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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Vote supports Consensus of the Advisory Committee

Letter to editor at The Gardner News as submitted:

Vote supports Consensus of the Advisory Committee
January 16, 2017, Templeton Advisory Committee voted to send a letter stating concerns it has with regards to Town debt, especially the approach of adding to town debt by way of a state loan guarantee using Templeton’s share of unrestricted state aid. The vote of the seven member committee was five yes, one no, one member absent. The no vote was Kate Fulton. Is that considered a consensus of the Advisory Committee? According to Webster’s unabridged dictionary of the English language, consensus means; 1) majority opinion (as in a 5 to 1 vote to do something) 2)general agreement (as in concern about town finance and debt), as in “town finances are in a muddle.” The same dictionary, muddle is defined; to mix up in a confused or bungling manner; jumble. Now, we can talk about how Templeton finance got this way until the proverbial cows come home and I believe it began a good while back, as in around 2007, but I would think getting town finances unmuddled first, would be a wise thing to do before going into debt for 47 million dollars, the amount voted for at town meeting back in 2015. The FY 2017 spending plan presented to town meeting by the selectmen, said to be balanced and correct, would suggest that Templeton finances have yet to be unmuddled. Did the Advisory Committee act responsible and in the interest of the town by sending that letter?
By voting no, did Kate Fulton act in the interest of the town or in the interest of a small group? On the subject of how Ms. Farrell acted, the meeting of the MFOB held and attended by Ms. Farrell was a public open meeting, and if she was allowed to speak by whomever was in charge of that meeting, I believe there was no problem with her “testifying”, if that is how she spoke was characterized. If Ms. Farrell stated “we have concerns”, as in the Advisory Committee, I would say she was correct, by way of the 5 to 1 vote. Since it was a public meeting, Kate Fulton could have gone and I would say she would have been allowed to “testify” and give her views as well. I wonder how Kate Fulton would know so much on how a meeting went if she was not present at said meeting. I also feel, if Kate Fulton writes another letter to the editor, she sign it as Kate Fulton, Templeton resident, rather than as secretary, Templeton Advisory Committing. By doing that, she implied, she was writing and speaking on behalf of the Templeton Advisory Committee and as a member of said committee, I am not aware of any vote for her to do so. 
As for the general welfare of the town, from a financial stand point, before going into further debt, perhaps the town should have 3 fiscal years in a row with budgets or spending plans that are truly balanced and correct, with a clear understanding of the total amount of debt the town is ultimately responsible for. This would include any debt of any department that acts under or as an enterprise fund, to include any special acts. The record of town meeting votes, show votes for debt of say the Templeton Water department, the articles state that if anything happens, the town of Templeton is responsible for the debt, regardless of how anyone says it is classified as being inside or outside a debt limit. That is why the Templeton Water department had to go to town meeting for a new water tank, a department, not even the Templeton Municipal Light & Water department can borrow on their own, only the town can do that. That fact is on the record of a selectmen’s meeting with an audio/video recording to show that. It is one thing to believe that building a new school and having one building rather than 2 or 3 is a good thing, which I do, just ensure you really can afford it. Trying to back up a 1.4 million dollar loan payment with funds that can and do change from year to year and do not even amount to 1.4 million is in my opinion, irresponsible.  The municipal finance oversight board has so far said no, perhaps I am not alone in that opinion. Let’s hope for Templeton’s sake, state politicians do not get involved in a local issue and force this on the town.
Jeffrey Bennett
77 Partridgeville Road
Templeton, MA 01468

posted by Jeff Bennett

1 comment:

  1. As I have said before, there should have been no surprise at what the MFOB has to say. Our Town has been in financial trouble since 2000, as far as I can see. The failure of the School Building Committee to understand this fact is unforgivable. As members of the Advisory Committee, we have given public presentations on the unhealthy financial state of the Town of Templeton. This is a serious problem, that will not be solved until people understand that we, as a Town have to live within our means. The Advisory Board has drawn pictures, and presented graphs as proof of the need for our Town to have a Bond Rating, and Stabilization money along with free cash, as a foundation to show our Town is able to pay our debt back. All of this has fallen on the deaf ears of our School Department, and fellow Town leaders. Kicking the can down the road does no longer work, because we have reached the very end of the road, and the sign says what it is, a dead end.