Monday, January 8, 2018

More information or less information for taxpayers?

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

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


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.

Jeff Bennett
Chairman, Advisory Committee