Thursday, March 1, 2018

Close the Town down, not just the senior center.

From the March 1, 2018 Town Administrator report;
The good news is the school district is not looking for $750 thousand more, they are reportedly only looking for $485 thousand additional dollars over last years assessment.

That is $335 thousand more than the Town of Templeton can do without devastating the Town budget.
Some made suggestions Templeton go for a larger tax override (permanent tax increase) to cover this.

Phillipston finance committee appeared okay with funding there portion.

See, just pay more taxes and you will be okay.

Narragansett budget hearing is March 21, 2018 and the administrator feels the Town should have a well thought out plan and a strong presence at the meeting. Oops a daisey, we got budget meeting of the Town on that date/advisory committee meeting as well, almost as if planned so it would be hard for Templeton selectmen and advisory committee to attend. I say scrap the budget hearings and pack the house at the school and let them know what you think.

Fair is fair, right?

On a selectmen meeting om February 26, 2018, the initial fiscal year budget/spending plan was presented and the spending plan books were handed out. The seven member Advisory Committee was invited and all members were emailed informing them of this meeting.

Of the seven, only two members showed, Robert May and Jeff Bennett. There can be many reasons for not showing, but you cannot question or critique without expecting some in return, even from within.

On the flip side, selectmen scheduled a few budget meetings on days of already, ahead of time scheduled regular meetings of the Advisory Committee. This equals less time for the Advisory Committee to meet and discuss and plan for a pre-town meeting and annual town meeting. Yes, the committee could choose alternative dates to meet, but some volunteers plan ahead by using the regular schedule of meetings. One solution would to begin earlier in the year, have these meetings on Mondays when selectmen do not have their regular meetings and then Advisory could hold regular meetings and have more time for discussion, questions etc., Be that as it may, the advisory committee will probably do what they usually do, spend more time, as in longer meetings to get done what needs to get done. In my opinion, this scenario puts Advisory at a disadvantage which also puts the residents/taxpayers at a disadvantage, less time to gather information and ask questions of Advisory Committee. There has to be a better way.

What the board of selectmen seem to want you to void; they are looking for Town Meeting to approve the selectmen to continue to pack committees with members of the select board, who later fail to show up for those committee meetings.

Massachusetts General Law chapter 268A

Section 21A: Members of municipal commission or board; restrictions on appointments to certain positions

Section 21A. Except as hereinafter provided, no member of a municipal commission or board shall be eligible for appointment or election by the members of such commission or board to any office or position under the supervision of such commission or board. No former member of such commission or board shall be so eligible until the expiration of thirty days from the termination of his service as a member of such commission or board.
The provisions of this section shall not apply to a member of a town commission or board, if such appointment or election has first been approved at an annual town meeting of the town.

Selectmen are also involved in trying to limit what the Advisory Committee can comment on at Town Meeting. The question I have is; why do the selectmen wish to limit what the Advisory Committee has to say concerning the Town Meeting warrant? I do know one thing, selectmen cannot stop individuals from asking questions or commenting on warrant articles, not yet anyway.

Capital Planning, the meals tax, a new fire engine, financial policy and plan B

First, the above are but a few reasons people should be packing these meetings where they could ask questions, if allowed.

A new fire engine to replace the one that has been discussed is going to be in the half million dollar range at the least.

I question to use of a meals tax to pay for new equipment because I heard selectmen state that we were set financially, we had a good plan in place now and they put money into capital stabilization fund and they still had over 300 thousand dollars of "working capital on the table. (remember the special town meeting this past fall?)

A plan B was mentioned concerning the police station project - as in they should begin to at east think of one.

One of the things in the selectmen's financial policy is that free cash (so called) will be used to replenish other reserves, such as the Town's reserve fund, which the selectmen state cannot be increased from 35 thousand to 80 thousand dollars this year coming (fiscal year 2019)

Interesting item in the new FY2019 spending plan (budget) book - page 8.

Remember that school inspector fee amount that came out of the free cash back in, $25,000.00. in case we forgot. Well in fiscal year 2019, that school inspector fee number is stated to be $50,000.00, to come from that "working capital" free cash left on the table (good thing we had that money) That by the way is listed as annual town meeting article 25 (this May ATM)

There is also a FY2018 supplemental (additional) dollar figure in the amount of $75,000.00 - to be taken from that working capital - looks like there were more than one hiccup in that FY 2018 plan.

Article 27 is a buy down lease principal on DPW/Police in the amount of $12,500.00

Article 28 is a fire capital buy down lease principal in the amount of $25,000.00.

Article 28 is capital budget - A in the amount of $40,000.00.

So,as I look at the $199,000.00 that is being rolled over I have to ask my sef why?

My first thought is more hiccups must be expected in FY2019, the state numbers will not really be good until after the fiscal year ends (June 30, 2018) and selectmen need all the money they can get to back fill their spending plan. Remember, since we under fund snow & ice, the needs to be money to cover that deficit.

Second, if you have $199,000.00 in your pocket and you wish to buy a truck for $85,000.00, why not pay for it right up front and avoid future bills? The truck would be paid for and in say two years, that truck would still have value and it could be traded or sold to aid in the purchase of a newer truck, thus avoiding high maintenance costs.

As for capital planning, I wonder where the selectmen are regarding salt storage, which is an expensive item and requires some care so it is available for use. It basically needs to be kept dry. It is not the end of the world if it gets some moisture on it, but it broadcasts/spreads so much better when kept dry. I believe it was stated at a selectmen meeting it is actually cheaper to use salt than sand, so for future financial planning, plans for a proper salt storage facility, is that even in the discussion?

Speaking of snow, looks like it is possible for this weekend - ca-ching, or as a boat refers to, bust out another thousand.