security features for the Treasurer/Collector will mean a need to relocate the copying and faxing activities of some to the hall copier or other methods. Eric arranged for Jackie Abbott from the State's Operational Services Division to come to Town Hall on Tuesday to train staff members how to use CommBuys for state-wide contracts. Jackie trained staff members on how to make purchases and post bids for services on CommBuys. The staff felt more confident and prepared to use CommBuys in the future after the training. Along with Eric Politt, the following people attended: Eric Baker Dispatch, Felicia Kuehl, the accounts payable clerk from NRSD, Holly Young from the BOS office, Mallory Seamon of development services and Pam Rogers from DPW office. COA and Fire both wanted to attend but had other obligations. They will receive training on CommBuys in the near future.

Assessors:  The past two weeks have been very busy in our offices as work was being done in getting bills ready for 3rd and 4th quarter billing. Exemptions have been posted; liens for utilities have been placed on the tax bills. The actual FY 2018 Real Estate and Personal Property Commitment was processed on Tuesday afternoon and the files have been sent to the Collector/Treasurer office to export to the billing company. This year's tax bills bring a tax rate of $16.72 (an increase of .60 cents per thousand valuation) One reason for the increase is for the elementary school feasibility studies that were never committed in 2009 and 2013 thru 2015. Also real estate property values have increased this year.

posted meeting for December 19, 2017:

1. Meet and Greet the New Committee
Chair-MAJ Michael Currie
Co-Chair Hal Bourgeois
Secretary SGT Christine Caplis
Treasurer Ted Furr
2. Approving Calendar FY14
3. Budget FY15
4. Director’s Operation Report (John Caplis).
5. New Business
a. Look at Bylaws
6. Set next quarters meeting dates.
7. Executive Session, if desired.

from the Templeton Town website:

Jessica ButtsDirector of Veterans Services

This is one of the things that piss me off! Veterans should have a clear idea of who is in charge and whom to contact. The Veterans Committee should also know and post the correct information!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Anonymous8:06 AM
State facts or shut your trap!

Comments like this start all kinds of rumours, accusations, conspiracies

Some facts about Carter Terenzini;

He had an affair with an employee under his supervision.
He failed to disclose this in an interview for a job as Administrator/Manager.
He claimed to have a degree that he did not have.
One Town where he served as Administrator had residents bring forth an article to eliminate the position of Administrator, apparently after seeing the "writing on the wall" so to speak, Terenzini left.
In Spencer, Terenzini called people who wrote about him on line and other places the "maggots of malice"

You can find newspaper articles and even quotes from selectmen in towns where he has served to verify the above.
You can also be the judge if Terenzini has changed his management style or not. You can look into how things are going at Town Hall. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Questions asked by the Advisory Committee:
Answered by the part time town administrator:

 Carter Terenzini

> Town Administrator

> Town of Templeton

> 160 Patriots Road

> East Templeton, MA 01438

> 1.978.894.2753

> From: advisorycommittee [
> Sent: Thursday, December 7, 2017 7:19 AM
> To: hyoung < <> >
> Cc: Carter Terenzini < <> >
> Subject: Advisory questions

> Holly,

> Before the committee questions, Advisory did agree to have a meeting on December 20, 2017, a Wednesday, at 6:00 P.M. at Town Hall in the conference room. This is an already scheduled/planned date for a meeting. I just wish to confirm with you that this is a good day/date/time. Planned items will be Advisory budget for FY2019 and Committee report for the ATR so as to meet time lines put forth by the administrator.

> Now for the questions:

> 1. - Is the BOS financial policy shown on the Town website under the BOS tab the most current up to date one or has there been changes or additions that have not yet been posted?

Holly Young -"I can answer the first question for you, however, the others will have to wait for Carter to answer when he is back in the office on Monday. The financial policy on the website is the latest completed one. It is on the agenda for Monday for an amendment to it to be voted. I’m assuming once that is updated, we will replace the current one on the website."

> 2. - As to the 5 million dollar bond anticipation note (BAN) for the Town that was due to be settled by December 1, 2017 been paid off or has it been extended?

> The Ban was paid out of a new BAN executed a few days earlier.  This is not uncommon of how things are done as we move a project toward permanent bonding.

> 3. - Are there any other bond anticipation notes (BANs) out at this time?

> We have four totaling $9.9M.

> 4. - Does the Town have a firm to conduct the Templeton FY 2017 audit in pace and if so, who is it?

> Roselli and Clark has conducted the FY 2017 audit under the terms of its agreement for FY ’13 through FY 17.  They have completed their field work.

> Lastly, while this is not a question, the committee voted that it is not feasible at this time to give a hard date for the required pre-town meeting by the Advisory Committee. There is a time line requirement by aw and the committee will meet time line and forward it to this office in a timely manner.

> Please let us know at your earliest convenience that Kelli and I might attend if we have not made a prior commitment. 

> Also, Paul Grubb will be in touch with the administrator with regards to VADAR training days/dates. 

> regards;

> Jeff Bennett

Friday, December 8, 2017

Let's Work It Out: The Importance of Reconciliation
Melinda Ordway and Marcia Bohinc - Technical Assistance Bureau

All too frequently, headlines around the Commonwealth have reported the occurrence of missing money, misappropriations, or unauthorized spending in cities and towns. While the risk that a community may fail to detect fraud or otherwise safeguard its assets is a very real and critical problem, perhaps the strongest internal control for managing the situation is the performance of regular accounting reconciliations.

The Division of Local Services (DLS) has continually preached the importance of conducting frequent and prompt reconciliations. A reconciliation involves comparing two separately controlled sets of records to verify whether related account balances agree. This fundamental accounting process helps identify any unusual postings that could be caused by bookkeeping errors, or worse, by deception. The process of proving that transactions are in balance is essential for ensuring the integrity of general ledger data and mitigating fraud.

As a best practice, every community should conduct reconciliations of its two largest assets, cash and receivables, at least monthly to ensure records are accurate and no money is missing. However, the local volume of transactions may dictate that these reconciliations occur weekly, or even daily, given how time-consuming it can be to determine the source of discrepancies.

As the custodian of all revenues, tax titles, and tax possessions, the treasurer must keep a timely and accurate cashbook and reconcile this comprehensive journal of receipts and payments (including bank deposits and withdrawals) against bank statements each month. The collector maintains listings of the community’s various outstanding receivables, each of which is based on a receivable control. In this record of original entry, it begins with the initial tax commitment and tracks each processed collection, abatement, exemption, and tax title transfer, and is adjusted for each issued refund, resulting in the outstanding receivable balance.

After the treasurer and collector have internally reconciled their records, they should provide the balances to the accounting officer for comparison with the general ledger. The financial officers should then meet to discuss any identified discrepancies (caused by missing information, keying errors, timing differences, etc.) with the goal of resolving them. The results of these reconciliations should be reported to the community’s central manager or executive body to verify they were done and provide explanations for any outstanding variances.

Beyond cash and receivables, there are other bookkeeping records that must be periodically reconciled with the general ledger. These include the treasurer’s debt schedule and payroll with holdings, the assessors’ commitment and overlay charges, and other municipal and school department revenue and expenditure records.

To provide guidance and reinforce accountability, local officials should formally adopt a reconciliation policy that identifies each reconciliation to be conducted, assigns responsibilities, establishes deadlines, and requires the results be reported to the chief administrative or executive officer. Sample policies can be found in manuals posted on the Technical Assistance Bureau’s webpage. It should be every community’s goal to prioritize and complete regular reconciliations. Apart from the risk of potentially undetected revenue losses, the lack of timely reconciliations could delay or otherwise negatively impact the certification of free cash by DLS. It could also delay an audit engagement and result in a comment in the audit firm’s management letter.
from the Division of Local Services
May - 2016

The decision to borrow money can be intimidating. To make matters more uncertain, the mechanics of issuing debt may be the least understood financial process among citizens, local officials, and even some professional staff. Generally known is the statutory requirement that a town meeting or a city council can authorize borrowing only by a two-thirds vote. State law also specifies what expenditure purposes may be funded through debt and the allowed duration of the borrowing term (M.G.L. c. 44). The terms of a borrowing are made final when a majority of the board of selectmen or the mayor affixes their signatures to required documentation. However, between authorization and issuance much more occurs with little notice outside the treasurer’s office.

Short-term Debt Short-term debt can be classified best as borrowing through the issue of notes in anticipation of either paying them off or permanently financing the debt. Short-term borrowing also allows communities to make interest-only payments. However, such debt usually has a maturity date of no more than two years, though in some cases, statute dictates a shorter time frame. Additionally, a community might choose to reissue short-term debt and/or to make principal payments under certain circumstances. The various types of short-term debt vehicles used in Massachusetts include the following:

Revenue Anticipation Notes (RANs) – These notes, issued for a maximum of one year, are used to stabilize cash flow when the treasurer’s cash balances are low or forecasted to go negative (M.G.L. c. 44, §4). These notes are issued to fill a cash need, usually until receipt of quarterly or semiannual tax payments or local aid distributions from the Commonwealth.

Federal and State Aid Anticipation Notes (FAANs and SAANs) – These notes are issued to fund spending in anticipation of grant receipts, with the expectation that the note will be paid off upon receiving federal, state or other funds (e.g., Chapter 90 highway project reimbursements).

Bond Anticipation Notes (BANs) – These notes are issued to provide funding for capital improvements. BANs are usually paid off with the proceeds of long-term financing instruments, such as general obligation bonds. However, state law allows for the reissue of a BAN for up to five years if principle payments are made in accordance with an amortization schedule that would be required if the outstanding balance were financed as long-term debt (M.G.L. c. 44, §17). Since short-term debt normally carries a lower interest rate than permanent, this strategy may make sense under certain circumstances.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Templeton Tax Rate through the years:

From the Division of Local Services website

Fiscal Year - 2014 - $16.24

Fiscal Year - 2015 - $16.64

Fiscal Year - 2016 - $16.47

Fiscal Year - 2017 - $16.12

Fiscal Year - 2018 - $16.72

Some of that increase is due to debt payment of feasibility for new school. Part of the price for increase in property values due to the building of a new school is more taxes;  again, Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

from the Templeton personnel policy on the Town website:

B. Attendance - Employees are expected to report to work as scheduled, on time and prepared to start the work day. Employees also are expected to remain at work for their entire work schedule.

I wonder if that is meant to mean if the posted hours for an office is 7:30 A.M., people will actually be in those offices?

Yesterday, I obtained a letter from Town Hall addressed to Jeffrey Bennett, c/o Town Hall. It was in regards to one of those open meeting law complaints filed by the board of selectmen against members of the Advisory Committee. The letter was from the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. It contained information about the complaint, who filed it and the response received. Since the period of time had passed for an appeal of that response and since no appeal had been made, the Office of the Attorney Genera considers the matter closed and the response from the Advisory Committee to the board of selectmen was accepted.

Maybe now we can have an administrator's report given at a selectmen's meeting.
Good news from Monty Tech school district. A letter dated November 16, 2017 states Templeton's assessment has been revised, as in, went down.

The assessment that was voted at Town Meeting back in May was $638,130.00. It now stands at $635,178.00. A modest drop for sure, but good news for taxpayers! Now, what can the selectmen find to spend it on?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Selectmen Workshop - note the local option meals tax. Taxing local mom and pop small business even more, now that is a plan to attract more small business to Tempeton.

Templeton Board of Selectmen 
Town Hall, 160 Patriots Road, East Templeton
Monday, December 4, 2017, 6:30 p.m.

1. Call the Meeting to Order

2. Pledge of Allegiance

3. Templeton EDC RE: Recommendation to Pursue MassDevelopment Grant for Civil Engineering Services Related to Industrial Park Development

4. MRPC RE: Pursuit of Community Development Block Grant Funds in FY’18 (Grant Proposal Due on March 2, 2018) and Beyond

5. Fall TM Lessons Learned

6. Proposed Amendment of Financial Management Policies

7. Employee & Volunteer Recognition Program (E.Pollitt)

8. Lapel Pin Policy (J.Caplis)

9. Proposed Informational Meetings RE: Local Option Meals Tax (E.Pollitt)

10. Disposal of Baldwinville Elementary School

11. Lease of Templeton Center Elementary School

12. Adjournment

The listing of Agenda items is those reasonably anticipated by the Chair which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed and other items not listed may also be brought up for discussion to the extent it is permitted by law.
Templeton tax rate set by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue;

$16.72 per thousand, couple that with increase in valuations and people will see a nice tax bill increase coming their way - Merry Christmas

On Templeton Town website, one can find the bid/contract proposals for the police station addition listed at $2,133,200.00. This seems to contrast with the amount listed in a memo from the part time town administrator to selectmen.

part of that memo: 
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.

Notice that 1 million for the police station - time to regroup/ so does that mean only 4.5 million for the new school for FY 18?

Does anyone remember that 1.9 million dollar number for a 12,000 sq. ft. building for a town hall? I think the bid proposals came in near 4 million, leaving me with the opinion when the elected ones tell you it will cost this $$$, you should take that number and double it.  Lets not forget that 5 million dollar BAN (bond anticipation note) due in December. Will there be a bond or will that note be extended?

On another front, Hubbardston is the latest town to change to all salt for the winter months. Some of the reasons given, saves money, keeps road side drains clean, salt is actually a anti ice - de-icing agent while sand is neither of those. That is from an article in a news paper with the DPW director explaining that. No mention of a required $250,000.00 for a new storage facility.