Paul working for you.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bait and Switch Part 2

Bait and Switch Part 2

So who is in charge?
In the first posting of Bait and Switch 
Many of the comments on this post raised some interesting points:

 One comment:

Town counsel reviewed the article for the Police station.

Town counsel is NOT bond counsel. Bond counsel is only consulted when the town needs to borrow money. Bond Counsel does NOT usually review warrant articles.

The Capital Planning Bylaw procedure was not followed for the Police Station Project. It is difficult to enforce this bylaw when the Capital Planning Committee can not reach a quorum due to lack of attendance by certain members. The Capital Planning Committee can not function as the Capital By Law intends.

The wording of the Capital Planning By law speaks to intent - "Should " vs "Shall"

Without a bond rating for the Town of Templeton, bond counsel "is not willing to certify to a potential lender that the vote was taken in compliance with the bylaw."

Town counsel reviewed the warrant article for its legality. Bond counsel looks at things differently.

So does the same issue apply to the elementary school building project? 

Yes, yes it does.

Is incorrect in that Bond Counsel reviewed the warrant article for the Police station and the elementary school NOT town counsel:

this is how it has worked since 2014:

Paul DeRensis


I haven't seen any of this

Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 17, 2016, at 6:02 AM, wrote:

Paul, I am wondering if these articles have been forwarded to you? Hope to see you at the special Town Meeting. Jeff Bennett From: "Robert Markel" To: "Mark Barrieau" , "Bev Bartolomeo" , "Katharine Fulton"


Quick reply all


I asked the town administrator about the special town meeting warrant, and he advises that Bond Counsel assisted with the borrowing articles, that he is trying to save money so he felt it unnecessary to have two counsel review the same issues, that there is a procedure in place in the town such that requests for counsel are to be presented to the Town Administrator for approval before any work i undertaken, etc. etc.. However, he did invite me to attend the special town meeting on Monday night.

Hope all is well with you

Best regards,


In a message dated 3/17/2016 8:09:49 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

I am concerned about the legalities of the first article giving a department authority to borrow on behalf of Town. Regards; Jeff Sent from my iPhone On Mar 17, 2016, at 8:04 AM, Paul DeRensis wrote: I haven't seen any of this Sent from my iPhone On Mar 17, 2016, at 6:02 AM,…

Things we know:
The selectmen vote the articles for the town meeting and special town meeting warrants and post the warrants.

The Capital Planning/improvement committee has meetings, but hasn't had a quorum for a number of years. The capital planning committee presents a report once a year to the selectmen, but can't make recommendations due to lack of quorum.

The Police station renovation project, the elementary school project, the water tank, and sewer pump station are all capital projects that are not and have not been part of the Capital Plan.

The selectmen hire town counsel and bond counsel. Town counsel and bond counsel do the bidding of the selectmen, NOT the townspeople.


Bond counsel approved the wording of the warrant article and the ballot questions for both the Police Station and  the elementary school. Why is bond counsel now, at this point in time, " ...not willing to certify to a potential lender that the vote was taken in compliance with the bylaw." 

Why did bond counsel not raise objections for the water tank borrowing and the sewer pump station?

 Who is accountable?

Should the police renovation project be put before the town again? 

The funding for this project has changed significantly. According to the Gardner News article (12/30/2016) "Another setback for police station":
"Another recent delay came when officials decided it would be necessary to seek a longer-term debt on the police station project, after finding that the original two-year time frame to pay back the costs of the project would cause a large spike in the tax rate in 2018 and 2019. ..."

The promotion of the Police Station upgrade was for a 2 year borrowing NOT long-term borrowing from the USDA. 

So who is on first? Who is responsible for this boondoggle?

Shouldn't the voters/townspeople have a say in this change in the Police station proposal?



  1. Nothing in the Nov 2015 Town Meeting vote on the police station mentions anything about 2 year funding. Even though that was the understanding it is not what the Town actually voted on.

    Maybe the towns Advisors need to advise the townspeople not to accept these vague articles that allow for a complete change in process and funding. In this case the advisory board voted 5-1 in favor of the article, why?

  2. the bottom line is IF its not in writing it didn't happen !! they can do all the smoke and mirrors they want but if the article does not list the amount the interest rate and length of the loan they can do what they want and it is shame on us for letting them get away with it !!

  3. Bond counsel approved the wording of the warrant article and the ballot questions for both the Police Station and the elementary school. Why is bond counsel now, at this point in time, " ...not willing to certify to a potential lender that the vote was taken in compliance with the bylaw."
    So does he get paid again and again?

  4. I am bothered by the fact that people elect people who they think will do the right thing for them. While it was not written in stone, or anything else for that matter, people still voted with the belief that the Police Station would be paid off in two years. A two year loan is a world of difference from a USDA loan. A USDA Loan is usually for a longer period, and the interest is usually much more, because of the length of the loan. I certainly believe the school, and the police station should be voted on again, with the right information. That is fair to the taxpayers. The taxpayers who really do not understand town government, but rely on the people they elect to treat them fairly,

  5. Bev, I agree with you as I know I voted based on the 2 yr financing. The school funding was also presented as costing $1.83 per $1000 for 30 years. It was listed on the advisory boards handout.

    I wonder why we even have rules, by laws when it appears nobody follows them or there is no process/system in place to know who is responsible for what.

    If items must be on Master plan, but aren't and the Capital Improvement committee never has a quorom so technically Templeton should not, under its own bylaws be able to do any capital improvements.

  6. The elementary school building committee handout and what was put out by both Steve Hemmen and the project manager was 28 year borrowing at $1.74 per thousand. I have a copy of the handout. Ultimately, the people most responsible for passage of all town debt getting on the books is the legislative body of the town, ie: people who go to town meeting. I attended a lot of meetings where these things were discussed and I will tell you there were very few, if any people at those meetings, there were only a few at the pre-town meeting where debt, borrowing and the financial terms were discussed at length, still not many there. It is only after everything passes that people seem to look at things. No vote to look at the so called budget line by line, a 13 million dollar spending plan and a line by line check is not wanted. Again, town meeting got what they voted for. People have to attend the meetings and at town meeting, people have to demand that things be discussed and when the dependable person (s) go up and motion to move the question, rather than vote for that, vote it down and discuss more, that is what a Town meeting is for. It is not a place to just go through the motions, except people do not want to take the time to do it. They want someone else to do it, but when something goes wrong, they will not take responsibility for it. Town meeting is the people's meeting, it is not covered by the open meeting law really. The town clerk is mandated to record the votes and the number of people there but it really is the peoples meeting. It only takes seven voters to challenge the moderator. But hey, relax, the MSBA is in place to save money on school construction and the help reduce borrowing costs.

  7. I thought the number was $1.74 but wasn't sure so I used the number from the Advisory Board number. At the Special town meeting most of the people attending supported the school expenditure.

    Town meetings and board meetings and committee meetings and commission meetings are all based on antiquated schedules. None of these meetings are designed to deal with the public as a whole. Where could we have a true "Town Meeting"..... at best we can handle what 20% of the population?
    How about a BOS meeting. Could they handle 1000 people? 2000? No.

    The problem isn't people don't vote anymore than it is the elected, appointed and hired haven't done their jobs as required by our bylaws. 4 years of audits? Capital Improvements not listed on Master plan, Committees not filled, not functioning. Budgets screwed up.

    I mean we are sitting here paying taxes based on what???? How can we have a serious discussion about funding anything when we cannot even keep our offices open, departments running......

  8. The largest Templeton town meeting I recall is back in 2004 and I think the number was right around a thousand people. The largest selectmen meeting I recall is a few that were held in the cafeteria at the high school because over 50 people showed up at town hall. I have just posted an item from North Andover Town moderator who has been able to approach modernization of town meeting, really good stuff, not sure if it would fly in Templeton. I remember when Paul DeRensis suggested a pyramid override question and someone told him "that is the dumbest thing I ever heard of" What that does of course is give people a choice of a dollar figure such as an override of $250,000.00, $400,000.00 or $800,000.00 rather than either vote for $800,000.00 or nothing. That is one item given in material available from the DOR/division of local services. Remember that the selectmen requested a financial review of the town back in 2009 and it was not voted for acceptance until I believe in late 2012. Some selectmen and other towns people did not like some of what it said and some affected friends so it was just set aside. It pissed off some selectmen so bad that they asked and got some of our local state reps to chastise the DOR for that report. Think the DOR is going to standup for Templeton again? Your selectmen looking out for you. Answer this one question: Do you think Templeton can fund and afford an Advanced Life Support/saving ambulance service at this time? At the last meeting of the Advisory Committee, the town administrator stated Templeton cannot afford a fulltime fire chief and a fulltime deputy fire chief. If that is the reason for no fire chief at this time, it seems like the smart thing to do is to eliminate the fulltime deputy fire chief and end that gravy train position. But hey, I am just a simple slow guy from Templeton. I will send Julie a link so she may post the north andover town moderator message here so more people can read it if they choose.