Saturday, June 10, 2017

A conclusion from your selectmen, Cameron Fortes:
Lending, bond ratings, and economic growth are all related. If you'd like to include a graph of Templeton's bond rating to historic levels of stabilization fund I would be very interested to see how that correlates as you have specified. However, as I see it, it would seem that the bond ratings were a sign of the times and have increased naturally not due to better financial management but due to economic growth in both then Securitized Credit and GDP levels.

Thanks for the chart,
Cameron Fortes

The costs will be the costs but it does seem that you do better when you have savings in sufficient amount to weather an economic storm so to speak. The more you have in savings and the better savings plan the better you seem to do when borrowing. 

posted by Jeff Bennett
BOSTON, MA – Thursday, April 16, 2015 – State Treasurer Deb Goldberg announced today that Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, maintained their respective bond ratings of Aa1/AA+/AA+ and affirmed stable economic outlooks ahead of the Commonwealth’s next competitive offering.

State general obligation ratings are largely based on four main factors: the state’s economy, financial position, debt and financial management, and long-term liabilities. While Massachusetts is considered to have a relatively high debt level, it is explained in part by the heavier role the Commonwealth takes in the financing of local projects, often handled at the county level in many other states. Massachusetts’ strong financial management practices and Budget Stabilization Fund levels are generally viewed as credit strengths for the Commonwealth.

I am pleased that the rating agencies have recognized our decisive and effective actions on the Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016 budgets and the experienced team we have assembled to lead the Commonwealth’s fiscal management,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our cooperation with the Legislature, Treasurer, and other state officials has led to a strong fiscal foundation for our economy. Maintaining the highest bond rating in the Commonwealth’s history will provide the access to capital markets we need to begin executing our capital budget plan.

What a difference  a couple of years makes.


Communities in Massachusetts have ongoing responsibilities to create and maintain their capital assets. Hopefully, decisions of this nature are based on capital improvement plans developed by analyzing and prioritizing community needs. It is the treasurer’s responsibility to maintain sufficient cash balances to meet the spending demands of departments within the limits of appropriations. Occasionally, some communities find themselves in need of a short-term infusion of cash for capital or operating purposes. For these and other reasons, Massachusetts General Law authorizes cities and towns to issue debt under certain circumstances and for various durations.

Credit Rating Agencies In Massachusetts, nearly all communities that carry bond ratings are evaluated by either of two rating agencies, Moody’s Investors Service or Standard & Poor’s, although some communities seek ratings from both. While the ratings process appears shrouded in mystery for some, it is important to remember that the city or town is a client of the rating agency, whose function is to render a third-party opinion on the municipality’s likelihood of default. In conducting an assessment, a rating agency will perform analyses of financial statements, management capability, fiscal stability, economic condition, and other data. The process will often include in-person or telephone interviews with municipal finance officials. On less frequent occasions, a ratings analyst will make a site visit to a city or town in an effort to gain a more substantial understanding of the community’s assets and management capabilities. Later, the agency will issue a concise, written report that presents the rating assignment and describes the community’s financial position. Purchasers of municipal bonds and notes use this rating when considering their bids. Typically, the better rated credits garner lower interest rate charges.

posted by Jeff Bennett
from the STM of November 15, 2012:

Article 5 To see if the town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds or borrow pursuant to any applicable statute a sum of money and /or further to amend by increase, decrease or otherwise adjusting the annual appropriations voted at the May 15, 2012 Annual Town meeting for the several municipal town departments and agencies for Fiscal Year 2013, or take any other action relative thereto. Submitted by the Board of Selectmen

On a motion duly made and seconded the town voted that the following financial transfers occur for Fiscal Year 2013: - this part covered 4 items, then;

A second motion was duly made and seconded that the town vote that the following financial transfers occur for Fiscal 2013: For the purchase of new general ledger accounting software, an amount not to exceed $ 23,000 transferred from the Stabilization Fund to the Town Accountant SW License Fee account. Passed by 2/3 vote/Nov. 15th @ 7:43

March 6, 2013 - Special Town meeting:
Article 2 To see if the Town will vote to appropriate, transfer from available funds, or borrow pursuant to any applicable statute a sum of One Hundred Sixty-Three Thousand, One Hundred Thirty-One Dollars ($163,131.00) for current year FY2013 Town operations, or to take any other action relative thereto. Recommended by DOR and Town Accountant,
and submitted by the Board of Selectmen
On a motion duly made and seconded the town voted to appropriate One Hundred Twenty Six Thousand, Five Hundred Sixty-Seven Dollars ($126,567.00) by transfer from the Town’s Stabilization to fund Fiscal Year 2013 town operating budgets and charges as appropriated at the May 2012 Annual Town Meeting, the total amount of which Fiscal Year 2013 town operating budgets and charges is to remain unchanged as then voted in May 2012 at Four Million Six Hundred and Twenty Seven Thousand Four Hundred Forty Seven Dollars ($4,627,447.00).
Passed by 2/3 vote/March 6th @ 7:17

from June 27, 2013 STM:
Article 4 To see if the Town will vote to transfer from available funds or otherwise provide a sum of money for the Stabilization Fund, or take any other action relative thereto. Submitted by the Board of Selectmen On a motion duly made and seconded the town voted that Fourteen Thousand Dollars ($14,000.00) be appropriated into the Town’s Stabilization Fund and to meet this appropriation $14,000 be transferred from Free Cash in the Treasury of the town.
Passed by 2/3 vote/June 27th @ 7:21

From March 29, 2014 STM:
ARTICLE 2 To see if the Town will vote to make adjustments to the Fiscal 2014 appropriations voted by the Town pursuant to Article 9 (Town budget) or Article 11 (Firefighters/EMT) at the May 14, 2013 Annual Town Meeting, by way of increase, decrease or otherwise, including changes in funding sources, and to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds, or borrow pursuant to any statute, a sum or sums of money to carry out such adjustments; or take any other action relative thereto. Submitted by the Board of Selectmen 2 On a motion duly made and seconded the town voted that the Fiscal 2014 appropriations voted by the Town pursuant to Article 9 (Town budget) or Article 11 (Firefighters/EMT) at the May 14, 2013 Annual Town Meeting be amended by increasing appropriations as follows: ($26,899) be appropriated to fund the deficit for FY 2013, and to meet this appropriation, ($26,899) be transferred from the Town’s stabilization fund.
Passed by 2/3/March 29th @ 11:34

article 30 May 17, 2015 ATM

 HATo see if the Town will vote to appropriate $10,000 from stabilization for the purpose of acquiring and installing a handicap entry ramp at the East Templeton Elementary School; or take any other action relative thereto.

On a motion duly made and seconded the Town voted that Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) be transferred from Stabilization Fund, to be expended by the Board of Selectmen, for the purpose of acquiring and installing a handicap entry ramp at the East Templeton Elementary School.
Passed Unanimously/May 19th @ 9:33pm

from July 10, 2014 STM
ARTICLE 3 TRANSFER TO THE STABILIZATION FUND To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds or borrow pursuant to any applicable statute a sum of money for the Stabilization Fund; or take any other action relative thereto. Submitted by the Board of Selectmen On a motion duly made and seconded the Town voted that Thirty One Thousand Five Hundred Fifty Two Dollars ($31,552) be hereby appropriated from the General Fund to the Town’s Stabilization Fund. 
Passed Unanimously/July 10th @ 7:22 

The above information was gained by going through town meeting on Templeton Town website beginning annual town meeting of 2012.

posted by Jeff Bennett

from selectmen policies and procedures:

All items for the agenda will be submitted to the Town Administrator by Wednesday preceding the next
scheduled meeting to allow time to arrange, produce and post the agenda while giving all Board members time
to prepare for the meeting. Items of emergency or strictly routine that develop after closing the agenda may be
considered under “topics not anticipated by the Chairman 48 hours in advance”
Agenda items normally include:
1. Reading of the Agenda
2. Public Comment
3. Town Administrator Report
4. Scheduled Business
5. Topics not Reasonably Anticipated by the Chairman 48 Hours in Advance
6. Selectman Reports/Future Agenda Items
7. Adjournment 

See if there is a public comment section on this agenda.
Note: it does state "Agenda items normally include:" and it may not mandate but why have it in a policy if you are not going to do it?

No more town administrator report at the meetings either, so if you attend a meeting and do not have a computer or do not do the internet, where and how do you get that report? (yes, there are people out there who do not do electronic at all)

Templeton Board of Selectmen
Town Hall, 160 Patriots Road, East Templeton
Monday, June 12, 2017, 6:30 p.m.

1. Call the Meeting to Order

2. Pledge of Allegiance

3. a. Meeting Minutes~ 5.15.17, 5.22.17
b. Executive Session Minutes~ 11.14.16, 5.22.17

4. New Business: 
a. Interview RE: Town Administrator
b. Action RE: Dissolve Town Building Assessment Committee 
c. Action RE: Annual Appointments
d. Action RE: Transfer of Common Victualler License-Reno’s Pizza
e. Action RE: Scholarship Committee
f. Action RE: Mac & Cheese Festival & Use of Van/Driver
g. Action RE: Memorandum RE: MRPC Green Community Grant 
h. Action RE: Create Economic Development Industrial Corporation 
i. Action RE: Cable Contract
j. Action RE: Vacation Rollover Requests
k. Action RE: Amendment to Service Agreement~Collins
l. Action RE: Award of FY ’18 Police Cruiser Purchase
m. Action RE: FY’17 Budget Transfers
n. Action RE: Order of Conditions RE: Lot 3 & 4, Farnsworth Road
o. Action RE: Drainage Easement w/Barnes Re: Wellington Rd.
p. Action RE: Drainage Easement w/ACoE Re: Old Royalston Rd.
q. Action RE: Dishonored Check & Electronic Payment Policy 
r. Action RE: Special Financial Report 

5. Old Business:

6. Board & Staff Member Comments & Reports 

7. Potential Request for Executive Session Re: Per M.G.L. c.30A, Sec. 21.2 & 21.3, to conduct strategy for contract negotiations with non-union personnel/strategy with respect to collective bargaining or litigation 

8. 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.

posted by Jeff Bennett

The following is from the Town Administrator report of May 25, 2017:

Treasurer/Collector: The bad check policy has been approved by the Board of Selectmen and has been issued to the Departments. Real estate and personal property demands have been mailed. Jeffery and Jeffery Have been instrumental in helping collect past due personal property accounts, to date nearly $1,400 collected. Commitment 3 motor excise bills are going in the mail this week; thank you Luanne for helping stuff 700 bills! I also completed the tax taking of 21 accounts from Fiscal 2016, With all prior years up to date.

That did not seem to be the case at the selectmen workshop meeting on June 5, 2017.

Posted by Jeff Bennett
Gonna love this new selectmen, Cameron Fortes:

Well, so ya wanna be a wise guy and a smartazz, okay, no biggy.

Mr. Fortes, you are the selectmen, not me, so I will not be doing any hand holding nor will I bring you a copy of the selectmen policies and procedures, that is your duty and responsibility.

You got elected, now start serving and you may begin by doing what you said you would do, send financial information concerning the school project to the Advisory Committee. Real simple, do what you said you would do.

Second, get a copy of the latest selectmen handbook and look it over and then get a copy of the Town's by-laws, zoning by-laws, current fiscal year budget, recent town report and the policies and procedures for the selectmen. Just a suggestion since you are the vice-chairman and could end up putting together the agenda for a selectmen meeting. Again, that is your responsibility, not one of your constituents. There has been a lack of following open meeting law and selectmen policies for a while, specifically on the agenda, no public comment section as stated in the policies and procedures for selectmen. The chairman has also neglected to follow the open meeting law concerning asking if anyone is recording the meeting besides the town.

As for  the state (MA) credit rating change, that was as reported on the news at 4:00 A.M. today on FOX 25.  Some towns have what Templeton does not have, a full time, rather than interim Town Administrator, a good rainy day fund and as Winchendon has done, they created an audit committee to deal with things that need improvement with regards to their financial mess. You may find other towns have a good regularly funded general stabilization fund.  

By the way, if I ask you for anything regarding the town, such as information on snow and ice fund, you would not be doing me any favors, you would be doing your job and duty as a selectmen in helping out a constituent. In my opinion anyways.

posted by Jeff Bennett
TO: Board of Selectmen
FROM: Carter Terenzini, Town Administrator
RE: Administrator’s Weekly Report
DATE: June 8, 2017
CC: All Departments ______________________________________________________________________________ Important Notice To All Departments
If you are ordering material or services; please try to get these placed by CoB 06/15 so bills against this FY can be processed in time.
Please remember the last date to submit bills for FY ’17 is 10 AM on Monday, July 10, 2017.
If you have capital or specialty projects in the FY ’18 budget please be prepared to talk soon about the timelines to get those out to bid.
The following is intended to provide information where a full memo may not have been warranted or supplement the provided information.
Business Meeting or Workshop: n/a 5.  Please see the revised DRAFT questions and let me know of any questions or concerns at your first convenience. I anticipate this interview to take up to 90 minutes.
   This Committee was created in September of 2013 to assess Town Buildings. The committee was to be active until the BOS “… decides it is no longer needed…”. Since that time, you have addressed several of the issues raised (Town Hall and the surplusing of the modular units) and created a Building and Grounds Division with a department head having overall responsibility for the management of town buildings. Therefore, we do suggest that you dissolve the committee and discharge its members with the thanks of a grateful community.

This is a follow up from your discussion at the workshop of 06/05. This Draft would normally be referred to a Workshop for further discussion.  This is a follow-up from your discussion at the workshop of 05/05.  This is an extension of time to December 31, 201. There is no cost associated with it. The need is driven primarily by our attention being consumed by the FY 2-13 to 2016 audit process.  This is to authorize the lease purchase of the cruiser as approved in the FY ’18 budget. m. As of today, it does not look like we will have a need to present any requests for transfers at your meeting of 06/12. We do, however, expect to present transfers for your action at your meeting of 06/26.  In doing the design work on the new elementary school it was discovered that the Town did not have a formal easement for the drainage piping it maintains and the water discharge that we cause. This will correct that issue and allow us to go in to install the new piping and carry-out periodic maintenance. p. The easement that the Army Corps granted to the Town for its water infrastructure has expired. This will extend it to 2027. It has been reviewed by Town Counsel. The ACoE has denied all of the various requests. You truly do not have any option but to accept the extension as proposed.
 This is a revised Draft coming out of your workshop of 06/05.

Sometimes, one does not have to write any criticism, it is sometimes done for you!

posted by Jeff Bennett
To my selectmen, Cameron Fortes;

According to MA state government, Moodys lowered the State's bond rating from AA+ down to AA: reason for the change, state has failed to build its rainy day fund. So, it seems Advisory Committee has a valid point concerning Templeton bond rating possibility versus the size/amount of the Templeton general stabilization fund

Still waiting on the financial information concerning the elementary school that you indicated you would send to the Advisory Committee. Why on that subject, thanks for taking the time to attend Advisory Committee meetings.

Also, since you take the time to attend, perhaps you can obtain and send to Advisory a detailed line by line general ledger printout of the Templeton snow & ice account as discussed at the Advisory Committee.

Since you seem to be versed in financial material, perhaps you could get an agenda item on a selectmen meeting and explain how it makes sense to use a revenue number that all indications show is noncollectable and unrealistic on a budget basis, as in if you are only collecting say 98%, why would anyone responsibly use the 100% number to base expenses off of when you know it will only be say 98%. That would be a great service to the people who elected you.

So to recap: suggestions/solutions - change or adjust the Templeton Town face book page from the appearance of a personal page by removing any personal pictures content and replace with "official" pictures such as town seal, town hall, Town Common etc and post more official material such as Town Administrators report, budget information, financial transfers etc., Not hard, not much time involved and no money involved. Contact Athol (town of) Adminstrator and ask what was involved in creating the "sunshine section of the town website, action, cost, if any etc. Explain, per agenda item why is a number for revenue used that is not realistic rather than what is actually collected based on five year history.  If the actual amount collected, please explain that as well. Explain, by way of an agenda item why the selectmen policies are not followed by the selectmen; as in no public comment on selectmen meeting agenda. That should be enough for a bit. So there you have some suggested solutions or alternatives.

Thank you in advance.

posted by Jeff Bennett
Holy S post Batman, look at some of the comments!  Very long and detailed.  Well Robin, be wary when someone is trying to butter your bread!

"Criticism is a healthy indicator of when change is needed. Praise is a motivator unlike any other."

Since I am not a hippy leftover (missed it by a few years) and I am not a product of the new schooling where everyone gets a trophy and life is fair and everyone will always treat you right etc.

If anyone wants praise, the line is over there. If the board of selectmen do not wish to get "banged" whenever they meet, try following their own policies. Looking at the next meeting agenda for BOS on June 12, nowhere is Public Comment listed. Yet, if you look and you can find it, there is a policy on the Templeton town website that says the agenda will have public comment on it. Again, failure to follow a policy and yet the selectmen are going to expect everyone else to follow all of these policies suddenly being created and written. Kind of looks like a military approach in my opinion, do as I say. How about set the example and follow your own policy and then take another step. 

Secondly, I am not the one who made the sales pitch that everything is fine and we have a great financial team in place (except we have a treasurer/collector who may not know their job) Perhaps not all on the treasurer/collector. 
No reports from treasurer/collector or the accountant, even though there must have been work done in those offices. It does not matter what was or was not done in the past, this current BOS, beginning with elections in May 2014 have been communicating that everything is fine and things are on track but again, the law is not followed. 

On the town website, it is one used by a good number of cities and towns so it should not be hard to arrange it in some orderly fashion. Give the Town of Athol a call and ask the Town Administrator what it took to have say a sunshine page where all budgets, contracts and other financial news can be found in one place. Speaking of budgets, where did the FY2017 go on the Templeton town website? 

How about the Templeton face book page not look like someones personal page. How about personal pictures and updates be replaced with say a picture of Town hall, Templeton Common and have some real communication by way of facts. I take most of the things posted on this blog and post to my personal face book page as not everyone looks at blogs but many use face book and then things are reposted. The same could happen with the Templeton face book page.
Somewhere, if it is still there, there was a post by a former Town Administrator (interim) concerning audits, the forming of an audit committee and how the selectmen should stay an arms length away from auditors as the audits are really checking selectmen work by proxy, as selectmen hire or appoint the treasurer/collector , town accountant and town administrator. He also stated that the finance/advisory committee should be closer to the audits. Somewhere I have a copy and will try to post it here again.

Next, we have the Templeton Town Accountant at a selectmen meeting stating "I would recommend using Rosselli for the audits."  Queswtion is, why the switch in midstream anyway, why did the selectmen not stick with the first audit team who seemed to be taking time but doing a very detailed one which in my opinion, would have been best, to have a really good foundation. In my opinion, the selectmen changed so they could get the audits completed quickly because of the quest to get a yes school vote at town meeting and at the ballot. If you look at when the bad news began to leak out, it was after the December special election. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I do not really believe in them in these circumstances. 

Then there is the stabilization number. How did it change, where did the funds go? What were they used for and why or how was a dollar figure arrived at to bring to town meeting to request a transfer to pay some bills if a real number was not known? Remember, the Templeton town accountant stated at a selectmen meeting, "I have never not had perfect audits."

No, there is no high praise, no high fives, no trophy for everyone here. That will come from the selectmen by way of a service pin, which may seem good and in principle be a nice thing but in practicality, not so much. Perhaps wait to have three good budget years where what is voted at Town Meeting (annual) and that stands and dos not require 30 something transfers later on to make it work. Sure as hell no built in shortages at the gate.

Remember, there is no free money out there, it all comes from someones pocket, from taxes and fees.

posted by Jeff Bennett