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??
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
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.
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.