Paul working for you.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room

Fascinating meeting working meeting last night. The Liars Club met to discuss actions to remedy the 31 page management letter released on April 25, 2017.

Haven't seen this kind of tap dancing since I don't know when:

Lots of tap dancing at last night's meeting, although not of the caliber displayed above.

The good news, a number of policies and procedures are to be adopted to correct some of the material findings in the 31 page management letter .

The bad news? Given the demonstrated track record of the selectmens' inability to follow their own policies  and procedures, there is much doubt about policies and procedures fixing any of the material weaknesses found in the 31 page management letter, if those policies and procedures are not enforced.

 The Elephant in the Room?

The major problem detailed in the 31 page management letter, is the lack of a Treasurer/Collector who can perform all of the duties and responsibilities of that office:
bank reconciliations in a timely manner
cash flow statements
knowledge of bonds and borrowing
processing turnovers
Reporting on Schedule A correctly

There was a lot of tap dancing around that issue.

The other problem detailed in the
31 page management letter, the lack of a full-time, permanent town administrator.  

Who will ensure that these new policies and procedures will be enforced?

Fact -There is $142,000 in stabilization to backup a $15 million dollar budget.

Fact- Templeton does NOT have a bond rating.


Management Letter p13, Tony Roselli, CPA April 25, 2017.

I think it's pretty amazing that our town just passed a budget including NRSD that amounts to almost $2,000 per man, women and child in Templeton! To look at it another way, it's about $4500 per every working person! How about this, it's about $6,200 per household.

So what town services do I get for my $6200.........hmm. I get roads, very damn expensive bumpy roads. I have no children in school, I dont use town services, ok, I'll cough up some money for Fire/EMS as I might like them available.

Now lets talk about the 1186 disabled people. If they get SSDI they average about $1300 a month. At best we are asking them for 20% of their income and at worst if the own a home about 50% of their income for town services.

Wait till the economy tanks again, which it always does, always will and what happens. Across the board these markets are going to hit a wall. Nothing anywhere is actually being paid for, it's just being borrowed further up the chain. Can't pay credit cards, refi your house, can't refi your house, refi your 401k, can't rifi your 401k, file banakruptcy and nobody gets paid.

Just expand this to government. It's already happening around the globe. Hell, look at Puerto Rico. Look at our town, state, federal government....deeper into debt. A larger and larger portion of taxes going to cover old debt.
Look at the government employment structure. It's completely unsustainable. 20 year retirement plans that start paying year 21 are insane. Think about it. If every single cop/doc/fire/etc employee retired at 20 we could effectively be paying for 2.5-3 employees for every single job being done. How much has healthcare cost for retired state workers risen since they retired. How much more is it now than anticipated...............

oh enough, it's not raining anymore.

Bev. I have an interesting stat for you. From the 2000 census. It shows that 1186 people in Templeton are listed as disabled

To Bob M. - The budget passed(FY 18) is unbalanced, just like last year's budget (FY 17). Last year the Selectmen's  solution to an $87,500 shortfall, was to raid the $142,000 stabilization fund at the October 20, 2016 special town meeting.

Fortunately, that article was defeated. About  a week later, the $87,500 shortfall ballooned to over $200,000. End of the year transfers will need to take place to "balance" FY 17.

The FY 18 budget passed at town meeting is at least $100,000 in deficit. Can't wait to see how large  that $100,000 figure will balloon.

The federal government kicked the can down the road as far as a budget until September.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is currently behind in tax revenues for FY 17.
"“There were no answers today other than, I think, a shared commitment to find the right way forward," Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said after the meeting of minds resulted in a number of theories being batted around as to why, in a period of economic growth, the state seems to lurch from budget crisis to budget crisis. 

Baker said he's working through a solution to the $462 million shortfall in revenues hoping against hope that May tax collections will alleviate some of the pressure on this year's state budget.

But things could be worse. Again, just look down I-95 where Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy is confronting his own state's revenue shortfall by emptying the Nutmeg State reserves and proposing to pull back on local aid payments. It hasn't gotten that bad here ... yet.

ut the hole already dug means that as things stand now tax revenue would have to grow by almost 5.8 percent next year to make the math on the House's budget and the one filed by Baker add up. Given recent history, that would be like betting on Pablo Sandoval to steal 50 bases next year."

 The town has unbalanced budget for FY 18.

"A shit storm is coming, and you don't have the right umbrella."
                                                                                Dolena Brand


  1. Dont worry, it's "all in the past" as some of our BOS members believe. I did find it pretty interesting that right after the "all in the past" we skipped right over the SENIOR CENTER issues as they are....................ongoing!
    Their has been 2 selectman added over this timeframe. Julie R in 2015 and Cam Fortes in 2017. Other than that it was this BOS that was in charge of the bidding, contracting, Financial mismanagement that is our Senior Center.


  2. Morning Bob,

    To alleviate some of the concerning issues regarding the Senior Center and my comment on the "It's all the past" is to regard with what has been done is done. We cannot go back and change these issues. An audit report does disclose the issues that have been found regarding any entity that has been audited (i.e. when they find someone is paying for things that they do not have the authority to do so they will disclose that information). However, it is important to look at any response from an auditor to identify the issues and why they happened. The Senior Center, 252 Baldwinville Rd, and the Elementary School have had some serious issues but we must keep in mind that those are issues that have already happened. With those issues identified we can anticipate future problems unless we can identify the cause of these issues and correct them. This would mitigate the risk. The management letter allows for our work to be cut out for us. These issues are highlighted, the root cause of these issues is given, and a sound recommendation is provided. We must not allow ourselves to get caught up on what has been done but what we can do to prevent future issues.

    Through my understanding of the management letter the issues with the Senior Center were as follows: Lack of Town Accountant sign off for contracts, Contracts not being maintained, contradictions to Chapter 149 (Building Construction Contracts). These would all indicate issues with contracts and bidding. We cannot go back and change these issues but moving forward we can mitigate the risk by ensure accurate policy and procedure is in place to ensure that these issues do not come up in the future.

    In my opinion, these issues are highly unacceptable and dangerous. Since the management letter has brought these items to our attention, I can ensure you that for the moment we will be vetting these bids properly and signing off on them when they have met satisfactory conditions. However, the key issue is not that we will have issue doing this now but as town government changes on a yearly basis and with a shaky foundation on un-elected positions, we require that policy and procedure to mandate not only the bidding practice to all employees of the town but to the board of selectmen as well. These risks will be mitigate in the following months through work with the Collins Center & the BoS.

    Also, in effect of the items highlighted on the original posting; I can assure you that the Town Administrator & Treasurer position is showing favorable progress. That is all I can comment on that subject. We still do have some tough issues ahead and if it’s any comfort to you, I have been working regularly and consistently on these problems to create a foundation to which we can work from. Talk is a good thing but action is something, that I believe both you and I can agree on is the most beneficial for the town.

    Your Selectman,
    Cameron Fortes

    If anyone would like to reach out to me directly. Please contact me at

  3. Hey Cam,

    Thanks for the response. My concern is not with you as you are a fresh voice. My concern is with the balance of the people on the board. These people were in place during the entire Senior Center build. These people we in place during the entire Town Hall project. None of the rules have changed since then to my knowledge, yet these folks were all part of the bidding procurement for the those projects. Now we are going to go from $500,000 mismanaged fiasco to a $50,000,000.00 project with the only change being we added a 23 year old to the management team. Please try not to be offended, it's not personal. It's just I have socks older than

    Last night at the meeting when talking about the management letter do you know what I heard over and over in some form or another "mothering"

    Look a the way you guy were "fixing" department budgets. The entire discussion was making Kelly responsible and taking the responsibility to do the job away from department heads. I guess thats why the "its in the past" got me so much as its not being accountable. Not once have I heard Caplis, Doug, Diane (less so Diane) take responsibility. The "it's in the past" or "oh well, it's to late now" is a lousy managers favorite line as it avoid accountability.
    Without accountability policies and procedures have little meaning. We have policies and procedures right now, for the BOS that are not followed. By-laws have not been followed.

    I guess basically I'm saying that the BOS has to prove itself. They have to show they can follow the rules they set. That they can do the job. Then and only then should the citizens trust them again. The Collins training will be good.

  4. We have to learn from our mistakes and move forward is what I say. I don't believe I have ever said "it's in the past" as I agree with Bev that history is a good thing and make sure that we take the good things and out better policy in place for the major errors. I am working on 30b and I have been like a dog with a nine as I have said at many meetings. I have said I want the IG to come here and not just for training. I have a handle of what need to be done and the people to talk to DOR dept heads and it will be put out for heboubkic as a draft policy as well.

    I own what I do for mistakes. I admit and fix them. I didn't know about the contracts for he senior center or town hall that they were not correct or done properly until the audit. Now I have volunteered to make internal policy to compliment state laws.

    Cam has a good head for finance and is a great addition to the BOS.

    1. I am looking forward to the day that our town government can run openly, with no deceit running rampart in the background. Will I ever see that day ? That depends on a lot of things. My reason for being in the Advisory Committee really boils down to one thing. I wanted to see if there was a way to push, pull, or force the town into doing the what it needed to do, to live within it's means. I told Caplis that I wanted things fixed for once and for all. I put a line in the sand, as this was the time to do things right. FY19 is now going to be even more difficult because of decisions that were made in the past fiscal year. Not rescinding the raises that Markel handed out, with no money to back them up, did not help. These actions, are the reasons that the past does matter because it does not end, it just follows you from one year to the next. If this BOS had cut back a little in the FY17 and FY18, then FY19 would not be such a disaster. This will be the time when the BOS will be tested. Will they do the right things, or revert to the dishonest dealings that other boards have in the past. The reason I want things fixed is simply that I am too old for this crap and I am sick of our town being the laughing stock of Worcester County. Taking responsibility for wrong doing does nothing to make things better, and is just as bad as saying the past is the past.. No kidding, you still have to live with the decisions someone made, or you made yourself.

    2. Diane,

      I agree Cam is a good ad. He is smart and could over time prove to be a valuable member to the BOS.
      I do appreciate you work. I know you mean well even though we disagree on items. I also know every position has a learning curve.

      As for the Senior Center bids etc. The BOS signed off on them correct? I mean either the BOS or TA signed the contracts, approved the bids. Like the question asked the other night at the meeting to John Caplis. When He was asked if he read all articles on the warrant and admitted the answer was no ( he said something like , most of them, or the important ones) but the implication was NO. You came back with a quip like " you suppose to say , of coarse I did".

      I sat in the audience stupefied. I heard the Chairman of the BOS, even after the horrible audit report, state he doesn't read the entire warrant. Then a future Vice chair and present member says in so many words " you're suppose to lie". I know its nit picking. I know you were probably just making light of a stupid statement that shows incompetence.
      After the report, financial mess and lack of confidence the town has in the administration to do these things is, well, came across as seriously unprofessional.

      I need to get back to my stuff, but I think I made my point.......

  5. If people are not reading what is handed to them I have a right to be annoyed escoexoaly when we are told to read them and make sure we come prepared. I will not apologize for my quip as I believe my point was made. it wasn't a joke and it was that or get angry and I am not normally line that. I read everything and Come prepared. I send emails for questions or come in and ask. I am not sure why I am the unprofessional one? The entire board should do their homework so we can have discussion and make decisions based on the information we have and research we have done.