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?