Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Is a code of conduct a priority for the Templeton Board of Selectmen at this time?

Consider what is already on paper, in front of them, within the Policies and Procedures for the Board of Selectmen, which were discussed in part at last night's "workshop" meeting.

code of ethics document may outline the mission and values of the business or organization, how professionals are supposed to approach problems, the ethical principles based on the organization's core values and the standards to which the professional is held.

code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the social norms and rules and responsibilities of, or proper practices for, an individual, party or organization. Related concepts include ethical, honor, moral codes and religious laws.

The following can be found on the Town website under Boards and Committees, Board of Selectmen -Town of Templeton policies.

1.     A member of the Board of Selectmen, in relation to his or her community should:

A.     Realize that his or her basic function is to make policy, with administration delegated to the Town Administrator.

B.     Realize that he or she is one of a team and should abide by all board decisions once they are made.

C.    Be well informed concerning the duties of a board member on both local and state levels.

D.    Remember that he or she represents the entire community at all times.

E.     Accept the office of Selectmen as a means of unselfish service, not benefit personally or politically from his or her board or outside activities.

F.     In all appointments, avoid political patronage by judging all candidates on merit, experience and qualifications only.

G.    Abide by the ethics established by the state and not use the position to obtain inside information on matters which may benefit someone personally.

2.       A member of the Board of Selectmen, in their relations with administrative officers of the Town  should:

A.     Endeavor to establish sound, clearly defined policies that will direct and support the administration for the benefit of the people of the community.

B.     Recognize and support the administrative chain of command and refuse to act on complaints as an individual outside the administration.

C.    Give the Town Administrator full responsibility for discharging his or her disposition and solution.

3.      A member of the Board of Selectmen, in his or her relations with fellow board members, should:

A.     Recognize that action at official legal meetings is binding and that he or she alone cannot bind the board outside of such meetings.

B.     Uphold the intent of executive session and respect the privileged communications that exists in executive session.

C.    Make decisions only after all facts on an issue have been presented and discussed.

D.    Treat with respect the rights of all members of the board despite differences of opinion.

I leave to you if the above covers both ethical behavior and conduct in a responsible manner.

posted by Jeff Bennett

MMA Headlines:

City and town officials across the Commonwealth rely on the MMA’s annual Massachusetts Municipal Directory as a comprehensive resource for connecting with colleagues.
The MMA is currently soliciting updates from municipalities for the 2017-2018 edition.
As of May 19, 103 communities had updated their directory information using the convenient online tool.
Emails are being sent to chief municipal officials in each community, including a link to the tool and a username and password. The email has been sent to all cities. Towns receive the email shortly after their annual election

Storm Water Management:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “MS4” permit, which will regulate stormwater in more than 250 municipalities in Massachusetts, will take effect on July 1, but the first action item for municipalities to comply is due in September.
Communities must prepare and file their Notice of Intent for permit coverage within 90 days, or by Sept. 29. A Notice of Intent template and instructions are available on the EPA’s website.
The final general permit for stormwater discharges from small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems in Massachusetts was published in the Federal Register in April of 2016.
Under the MS4 permit, municipalities must develop, implement and enforce a stormwater management program that controls pollutants to the maximum extent practicable, protects water quality, and satisfies appropriate requirements of the federal Clean Water Act. The MS4 permit requires implementation of six minimum control measures.
Updated permit requirements include the need to address identified water quality problems, including stormwater discharges to water bodies with approved total maximum daily loads for bacteria, phosphorus and nitrogen.
In addition to filing a Notice of Intent, communities must begin meeting a number of permit requirements within the first year – or prior to June 30, 2018. These requirements include catch basin cleaning, street sweeping, development of procedures for winter road maintenance, submission of a stormwater management plan, illicit discharge detection and elimination procedures, and creation of a procedure for construction site inspection.

Federal Health Care: A tax that might affect you!

The House bill would also retain the ACA’s Cadillac tax, which was designed to be the primary funding mechanism for the ACA to pay for some of the more costly policy changes.
The Cadillac tax is a 40 percent annual excise on individual health insurance plans valued above $10,800 and family plans valued above $29,500. The tax was originally due to go into effect in 2018, but the start date was pushed back to 2020. With the arrival of the Trump administration, however, there was uncertainty about the fate of the tax.
The House bill would delay implementation of the Cadillac tax until 2025 – the latest date the tax could be implemented and still count as a revenue source for the proposed bill. The Senate has yet to take up its own health care bill, but it appears increasingly likely the Cadillac tax is here to stay.

posted by Jeff Bennett

Selectmen workshop and financial news.

About 30 minutes spent discussing a policy to deal with the approximate 30 "bad" checks per year written to the town to pay various bills. Much of the time was spent on do we collect phone numbers, drivers license numbers etc.  Social security numbers already off the table. Apparently if you mail in your payment, you would not be subject to this as no one could ask for the information before you mail in your payment. Another item was what if a person does not have a drivers license?

On the policy and procedures item, at least one member of the select board, the chairman, wanted to change a few words on the selectmen policies & procedures so we do not get banged every time we act! Fail to follow the procedures and it gets pointed out so lets change the words so it is harder to "bang them". I would think it easier to just follow the procedures as I thought that was the whole idea behind all of the policy writing to begin with. One of the "hangups" was "the board should only go into executive session with the whole board present" The question or position was what if someone is out sick and we have a pressing issue, the government cannot stop because of one person. I think if you look at the words, should only, as not being a directive, such as you must or you shall but rather you should only, more of a good suggestion and not a requirement. As in, in most circumstances, the select board should only go into executive session when the full board is present. But whatever, if the policy is hard to follow, just change it "so we do not get banged every time we meet."

On the financial side, I was told the Town accountant refused to give some information on public funds "because every thing ends up on the blog" I take that to mean this blog, but no matter. The important thing is that a town department head, the town accountant is saying no to release of public funds information because, well, it will end up being public information! Perhaps it is time for a policyt on public information! Wait, there is already one, it is called the public records law. I see a very public discussion on this coming soon. Apparently, the accountant said if you want that information, talk to the town administrator. Might be time for some more training for town employees.

posted by Jeff Bennett