Sunday, May 28, 2017

The tough life of an elected official: Twitter is happening

Man, being a public official really limits what I can post on social media. How am I supposed to shitpost memes now?

This morning at 9:00AM I was officially sworn in and will only respond to "Mr. Selectman." 😅 Thanks again everybody!
Hatemail letter #1: "I have socks older than you." "You don't have the experience needed to run a town" I suppose this guys socks do..

Welcome to Templeton politics.

posted by Jeff Bennett

Town Meeting:
 Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee or Advisory Committee or Warrant Committee

What are the roles of the above with regards to budget preparation, presentation for and to Town Meeting - the legislative body of most Towns. The legislative body is NOT the board of selectmen, as one member of the Templeton BOS mistakenly (I hope) told me "the legislative body, the board of selectmen" in a conversation about something. 

From the Templeton, MA General Town By-Laws:

ARTICLE III - Town Officers

Section 4.  "It shall be the duty of the Town Administrator in conjunction with the board of selectmen to consider expenditures and develop a budget for the ensuing fiscal year for the several boards, and committees of the Town, as prepared by them in such form and detail as prescribed by the Town Administrator."

There is a section 4 under Article IV - Advisory Committee that also deals with the budget but for the moment, put that aside and deal with the above.

Page 88 of the Handbook for Massachusetts Selectmen:

Finance Committee (or Advisory or Warrant Committee)

The finance committee—or, in some towns, the advisory or warrant committee—is a town’s official
fiscal watchdog. Its primary, statutory responsibility is to advise and make recommendations to town
meeting on the budget and other areas of finance. One of the finance committee’s most important
functions involves making transfers from the town’s reserve fund (a contingency fund normally
created as part of annual budget appropriations) to other line items in the budget for extraordinary or unforeseen occurrences.
While the finance committee plays a vital role, it is within the executive authority of the selectmen,
and/or their appointees, to prepare the town’s budget. The selectmen have ultimate responsibility to
the residents for this service. The finance committee’s responsibility is to review the budget submitted to them and to make recommendations regarding the budget to the town’s legislative body: the town meeting. 

(In my opinion, that can only happen if the selectmen and Town Administrator have a time table that allows ample time for the Advisory Committee to do its job! - Jeff Bennett)

From the Finance Committee Handbook:
 "The board of selectmen, town manager, town administrator or executive secretary are part of the executive branch of government. It is their job to collect budget information, develop budget priorities and formulate a balanced budget, the same as the president or governor.

Once developed, that budget is presented to the finance committee (Advisory or Warrant) representing the legislative branch (body), Town Meeting. In effect, the local finance committee (Advisory in Templeton) has the same role as the House Ways and Means Committee in the State House. It is the finance committees responsibility to receive the budgets from the executive branch, either collectively or individually by department, analyze them, have hearings where the department heads and public can testify and present a balanced budget to Town Meeting. That budget should reflect the finance committees decisions based upon their best judgement of the issues and finances of the Town. The budget before town meeting is the finance committee's and it is their job to explain and defend it. This does not preclude department heads or the town administrator from being called upon to answer questions or explain items in more detail, but it is finance committees budget. 

"Without finance committee independent review, the town meeting would be at a severe handicap in voting on financial matters when all of the recommendations are coming from one source. Separation of powers was designed by our founding fathers for a reason - Defend it!" Alan Tosti, Chair, Arlington Finance Committee, Treasurer ATFC and Editor of the Finance Committee handbook (as presented in 2014 update of the handbook)

posted by Jeff Bennett

Templeton Town Counsel:

Sherborn Selectman Paul DeRensis was reappointed by Governor Charlie Baker on Feb. 10 to a ninth term as a member of the Massachusetts Local Government Advisory Commission. Former Governor Deval Patrick had initially appointed DeRensis to this commission. Baker first reappointed DeRensis in February 2015; this is the third reappointment by Baker. Lt. Governor Karyn Polito administered the oath of office on Feb. 14. State law provides that responsibilities of commissioners include the following:
“1. to review and analyze proposed legislation and regulatory changes from the point of view of municipal government and present such point of view to the governor, his executive secretaries and to the general court;
2. to act as an independent advocate for the interests of local governments in their relations with state and federal governments;
3. to advise officials of the commonwealth and the federal government on the needs of local governments, assist in mobilizing state and federal resources to deal with problems of local governments, provide coordinating support to Sherborn’s Paul DeRensis reappointed to state commission agencies responsible for administering federal, state and local programs, and promote legislative and administrative proposals reflecting the interests of local governments;
4. to establish, from time to time, study committees or task forces to consider issues pertaining to local government in detail and to present the results of those considerations to the governor, the secretaries of his executive offices and to the general court;
5. to meet monthly with the governor and at such other times...;
6. to meet quarterly with the legislative leadership, and at such other times as may be necessary.

Templeton is lucky to have Mr. DeRensis as it's main legal counsel.

posted by Jeff Bennett