Friday, March 9, 2018

Perhaps there should be some clarity on a few things, and perhaps such clarity could/should come from the board of selectmen. Massachusetts General Law, chapter 39, section 16 states how things are suppose to work. It states that Towns may by by-law provide for election or appointment of a finance/advisory committee; as in towns have a choice of which way to go on that.

The law also states that the finance committee/advisory shall submit a budget unless there is a town by-law for selectmen to do it. Templeton has two separate by-laws contradicting each. Templeton advisory committee went to Town Administrator with the question and asked that Town Counsel be sent the question for some kind of clarity. That was done and the answers were it could be done by agreement between the two committees in one way or another, then fix the by-law issue or go to Town Meeting and have it decided there. I will dig up the response from legal counsel to post it here.

Thing is, if there is a legal right for Advisory to submit a budget and selectmen control the warrant, how would the budget presentation get on the warrant without a legal - in court fight? Go to your state senate or representative and suddenly "that is a local issue' go to the Department of Revenue and "that is a local issue" so short of spending money on lawyers, there should be a meeting of selectmen and advisory and come to agreement and then fix the damn by-laws.

Templeton General Town by-laws state:

Article III - Town Officers;

Section 4. “It shall be duty of the Town Administrator in conjunction with the BOS to consider expenditures and develop a budget for the ensuing fiscal year of the several boards, officers and committees of the town, as prepared by them in such form and detail as prescribed by the Town Administrator.”
Passed 5-16-13, Approved by A/G 8-22-13. Amended 5-19-14, Approved by A/G 7-2-14

Article IV - Advisory Committee;

Section 4. It shall be the duty of the Advisory Committee annually to consider the expenditures in previous years and the estimated requirements for the ensuing year of the several boards, officers and committees of the town, as prepared by them in such form and detail as may be prescribed by said committee. The said committee shall add to such statement of expenditures and estimates another column, giving the amounts which in its opinion should be appropriated for the ensuing year, and shall further add thereto such explanations and suggestions relating to the proposed appropriations as it may deem expedient, and report thereon as provided in section five of Article II.

Sections 1-4, 5, 6 Passed 3-5-51, Section 4a Passed 3-9-57, Amended 3-10-73, Approved by A/G 7-27-73, Amended 5-16-13, Approved by A/G 8-22-13 Sections 1 & 2 Amended 5-11-11, Approved by A/G 5-17-11

It is my personal belief that this conflicting item (s) were not addressed because of the then board of selectmen (s) position of "we are the superior board and we are elected and you are just appointed.) and you may ask selectmen Brooks about that. Again, that is my personal belief as a resident.

Important Note: Talked about at a meeting of board of selectmen, proposed amendment to Town general by-laws - clarify the role in which Advisory Committee can comment on warrant.

To create or not??

What the Massachusetts General Law states:

Chapter 39 - Section 16:

Section 16: Appropriation, advisory or finance committees; appointment; tenure; powers and duties

Section 16. Every town whose valuation for the purpose of apportioning the state tax exceeds one million dollars shall, and any other town may, by by-law provide for the election or the appointment and duties of appropriation, advisory or finance committees, who shall consider any or all municipal questions for the purpose of making reports or recommendations to the town; and such by-laws may provide that committees so appointed or elected may continue in office for terms not exceeding three years from the date of appointment or election.
In every town having a committee appointed under authority of this section, such committee, or the selectmen if authorized by a by-law of the town, and, in any town not having such a committee, the selectmen, shall submit a budget at the annual town meeting.

Also, there are mention of the Finance or Advisory Committee (s) in the Handbook for Selectmen and Handbook for Finance Committees.

So, unless a Town has a by-law stating the selectmen shall submit a budget to Town Meeting, it would be the job of the Finance or Advisory Committee. Templeton has Two by-laws on this topic, which means we have conflicting by-laws guiding the Town on how we do things. This was questioned by the Templeton Advisory Committee through a Town Administrator, Robert Markel, the question was sent to Town Counsel and options to deal with these issues were provided but as of yet, not dealt with. 

No matter who does what, it is kind of hard to make and present a report to Town Meeting without first creating one, so to the Anonymous poster who stated Advisory Committee is to advise not create would be wrong. If one does more research, you will find one of the most important jobs of the Finance or Advisory Committee is to oversee the Town's reserve fund. There is a process to request money from the reserve fund, it is commonly called a policy and it was created by the Advisory Committee.