Sunday, January 21, 2018

from the schedule of the annual Massachusetts Municipal Association;

4. Inspire Engagement With a Citizens Academy
Room 205, 2nd floor, Hynes Convention Center
Presented by the Massachusetts Municipal Management Association

 
Citizen academies have become more popular as local officials look for ways to get citizens more involved, whether through volunteer boards and commissions or otherwise, and residents seek to learn more about the day-to-day operations of municipal government. These educational sessions give citizens an overview of all aspects of city or town government, whether in a one-day workshop or a series of sessions. Learn how a successful academy can serve as an entry point for board and committee volunteers, promote two-way dialogue between staff and residents, and deepen public knowledge and understanding of how local government operates.
 
PANELISTS
Peter Lombardi is the town administrator in Wenham.
Carl Valente is the town manager in Lexington.
 
MODERATOR
Tom Hutcheson is the town administrator in Conway

How about we inspire them with an attentive, always present Board of Selectmen, as in five, the number elected by the people, to be for the people. How about these same five selectmen allow people to speak, question and discuss when the people who elect them have questions or concerns about something. Something such as an already voted article at Town Meeting, but later hear some things that they wish to have clarified. How about these selectmen sit on the stage and let that happen without going all out to try and stop debate.

Perhaps they will acquire some new ways to put a spin on things from this forum.


from the schedule for this weeks annual Massachusetts Municipal Association meeting;

Lets hope one of the Templeton selectmen attended this!

5. Not Just for Accountants: Know Your Chart of Accounts
Room 208, 2nd floor, Hynes Convention Center
Presented by the Massachusetts Government Finance Officers Association

 
The chart of accounts is the backbone of municipal finance. It organizes a city or town’s financial books, including revenue, expense and fund balance accounts. The chart of accounts is not just an issue for your accountant; it’s used by town and school officials, outside auditors and the state. Learn why a user-friendly, well-constructed chart of accounts makes municipal and school finances more transparent and easier to manage. This workshop will also cover best practices in setting up and using a chart of accounts, how it can lose its effectiveness over time, and why a municipality might want to replace its current chart of accounts with a more effective one.
 
PANELISTS
Maryellen Dunn is the deputy superintendent for administration and finance in Brookline.
Wendy Nightingale is the finance director in Easton.
Hannah York is a certified public accountant and manager at CliftonLarsonAllen in Lexington.
 
MODERATOR
Sandy Pooler is the deputy town manager in Arlington.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Board of Selectmen Policies and Procedures:

TOWN MEETINGS:
1. Annual Town Meeting: There shall be an Annual Town Meeting in May each year for the consideration of all Town business which is to be posted properly prior to the meeting. The Annual Town Meeting Warrant is the Selectmen’s by statute. The Selectmen may insert articles in the warrant; within the time frame the warrant is open, on their own initiative or by written petition signed by the proper number of registered voters for the Annual Town Meeting.



January 19, 2018 - from the Massachusetts Municipal Association meeting:

Several days before formally submitting his fiscal 2019 state budget plan, Gov. Charlie Baker presented the broad outlines this morning to more than 1,000 local officials from across Massachusetts during the MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show in Boston.
 
The governor said his budget bill will include a 3.5 percent increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid, raising that account to $1.1 billion. The increase matches the projected rate of growth in state tax collections for fiscal 2019, a number that administration and legislative budget writers agreed upon last Friday.
 
On the other major local aid account, the governor said he would increase Chapter 70 education aid by $118 million, $15 million of which would be set aside to assist districts teaching Puerto Rico hurricane survivors who have come to Massachusetts to attend school. The roughly 2.5 increase would bring the Chapter 70 account to $4.87 billion.
 
The UGGA account is funded mainly from Lottery and other gaming revenues and is used locally to help pay for municipal services and to reduce reliance on the property tax. During his campaign in 2014, the governor said he would increase UGGA at the same rate as the growth in tax collections, a commitment he has honored now in each of his four budget proposals.
 
The governor added that the administration has held to this commitment even in years when the revenue projections proved to be overly optimistic, protecting cities and towns when the state has needed to make mid-year cuts.
 
The governor also announced that his administration would be filing a bill in a matter of weeks with $200 million for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, a critical reimbursement program used by cities and towns to maintain basic infrastructure.

People better keep buying lotto tickets.

Friday, January 19, 2018

from Town of Templeton General By-Laws:

Notice it states "in writing" (I know that may be hard to process for some, but it looks pretty simple to understand - a written report of it's recommendations)


Article II - Town Meetings

Section 6. All articles in any warrant for a town meeting shall be referred to the Advisory Committee for its consideration. The Selectmen after drawing any such warrant shall transmit immediately a copy thereof to the chairman of said committee. A public hearing shall be held, upon all such articles, unless a public hearing by some other tribunal is required by law, and a notice of such hearing shall be given by inserting in the local newspaper. Said committee shall, after due consideration of the subject matter of such articles, report thereon to the town meeting, in writing, such recommendations as it deems best for the interests of the town and its citizens. Copies of the report of the Advisory Committee shall be made available to the voters at least two days before town meetings and at all town meetings. 


Could Town Meeting have been confused when they voted this by-law into effect?
Perhaps it was those members wanted to have as much information as possible before taking a vote or making a decision.


from the selectmen policies and procedures:

Board Ethics:


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 wil 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 exist 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

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Board of selectmen policies and procedures: or,  how to be transparent.

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

Does anyone see Town Administrator report on the agenda?
For a BOS who talk much about policies, they seem to have a hard time following them.

Selectmen policies and procedures:
WORKING MEETINGS: The Board may conduct informal “working sessions” from time to time as the situation warrants. At such meetings, this will be posted in accordance with Open Meeting Law, no final action will be taken. A synopsis of transactions of informal meetings will be made a part of the minutes of the following regular meeting.

QUORUM: A quorum will consist of three members of the Board. As a practical courtesy, action or controversial matters, the Adoption of policy or appointments shall be taken, whenever practicable, with the full Board in attendance. Actions and decisions shall be by motion, second, discussion and vote. All votes to be recorded by roll call. The Town Administrator is expected to be in attendance at all meetings of the Board. The Town Administrator will attend in order to keep the Board informed and advise and recommend in all matters that fall within the jurisdiction of his office. He/she will carry out the actions of the Board as they relate to the conduct and administration of the Town affairs under his jurisdiction.


from the minutes of January 8, 2018 (draft)
referral to workshop - policy RE: employee badges - J. Caplis

Old Business: Fortes mentioned that he wanted to add the review of the selectmen's policies to the next workshop.

Notice there are no motions or votes recorded for those two items to move to workshop.

Templeton Board of Selectmen
Town Hall, 160 Patriots Road, East Templeton
Monday, January 22, 2018, 6:30 p.m.

Agenda
1. Call the Meeting to Order

2. Pledge of Allegiance

3. Public Comment

4. a. Meeting Minutes~ 1.8.18
b. Executive Session Minutes~ Ripe for release: 1.8.18

5. New Business: 
a. Action RE: Appointments & Introductions
b. Presentation RE: Police Station Project Update
c. Presentation RE: Q2 FY’18 Financial Report
d. Discussion RE: COA~Building Issues & Kitchen Equipment (J.Caplis)
e. Action RE: Crow Hill Track Permit & Common Victualler Permit
f. Action RE: Class II License~Auto Auctions & Recycling
g. Action RE: Amendment to Service Agreement~Collins Center Budget Document
h. Referral to Workshop:
- Policy RE: Baldwinville Elementary School Disposition

6. Old Business:

7. Board & Staff Member Comments & Reports 

8. Request for Executive Session per M.G.L. Ch.30, Sec. 21-3, Union Negotiations
9. Adjournment
Parliamentary Inquiry ~ Does the Templeton Selectboard follow Roberts Rules of Order 

I do not believe so, but an email to the chairman may answer that question. The selectmen do have BOS policies and procedures policy that was/is intended to guide selectmen on their meetings.

John Caplis email: selectmen.caplis@templeton1.org
Confusion at Town Meeting?

At the all committee meeting of Templeton boards and committees on Tuesday, selectmen Brooks made a rare appearance and stated concern that the approach being looked at by the Advisory Committee will be confusing to Town Meeting. Well to be confused, first you have to show up.

Secondly, does anyone remember the snafu or confusion over the Town Meeting vote for debt exclusion for the police station project? I believe it was the summary saying one thing and the motion saying something else. Now, part of that is on Town Meeting, you have to know what you are voting on, so perhaps selectmen can change their approach to the Town Meeting warrant articles.

The approach Advisory has talked about and will further discuss at a meeting (s) will be not only having a yes or no recommendation but include an explanation of the subject, the vote and reasons for a recommendation and perhaps include say the benefit of the article such as an open space item. Then, their could also be a "minority vote" explanation for any no votes with reason (s) why members voted against a recommendation. This may not be important with a 6 yes and 1 no vote but with a 5 yes and 2 no or a 4 yes and 3 no vote for recommendation. I believe people at Town Meeting deserve to know why the Advisory Committee is split on an article. Perhaps the three no votes have an idea (s) on why an article would be bad for the taxpayers. I see this as a move that would give people more information so as to make a better informed decision rather than a one sided view.

So I guess the first thing is to ask ourselves is Town Meeting suppose to be a place for debate and questions or is it just a place to go through the motions and say yes or no by just accepting what is on paper in front of you? Since selectmen John Caplis stated he also wanted to see the end product and had questions, perhaps this new approach is making some selectmen nervous. Before anyone says the sky is falling, this new approach has to be voted on and put into place, then the information has to be available in a timely manner, organized, put on paper, be printed and made available to the people. It is a large undertaking as it is a new approach and if implemented, may not go off as planned. It would be a work in progress and for this year, the expense of doing it would be on individual members as there is currently no Advisory Committee budget structure to support this type of approach. The Advisory Committee has presented a budget for next fiscal year to support this and we will have to wait and see if the selectmen allow it or not.

Whether there will be any change is up to the "transparent, more information, good governance" selectmen of Templeton.

On another subject, selectmen Brooks explained her long absence from meetings because of family issues and health issues including mental health. The all committee meeting was recorded and selectmen Brooks' speech is at the very beginning. She will now "attend" meetings remotely.


So, how do you feel? Will providing an explanation for a yes or no recommendation be more confusing or will it be beneficial to Town Meeting? Would having an explanation for a no recommendation along with an explanation of a yes vote be beneficial to Town Meeting;

example: recommendation for - 3 yes and 4 no. Reason (s) for a no vote: etc., etc., etc.
                Minority report: reasons members voted for a yes recommendation - "While moving forward, this item may require careful monitoring,we believe this would benefit the town long range for the following reasons;, etc., etc., etc.

Town Meeting would receive both sides which could be a basis for questions and discussion.

Remember, every article that gets 7 yes or no votes would not have a minority report, only those articles having a split vote. Town residents would then have an on the record view of votes and reasons. This could give the residents an idea behind the votes and members: (seems like the no votes are not based on reason but rather they simply don't like the project, maybe I will volunteer for Advisory.) This approach has the potential to force a committee to actually have sound reasons and information for a particular article, subject and vote.

Again, before anyone yells "the sky is falling" this has to get done and tried first. This would be like having a policy or guidance for future Advisory Committee members on how to provide recommendations and information to Town Meeting. With a current board of selectmen big on policy and procedures, one would think this idea would be a slam dunk and have full support of the BOS.

Perhaps I am mistaken in that thinking.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Looking back through financial documents, I find that one of the largest departmental budgets to be that of Fire/EMS. They are surpassed by only the police department. Remember that 100 thousand dollar transfer at the special town meeting this past fall? That was for the fire/EMS department, because two full time positions were added as a requirement of the AS license. There will most likely be two more this year and the next as part of the license requirements for ALS.

So, is Templeton working towards a full time fire department as well?
What will be the resulting increase of financial requirements to pay for this?
What is the increase in cost for full time fire personnel?
What is the increase in cost for full time EMS personnel?
Did Town Meeting vote for a full time fire department?
If they did, was Town Meeting told of the financial costs for this service?
Was Town Meeting told of the increase costs for full time EMS service?
Are these expenses sustainable now and in the future?
Will other Town services and departments suffer because of this?

Explaining these items and making taxpayers aware of the financial costs and responsibilities does not mean anyone is against these services per say, it means "they" are attempting to ensure that all are aware of these things so taxpayers can make a decision based on all available information.

Perhaps anon can share their face book page with us and inform all about the above mentioned items. I would turn to anon for this because it seems that anon is informed about ambulance requirements, which should include costs.

When it comes to costs, I would not try to look or get that information from a Town supplied budget versus actual because what you will find is this: (that is if you have a "directory" of numbers)

220 - unnamed
Personnel     $387,500.00 (please let me know if can tell me how much of the fire chief's salary has been paid to date)

employee support      $32,500.00

purchase of services   $56,000.00

supplies                       $23,000.00

other                            $70,000.00

Total                            $569,000.00



What you use to be able to see:
                                                     allocated                       expended                   ending

Ambulance receipts reserved      $232,000.00                  $231,590.93               $   409.07       
Fire chief salary                           $  74,500.00                  $70,924.78                $3,575.22
deputy fire chief                                 2,020.00                       2,020.00                        0.00   
captain/lieutenant salary                    6,000.00                        3,228.00                2,772.00
firefighter/EMS salaries                 163,792.00                   161,451.00                2,340.04
maintenance/fire equip.                      6,000.00                        5,447.46                   552.54
fire/EMS expenses                            50,000.00                     49,733.31                    266.69


The change came last summer in July with the reason (s) being Town Meeting voted for these changes. I looked and found no warrant article asking Town Meeting about the budget versus Actual reports. I looked and found no warrant article regarding any change to revenue receipt documents. I looked and found no warrant article (s) with regards to any variance financial documents. Yet those are the reasons given by the Town Administrator and accountant for these changes. Since the selectmen appoint the Town Administrator and accountant, it stands to reason they support these changes, as they are aware of them. So, my question is this; how do these changes result in more accountability and transparency regarding taxpayers dollars? How do these changes make it easier for departments to check the budgets of departments they oversee? How did these changes make it easier and more efficient for the Advisory Committee to look at these things?

Perhaps anon can explain this to all.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Anonymous4:28 PM
bob

i have no clue on where you got the 3 year life expectancy from ? ambulances that have proper maintenance and care and pass the state inspection and laws 105 cmr 170.00 there is no reason for this town to get 10 years out of them ! just my 2 cents worth.

Does anyone see a problem with a 10 year old ambulance? I understand one of the main reasons for new equipment for the DPW is maintenance costs becoming too high. I was curious about this CMR 105  170.00, so I checked. I am thinking that with a of the requirements, administrative and the vehicles physical condition, the Town would be foolish to keep an ambulance for 10 years. Just think of how fast your car or truck's equipment availability can or has changed? Do you want to be transported or cared for from a 10 year old vehicle. What would be the value of such an old vehicle?

What condition would the ambulance be in after 10 years of winter time running?  Again, this is not a plow truck, this is life saving equipment. Now if Templeton has two ambulances, maybe keep one for 10 years but I believe if you are going to be in the ambulance business, you keep one as new and up to date as possible. I am sure there are other ways and schedules to come up with, but I also think the Town needs to look at this from a financial point as well. I mean check on the cost of an ambulance today and then guesstimate what it will be 10 years out. I believe if one checks on municipal finance, 5 years out is the max for financial planning purposes with three being optimum. That may be the reason for the three year plan, as 10 or even 5 years out is just too far out to accurately plan for and is that not one of the biggest complaints/issues with regards to Templeton's finance, lack of good planning. Of course if we want good planning, we need good inclusive information, such as detailed financial reports monthly, which the selectmen seem unwilling to give to the Advisory Committee and departments, which in my opinion, is a big problem.

As an FYI, I drive a 2005 Dodge, I needed to replace a brake line so I went to Dodge parts, that line was now obsolete, not available, I was told I would have to go to an automotive parts store to get materials to make one. I am fortunate in I do that type of work. Back to a 10 year old vehicle, an ambulance, which is involved in life saving. What will be the availability and costs for 5 or 8 year old parts? 10 year old parts anyone?

I am not sure what class of Ambulance Templeton has. Perhaps Anon 4:28 knows this.

from CMR 105 170.00:
A Class V ambulance is a vehicle that does not meet the minimum vehicle design and construction standards of any other class of ambulance, but which may be used to carry a patient in the horizontal position, with sufficient room for an EMT to accompany the patient in the patient compartment. A Class V ambulance may be dispatched to the scene of an emergency to bring trained personnel and appropriate equipment and supplies.


170.455: Class I A Class I ambulance shall be used primarily for emergency dispatch to and transport of sick and injured persons from the scene of an emergency. A Class I ambulance may also be used for scheduled transportation by prior appointment of persons having known and non-emergent medical condition. It shall meet the following minimum requirements: (A) Vehicle Design and Construction. (1) An ambulance service may only purchase, accept or put into operation a Class I vehicle which conforms with the specifications set out in administrative requirements of the Department which are in effect at the date of vehicle production. In the case of municipal services, standards are those in effect at the date of acceptance of a manufacturer’s bid. (2) The Commissioner or his designee may waive specific requirements included in the federal specifications referenced in 105 CMR 170.455(A)(1) where alternatives provide comparable protection of the public health and safety. Requests for waivers or variations must be filed and approved by the Department before the bid or order process is undertaken. Such requests for waiver or variations are not subject to the general waiver requirement set forth in 105 CMR 170.275. (B) Vehicle Equipment. A Class I ambulance shall be equipped at a minimum with the vehicle equipment specified in the administrative requirements entitled Vehicle Equipment Guidelines - Class I. Amendments to such administrative requirements shall be circulated to licensees for review and comment at least 60 days prior to adoption. (C) Medical Equipment and Supplies. A Class I ambulance shall be equipped at a minimum with medical equipment and supplies as specified in the administrative requirements entitled Medical Equipment and Supplies - Class I. Amendments to such administrative requirements shall be circulated to licensees for review and comment at least 60 days prior to adoption.

 In the case of municipal services, standards are those in effect at the date of acceptance of a manufacturer’s bid. (2) The Commissioner or his designee may waive specific requirements included in the federal specifications referenced in 105 CMR 170.460(A)(1) where alternatives provide comparable protection of the public health and safety. Requests for waivers of variations must be filed and approved by the Department before the bid or order process is undertaken. Such requests for waiver or variation are not subject to the general waiver requirement set forth in 105 CMR 170.275.

Anonymous7:08 PM
i think you guys are looking at the ambulance the wrong way . with lack of firefighters these days to respond to calls during the day having an ambulance is putting firefighters in the station to also respond to fire calls ! your making money to help with the cost of firefighters ! sooner than later there will be no call firefighters due to the comment it takes to become a firefighter and these guys are doing there training at very little cost to the town ! dont expect that in the near future ! time away from your family these days guys need to be paid!!!

very true anon, the days of true volunteers are over, it is now about the money - "guys need to get paid" So I think you will find advisory committee looking at this from a money stand point; taxpayer dollars and how much is available for these services as well as how long can it go without some sort of change. Not sure if you are aware of this, but every now and then, uncollectable ambulance charges are written off. I believe the town of Ashburnham just did that - from the Gardner News. Are you wiling and able to pay more in taxes for these services? 
It has already been stated that the plan in place is not working, do you have an alternate plan? If so, please come forward and present it, I am sure any suggestions would be welcome.


from the budget book fiscal 2018 - $387,500.00 for personnel was allocated for the fire department with $72,000.00 listed for the chief salary. Employee support list at $32,500.00. Purchase of services list at $56,000.00. Fire supplies list at $23,000.00. Fire/EMS other list at $70,000.00. This comes to $569,000.00 (from the alocated summary from town accountant) 

from the special town meeting of November 2011:

Article 8 To see if the Town will vote to create a Fire Department-Ambulance Receipts Reserved for Appropriation Account where collected ambulance receipts for services are placed beginning with FY2013. Monies out of this fund are expended only through town meeting vote for the purpose of funding various Fire Department capital requests pursuant to the betterment of the Fire Department services as deemed by the Templeton Fire Chief. Submitted by the Templeton Fire Chief 
On a motion duly made and seconded the Town voted to create a Fire/Ambulance Receipts Reserved for Appropriation Account where collected ambulance receipts for services are placed beginning with fiscal year 2013. 
Passed Unanimously/Nov. 7th @ 8:00 

from the annual Town Meeting of May 2013: 
 Article 10 To see if the town will vote to appropriate a sum of money from the Fire Department/Ambulance Receipts Reserved for Appropriation Account, or to otherwise raise and appropriate a sum of money to fund Ambulance Department operations, with any unexpended balances in the reserve account to be carried forward to the subsequent fiscal year, or to take any other action relative thereto. 
Submitted by the Board of Selectmen 
On a motion duly made and seconded the town voted that One Hundred Sixty Thousand Dollars ($160,000.00) be hereby appropriated from the Ambulance Department Receipts Reserved for Appropriation Account to be spent by the Fire Chief to pay for the operation of the Ambulance Service within the Fire Department, with any unexpended balances in said reserve account at year end to be carried forward to the subsequent fiscal year.
 Passed/May 14th @ 8:09 
Article 11 To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds, or otherwise provide a sum of money to hire two (2) full-time equivalent firefighter/EMTs to work daytime coverage 48 hours per week (Monday-Friday), or to take any other action relative thereto. 
Submitted by the Board of Selectmen 
Chief Laporte was allowed to speak. 
On a motion duly made and seconded the town voted that One Hundred Twenty Eight Thousand Eight Hundred Twelve Dollars ($128,812.00) be hereby appropriated from the FY 14 tax levy and other general revenues of the town to be expended by the Fire Chief to add two daytime full time equivalent firefighter/EMTs to the staffing of the Templeton Fire Department.
 Passed/May 14th @ 8:26  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Speaking of that "monster" new school, did that project go before Templeton capital planning committee for review? If it did not, does that mean it violated Templeton Town by-laws? If it did not, does that mean in needs to be re-voted at Town Meeting?

As far as maintenance, I believe one must look at the regional school district agreement, that like the one involving Monty Tech, has not been looked at or revised in quite a while. I do recall there is an item in that agreement that the district is responsible for the maintenance and care of the facility, as long as the repair is $5,000.00 or less. If it is more than $5,000.00, the expense falls on Templeton taxpayers. Again, perhaps begin planning for those costs now, perhaps with the creation of another stabilization fund, that is provided money by way of a stand alone warrant article. Questions of this type should probably be directed towards the selectmen who are on said committee, oh wait, selectmen Haley Brooks has been conspicuously absent not only from selectmen meetings but school building committee meetings as well. Can you say recall of a selectmen for failing to do your duty and show up for meetings? One selectmen was let off the hook for disappearing, I do not believe we should allow any other selectmen that luxury. Show up and serve as elected, or if there are circumstances of hardship, illness, etc., resign so Templeton taxpayers may have proper representation. It takes hours, time and commitment to serve as a selectmen. If it becomes a problem for any reason to show up and serve, resign. Yes there will be talk and criticism, but it passes and it works out for all, especially the Town.
(That is a lesson learned from personal experience and you can come back and serve the Town if one wishes. Again, not easy, and accompanied by talk and criticism, but it can be done, and it is better the second time around.)
Capital Planning and snow and ice.

Reading comments on and hearing thoughts on capital planning in Templeton (or lack there of), a few things come to mind. First, there seems to be a lack of interest on the part of citizens to take part in the process. The process of democracy, self governance and watching out for their own money.

Example: there are currently two citizen at large positions open on the capital planning committee.

Secondly, did the capital planning committee submit any warrant articles for the upcoming annual town meeting with regards to setting aside money for a capital program. Is this committee trying to get the town administrator and selectmen to set aside, by way of a stand alone article, a sum of money to fund capital planning? Is there a plan with the political will to do this? There is a stand alone article for a scholarship fund so why is there no stand alone article to fund capital items (assets) for the town. In my opinion, it should not be, if we have some free cash available, it should be, along with any free cash, the capital planning committee wish to have x number of dollars budgeted for capital funding. If the selectmen approve and place this item on the warrant, that would be having the will to fund for investment, that would be having the will to put money aside for savings.

Now, with the purchase or planned purchase of a new truck for highway, is there a plan to trade that new truck in for a new one in two years, three years, etc., so the town could benefit from that truck still having some value.  Since the attention seems to be focused on the police department, fire department and highway, how about a detailed inventory of those three departments first. I mean with talk concerning a meas tax being used to fund new cruisers and one ton trucks, lets begin there with inventory. That would be action rather than talk and complaints about no town wide inventory. Capital planning needs to write a book. First the title, then a table of contents, then do a chapter or two in order. I believe a step approach is more doable and makes more sense because of lack of interest on part of towns people, the already existence of what I have heard described as a mess of a long range capital plan.

I think the town would be better served, the committee could better inform and communicate to the town what the plan is. I believe the capital planning should look into lease versus buying and report the true costs, the benefits or pros and cons to the selectmen, advisory committee and town meeting with a report to the town, per town by-laws and requirements.

Watching a segment of "talk of the town", I noted the town administrator stating that the Templeton DPW director has pointed out that the place where the town gets sand for the winter time is nearing the end of the line. It was also pointed out that mixing sand and salt is labor intensive which equals spending money. It was also stated that using sand wears on equipment because of the hauling, mixing, sweeping and drain basin cleaning all takes a toll on the trucks and tractors. It also takes time, which is time away from maintenance, on the equipment and the roads, sidewalks, etc. If the town area is "mined out" and highway continues to keep using sand, the costs will only double or triple. Taxpayers will not only buy sat, they will buy sand, as well as pay to clean it up.

That is another thing capital planning should be looking at. Ways to fund a storage facility for salt and the true costs for using it. There is in place an old, incomplete, cumbersome capital plan, stop complaining about it and start from scratch or create an addendum with current known information; contact the chief of police, how many police vehicles does the town currently have, age of vehicles, cost of new cruiser and time frame to get one in town. Average miles per year and what would be a time frame to trade in so there is value that could benefit the town. Stop complaining about lack of a plan or no complete inventory, rather work two fronts if need be, but the town needs action, planned action. I believe this information is easily obtained and could be reported to town meeting.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Massachusetts General Law, chapter 121C
section3:

Economic development and industrial corporation; authority to organize; consolidations; members of board of directors; surety bonds; compensation and reimbursements

First, below is a partial reading of how the law use to read: it was changed and I think this was caught after there was going to be a STM warrant article for the Town EDC.

Question is, if you want transparency and good governance, why not run it by the Town's legislative body, Town Meeting, and explain it, rather than having meetings at 9:00 A.M

or with the approval of the mayor in any other city, or a town at an annual town meeting or a special town meeting called for the purpose, shall by vote declare a need for such a corporation because unemployment or the threat thereof exists in the city or town or that security against future unemployment and lack of business opportunity is required and that attracting new industry into the municipality and substantially expanding existing industry through an economic development project or projects financed under this chapter and implemented by such a corporation would alleviate the unemployment and lack of business opportunity problems.
[ First paragraph as amended by 2016, 218, Sec. 219 effective November 7, 2016. For text effective until November 7, 2016, see above.]
  There is hereby authorized in each municipality in the commonwealth the organization of an economic development and industrial corporation, a public body politic and corporate, hereinafter referred to as the corporation. No such corporation, however, shall be organized, transact any business, employ any personnel or exercise any powers until the city council with the approval of the city manager, in a city having a Plan D or Plan E form of charter, or with the approval of the mayor in any other city, or by the board of selectmen in a town, shall by vote declare a need for such a corporation because unemployment or the threat thereof exists in the city or town or that security against future unemployment and lack of business opportunity is required and that attracting new industry into the municipality and substantially expanding existing industry through an economic development project or projects financed under this chapter and implemented by such a corporation would alleviate the unemployment and lack of business opportunity problems.
  In the event that two or more municipalities wish to consolidate their economic development and industrial corporations, each such municipality desirous of such a consolidation shall so vote as a city or town in the manner hereinbefore described. Such a vote may be made at the same time as the vote to organize the corporation or may be made at a time subsequent thereto.
  There shall be seven members of the board of directors of the corporation who shall be appointed by the municipality. At least one member shall be experienced in industrial development, one in financial matters, one in real estate matters, one in municipal government, at least one member representative of low income people who shall be chosen from a list of three submitted by the regional or local community action agency or, where there is no such agency, from a list of three submitted by the department of housing and community development. The appointing municipality shall designate one of the seven members as chairman and another as vice-chairman. Each of the seven members shall be sworn to the faithful performance of his official duties as a director of the corporation. A majority of the seven directors shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of any business, but the action of a majority of the entire board shall be necessary for any transaction. For the purposes of section eleven A of chapter thirty A of the General Laws, the corporation shall be deemed to be an authority established by the general court to serve a public purpose in the commonwealth. Of the members of the corporation first appointed, two shall be appointed to serve for one year from the first day of July in the current year, two for two years from said date, and three for three years from said date. Upon the expiration of the term of office of any such member, or of any subsequent member, his successor shall be appointed in like manner for a term of three years. In the event of a vacancy in the office of a member, his successor shall be appointed in like manner to serve for the unexpired term. Unless reappointed, no member of the corporation shall hold office after the expiration of his term; and the appointment of a successor to any person whose term has expired shall be for the remainder of the term which would have begun at such expiration if the successor had then been appointed.
  Any member may be removed by the municipality for malfeasance, misfeasance, or wilful neglect of duty, but only after reasonable notice and a public hearing, unless the same are in writing expressly waived, and after approval by MOBD. For purposes of chapter two hundred sixty-eight A of the General Laws, the members of the corporation shall be deemed to be special municipal employees.
  Before the issuance of any bonds under the provisions of this act, each member of the corporation shall execute a surety bond with a surety company authorized to transact business in this commonwealth as surety, in the penal sum of fifty thousand dollars conditioned upon the faithful performance of the duties of his office, each such surety bond to be approved by the legal counsel of the municipality and filed in the office of the state secretary. The members of the corporation shall receive no compensation for the performance of their duties hereunder, but each member shall be reimbursed for expenses actually incurred in the performance of his duties. Every such reimbursement shall be open to public inspection from and after the requisition therefor.

Watching the selectmen meeting of January 8, 2018, Brooks and Richards were again absent.

There was a vote to give Reno's pizza a license to sell booze. Morrison - yes, Fortes - yes, Caplis  - abstain. (Caplis owns a home next to the pizza shop) One odd question came from selectmen Fortes to the owner of Renos pizza, "naturalization/citizenship papers in order?" Strange question from a selectmen to a man who already has a business in town, has a business license and pays taxes, sales tax, state tax, income taxes etc. I wonder if the board of health asked the same question? Perhaps master Fortes should contact the feds! What a joke.

One item of interest was discussion on Templeton ambulance receipts; seems like there may be a problem with revenue projections. Fiscal year 2017 showed ambulance generating $282,000.00 according the the fire chief. Seems there were over 100 non transport calls for the ambulance, which means there was no billing, as in no collection of dollars, only expense for sending the ambulance out.

So far, for fiscal 2018, 315 ambulance calls with 253 transports. As of December 31, 2017, there has been $155,765.00 collected. It is guesstimated that if the other six months follow the first six months, there will be $311,531.00 in collections. Again, that is only a guess as there could be fewer calls in the next six months. Of course, there could be more.

Some ambulance issues; more calls for "I have fallen and I can't get up" (my words) but these apparently are calls for assistance where there is only expense for the ambulance going out, as there is no transport and no dollars collected. Also, there are more elderly calls which involve medicare and medicaid billing. No matter what Templeton has for ambulance billing rates, medicare/medicaid only pays so much and that is that. As of April of 2018, Templeton must go to 24 hours for ALS service. The three year income projections for ambulance service was based on 700 calls per year. Templeton is averaging 500 calls per year, oops! Selectmen Caplis stated there are some tough calls coming. Perhaps selectmen should have used a lower (conservative) number for those estimates, but I guess they needed to paint a real rosy picture. Do not worry, the meals tax will fix it! Maybe Tempeton can start charging people when they get locked up in the new cell at the police station, or we can charge for tours of the new school.
TO:               Board of Selectmen
FROM:        Carter Terenzini, Town Administrator
RE:              Administrator's Weekly Report
DATE:         January 11, 2018
CC:              All Departments


A few highlights of this weeks report;

All material for the Annual Town report need to be submitted by January 22, 2018.
 Town Offices closed on Monday, January 15, 2018 for Martin King day observance.

Four (4) vendors (business') met for the local meals tax proposal. They expressed concern that the stated purpose of this proposed tax increase (rolling stock capital program) would change once it gets moving.

Four proposals for legal services were received and reference checks are in progress.

Town retirement assessment increased by $70,000.00. (10.5% increase)

Think about that when you realize Templeton is headed towards a full time fire department!

Highway Department: Between strong winds and extreme cold made clean up very difficult. The equipment that runs on diesel fuel struggled because the cold was causing it (diesel fuel) to gel and shut down.  We had an additive put in on the next diesel fuel delivery on Tuesday.

Once again, this shows reactive rather than a proactive approach. I wonder what happened to the "professionals" over there? Diesel fuel gelling is always a concern and is nothing new, which is why fuel additive is sold by the quart,  gallon, case and even 55 gallon drum. If you run diesel fuel, you have this on hand and you add it every time you fill up. It is called preventative maintenance. There are some diesel fuels better than others but it comes down to knowing the equipment and taking the precautions. Once the cold set in, it was all but impossible to find the additive on store shelves, which is why there are 14 cases sitting in a garage - with six diesel engine trucks to keep running, being proactive is a requirement, not an after thought. Public safety is involved here!

The sidewalk plow does not go out during the storm. When the plow does go out, it first clears snow from sidewalks for the school children that walk to school and local business. There is only one sidewalk plow, an additional plow and driver would enable us to get the job done faster.

Highway department looking to expand and hire more personnel? Got to grow the government workforce and keep the pressure on the taxpayers.

The town administrator's report can be found on the town website, under heading; departments, town administrator report - 2018. It is suppose to be given at the selectmen meeting, according to their own policy, but hey, what are policies for? Certainly not to follow. See you at the all boards meeting.


Sewer Rate Relief Fund - FY2018

The Division of Local Services has released Bulletin 2018-1, Sewer Rate Relief Fund - FY2018. It can be found by clicking here.

The Sewer Rate Relief Fund operates under the provisions of Chapter 29 Section 2Z of the General Laws. The Fund was created in 1993 to mitigate escalating costs of sewer service in the Commonwealth. Awards were based on "eligible debt service" and were calculated at up to 20% of debt service. For FY2018, $1.1 million has been appropriated. Applications must be returned by Friday, January 26, 2018 to the address noted in the Bulletin

Friday, January 12, 2018

Since this is a posted meeting, one would think it is open to the public. I would however, contact the BOS office and make sure.
All Boards Meeting
Tuesday, January 16, 2018, at 6:30 P.M
Kamaloht-1 North Main Street, East Templeton, MA-01438

Board of Selectmen hosting this second joint meeting of all Town Boards and Committees 

AGENDA

Discuss progress we have made this past year. 

Discuss the direction boards & committees feel our organization should be heading in 

Discuss ideas of how we might better work together to improve communications, efficiency, and better serve our community.

Miscellaneous discussion

Adjournment

Thursday, January 11, 2018

from the office of the board of selectmen:

Date: January 10, 2018 at 9:53 AM
> Subject: FY17 Annual Report
>
>
>
> Good Morning:

> Just a reminder about the deadline for the Annual Report. As you must have
> seen in the weekly reports, the deadline is now January 22, 2018 at 4 p.m.
> This was updated since my memo to you back in August.
>
> DEADLINE:   Annual Reports for FY’17 (July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017)
> are due to me in electronic format only-via email on or before Monday,
> January 22, 2018 at 4 p.m.
>
> This date is the absolute final deadline and anything sent after that date
> WILL NOT be included in the Annual Report.
>
> Format:  ALL reports must be sent in electronic format ONLY and in Times New
> Roman, 12 font, single spaced (1.0).
>

> NOTE: This office reserves the right to edit reports received so they fit
> properly, have the correct format, and look their best for the final report.
>
>
> Thank you.

How about these reports get printed as submitted so all of the information a board, commission, committee or department wishes to convey to the taxpayers actually gets to those taxpayers . . . who pay for this report!

Note: This report is for fiscal 2017, which ended June 30, 2017.

With regard to Town employees salaries in the Annual Town Report, try emailing Selectmen Haley Brooks at seldhaleybrooks@tempeton1.org and ask her why town employee salaries are not in the ATR?

Town employee salaries were in ATR 2012, skipped 2013, appeared in 2014 and have been absent since. I believe you will find it was a selectmen who pushed for these to not be published because it is none of your business. That is what was rumored at Town Hall, but again, I would begin with selectmen Brooks and if she is ever at a BOS meeting, that would be the place to ask, in public and on the record. (my opinion)
Something to watch - Templeton selectmen sent out and / or posted a request for proposal for legal services. Proposals were to be submitted by January 9, 2018.  It will be interesting to see who responded, who is chosen and if present counsel was included. Again, what is the reason to change counsel in the middle of the fiscal year?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

With regards to VADAR training and such, Templeton is not the only municipality to use that platform. Having spoke to a few Treasurer/ Collectors and Accountants, I was told that the kind of reports Advisory was looking for were indeed still available and could be produced. Of course those people were reluctant to come to a public meeting and basically call the BOS, T/A, accountant and the like liars or lacking basic knowledge of the financial system they use. The only logical choice was to have the training and see for ourselves. One member of the Advisory Committee has actually gone into the site and has seen that the information in the format wanted and requested is actually there. As to why the committee was told, join the guessing line. Why would selectmen, who profess to want transparency, support such a move? All will have to go ask them, as the conclusion I come to is they simply did not, nor wish Advisory or others to have access to such information. I draw the conclusion that the idea from the powers at be wish for everyone else to have as little information as possible; ie, a control issue; control information and remain in the drivers seat. That does not seem to be the case any longer due to the spending of a few thousand taxpayer dollars. Which now results in the same information that was always available up until August 2017. That is when financial information suddenly became scarce or hard to come by. So far, it looks like only a few minutes were/are required to obtain the information originally requested. One would think with an accountant and an assistant, the information could have been provided as before without the spending of the additional few thousand dollars. Again, the reasons for this would have to be asked of the selectmen.

An additional reminder:
Advisory and other Boards, Committees, Commissions were suddenly told there would be less financial information rather than more of these budget versus actual reports. Perhaps the focus should be; why? why all of a sudden is less information available on a regular basis now? The books were all redone, now complete with "good" numbers. Remember, it was Advisory Committee using these reports while looking at financial transfers during the year that an error was found with regards to a balance on one account. It was around $2,500.00 or so and after that error was found and reported, the committee was told it did not affect the "big picture" or words to that effect. The end balance of accounts was not really changed by that number. So, now with less information in those reports and with the available information also very generic, it makes it very hard if not impossible for the Advisory Committee to track and find things such as the above mentioned errors. Again, I draw the conclusion it is a control thing to keep all information in a very tight circle. Again, my question is why? Is it the new school? Is it tax money availability for spending? Is it finding too many errors or questions of the information that use to be in those financial reports? What is the real reason (s) for the sudden change (s) to those reports that were available monthly then changed to quarterly? The message from this board of selectmen has been (for a while) more policies, more transparency, more information, yet there are reports that show otherwise, you know, on paper. Again, selectmen would have to answer those questions as they are in charge.

Note: Templeton by-laws state that Advisory Committee is to have unfettered access to all things financial with regards to books, records, etc. With an accountant, assistant accountant, a treasurer/Collector who is knowledgeable about their job, this information should be easily produced, readily available and the detail that had been in those reports should not have been reduced. Back to the question; why??


The following is from an email from the Templeton Town Administrator concerning the request of the Templeton Advisory Committee to have a Town reserve fund of $80,000.00.

If you remember, Town Meeting via the T/A and board of selectmen left over 300 thousand dollars of free cash (left over taxpayer money) on the table under the working capital description. Since the selectmen's own financial policy states "to replenish other reserves", it seems prudent to fund this requested budget item at the requested amount from that still unused free cash. This increase in the emergency reserve fund could help Templeton in it's quest to obtain a bond rating. This could be accomplished without affecting any other department, such as the senior center (COA). Whatever, if any, amount of the reserve fund that is not used during the fiscal year, would revert back to free cash (so called), which again, would help the selectmen (Town) meet their policy of generating free cash in the 5% of the prior year's budget. This is another example of the Advisory Committee trying to help the Town, ie: selectmen in their quest to create and follow these policies.

Now we will see if the selectmen truly wish to work together for the benefit of the Town, I will be watching and reporting.



Policy:

The Town of Templeton will continue to avoid using free cash to fund the operating budget, except in the event of an emergency or extraordinary or unforeseen events as described in A-1 above.

The Town will endeavor to annually generate free cash of 5 percent of the prior year’s omnibus operating budget, less school debt

The Town will strive to have its free cash certified in time for use at its Fall Town Meeting.  Free Cash may be used for certain one-time expenditures, such as major capital projects, emergencies, other unanticipated expenditures and deficits (i.e. snow & ice) or to replenish other reserves.  Free cash shall not be depleted in any year, so that the following year's calculation will begin with a positive balance.




Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Just finished VADAR training, which involved learning how the financial software used by the Assessors, Treasurer, Collector and Accountant works. It is really an easy system to use, once you learn it. It is so easy and quick to generate detailed financial reports, such as a budget to actual that actually shows detail such as Board of Selectmen - assistant salary, office expense, etc rather than the unnamed, general dollar figure explanation that Advisory Committee and others are now receiving. Taxpayers are paying for this system and it should be used to it's full potential - generating detailed reports that account for the spending of tax dollars. Apparently, the selectmen do not wish that to be, question is, why not?
funny item from twitter;
Jon Snow@therealjLash4
I think Hellen Keller plowed Hubbardston road


When you're so upset that you tweet at some random guy across the world about your town's roads not being plowed 😂

Perhaps that tweet is frustration and the last resort, in hopes something will change. I mean Templeton highway was out and about on Sunday.

Monday, January 8, 2018

More information or less information for taxpayers?


From: "townadministrator" <townadministrator@templeton1.org>
Subject: RE: FY'19 TAC budget submission
Date: January 2, 2018 at 11:41:14 AM EST
To: "'Paul Grubb'" <grubbp@comcast.net>

Good Day:
 
Follow-up Inquiry
 
Given we have produced the Voters Information In-House previously and given this seemed to go fairly well at the ’17 Fall Town meeting
 
What is the rationale and breakdown for producing booklets?  Given the census mails to 3,300 households, there are 5,100 registered voters and there are probably some 3,000+/- households with voters I’m struggling to understand how you could produce some unknown number of pages and then mail it to some unknown to me number of households within the budget request.
 
Many Thanks
 
Carter Terenzini
Town Administrator
Town of Templeton
160 Patriots Road
East Templeton, MA 01438
1.978.894.2753

 Carter;

Advisory has discussed this approach in the past; rather than a simple yes or no recommendation with the summaries (which have been shown to be confusing) and motions, Advisory feels an explanation /reasons for a yes recommendation accompanied by a "minority report"; if any members of Advisory vote against an article, they can explain their reasons. Advisory feels this approach gives voters/taxpayers more information rather than less. Advisory feels with the changes made to the expense ledger report (budget versus actual) which now shows less information along with the lack of line item budget presentation to Town Meeting, voters should have adequate information to base votes on and to have debate if they wish. Advisory feels that is one of the main reasons to having a Town Meeting. As to whether Advisory Committee budget requests are granted is now up to you and the board of selectmen. It will come down to the selectmen to decide to give taxpayers more or less information.

As for determining a base line for mailing Town Meeting information, Advisory can use already available public information; the voter sign in sheets to see who has actually attended Town Meeting using records from 2015 to present, ATM and STM. From there, Advisory has a few other options, to be determined by Advisory. Again, this is a new approach for Templeton Advisory Committee. It is an attempt to provide the voters/Taxpayers with more rather than less information and the committee feels this is something selectmen would support, given these are the same people who may elect or re-elect them to office.  The amount of information (number of pages) will be determined by Advisory. Since in one of your memos, there was mention of other arrangements having to be made due to security concerns, with regards to the copier in the Treasurer/Collector office, a taxpayer asset belonging to the Town, no longer available to Advisory, our presented budget is the means by which Advisory is attempting to do things differently. Again, this is an attempt by the Advisory Committee to provide more information to Town Meeting so they may make better decisions concerning their money. Advisory looks at this as something else selectmen and the committee would share common ground and agreement on. If that is not the case, then you and the selectmen will probably deny the budget requests as presented and will be the selectmen who will have to explain that to Town Meeting.

In closing, I would say the operating budget presented to you would allow Advisory Committee to operate in a responsible manner and do the job as outlined in Templeton Town by-laws. Whether Advisory is able to do this or not is up to you and the selectmen. Ultimately, the selectmen will have to explain this to Town Meeting and Advisory would rather show Town Meeting that we are on the same page with regards to good governance, transparency with a clear inclusive accounting of their money - taxpayer money.

regards;
Jeff Bennett
Chairman, Advisory Committee