Sunday, July 15, 2018

Just watched the selectmen meeting of July 25, 2016 and at 22 minutes into the meeting, chairman of the select board John Caplis can be heard stating that he is not in favor of using the same audit company over and over; he prefers to share the wealth a little bit with different companies.

Templeton Board of Selectmen's Meeting 7.25.16   

So there ya go and enjoy.
A slow news day in Templeton equals:

As a resident of Templeton, I find it interesting that the Board of Selectmen have had at their disposal, a legal question / concern from the Advisory Committee, along with an answer, to include some possible solutions, since 2015, October there of, and yet, they chose to only address or change one bylaw, that would only have affected the Advisory Committee, while omitting the bylaw that directly affects them and their directly appointed town employee, whose own words state; "my job is to make the selectmen look good."

So, why not consult with Advisory Committee first on a bylaw change directly affecting that committee? Why not address the bylaw, Article III, town officers, and bring clarity to all?

We will have to wait and see what the codification process has brought us, but looking at the current bylaws, there is still an issue before us that needs to be clarified, with the end result being a clear, stated, forward reaching, fact finding role for the Templeton Advisory Committee. Since the Advisory Committee can only request an item be placed before Town Meeting, it seems to be something that the selectmen will have to push forward. The other option is by way of a citizens petition so as to allow Town Meeting to decide this most important item. Is this something that would bring people back to Town Meeting, I can only hope so.

Seeing how it has been stated or written that the Advisory Committee is a committee of Town Meeting and therefore part of the legislative branch of Templeton government (legislative branch being those who show up for town meeting) does that mean the board of selectmen effectively flipped off the people of Templeton by not addressing this issue in entirety? You make the call.
email to Town Hall - Board of Selectmen Office

from:                        10/28/2015, 6:15 P.M.

Re: Budget Process




The General Laws of the Commonwealth leave to each municipality to decide its own process to determine which board or official presents budgets to town meeting. Accordingly, the answer to your question turns on what the town has adopted as by-laws, or what practice and procedures have been followed over time.

So we turn to the town's by-laws to see what the answer to this question is.

The town has a "strong" advisory committee, responsible for advising the town not only as to financial articles, but "all" articles. It has the following responsibilities:

Article II Town Meetings:

Section 6. All articles in any warrant for a town meeting shall be referred to the Advisory Committee for its consideration. ...  A public hearing shall be held, upon all such articles, ..... Said committee shall, after due consideration of the subject matter of such articles, report thereon to the town meeting, in writing, such recommendations as it deems best for the interests of the town and its citizens ..... (emphasis added)

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. [note: section 5 of Article II appears to be irrelevant, and section 6 of Article II appears to be intended]

Section 6. It shall be the duty of the Advisory Committee to make an annual report of its doings, with recommendations relative to financial matters and the conduct of town business, to be contained in the annual town report.

More recently, the town has adopted other bylaws relating to the creation of the position of town administrator in the town. (Article III, section 4) and has established the Board of Selectmen and or town administrator as key for capital projects:

See Article XLII, Capital Planning

Section 2: Committee duties: To facilitate the reasonable acquisition and replacement of capital items (defined as assets and projects with a useful life of five or more years and a cost of more than $10,000.00 but including items with an individual cost of more than $10,000.00), the Committee shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

• Annually collect all proposed capital improvements for the coming six years from all departments, on forms designed for that purpose.
• Consider all requests and the relative need and impact of
these requests on the Town’s financial position.

• Establish and annually update a five-year Capital Improvement Plan, based on this information.
• Annually, prepare a report prioritizing capital needs for the coming fiscal year, and recommend a Capital Improvement Budget for that fiscal year.

• Submit this annual report and their recommendations for purchases or improvements, in the form of a separate capital article, to the Board of Selectmen for its consideration and approval.

Upon endorsement by the Board of Selectmen, the Capital Budget shall be included on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant for consideration.

It is the intent of this bylaw that all capital improvements, requested by a Town Department or Board should be considered in the Committee’s report before presentation to the Town for appropriation. It is the responsibility of the committee to submit an explanation of the omission of any request. This explanation is to be provided to the Board of Selectmen before any vote for appropriation takes place on the omitted request. The Committee's report and the Selectmen's recommended Capital Budget shall be made available to the Advisory Board for review and inclusion in the annual recommendations of the Advisory Board.

Finally, most recently:

Article 20: Change to the Town Budget Process:

To see if the Town will vote to change Article IV “Advisory Committee,” Section 4 of the Town By-Laws to read:

“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.”; or take any other action relative thereto.
Submitted by the Board of Selectmen

On a substitute motion duly made and seconded the Town voted that Article III “Town Officers“ of the Town By-laws be herby amended:

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.” (emphasis added)
Passed Unanimously/May 19th @ 8:38pm
The bylaws already had, when the foregoing motion was voted, an existing Article III, section 4, which is the bylaw that created a town administrator position in the town of Templeton. Presumably, the intent of establishing a new section 4 wasn't to repeal the existing section 4, so presumably the reference to a new Article III section 4 is a typo and presumably was intended to become 4a or 5? but that isn't clear. Or perhaps the intent was to add a new section to the end of the existing section 4?
In our opinion, the substitute motion, by removing the reference in the motion to changing key basis for the Advisory Committee's role set forth in Article IV, section 4, did not change the Advisory Committee's powers with respect to town meeting arising from that unchanged section. Instead, it appears that we have a parallel track of budget making, with the town meeting vote established in the Town Administrator a key role, leaving both the Town Administrator and Advisory Committee with key roles. It is a basic rule of legal interpretation that the title to an article is not determinative (and that is the only place there is a reference to "a change" as finally voted; and that all the laws need to be read together and all implemented as best we can. It can be argued with substantial persuasiveness that either of the two has primacy in the presentation of the actual motions to be made at town meeting, and nothing forecloses the other from offering a substitute motion. Therefore, primacy in making a motion, however, is not clearly established by the words in the bylaws so adopted, leaving the issue to be one of the "legislative intent" by town meeting, i.e., what did town meeting intend.
We would recommend that there be a clearer statement by the voters at town meeting to resolve this issue.
Absent an article on the warrant for the special upcoming town meeting to clarify whose motion is made "first", then we suggest that the Town Administrator and Advisory Committee reach an understanding based on what is clearest for the voters to follow, and failing an agreement, then at the beginning of the special town meeting, the moderator should ask the town meeting to adopt rules of the meeting, which could include a rule as to which/who makes the initial motion to be brought before the town meeting. If Advisory Committee objects to the TAs motions, or if the TA objects to the Advisory's motions, then let the voters decide what is the procedure to be used.