Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Watching the board of selectmen workshop of January 29, 2018, I observed master Fortes state "if you do not like my actions, you can vote me out in 3 years" Actually, we do not have to wait for three years, we can throw you out sooner by way of a recall vote.

Another item talked about was ID's for town employees to include committees, boards, etc. Example given was "fortune 500 companies have ID's for security reasons" and a Templeton example was supposedly a couple members of the conservation committee were in someone's back yard and when asked who they were, they said they did not have any ID to prove that. When I was elected as a selectmen, I was given a card identifying me as a Templeton selectmen for a term of three years from here to there. As a member of other committees, I was also given a card listing the committee and term on which I had been appointed. I received this when I was sworn in by the Town Clerk. So this ID thing is not really a new concept, perhaps selectmen are going to include picture on the "new ID's"

Chairman Caplis stated "I was always taught that if I could make my bed, I could make it through the day" Guess I will not be making it through this day as I do not make my bed daily anymore, had to do that enough in the USMC and I am not there any longer. Perhaps selectmen should take baby steps first, such as show up for meetings, then think about ID's. Next, we could have a Town website where all of the Town's boards, committees, commissions etc. are listed with up to date membership. As for the cost of producing new ID's, I guess they can be paid for out of the meals tax or that talked about prop 2 1/2 override? Yeah, Templeton taxpayers give the selectmen more of your money!

Back to the first item, there was also discussion about limiting your access to speak or to be heard at selectmen meetings. Master Fortes, stated this could still be up to the Chairman of the select board, depending on if there is a weak chair or a strong chair. So, what exactly is a weak chairman? One who lets people speak? The point of this discussion seem to focus on making selectmen's meeting more efficient (more focused and faster, so they can get out of there even quicker, if they even show up) So there you have it, make the meetings easier, faster, less participation of citizens and every one have your papers in order!

I am looking forward to the police station remodeling coming before Town Meeting for the third time (?) this spring.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Since there has been mention of this subject, I requested the ist of current members of the elementary school building committee;

Hi Jeff,

The members are:

Dr. Casavant
Hank Mason, School Committee
Rick Moulton, Bldg. & Grounds Dir.
Diane Haley Brooks, Selectman
Kirk Moschetti, Chairman
Nat North, TC Principal
John Caplis, Selectman
Theresa Kasper, Resident
Carter Terinzini, Town Manager
Carrie Koziol, Resident*

*Carrie has recently resigned, because she moved out of district.

I do not have any of this committee's minutes in front of me, so I cannot say how they are presented. I do however know that Jon Winikur and Tim Alex of Colliers are the owners project managers rather than part of the appointed committee. The three individuals from SMMA are the designers/engineers for the project and not appointed members of the committee. Alan Mayo is with public works and I recall the highway department was going to be involved in some of the work on the roads around the project. As for master Fortes, I suspect he is just in attendance. I can double check on the membership of the committee, but the two from Colliers and the three from SMMA are not on the appointed committee.

Speaking of Committees, Capital Planning, which is listed on the Town Website, shows members as Doug Morrison, Wil Spring, Charles Carroll, Lori Matson as the membership. I believe the only one correct is Doug Morrison. This is probably one area where the selectmen should correct first in any attempt to claim transparency in government.

What records of public meetings must be kept?

Public bodies are required to create and maintain accurate minutes of all meetings, including executive sessions. The minutes, which must be created and approved in a timely manner, must include:
• the date, time and place of the meeting;
• the members present or absent;
• the decisions made and actions taken, including a record of all votes;
• a summary of the discussions on each subject;
• a list of all documents and exhibits used at the meeting; and
 • the name of any member who participated in the meeting remotely.

Monday, January 29, 2018

On a motion duly made and seconded the Town voted to appropriate the amount of Forty-Seven Million, Five Hundred Sixty-Three Thousand, One Hundred Eighty-Four Dollars ($47,563,184) for the purpose of paying the costs of designing, constructing, originally equipping and furnishing a new Templeton Elementary School located at 17 South Road, Templeton MA, including the payment of all costs incidental or related thereto (the “Project"), which school facility shall have an anticipated useful life as an educational facility for the instruction of school children of at least 50 years, and for which the Town, through Narragansett Regional School District, may be eligible for a grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority ("MSBA"), said amount to be expended under the direction of the Templeton Elementary School Building Committee; and to meet this appropriation, the Treasurer, with the approval of the Selectmen, is authorized to borrow said amount under M.G.L. Chapter 44, or pursuant to any other enabling authority; The Town acknowledges that MSBA's grant program is a non-entitlement, discretionary program based on need, as determined by the MSBA, and any Project costs the Town incurs in excess of any grant approved by and received from the MSBA, through the Narragansett Regional School District, shall be the sole responsibility of the Town; provided further that any grant that the Town, through the Narragansett regional School District, may receive from the MSBA for the Project shall not exceed the lesser of: (1) Sixty-Two and Eighty-Four Hundredths Percent (62.84%) of eligible, approved Project costs, as determined by the MSBA, or (2) the total maximum grant amount determined by the MSBA; provided that any appropriation hereunder shall be subject to and contingent upon an affirmative vote of the Town to exempt the amounts required for the payment of interest and principal on said borrowing from the limitations on taxes imposed by M.G.L. 59, section 21C “Proposition 2 ½”; and that the amount of borrowing authorized pursuant to this vote shall be reduce by any grant amount set forth in the Project Funding Agreement that may be executed between the Narragansett Regional School District and the MSBA.

Passed by 2/3/November 9th @ 8:14

from the special Town Meeting of November 9, 2015. While watching the meeting of January 23, 2018 of the school building committee, there was a presentation of invoices, with one being from the school district's attorney (as stated by the OPM for the project) so my question is why is the district's attorney rather than the Town's counsel looking over contracts for this Town of Templeton project?

from Templeton's general by-laws:

Article III – Town Officers
Section 1. The Selectmen shall have the general direction and management of the property and affairs of the town in all matters not otherwise provided for by laws or these By-Laws.

Article VII – Legal Affairs

Section 1. The Selectmen shall be agents of the town to institute, prosecute and defend any and all claims, actions and proceedings to which the town is a party or in which the interests of the town are or may be involved.

Section 5. It shall be the duty of the Town Counsel to conduct the prosecution, defense or compromise of claims, actions and proceedings to which the town is a party, and the prosecution of actions or proceedings by or on behalf of any town officer, board or committee as such; to conduct the defense of any action or proceedings brought against any town officer, board or committee as such when the Selectmen, having determined that any right or interests of the town are or may be involved therein, shall so request, to conduct proceedings brought by or against the Assessors before the Board of Tax Appeals; to assist in the prosecution of complaints for violation of any by-law of the town, when requested so to do by the board of officer enforcing the same, to examine and report upon titles to all land to be acquired by the town; to prepare or approve contracts, bonds, deeds, and other legal instruments in which the town is a party or in which any right or interest of the town is involved; to appear at any and all hearings on behalf of the town whenever his services may be required; and generally to advise and act for the town officers, boards and committees upon and in legal matters touching the duties of their respective officers.

I have to wonder if the current selectmen have ever looked at these by-laws? By passing off or allowing a separate legal entity, the school district, to control such a large Taxpayer funded project, I have to ask if this makes the selectmen derelict in their duty?
Information from Town Hall:

Snow & Ice spending from week ending October 10, 2017 through January 7, 2018;

Labor -     $31,412.62 - allocated - $45,000.00

Services - $34,246.73 - allocated - $87,500.00

So now you can see what you have spent on getting your roads plowed or sanded, equipment bought or repaired. You may decide if that was money well spent or not.
With regards to the licensing issues, if any, with the former MBW site, as well as the proposed or current goings on there; it may appear to be illegal at first glance, as has been the case before in Templeton, but they usually turn out to be shady, grey, right on the line but not technically illegal.

The one thing that may make people pay, if there are some questionable items, is the conflict of interest, which as I recall, cost one former Templeton selectmen a $1,000.00 on my complaint. So, if you feel strongly that there may be an issue, take the steps and file a conflict of interest complaint, it may work or it may not.

The only way to change this is to vote out of office the involved parties, so that is on the people of the Town. That may mean that you have to step up and run and become involved.

This particular item could make for an interesting public comment at a selectmen meeting, so perhaps Bob Adams will show and make that comment. Personally, I am sitting back watching the people who voted for the planning board members, voted for the police station upgrade, the people who say they want business in Town, the people who allowed chapter 90 money to be used for equipment rather than actual road repair and on and on, and now those same people want to question the process, the people involved and the taxes they pay. Well, once upon a time, the Town had a chance to make a few changes that could have have helped Templeton's financial direction but they chose the status quo; which is fine and was their choice, so now, deal with it as you got what you wanted. Remember, you voted for it!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Class 11 - used car dealers license and Class 111 - motor vehicle junk license granted to
 Franklin Park Enterprises, LLC  at 411 Baldwinville Road,
 both licenses scheduled to expire December 31, 2017. Nice to see our board of selectmen on the ball and ensuring there are no funny things involved. I wonder if Master Fortes asked about citizenship papers being in order? Seems like Templeton board of selectmen bordering on corruption within Town government. (in my opinion anyways) There seems to be a pattern of planning board and selectmen in collusion on where tax dollars go. (that is my opinion) Too bad there is no independent selectmen on the board, as in no go along to get along.

from the general Town by-laws - page 20 on Town web site.

Article XXX – Class III Licenses

The Selectmen are hereby authorized to limit the number of Class III Licenses in effect in the Town at any one time; said number not to exceed 4.
Passed 5-11-85

The one transfer request I recall went before the board of selectmen, it was Paul Cosentino senior putting it in his son's name. That was a few years ago.
GASB 43 and 45 require government employers to recognize benefits during an employee’s period of employment. The difference between the accrual cost of the retiree benefits within the given year and amount paid out during the year (in the form of benefit payments, insurance premiums, or payments to a trust) is known as the net OPEB obligation, or balance sheet liability.

• Reaction of credit-rating agencies
• Credit-rating agencies are most concerned with an employer’s ability to manage OPEB costs and liabilities. On the one hand, the creation of an OPEB trust could be a positive sign to the rating agencies that you are actively seeking ways to manage costs associated with your OPEB obligation. On the other hand, an unfunded trust might signal to the rating agency an inability to follow through on funding and do little to demonstrate effective cost-management of retiree benefits.
TO: Board of Selectmen
FROM: Carter Terenzini, Town Administrator
RE: Administrator’s Weekly Report
DATE: January 25, 2018
CC: All Departments

Public Works Highway Department:

The director attended the Templeton Center Elementary school meeting on Tuesday Evening and the Scout Hall meeting on Thursday. A crew was dispatched to Cottage Lane to fill a location where a resident had cut into the road. Flowing water was undermining the road surface there. The trackless snowplow was out clearing sidewalks after the last snow storm. Cold patching of potholes was done on Barre Rd. Henshaw and Stonebridge, as well as Central and Bridge Streets. Two stop signs were replaced. Due to the pounding rain and freezing temperatures sand and salting was a constant battle to keep the roads safe. A process change was made to the way that Barre and Dudley Roads are sanded. We now are sanding the lanes, not in the center of the road as was done in the past. Repairs to sanders and plows were maintained and cleaned.

Perhaps all roads should be sanded in lanes rather than down the middle?

On the addendum to this report:

MMMA association meeting: Item of note is challenge of board of selectmen doing evaluations now that it has been determined the individual input sheets - if used at a public meeting - are a public record and not part of a personnel file.

from the current Massachusetts Open Meeting Law:

The ten purposes for which a public body may vote to hold an executive session are:
1. To discuss the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health, rather than professional competence, of an individual, or to discuss the discipline or dismissal of, or complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member or individual. The individual to be discussed in such executive session shall be notified in writing by the public body at least 48 hours prior to the proposed executive session; provided, however, that notification may be waived upon written agreement of the parties.

another item from the addendum report;

Taming the OPEB (other post employment benefits) beast:
     Prime point was to establish a funding approach, no matter how small and to stick to it annually, looking for long term solutions to this long term problem. In conversation afterward, presenter thought our approach of a modest free cash contribution annually and pushing enterprise funds to get fully funded at a faster pace was reasonable for now.

My problem with this approach is the same for the stabilization funds, without a budget line item, there is no consistency with the amount, it is only a percentage of any free cash. Why not budget a dollar figure each year as a part of operating costs to put money aside for these items? 
Of course, putting down a hard dollar figure item with in a budget is problematic with prop 2 1/2 limitations and the ever expanding government approach, as in the now started full time fire department, which adds more costs to OPEB. Perhaps it is time to outsource things that can be done in that way and cut the number of town employees, as it is not the taxpayers responsibility to provide jobs for people just so they can have one. These are serious problems and require hard decisions. My opinion is that anyone who is running for elective office and posts a sign saying "save dispatch" is just looking for votes and not really thinking of the bigger picture nor the stability of the Town.

Remember that last year, there were education costs of

Narragansett Regional school district of $6,006,424.00

Monty Tech -                                            $   638,131.00

Debt for High school                                 $  436,384.00

Total Town budget presented to Town Meeting by the selectmen was approximately 15.5 million dollars.

Templeton Town financial policy voted on by the selectmen states one time funds will not be used to fund the operating budget, but here we have a statement by the Town Administrator on how free cash or one time funds will be used to cover yearly costs to fund OPEB. Either we have a policy with no real plan or we do not collect enough in taxes to cover all of the planned expenses. With the push for new taxes - meals tax, me thinks it is the latter. I also do not think this problem is going to be solved or dealt with by way of an absent board of selectmen. Show or go!

from the May 13, 2008 annual Town Meeting:

Article 36. To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Board of Selectmen to acquire by purchase the Templewood Golf Course, together with all buildings, fixtures and other improvements appurtenant thereto, which is comprised of five (5) parcels of land that are located on Brooks Road, Templeton, shown on Assessors’ Map 5-08 as Parcel 11, on Map 5-08 as Parcel 6, on Map 5-06 as Parcel 74, on Map 5-06 as parcel 74.3, and on Map 5-06 as Parcel 74.6, and contain a total of 128.16 acres, more or less, for recreational purposes, said land to be conveyed to the Town pursuant to G.L. c. 40, § 14, as the same may hereafter be amended, to be managed and controlled by a committee formed in accordance with G.L. c. 40, § 14; and as funding therefor to borrow a sum of money for such purposes ; to meet this appropriation, the Treasurer with the approval of the Board of Selectmen is authorized to borrow said amount pursuant to Chapter 44, Section 7(3) of the General Laws, or any other enabling authority and to issue bonds or notes of the Town therefore; further to authorize the Board of Selectmen to apply for any loans or grants, including an Urban Self Help Grant, as the Board deems appropriate to assist in said purchase; provided, however, that no funds shall be borrowed or expended hereunder unless and until the Town shall have voted to exclude the amounts required to repay any borrowing pursuant to this vote from the limitations of Chapter 59, Section 21C of the General Laws (Proposition 2 ½), or to take any other action relative thereto.
 Submitted by the Board of Selectmen 
 No Motion was made

Article 37. To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate, transfer from available funds, or otherwise provide a sum of money for the purpose of obtaining for two (2) full appraisals of the Templewood Golf Course property located on Brooks Road, Templeton, as shown on Assessors’ Map 5-08 as Parcel 11, on Map 5-08 as Parcel 6, on Map 5-06 as Parcel 74, on Map 5-06 as parcel 74.3, and on Map 5-06 as Parcel 74.6 containing a total of 128.16 acres, more or less, to meet the requirements of Urban Self Help Grant funding, or to take any other action relative thereto. Submitted by the Board of Selectmen
 No Motion was made.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Templeton Police station project on hold:

Apparently it was under estimated; reminds me of the light department building and 252 Baldwinville road proposals. New light department building went to Town Meeting for 1.5 million dollars for a new 12,000 square foot building. Lowest bid received was 1.9 million, as Town Meeting approved only 1.5 million, light department made up the difference from one of their MMWEC revenue accounts. The came 252 Baldwinville Road - Town Hall proposal - a 12,000 sq. ft. building and the amount asked of Town Meeting - 1.9 million dollars with the final bid (s) coming in the 3.5 to 4 million dollar range ( plus/minus). Fast forward to the police station and the asking amount (rounded) of just under 1 million dollar debt exclusion, so residents agreed to pay extra in taxes to pay for this. Now, there is more money needed as the bids came in higher than planned or guesstimated. My opinion is this was another under sold project - ask low and get it passed and now, well, we have started or we have this much into it so we cannot stop now.

This is another example of a cash flow/management problem in Templeton.  A business model that does not work. Templeton is not broke nor do I believe the Town has ever been really broke. I believe Templeton suffers from a cash flow problem - spend every thing, save little or nothing and when you do save, try to spend it. Look at the fiscal 2018 budget or spending plan brought forward by the selectmen, it was 100 thousand (at least) short from the start. Now there will be an issue (nothing new) with ambulance receipts actually funding the Town ambulance. Again, estimated money coming in was sold on the high side while actual money coming in is on the low side. I can not wait to see the end results for the new school.

I believe Templeton has a spending plan that will be un-sustainable with the available funds coming in. Again, Templeton is not broke, just a cash flow problem - the money is spent faster than it comes in. More Town employees/assistants, more expense for health insurance, retirement, education and on and on.  Time for Phillipston to pay half the actual operating costs of dispatch, as they receive the exact same service as Templeton residents, but now only pay a fraction of the actual costs. Benefits them while penalizing Templeton taxpayers. Clearly a different approach is needed in Templeton finance

Thursday, January 25, 2018

from the Massachusetts Municipal Association website:

The governor’s budget would increase Chapter 70 aid by just 2.2 percent, providing every city, town and school district with a minimum increase of $20 per student. The budget would continue to implement the “target share” equity provisions enacted in 2007.
The foundation budget calculation would continue modest progress to implement the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s recommendation to use a more realistic factor for the cost of employee health insurance in school systems. The adjustment in the foundation budget, however, is not enough to increase aid to many districts. A high majority of cities, towns and districts would only receive the increase of $20 per student, a below-inflation rate that would force communities to reduce school programs or further shift funds from the municipal side of the budget.
The MMA and local officials will be urging legislators to increase Chapter 70 aid to ensure that all schools receive a suitable and appropriate increase in fiscal 2019, which the MMA believes should be at least $100 per student. The MMA also strongly supports implementation of all of the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission to update the Chapter 70 “foundation budget” minimum spending standards for special education and employee health insurance, and to add to the spending standard a measure of recognition for the cost of services for low-income, English Language Learner and other students who would benefit from more intensive services. The commission recommended phasing in the changes over a four-year period, a position supported by the MMA. Increasing minimum aid and fixing the inadequacies in the foundation formula are essential.

With increasing costs for the majority of expenditures for the Town, plus the soon to be full time Templeton fire department adding to those increased costs; what wil be the approach of the selectmen to maintain their financial policy goal of 5% of the prior year's omnibus budget targeted to free cash?
Dear Local Officials,

I would like to begin by introducing myself to those who do not know me.  I am Senator Gobi’s Legislative Director and General Counsel.  I will be the new point person on budgetary matters. 

Earlier today, Governor Baker released his Budget Recommendation for the 2019 Fiscal Year, which begins on July 1, 2018. An executive summary of his recommendations, along with the complete text, can be found here:

As a reminder to those who have been involved in the state budget process in the past or to those who are new to it, this is only the first step in the process that will take several months, during which the House of Representatives and the Senate will each craft their own recommendations and individual legislators will have the chance to file amendments. Senator Gobi would like to take this opportunity to reach out to learn about any budget priorities that towns may have.  Please send along to me any budget needs of the town, including a summary and cost estimate.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me by email or at our office at (617) 722-1540. Thank you, and I look forward to working with you in the coming months.

Henry Kahn
Legislative Director & General Counsel
Senator Anne M. Gobi
State House, Room 513
Boston, MA 02133
Tel. (617) 722-1540
Fax: (617) 722-1078

FY2019 Local Aid Estimates
FY2018 Cherry Sheet Estimate
FY2019 Governor's Budget Proposal
FY2019 House Budget Proposal
FY2019 Senate Budget Proposal
FY2019 Conference Committee
Chapter 70
School Transportation
Charter Tuition Reimbursement
Smart Growth School Reimbursement
Offset Receipts:
School Choice Receiving Tuition
Sub-total, All Education Items:
General Government:
Unrestricted Gen Gov't Aid
Local Sh of Racing Taxes
Regional Public Libraries
Urban Revitalization
Veterans Benefits
State Owned Land
Exemp: VBS and Elderly
Offset Receipts:
Public Libraries
Sub-Total, All General Government
Total Estimated Receipts

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.
Peter Lombardi is the town administrator in Wenham.
Carl Valente is the town manager in Lexington.
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.
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.
Sandy Pooler is the deputy town manager in Arlington.