Friday, July 6, 2018

You could live in Methuen, MA;

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METHUEN, MA — As Methuen suffers through the worst budget crisis it’s seen in years, two departments lie at the center of the city’s fiscal woes: the school department, already $4 million in debt from this past fiscal year, and the police department, whose contracts will cost the city more than $1 million in raises.
While the School Department has fallen into debt mainly due to special education costs, the police contracts, which city leaders say they are unable to afford, are the result of poor negotiation on the city’s part, officials said.
City Auditor Thomas Kelly and Mayor James Jajuga said Friday the contract negotiated under former Mayor Stephen Zanni included language that never should have been approved because of the exponential increases in salary it afforded all 96 officers, plus the chief.
“I don’t know how this got to the point it got to,” Jajuga said. “I spoke to Tom Kelly about it, and Tom said, ‘I was never asked to really analyze it, when I did I said there were problems and I was ignored.'”
The city’s five captains stand to gain the most from the contracts. One police captain, who currently earns $157,052.16 with ancillary benefits included, will earn $440,735.42 next fiscal year if the contracts are honored — a raise of 180.63 percent, according to data provided by Kelly.
from the finance committee handbook, chapter 3, page 20
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) has ruled
that finance committees are responsible for preparing and
submitting their municipality’s annual budget (Chapter 39 s
16, Ch. 41, s 59 and s 60M.G.L.), unless there is a charter or
bylaw giving this authority to the board of selectmen or town
manager (DOR’s In Our Opinion, 93-310). The exact format
of an annual town budget is community specific. DOR has
determined that while the law regarding annual municipal
budget format is directed to cities, it should also be followed
by towns.
The format found in the law addresses itself to budgetary
basics. Almost all towns and cities in the Commonwealth go
well beyond this in their annual budget presentation package (see Chapter 2). DOR has also ruled that only a townmeeting — not the finance committee or selectmen — maydetermine the exact budget format to be used (see In OurOpinion, 92-145). As a practical matter, town meetingwould have to vote to reject the present format and request a
new one for the following year.

If you wish to send a message to the selectmen, try a citizen's petition to change the budget format at Town Meeting. (Who is really in charge?)
How it gets done in Templeton selectmen office;

Following last night's meeting, I checked the "mail slot" of the Advisory Committee in Town Hall. Mail from the school district, which contained a letter informing Advisory that on June 18, 2018, the school committee voted an interim assessment concerning Templeton's contribution. The amount voted is $6,332,752.00. This does not include the debt service for the district. Letter states assessments (dollar figures) will be recertified for both member towns after such time as Town of Templeton holds it's fall special Town Meeting in October to include the debt service. (letter dated June 22, 2018)

Also included, a letter to the district from Carter Terenzini (with cc to BOS, treasurer/Collector and Accounting) Advisory Committee was left off, probably not on the Christmas card list of the Town Administrator.
That letter sent to district superintendent, states that "I write to assure you that sufficient funds were appropriated to pay the Town's NRSD debt." (I need to see that warrant article) Letter goes on as; "While those funds may not have been appropriated in the conventional manner within your article, the general fund contains a $500,000.00 sum of monies which were originally intended to reduce a Bond Anticipation Note from $10,000,000.00 to $9,500,000.00 upon it's rollover in the fall of 2018. This payment is not required but was anticipatory. Therefore, we will use this uncommitted fund to pay your assessment upon as it becomes due."
"I shall leave to the BOS the matter of whether or not to backfill it at the fall Town Meeting."
"Please feel free to call upon me if I may provide you with any further information or certifications on this matter of the availability of these funds."

signed Carter Terenzini, Town Administrator.
CC: BOS, Treasure/Collector, Accounting.
The letter is dated May 22, 2018