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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ugly Finances!

Ugly Finances!
In other news, Templeton Board of Selectmen Vice Chairman Diane Haley Brooks commented that Templeton's finances are "ugly - very, very ugly"

In the mad dash by Templeton selectmen to wrest power, control and money from  duly elected boards, committees and commissions with the "reorganization" or "restructuring", one would think the selectmen could come up with ways to save money instead of increasing costs.

And then there is this update from the Sewer Supt., Kent Songer :

Morning guys:

One of the members of the audit team came down to begin the review of our books and procedures.  We had about 15 minutes notice from Kate(who also didn't know they were coming).  I almost put him off to another day, but told him to come down.  When he arrived I met him and asked him if coming without notice was common practice.  I told him if we knew before hand, we could have gathered the information he needed to facilitate the process.  He said he was surprised that we didn't know he was coming and that we should have been told.  We provided him with all of the information we could on no notice.  He said he would come back Thursday after we exhume some paper records from the archives.

You have to wonder and worry why Carter can write a long letter specifically to me, which includes quotes from MGL and Town Bylaws when he wants to gain control over our budget, but he can't send a one sentence email notice that would aid the financial and management review that he hopes we will help pay for?

I am writing this to you and copying the Board of Selectmen and Advisory Board Chairman for 2 reasons.  The first is that I am not convinced that the full board is aware of everything Carter is up to, and secondly I want a written record to substantiate my actions in what is building up to be a stormy and contentious budget process.


So what the heck is going on? 
After the STM in October, the selectmen suddenly realize the budget deficit for FY 17 (THIS YEAR!) is $200,000 not the $87,500 from 252 Baldwinville Rd debt payment (Thank you Dennis O'Brien!!!)

So is the deficit really $200,000? Who knows?

So the power grab by the selectmen under the guise of "restructuring" is really a money grab to try to balance FY 17. 

If the audits are to be completed for FY 13, FY 14, FY 15 so forth and so on, you would think the "Financial Team" including the town administrator would give a department a heads up that the auditors were coming. 

'Cause it's all about COMMUNICATION, right? 


  1. The sewer department is just one of many the selectmen are going after !! just like there after the ambulance receipts !! that is the reason they raised rates and why they want the chief of police running the fire dept . with that move the strong chief law for the fire dept is gone and the selectman can rape there budget!!

  2. Isnt it the reason why the town made all these enterprise accounts so selectmen couldn't touch the money ?

  3. The Dread Pirate John Columbus is afloat. As the most powerful politician in this town over the last twenty years (mostly due to his position as Chairman of the Democratic Committee) dread pirate Columbus knows how to do the back room deal forget about checks and balances. Pragmatism is Mr. Columbus's tool of trade and family and friends come first not the Town of Templeton. As a renter and not a tax payer (I believe) Mr. Columbus does not have to worry about the big bill that comes due. As the saying goes if Mr. Columbus can not dazzle you with his brilliance he will baffle you with his bull crap. If I were a coach on the other team I would double team Mr. Columbus during times of fiscal troubles.

    1. It sure makes me wonder if the power that this man holds was great enough to stop the investigation that his town voted for ? His relationship with Senator Brewer was a strong one. Is that the reason Senator Brewer told myself and others that "no one cared about what went on during the years" in which we have spent way over $300,000. to try to get straightened out? Think about that for a few minutes and come to your own conclusions. Bev.

  4. They are ugly. More then ugly and each TA has discovers different things. I don't want control of any dept or money. That is not what the town wants or needs. Power, control, money grabbing. Not for this selectman.

    1. Good for you, I will support you
      Things need to get better, not worse. Bev.

    2. Diane,
      Can you explain why you vigorously supported a $47 million dollar debt when our finances are "Ugly'Very Ugly"? We have no balanced budget, no audits for years, etc,etc etc. How did you square that debt with the "master Plan" and the benefit to the entire town?

      I cannot see any rational connection.

    3. I would rather discuss that in person. But, all of the "ugly" was not known until after the vote. The townspeople voted. Our Board supported the school. I will continue to support moving forward as it will bring our town more residents and more commerce. That is my simplified answer.

    4. All the UGLY Was known before the vote, It is just that those that wanted the school wanted it regardless, and turned a blind eye and refused to listen to people who kept saying the town was in tough financial condition.
      It was not to hard to know the position this town was in if one really cared for the good of the town and looked at both sides

    5. Diane, first off thanks for the simplified answer. As a taxpayer I felt and feel a "bill of goods" was being sold. The townspeople were not given facts but instead feelings like the Pledge at the STM. The Board should have known. The Board should know not to spend money when we have no idea ( no audits) where we stand.
      We have no bond rating,no balanced budget (-$200k), $148,000 or so in Stabilization fund, $1.2 million debt for police station, Water towers $$$, unfunded raises and the Board thought a $47 million dollar debt requiring MFOB approval (which requests a bond rating) but "the board" started spending the money prior to knowing if any of this can actually be accomplished.
      If the MFOB says NO, then what???? I'm serious, the possibility seems better than 50% the MFOB will deny. Do we have a viable plan if that happens or are we winging it?

    6. DO. Many of the townspeople want the school not just me. And we didn't know the extent. I don't do the treasurers job do I? I don't do the TA job do I? No, but I trusted them. I trusted what they said. No we didn't have a bond rating but we all were told we would have one. I believed what was said. I am not sure what the MFOB will say. Viable plan. Carter said at the all boards and committees meeting there are other plans yes. So I know them? No. perhaps that is on the agenda for the 28th I haven't seen yet.

      What about the police station? We are going out to USDA - didn't know that until recently either. I am more than pissed about that one. Unless we can pay off any loan with a debt exclusion that was what we thought we voted on, it's a no go for me. What about the wrong debt exclusion numbers to the tube of about $160k? We wouldn't have this large deficit now would we? I don't do any of those jobs. So, again we didn't know it all.

    7. Diane,

      The BOS is the Executive Administration of this Town. You are responsible, period. You promoted the Elementary school on your facebook page. You promoted denying the article 8 at the special town meeting (when we knew problems existed).

      The Bos knew:

      We had no bond rating
      We had no audits for 4 years
      We had water tower issues
      We had employee issues
      We have funding issues for the police department
      We had funding issues for the Light Department
      We had $140+ in stabilization fund

      If the BOS didn't know my only question is WHY? People on this blog knew!

      Diane, if I remember correctly it was you who stood up and walked the motion to remove article 8 from the agenda at the STM. You had a choice, you could have made a motion to correct it, but you did not.

      I'm not blaming you or the present board for every ill in Templeton, but once you take office you are responsible for every action after that!

      You say "Carter says there are other plans" Did you or the board insist on knowing them or are you just floating along thinking it wont happen. Dont you need to know the options as the Town Executive Administration or do you allow "something will come up" as an answer. Even if there are other "plans" none of them will match what was sold to the taxpayers. It will be more expensive

  5. Could it be that all this commotion is by design? By threatening everyone's lively hood they become willing partners in a move to push for an override of our taxes. This is truly an advanced political move one that may well have originated with that most powerful of town politicians. Time will tell but I can hear the cries for an override in our near future. Whose mouth will it come out of first?

  6. Does a selectmen do the treaurer'a job? No, do selectmen carry out the town administrator's job? NO. Who is responsible for the business of Templeton? The selectmen are, they are the superior board, they are elected, they are the chief executives responsible for the legal and administrative actions of the Town. They hire the T/A, treasurer, collector and accountant, so Diane Brooks, trust but verify! It is on you and your fellow board members for the messed up financial spread sheet presented to town meeting, you all insisted yours was right and the selectmen, especially johnny c and "we are elected and you are just appointed" Do you remember those words Diane? So please, be a selectmen and step up and accept the responsibility. I believe there is a certain past chairman of the select board who back in 2014, who said, "if you wish to blame someone, blame me, I am the sitting chairman of the board of selectmen." If any selectmen wishes to show leadership or just some moxy, they would in public, suggest, ask for and or demand a meeting with the Advisory Committee to come up with a workable good plan, you cannot have it both ways though. For the record, I believe the money problems happened way before Diane Brooks came along, or Jeff Bennett or Julie Farrell or Will Spring. It goes back a long time. The reasons are many and the fix is hard but it is out there. Question is, why in these times, does it seem like the selectmen plan on giving out more increases in pay for the next year? I wonder how an override question would go over with the people in Templeton, if asked? Diane Brooks. like it or not, you are responsible for the 2017 fiscal mess because you were a selectmen then and you pushed against involvement with the Advisory committee. So there is no I did not know or I trusted so and so, you are responsible as a selectmen.

  7. I didn't say we shouldn't meet with the AC. I said it was not the right time for Dept heads To meet and I owned that and apologized to your chair That was Gordon Moore at the time. I have said we should meet. Mr Columbus spike of conflict. There was a meeting and I was away. Since then there has not been a meeting except for the all board and commitee at Kamaloht and I said again we needed to come together. I haven't been at a couple
    Of the last meetings for personal reasons and I don't know why there is no date set yet. Just like you were on the board, I am ONE. I never said override either and of course our community wouldn't go for that, why should I they. So again, I didn't push for no meeting. I asked Mr Markel and he said your committee didn't want to. But again even to me those seem like excuses. I have asked for ownership, don't see it. words are just that sometimes, words and we need action. And you are right that these problems go way back and I for one am happy we have an accountant that has busted her rump finding her way through the mess and I know when the audits are done the numbers will be trustworthy.

    1. Diane, Carter came to do a job. He will walk away and leave us high and dry. I do understand that you want a school, along with other people. We need to get straightened out, pay off some of our debt, before we even attempt a huge project like the school. How many kids do you think will have to leave if their parents cannot pay their taxes ? How many elderly will be forced out of their homes ? If you think people will come running to Templeton because it has a new school, I happen to think you are wrong.

  8. I am not wrong. They are already buying here. Where will the kids go while we keep holding off? Parents will be outraged as they should be. Thanks for letting me speak here. Thanks for speaking here to as I do listen and learn even if you think I don't. Carter is here to do s job as are the people before him and after him. We are here, all of us to also do a job. We don't see eye to eye on that but we still need to come together. I have thoughts and ideas and it seems no one listens. I apologize for the bad behavior but it doesn't come from me. We have the past and the present and the future to conscern ourselves with and each plays a role especially with the people we have. I am sorry if you feel I haven't done my job, but I know I have tried my best. You all are right about many things and people don't listen. I say that out loud. I hate how trbneetings go with all the jabs and snickers. It's disrespectful. I have chosen the high road. I wish everyone would. I will do better.

  9. Diane,
    These people you say are buying. Are they being told the tax rate in town could go up by 25% or on average around $800 just to finance the school and Police station? How about the ongoing expenses of running/maintaining the 93,000 school and 6000 sq ft police station.

    If you say you are not wrong, please provide proof, not feelings.

    How many people have moved into town based on school?

    How many of those people knew we had 4 yrs of no audits, No bond rating, funding issues across board and tax rates set to increase 25% if we can even get approval for financing this school?

    How do you see a 25% (school/police) tax rate increase affecting the rental, housing market in next 5 yrs?

    How do you see these tax rates effecting the elderly/disabled with fixed incomes. SSA increase is a $3.00 month average this year. That $3 covers exactly $1000 in value of minimum suggested school/police tax increase. 12 months covers $12,000 in property value. Average property values of $210,000 means (198 x$3=) $594 will need to come out of their present budget or about a 4% decrease in income.

    Table h10 from "master Plan" states that in 2010 census fully 1081 of the 1214 new residents were from age 45 up. These people dont have Elementary children. Can you show me something different?

  10. Bob, perhaps we should have coffee sometime and talk about all this. If I am not mistaken our tax rate went down. Yes, our values went up and that's why we buy real estate. I want my equity. Feelings? I do real estate every day and that is the first question I am asked. Not about the tax rate, but how's your school system and schools. I have been told people won't buy in certain areas for schools and crime and where their grandkids are and more. Not once in 25 years has anyone asked about the rate.

    But, anytime you want to talk I am avalilable.

  11. Diane,

    Appreciate the offer, but I see little point at this time, but I'll take a rain check.

    Tax rate did go down, but the Elementary school will add $1.74-$2.95 per $1000. I think the Police department was quoted as $1.20 per $1000 for 2 years.

    ON the Real Estate and buyers, well I just have a real hard time thinking that 54+ year old people who made up almost 50+% of those who moved here based on 2010 census in "Templeton Master PLan" cared about schools other than the cost of them to the town. Caring about a New Elementary School as a top priority would be a reason not to move here.
    I moved here 14 years ago and a large part was tax rate. I know that Templeton tax rate compared to Gardner/Athol/Orange etc has always been a selling point or buying point. I've had it quoted to me multiple times by multiple Realtors trying to sell property. Your experience is different.

    You say values went up and taxes rates went down and you happy because you like equity, cool. The big difference is Tax Rates cost real $$$, todays money. Equity is perceived and has no value until its sold and as we all were shown in 2008, equity disappears and you dont get to adjust the taxes you paid on it.