Friday, March 2, 2018

I do not find the Phillipston selectmen trying to limit what or how the Phillipston finance committee may say or comment on at their annual Town Meeting.

While Templeton selectmen are proposing an article on the annual town meeting warrant to limit Templeton Advisory Committee commenting on the warrant.

from the slide presentation on March 26, 2018: page 9 on the handout.
Modify Town by-laws on the advisory committee by

allowing the moderator to fill vacancies

clarify their role in commenting on the warrant

float when materials are due to in relation to Town Meeting

provide earlier issuance of their report (s) to the public.

The last one will require selectmen to get the warrant and budget/spending plan out earlier, which would be a good thing.

The Advisory Committee's role in communicating to Town Meeting is already clearly stated in Town by-laws.

Selectmen Brooks stated that selectmen are elected, you (advisory) are just appointed. Selectmen went on to say they are the superior board with the Town Accountant echoing those same words.
Selectmen argued they should prepare the budget and present it to Town Meeting. It is their spending plan, so when they told Templeton that they had a good financial team in place, the numbers were good and the budget is proper and balanced (after some transfers and back fills), they should be the ones speaking at a meeting with school committee to ask the questions and deal with the override and or shortfalls and cuts.

Add to that, a question to myself, if you have a member of the finance committee who is also on the school committee, it is possible for the finance committee to have inside information prior to a meeting and therefore be better prepared for the "surprises"

When selectmen are using free cash from FY17 to back fill or supplement FY2018 and FY2019,
They are the ones who deserve to be in the hot seat (in my opinion) They are the ones who shoud be speaking to the override (s) and the problems it will cause for their budget/spending plan and their planning - or lack there of.

Many Thanks

Carter Terenzini
Town Administrator
Town of Templeton
160 Patriots Road
East Templeton, MA 01438

From: advisorycommittee []
Sent: Friday, February 16, 2018 8:29 AM
To: townadministrator <>
Subject: Re: Town Election Date

This is on our agenda for or next meeting.


On February 14, 2018 at 11:37 AM townadministrator <> wrote:
Good Day:

I’m not sure if I sent this along before so my apologies if I did;

At the joint meeting with Phillipston it was discussed to have a group of the BoS, Town Clerks, Advisory/FinCom and Each set of School Committee representatives to discuss the desired change to the Town Election dates.

Kindly advise as to who your representative to this effort will be.

Many Thanks

Carter Terenzini
On February 21, 2018, the day of Advisory Meeting with agenda already posted; this came.

Kindly advise ASAP if you Are available on 02/28 or 03/13 for a joint meeting of the schools.

I would urge you to be available for 02/28 to deal with the budget matters as quickly as possible.

Many Thanks

Carter Terenzini
Town Administrator
Town of Templeton
160 Patriots Road
East Templeton, MA 01438

From: Dr. Christopher Casavant []
Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 12:05 PM
To: townadministrator <>; PhillipstonSelectmen'sOffice <>
Cc: Susan Varney <>; Rae-Ann Trifilo <>; Margaret Hughes <>; Holly <>
Subject: Joint Town Boards Meeting

Dear Carter and Kevin,

Thank you for participating in our Doodle Survey.  As of today, you have both indicated that you are available either Wednesday, February 28th and Tuesday, March 13th at 5:30.

Please confirm as to which day is best for you and your Selectboards and Fin Com/Advisory Board to meet. As all we know, everyone's availability is in "short supply" this time of year.  

We also want to make sure that we have ample time to post the meeting.

Thanks for all your help.

It was not on our agenda to discuss questions on a budget which we did not even have to begin with. Perhaps if we had an advisory member on the school committee, we could have been better prepared with questions.

As a refresher from fiscal year 2017;

Phillipston annual Town Meeting
School assessment -       $1,514,664.00
District long term debt -   $     87,522.00

Templeton annual Town Meeting
School assessment -          $5,624,744.00
District long term debt  -     $   443,879.00

I know the internet is just about universal  today. Not everyone is on it but most are, so yes, I assume people in Phillipston have internet and can read this blog.

So, if you can find it, and it is on the net, you can find in the selectmen's handbook stating that finance committee/advisory committee are financial watchdogs for the community. I live in Templeton, not Phillipston, so I try to look at things from Templeton perspective.

So, when it is put out that one is a member of both the school committee and a town finance committee, I ask, how can one serve two masters? When the finance committee has a school committee member on board, can that individual make a recommendation to Town Meeting that is unbiased. I believe school committee members should and do always make strong cases for the school, you know, it is all about the kids, but they also have labor contract negotiations, so as a member of the school committee, you vote to agree to a, b and c, you have in essence made a promise to honor and fund those things that can and surely do come from bargaining talks and agreements.

So now, being a member of a town finance committee, you go to Town Meeting and recommend for an override for the school district in order to cover something you have already agreed to and promised. Is or will that individual making a recommendation for an override (increase in taxes) because it is in the best interest of the taxpayers and their money or is it because of the already made promises and agreements made as a school committee member? I just feel appearance sometimes matter and it seems like a very debatable conflict of interest. Same with a former or present individual who is or has been in education for 40 years plus. I understand where their feelings and loyalty may lie, but is that a true independent look and again, recommendation?

It is really no different with the selectmen being on many committees, such as the school building committee. Some communities, selectmen appoint members of the finance or advisory committees and how does it work for someone who is appointed by the same people you should be questioning and challenging on say a budget or expense (s).

Again, sometimes it looks as though some have a problem with information being put forth and sometimes some dislike any debate at all. I believe there has been discussion on and recommendations concerning the makeup of and/or stacking of committees, boards, etc. I also understand that in a small community, these things can happen and probably for a long time. I am merely putting that information out there so when people of Templeton and beyond, see, hear or read that Phillipston finance committee is probably in favor of supporting and or recommending an override, or just funding an increase by whatever means available such as Town savings, etc., they are aware of the connections and makeup of the Phillipston finance committee.

So, do I worry what the people of Phillipston think of me, no I do not. If any Phillipston resident comes to any meeting of any committee, board, etc. where I am involved, I will be respectful, civil and listen. Maybe Templeton taxpayers will vote themselves a tax increase of $1.50 per thousand and call it a day, who knows? But they should know, that it is possible that the Phillipston finance committee is stacked in favor of the school and I say possible, but that is how it appears to me.

It is also possible for the increase in school assessments to the two towns could go down, even late in the game as they did in 2013.

Interesting facts,
One member of the Phillipston finance committee is a 40 year educator (associated with schools) and a current member of the Narragansett school committee representing Phillipston is also a member of the Phillipston finance committee. So how does someone fight for the school as a school committee member then ask the school committee to justify any increases in assessment in looking out for the Town's finances. Remember, the school committee is involved in union negotiations, so how does that work? Inside information happening? Seems like a very big conflict of interest, just in appearance.

Seems pretty hard to be logical and independent when looking at the district budget as a member of the finance committee when you are part of the district pushing for a budget as well as union negotiations.