Monday, March 12, 2018

Elected or appointed - two different views.
Yes - from a selectmen - 
Nancy Maloney, member of the West Bridgewater Board of Selectmen
"My personal opinion is that town finance committee members should be elected. Presently, our Finance Committee in West Bridgewater is chosen by vote of a committee appointed by the town moderator. I mean no disrespect to our moderator, the nominating committee, or members of the Finance Committee, but this method of appointment can lead to individual bias as a factor in the decision and decreased accessibility and accountability to the public. Holding an election to appoint those desiring to serve in this capacity promotes transparency, civic participation, and integrity in leadership, all desirable qualities in a democratic society.
I am a firm believer in the democratic process, where all people have a vote that truly does count. This occurs in an election. As more boards, committees, and other posts are elected, the role of the individual taxpayer is increased as is the accountability attributed to those elected positions. Additionally, elected positions are highly visible and encourage community participation. It is an opportunity for more residents to have a say in how their hometown is run and how their tax dollars are allocated. Nowhere does that count more than in a small community, such as West Bridgewater, striving to meet the demands of 21st-century governing.
The Finance Committee is charged with providing recommendations regarding the town’s budget, and serves in an advisory capacity on a volunteer basis. Given the time and commitment needed to present an annual budget to the town, Finance Committee members are a critical part of the process and necessary for fiscal stability in providing services.
Undergoing an electoral process, which at times can be grueling and hard-fought, ensures that these individuals are committed to serving the people, are passionate about bettering the town, and have the experience, professional training, and education to effectively perform their duties. It also makes their actions and decisions directly accountable to the people. For these reasons, I believe they should be elected by the townspeople, especially so voters can further engage with their local leadership to create towns in which they are proud and happy to live and in which they have an active, highly important role."
No - from a Finance Committee member- 
Eric Beckerman, chairman of the Avon Finance Committee and second vice president of the Massachusetts Association of Town Finance Committees.
Finance committees are charged with the responsibility to recommend budgetary and financial issues to town meeting. I believe that this responsibility should be free of any political pressures and therefore should be given to citizens appointed by whatever authority is mandated by town meeting and\or the bylaws of the town.
When finance committees are appointed – which is the case in the vast majority of Massachusetts towns – their responsibility is to the people of the town and not to any political party or pressures associated with the election process. I believe in our election system as a whole, but I feel that there are times that decisions are made based on political viewpoints and\or popularity and not always on what’s best for the fiscal health of the community. Being an appointed board allows the freedom to ask any and all questions on behalf of the people without the worries of politics or election repercussions. It also places the finance committee on a level playing field with the town leaders due to the fact that, like them, we are accountable directly to the people of the town.
In my experience of being involved in the process, I have learned that with a strong, appointed finance committee, there is a trust factor with the people that cannot be overlooked or minimized. The people of the town deserve to have a strong voice regardless of their political affiliations and rely on the finance committee to act as a watchdog group. This ensures that the financial issues they care about are accounted for in the process and voiced, if needed.
While an appointed board may not have the same responsibilities as an elected one, the mandate is still fairly consistent. Finance committees as a whole have a heavy burden to learn the municipal finance process and apply these rules as required. Between the various budgets and differences in philosophy, this can be a cumbersome and very confusing process.
Members of the community who volunteer to serve their town in this capacity, either appointed or elected, should be commended for their commitment and dedication to the town they call home.

Rehoboth,MA - population list as 11,600 per 2010 census.

The Town lists a Town Administrator, assistant T/A and executive assistant.

Duties & Responsibilities

The Finance Committee is responsible for production of the annual operating budget of the Town, presented to the Town residents as Article 2 on the Annual Town Meeting warrant. In addition, the Finance Committee supplies a recommendation to the Town residents on any article which requires an appropriate of funds and a source of funds if the article is approved. Finally, the Finance Committee oversees the Town's Reserve Fund, which is used to pay extraordinary and unanticipated expenses during the Fiscal Year.
Someone asked about this, so here you go;

How to find this - google Town of Worthington, MA then go to Town's website and click on municipal directory (upper left side of site) scroll down to finance committee and click, the following is located there.

Mission Statement
Worthington's Finance Committee consists of five members that are elected to three year overlapping terms. The origin of municipal finance committees in Massachusetts began in 1870 when a group of Quincy citizens banded together to restore financial order in their municipality, creating the Commonwealth's first finance committee. In 1910 the Massachusetts General Court acknowledged the need for municipal finance committees state-wide with its adoption of Chapter 130, section 2 of the Acts of 1910. This inserted Chapter 39, section 16 into the Massachusetts General Laws.

Section 16. Every town whose valuation for the purpose of apportioning the state tax exceeds ten 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.

In addition to the state law Worthington's Finance Committee is governed by Section II of the Town's General Bylaws:

The primary responsibility of the Finance Committee is the development of the Town's annual budget and its recommendations to the Town's Annual Town Meeting.  Cities and towns in Massachusetts operate on a fiscal year basis which begins on July 1st and ends on June 30th. Worthington's Annual Town Meeting is held on the first Saturday in May for the ensuing fiscal year that begins on July 1st. The budget process usually begins in January with the various town departments submitting their budget requests for the upcoming year. The Finance Committee then meets on a weekly basis starting in February through the month of April preparing the budget that will be ultimately inserted on the "Warrant" for the Annual Town Meeting. The warrant is the document that sets out the order of business that will be acted upon at town meeting. For help with municipal finance terminology please click on this Municipal Finance Glossary link.
Perhaps Templeton Town residents should not think of them selves as subjects, but as citizens and on the flip side, representative bodies should stop seeing citizens as subjects; we need more money so give us more taxes. Perhaps they should try more alternatives.

For instance, there are two principals listed for the two elementary schools. If there is a rule or law that allows two or more elementary schools to share one principal, could that be done to save some dollars and knock down the Town (s) assessment increase (s)?

I mean, if I can participate in a selectmen meeting in Templeton from Afghanistan, certainly one principal can oversee two elementary schools not more than 15 minutes apart.

If this is in the plan, good. If it is not, why is that? Is the school district administration side larger than it needs to be? Is that a place where the want versus need could be looked at? Until the promises made under the so called education reform act from the 90's and the talk of fully funding certain items from the state side, the reality seems to be a drawn out process again.
For clarification, selectmen do not set the tax rate, that is ultimately decided by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. What selectmen are involved in concerning taxes is classification; as in a single tax rate for all or adjusting it for residential, business, agriculture, etc. Selectmen do not set the tax rate.