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#1 03.26.12 11:51pm

jmartin291
Member
From: Clinton, MA
Registered: 06.09.08
Posts: 642

Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

While the attached is somewhat time-late, I only received it on March 22nd.

I originally sent a public records request to Chairman of the Board of Selectmen on March 3rd which was received by her office on March 5th.  I sent a second request on the 15th and then sent an appeal to the Division of Public Records on the 21st.

The Division of Public Records received the appeal on the 22nd, the same day the attached arrived.

This was presented to the Board of Selectmen during the February 29th Board of Selectmen meeting. 

As I am able to collect documents during the budget preparation process I will post them for all to review.

http://www.clintonmass.com/docs/martin_ … ectmen.pdf


Ezra 9:3

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#2 04.01.12 9:24pm

JRW
Member
From: Clinton
Registered: 11.30.04
Posts: 1,304

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

John,  thanks for posting that.  Looking over the report, and doing a little further investigation at the State Department of Revenue's website, I find some interesting data regarding school choice assesments. 

If you go to this website http://www.mass.gov/dor/local-officials … ges.html#C and select the Town of Clinton's information, you are able to get the full estimated "cherry sheet" for the upcoming FY2013 (starting July 1, 2012).  The sheet is broken into two parts, reimbursements and assessments.  Just as the State giveths local aid, it also taketh away. 

Regarding school choice reimbursements and assesments, here is what the data says (with my own percentage change calculation added), if I'm reading things correctly:

                                                           FY12                         FY13           Dollar Change    Percent Change
  Charter Tuition Reimbursement        $61,342.00        $77,280.00        $15,938.00        25.98%
  School Choice Receiving Tuition       $747,786.00      $790,213.00       $42,427.00       5.67%
  Total Reimbursements                     $809,128.00         $867,493.00    $58,365.00    7.21%
               
               
  Charter School Sending Tuition        $305,266.00        $344,525.00        $39,259.00        12.86%
  School Choice Sending Tuition       $423,774.00       $574,340.00       $150,566.00       35.53%
  Total Assessments                           $729,040.00    $918,865.00    $189,825.00    26.04%
               
Difference Reimb. & Asses.                     $80,088.00    -$51,372.00    -$131,460.00    -164.14%

(sorry for the wonky formatting...)

By the numbers the state provided on their website, the Town of Clinton paid close to $200,000 more in tuition for school choice and charter students this year than last.  And for the first time (?), school choice appears to be a negative cost to Clinton, not a money maker.  Realizing that there is a funky equation in how charter school tuition costs are determined, I'm going to focus on the changes in the school choice tuition. 

It is my understanding that the max tuition that can be charged or received for a school choice student is $5,000.  The Town received about $40,000 more in school choice dollars this upcoming year, at $5,000 apiece, that is around 8 new kids who came in.  The town a total change of over $150,000 more in school choice going out this year, or about 30 new kids that left the system.  As a net, from FY2012 to FY2013, the schools will have lost about 22 kids.

To me, this data points out several things.  One, all of the anectdotal talk of more kids leaving the system, seems to be pretty true, no matter what some may claim.  Two, my guess is that more people choiced out of the system due to the failure of the override and the negative changes that have occurred to the school as a result. Three, while the town gains $790,000 from kids school choicing into the system, it is also losing over $900,000 to kids that have left the system either for school choice or for charter schools.  Not good, not good at all.   

This is just my raw anaylsis of the data from the Cherry Sheets, and looking at the State Dept. of Education website.  If my figures are wrong and am leading to incorrect conclusions, then I apologize.  I kind of hope that I am wrong, but I have a feeling that I am not.

Last edited by JRW (04.01.12 9:30pm)


Always Check Your Six!

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#3 04.03.12 9:54am

MariahHL
Member
Registered: 02.14.07
Posts: 1,902

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

JRW- School choice started to be an issue the year before last, when we had so many go to AMSA. It continues to be a problem for a multitude of reasons. Most having nothing to do with the failure of the override to pass (since a good majority of the positions slated to be eliminated due to budge cuts, were retained by retiring teachers and grants)

From my perspective, school choicing out ( as one of my kids does) had nothing to do with the failure of the override to pass, it had to do with the atmosphere at the school (CMS in particular) both academically and socially. And I know I am not the only parent that feels this way.


"I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done."
-Lucille Ball-

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#5 04.18.12 1:11pm

jmartin291
Member
From: Clinton, MA
Registered: 06.09.08
Posts: 642

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

At last night's Board of Selectmen's meeting the Selectmen started to develop their recommendations for the various departmental budgets.  Don't look for this meeting on TV. It wasn't televised. 

Not all the budgets were reviewed last night.  The Police, Fire and DPW budgets, and some others will be reviewed at tonight's BoS meeting.

The general course of action taken by the Board of Selectmen (BoS) on most budgets was to hold any salary increases in abeyance while accepting the "level service" numbers submitted by the departments.  There were some exceptions.

The BoS increased their miscellaneous budget from $7,500 to $14,000 citing the fact that it was $14,000 in the past.  For information - it was last $14,000 in the FY2009 budget.  In FY 2010 and 2011 it was $10,000.

The BoS increased their Computer Equipment and Supplies budget from $2,250 to $10,000.  This fund was reported to be used to manage the network, update the website (yes, that's what they said), and for unexpected computer/printer failures and/or replacements during the  year.  It was last $10,000 in 2009.

There was a discussion about creating a warrant article to combine all the computer/printer purchases requested in each individual department's budget into one "buy".  This seemed to be in reference to the "financial" departments (Treasurer, Accountant, Collector, Assessor).  I wasn't clear if they were also going to include other departments but it might make sense.

The Council on Aging has requested that its part time "outreach" worker be brought on full time.  The BoS felt that they should allocate money for this. I think I heard an amount of $38,000.

I thought I heard that the BoS had not received input from the Conservation Commission but then they started to debate a request for a per diem "Conservation Agent" to follow-up/inspect work being done pursuant to permits issued by the Conservation Commission.  I was wondering if there are private companies that could be contracted to do this instead of bringing on a "per diem" who might end up turning into a full time person.  Mr. Dziokonski expressed concern that a per diem could turn into a full time person too.

Town Hall repairs - Apparently there is some roof damage at Town Hall that needs to be addressed.  It is surmised that ice/snow falling off the bell tower onto the lower roof has damaged the lower roof.  There is also a crack that appears to be progressing along a wall in the second floor conference room.  Mr. Ward is to collect more information (and potentially liase with the building inspector) so that a warrant article can be drawn up.

Town Hall heat, light and power - There was a discussion about converting Town Hall from oil to gas.  National Grid quoted $47,000 to run the necessary line to Town Hall.  The thought process is that if we include the Senior Center and maybe the Library, this $47,000 would be absorbed by National Grid.  Yes, the Library has a new oil burner but if the numbers worked, that burner could be donated to CEMA to heat their building.  Nothing in concrete on this.  It appeared to be an item for study.

The civic fund was increased from $2,000 to $3,500.

The Town's "Blanket Insurance" will go up from $150,000 to $175,000.  It was only $150,000 last year because the association through which the Town buys this insurance had fewer than expected claims the year before and returned some money to its members.  Clinton used this money to defray the $175,000 premium and bring it down to $150,000 for FY 2012.  For FY13 it is back to $175,000.

The Building Inspector asked if he could keep the mileage charges paid for him to do inspections for vehicle maintenance.  The BoS decided (I think) to generate a warrant article to purchase an inexpensive car/truck for his use.

Dog officer - this could be the subject of a separate post, but anyway...
After the first ad was placed the Town received three applications.  All three were asking for more (i.e. full time position, a vehicle and kennel built at Town expense, a $36,000 salary for a part-time position) than the Town was offering.  The position was re advertized and one response was received.  This individual is trying to find a location to build a kennel.  The discussion then devolved to "Pit Bulls are everywhere!" and "There have been several biting incidents since the weather turned warm."  I wasn't clear on the status of the guy trying to find a place to build a kennel but I'm guessing he hasn't been hired yet.  At the end of the discussion Mr. Connolly and Mr. LeBlanc both suggested that we drop the Dog Officer and pony up the money for an "Animal Control" officer.  I'm not sure if that was accepted (there did not appear to be many formal votes at this meeting.) but I think they are going to look at it.  I am guessing that the attempt to "share" a Dog Officer with one of the surrounding Towns went nowhere.

More on the Council on Aging - At the BoS meeting at which the Director of the Senior Center spoke, Mr. Connolly asked for a breakdown of what her miscellaneous expenses were for this year and how they compared to what she was asking for this year.  She basically stiff-armed him and he didn't call her on it.  At this point the CoA miscellaneous budget is going nowhere until this comparison is made.  Mr. Ward said that he could get the Town Accountant to put together the actual expenditures for the Board's review.  My thought is that you call Ms. Bailey on the carpet, have a one-way directive conversation with her and get the information Mr. Connolly asked for in the first place.  Sorry, but this isn't the first time I've watched a Town employee stiff-arm an elected official and not be called to task for it. 

The Library - The BoS intends to add about $5,000 to their repair budget to handle some emergent repairs that need to be done. The front door was mentioned.

Parks and Rec - The Parks and Rec basically "mailed in" their budget input and provided no one to speak to the budget.  The BoS doesn't understand the document they received and will ask for a rep to appear and answer some questions.

Fuller Field Commission provided no budget input.

Sorry for the length of the post.

Last edited by jmartin291 (04.18.12 1:18pm)


Ezra 9:3

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#6 04.18.12 1:48pm

Jester
Member
Registered: 10.28.11
Posts: 124

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

Thank you for all of this information.

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#7 04.18.12 2:21pm

jmartin291
Member
From: Clinton, MA
Registered: 06.09.08
Posts: 642

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

Oh, I almost forgot.  The Board of Selectmen NEED to allocate some money for the maintenance of the furniture in the Chamber Room of Town Hall.

The table at which people sit to speak to the board has the following notice taped to the top in two places.

"Please do not push, drag, or sit on this table.
1 leg is cracked
1 leg is broken
2 legs are very loose"

:-)


Ezra 9:3

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#8 04.18.12 2:59pm

Ken
Member
From: Clinton, MA
Registered: 10.02.04
Posts: 5,125
Website

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

jmartin291 wrote:

Oh, I almost forgot.  The Board of Selectmen NEED to allocate some money for the maintenance of the furniture in the Chamber Room of Town Hall.

Could they use the notice board funds for this? smile


It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes.

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#9 04.18.12 4:28pm

jmartin291
Member
From: Clinton, MA
Registered: 06.09.08
Posts: 642

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

Ken wrote:
jmartin291 wrote:

Oh, I almost forgot.  The Board of Selectmen NEED to allocate some money for the maintenance of the furniture in the Chamber Room of Town Hall.

Could they use the notice board funds for this? smile

No, because they STILL are not in compliance with the State's open meeting law.  They NEED to post the fact that the Town's website is the alternate posting location for meeting notices someplace on Town Hall that is visible 24/7.

Don't get me going now...   :-)


Ezra 9:3

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#10 04.18.12 6:08pm

Dropkick Murphy
Member
Registered: 04.30.10
Posts: 70

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

The animal control officer reminded me that we never heard who was hired to be the town hall custodian. Did they fund that at a higher rate to turn it into a maintenance workers position?


I showed you kindness, a stool, and a tab then you poured me, my pain, in a dirty glass.

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#11 04.18.12 10:40pm

Thinky
Member
From: The Cat Ranch
Registered: 05.19.09
Posts: 527

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

jmartin291 wrote:

Sorry for the length of the post.

VERY informative and useful post. Thank you !


Where are we going?....and what's with this handbasket?

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#12 04.23.12 7:48am

gusweber
Member
From: Lydia Lane
Registered: 01.13.09
Posts: 30
Website

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

I understand that the BOS has agreed to put an $800k line item on the meeting warrant for a new fire truck.  Given our past history of passing nearly every line item, I'm frightened!  A quick search of lightly used ladder trucks, yields a lot of very very suitable options for under 300k.  Not sure that we're in a position of asking the tax payers for an 800k expenditure.  Seems wasteful to me.  http://commandfireapparatus.com/apparatus/ladders/

I'm also curious where a couple of revenue streams end up, namely Police Details & recycling.  Don't see those anywhere in the budget.  Seems to be that the PD overtime should largely, be covered by charge backs for detail work?

I'm also not in favor of the Town subsidizing ANY of the enterprises (Water, Rubbish or Ambulance).  They should be run like enterprises -- at a ZERO cost to the general taxbase to the town.  In all 3 cases, it appears that we are subsidizing them.  If they can not support themselves on services offered, I see 2 options.  Raise the corresponding rates (ala trash stickers), or privatize them.  Not sure why the Town of Clinton is in the trash business.  Many other towns have moved to private ambulance services as well.  This is a hard discussion that no one seems willing to have. 

I'm also shocked at how each town building as its own cleaning staff, seems like we'd be far ore efficient to have less cleaners that can rotate through buildings? 

Adding headcount, as it appears that we are doing in a number of departments has a lasting impact WELL BEYOND this fiscal year.  Seems like business as usual in the BOS and finance committee.  No one ever wants to have the hard discussion about right-sizing the budget and that would also mean right-sizing the employee base for the town.

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#13 04.23.12 12:39pm

GraceOMalley-Pirate Queen
Member
From: Ireland
Registered: 12.07.11
Posts: 25

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

Right size the budget??? Right sizing this budget is like trying to right size a schooner that has tipped- Better to just scuttle it and start again.

Ye all spent over $425,000 last year on warrant "extra's" that all of ya just voted "yes" on...No talking, no questioning, no nothin. What a bunch of lambs! Ya deserve what ya get.


Jack Sparrow has nothing on me!

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#14 04.23.12 1:38pm

jmartin291
Member
From: Clinton, MA
Registered: 06.09.08
Posts: 642

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

gusweber wrote:

I'm also curious where a couple of revenue streams end up, namely Police Details & recycling.  Don't see those anywhere in the budget.  Seems to be that the PD overtime should largely, be covered by charge backs for detail work?

Gus, I'm trying to find out more information on Police Details.  I THINK (don't take this to the bank) that overtime for Police Details are paid by the fees assessed to the companies/organizations needing the detail.  These funds don't appear in the Police budget request because they do not come out of the "General Fund".  Again, don't take this to the bank. 

As for recycling - I was told by the Town Administrator that these funds go into a revolving account.  I've asked for more information on the various revolving accounts around Town government.  As I can obtain information, I'll post it.  Revolving accounts don't appear in the budget requests because the budget requests are for the funds that the Departments want from the General Fund.  There are other sources of income (mostly in the School Department) that don't show up in the Finance Committee report at Town Meeting because they aren't part of the General Fund.

gusweber wrote:

I'm also not in favor of the Town subsidizing ANY of the enterprises (Water, Rubbish or Ambulance).  They should be run like enterprises -- at a ZERO cost to the general taxbase to the town.  In all 3 cases, it appears that we are subsidizing them.  If they can not support themselves on services offered, I see 2 options.  Raise the corresponding rates (ala trash stickers), or privatize them.  Not sure why the Town of Clinton is in the trash business.  Many other towns have moved to private ambulance services as well.  This is a hard discussion that no one seems willing to have.

Gus, I'm not sure where you are seeing that the Enterprise funds are being funded by the General Fund.  If anything, the Enterprise funds are retaining funds in their retained earnings accounts or supplying a portion to the Town.  This usually happens in one of the first articles at Town Meeting when the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen starts reading a big long passage about transferring "X" amount of dollars from this account to another account and the rest of us are madly flipping pages to try and find what is being read, to no avail.  We at Town Meeting never see that paragraph.

gusweber wrote:

I'm also shocked at how each town building as its own cleaning staff, seems like we'd be far ore efficient to have less cleaners that can rotate through buildings?

Join the rest of us.  It has been suggested that the Town (all departments, including School) bid out the cleaning and maintenance to determine if a private company might be able to clean/maintain the Town's buildings at less cost than hiring our own custodians.  Selectman Dziokonski has stated that he is not favorably disposed to considering privatization of Town services.

gusweber wrote:

Adding headcount, as it appears that we are doing in a number of departments has a lasting impact WELL BEYOND this fiscal year.  Seems like business as usual in the BOS and finance committee.  No one ever wants to have the hard discussion about right-sizing the budget and that would also mean right-sizing the employee base for the town.

Gus, help me find where we are adding headcount.  With the exception of taking the Senior Center outreach worker from part time to full time, I THINK we are, at most, filling vacancies.  Much of what is driving the overtime expense in the Fire and Police departments are "unplanned for" vacancies that need to be (or will shortly be) filled.  What am I missing?  (Sorry for being dense.)


Ezra 9:3

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#15 04.23.12 4:10pm

gusweber
Member
From: Lydia Lane
Registered: 01.13.09
Posts: 30
Website

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

gusweber wrote:

I'm also curious where a couple of revenue streams end up, namely Police Details & recycling.  Don't see those anywhere in the budget.  Seems to be that the PD overtime should largely, be covered by charge backs for detail work?

jmartin291 wrote:

Gus, I'm trying to find out more information on Police Details.  I THINK (don't take this to the bank) that overtime for Police Details are paid by the fees assessed to the companies/organizations needing the detail.  These funds don't appear in the Police budget request because they do not come out of the "General Fund".  Again, don't take this to the bank.

As for recycling - I was told by the Town Administrator that these funds go into a revolving account.  I've asked for more information on the various revolving accounts around Town government.  As I can obtain information, I'll post it.  Revolving accounts don't appear in the budget requests because the budget requests are for the funds that the Departments want from the General Fund.  There are other sources of income (mostly in the School Department) that don't show up in the Finance Committee report at Town Meeting because they aren't part of the General Fund.

Revolving accounts should be shown as well, to give an accurate picture IMHO. 

gusweber wrote:

I'm also not in favor of the Town subsidizing ANY of the enterprises (Water, Rubbish or Ambulance).  They should be run like enterprises -- at a ZERO cost to the general taxbase to the town.  In all 3 cases, it appears that we are subsidizing them.  If they can not support themselves on services offered, I see 2 options.  Raise the corresponding rates (ala trash stickers), or privatize them.  Not sure why the Town of Clinton is in the trash business.  Many other towns have moved to private ambulance services as well.  This is a hard discussion that no one seems willing to have.

jmartin291 wrote:

Gus, I'm not sure where you are seeing that the Enterprise funds are being funded by the General Fund.  If anything, the Enterprise funds are retaining funds in their retained earnings accounts or supplying a portion to the Town.  This usually happens in one of the first articles at Town Meeting when the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen starts reading a big long passage about transferring "X" amount of dollars from this account to another account and the rest of us are madly flipping pages to try and find what is being read, to no avail.  We at Town Meeting never see that paragraph.

What I'm looking at, are the costs of healthcare, retirement contributions, medicare tax, fuel, depreciation on equipment, etc.  As far as I can tell (can certainly be wrong) that these are not called out on the budgets?  Again, I'll ask why the Town of Clinton is running a rubbish business?  An Ambulance business?

gusweber wrote:

I'm also shocked at how each town building as its own cleaning staff, seems like we'd be far ore efficient to have less cleaners that can rotate through buildings?

jmartin291 wrote:

Join the rest of us.  It has been suggested that the Town (all departments, including School) bid out the cleaning and maintenance to determine if a private company might be able to clean/maintain the Town's buildings at less cost than hiring our own custodians.  Selectman Dziokonski has stated that he is not favorably disposed to considering privatization of Town services.

That is a very narrow view provided by Selectman Dziokonski, and one that I do not agree with.  We should be looking to make the OPERATIONS of our government as lean and efficient as possible to allow for funding to be returned to direct services, like the school department. 

Have we ever looked at regionalization of services? 

gusweber wrote:

Adding headcount, as it appears that we are doing in a number of departments has a lasting impact WELL BEYOND this fiscal year.  Seems like business as usual in the BOS and finance committee.  No one ever wants to have the hard discussion about right-sizing the budget and that would also mean right-sizing the employee base for the town.

jmartin291 wrote:

Gus, help me find where we are adding headcount.  With the exception of taking the Senior Center outreach worker from part time to full time, I THINK we are, at most, filling vacancies.  Much of what is driving the overtime expense in the Fire and Police departments are "unplanned for" vacancies that need to be (or will shortly be) filled.  What am I missing?  (Sorry for being dense.)

I can see 2 headcount -- one for the dog officer and one for the the Council of Aging.  I also don't agree with the blind back filling of vacancies.  Every open position should be thoroughly evaluated against staffing needs now and in the future.  (yes, I know we've had this painful discussion before).  I do not accept history as an excuse for the way we do things today, and that included staffing.  Maybe we need every position as outlined, but maybe there are leaner ways to operate.  We'll never know if we just keep plodding along with our heads down, using history to define the path forward.

Last edited by gusweber (04.23.12 4:11pm)

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#16 04.23.12 5:50pm

Ken
Member
From: Clinton, MA
Registered: 10.02.04
Posts: 5,125
Website

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

gusweber wrote:

Have we ever looked at regionalization of services?

I don't know if the BOS has seriously considered it, but here's a seven page thread on the idea:

http://www.clintonmass.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=3730


It happens sometimes. People just explode. Natural causes.

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#17 04.23.12 8:58pm

JRW
Member
From: Clinton
Registered: 11.30.04
Posts: 1,304

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

Ken wrote:
gusweber wrote:

Have we ever looked at regionalization of services?

I don't know if the BOS has seriously considered it, but here's a seven page thread on the idea:

http://www.clintonmass.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=3730

Glad someone noticed!!!!

wink

Gus, you've got some good questions...

My concern with the ladder truck replacement is this: is the new one going to be a quint or not?  Spend some more now to get a ladder and pumper in one body, scrap the 1981 old sterling engine that is now (?) used for a reserve, place one of the modern engines into reserve to extend its life (close to 20 years now?), and then have the FD with a combined ladder/engine and an engine 1st due on any fire call. 

And get rid of separate fire and police dispatch and go with a joint fire/police dispatch to help offset the extra cost of the quint.

Last edited by JRW (04.23.12 9:10pm)


Always Check Your Six!

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#18 04.24.12 2:00am

MP
Member
Registered: 07.17.08
Posts: 338

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

gusweber wrote:

  Many other towns have moved to private ambulance services as well.

If the EMS goes private then the town will lose all the revenue from ambulance fees, which may not end up being a cost saver at all. Not to mention, there will still be required the same number of firefighters on staff (as the 2 staffing the ambulance cover the ladder truck when not on a medical call, if I'm correct). Everything should be looked into, but this is one that I don't think is a good idea.

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#19 04.24.12 8:15am

gusweber
Member
From: Lydia Lane
Registered: 01.13.09
Posts: 30
Website

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

JRW wrote:
Ken wrote:
gusweber wrote:

Have we ever looked at regionalization of services?

I don't know if the BOS has seriously considered it, but here's a seven page thread on the idea:

http://www.clintonmass.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=3730

Glad someone noticed!!!!

wink

Gus, you've got some good questions...

My concern with the ladder truck replacement is this: is the new one going to be a quint or not?  Spend some more now to get a ladder and pumper in one body, scrap the 1981 old sterling engine that is now (?) used for a reserve, place one of the modern engines into reserve to extend its life (close to 20 years now?), and then have the FD with a combined ladder/engine and an engine 1st due on any fire call. 

And get rid of separate fire and police dispatch and go with a joint fire/police dispatch to help offset the extra cost of the quint.

Couldn't agree more on combining the dispatchers.

No ideas are bad ideas, but I'm shocked that we'd approve essentially giving Chief Hart a blank $800k check to replace a ladder truck.  I'd like to have seen some discussion, or at least a proposal from him as to what he needs, costs, etc.  He's asked for the past several years for an $800k item to replace the ladder truck, but does not seem to get the hint that he needs to be more creative and actually justify the expenditure of that much capital.  Again, I found brand new quints for under $500k.  What are we spending $800k to get?

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#20 04.24.12 8:16am

gusweber
Member
From: Lydia Lane
Registered: 01.13.09
Posts: 30
Website

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

MP wrote:
gusweber wrote:

  Many other towns have moved to private ambulance services as well.

If the EMS goes private then the town will lose all the revenue from ambulance fees, which may not end up being a cost saver at all. Not to mention, there will still be required the same number of firefighters on staff (as the 2 staffing the ambulance cover the ladder truck when not on a medical call, if I'm correct). Everything should be looked into, but this is one that I don't think is a good idea.

Not saying we should abolish the department, but what I am saying is that we should look at each enterprise and make a decision as to keep it, or privatize it.  If we keep them, they should cover 100% of their fully burdened costs (essentially at 0 cost to the tax payers through the general fund).

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#21 04.24.12 11:01am

Dropkick Murphy
Member
Registered: 04.30.10
Posts: 70

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

Gus,

You're a quick study! Have you ever thought of running for BOS? They need a "deep thinker" on board. Same goes for Jmartin.

Clinton could have been looking at regionalization for years and formed a sub-committee that never met. (For appearances I'm sure)

Good questions that need answers!


-Murph


I showed you kindness, a stool, and a tab then you poured me, my pain, in a dirty glass.

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#22 04.24.12 11:39am

jmartin291
Member
From: Clinton, MA
Registered: 06.09.08
Posts: 642

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

Gus,

I have gone through the audited financials for the Town for 2010 and while the revolving accounts are accounted for, they are not broken out.  I've asked the Town Accountant and info'ed the Treasurer to see if there is a comprehensive accounting of all revolving accounts. More to follow on that.

Town Meeting gets to allocate money in the "General Fund". That's it.  We (Town Meeting participants) don't get to allocate money in the revolving accounts.  I'm not saying it makes sense or is the right way to do things but those are the rules (DoR I think).  Should they be changed? Maybe and maybe not.  Either way, it would be more transparent if, as an addendum to the Town's Financials or maybe the Finance Committee report, each revolving account was presented showing income (by source) and expenditures during the past Fiscal Year.

Health Care, Medicare, retirement contributions are all carried on the Treasurer's budget.  Fuel is carried on the DPW budget (DPW pays for all Town vehicle fuel).  Depreciation is not a "General Fund" item but is carried on the Town's audited Financial Statements; although not broken out for Ambulance or Rubbish Enterprise funds because they are not large enough to be broken out separately under government accounting rules.  From a business unit analysis standpoint, would it make sense for each of these expenses to show up in each Enterprise Fund's account? Absolutely.  That way we could tell if it really makes sense for the Town to operate an Ambulance company and Rubbish company.  Right now this appears to be a "bridge too far".  We can't even get them (the Board of Selectmen) to respond to requests for their minutes within the time limit established by law.

The thing to understand with all these "budgets" is that they are, in some cases, not representative of the entire cost (or income) of each department.  It is what each department wants from the Town's "General Fund".  The General Fund receives a portion of Clinton's "State Aid" and the taxes we pay here in town.

Regionalization – The Chairman of that Sub-Committee is, I believe, Selectman LeBlanc.  To my knowledge he has not yet called a meeting of the Sub-Committee.  JRW, who posts here, is a member of that Sub-Committee.  Are we missing the boat on regionalization? Absolutely.

Head count – Of the two positions you point out, the Council on Aging position exists already and is filled.  It is part-time.  The plan is to change this position to full time.  The Dog Officer is a vacant position that the Town is trying to fill.  This position could be the subject of a new thread.  See my 4/18/2012 post above.

I concur with Murph – You need to run for Selectmen next year.


Ezra 9:3

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#23 04.25.12 8:39am

gusweber
Member
From: Lydia Lane
Registered: 01.13.09
Posts: 30
Website

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

jmartin291 wrote:

Gus,

I have gone through the audited financials for the Town for 2010 and while the revolving accounts are accounted for, they are not broken out.  I've asked the Town Accountant and info'ed the Treasurer to see if there is a comprehensive accounting of all revolving accounts. More to follow on that.

Town Meeting gets to allocate money in the "General Fund". That's it.  We (Town Meeting participants) don't get to allocate money in the revolving accounts.  I'm not saying it makes sense or is the right way to do things but those are the rules (DoR I think).  Should they be changed? Maybe and maybe not.  Either way, it would be more transparent if, as an addendum to the Town's Financials or maybe the Finance Committee report, each revolving account was presented showing income (by source) and expenditures during the past Fiscal Year.

Health Care, Medicare, retirement contributions are all carried on the Treasurer's budget.  Fuel is carried on the DPW budget (DPW pays for all Town vehicle fuel).  Depreciation is not a "General Fund" item but is carried on the Town's audited Financial Statements; although not broken out for Ambulance or Rubbish Enterprise funds because they are not large enough to be broken out separately under government accounting rules.  From a business unit analysis standpoint, would it make sense for each of these expenses to show up in each Enterprise Fund's account? Absolutely.  That way we could tell if it really makes sense for the Town to operate an Ambulance company and Rubbish company.  Right now this appears to be a "bridge too far".  We can't even get them (the Board of Selectmen) to respond to requests for their minutes within the time limit established by law.

The thing to understand with all these "budgets" is that they are, in some cases, not representative of the entire cost (or income) of each department.  It is what each department wants from the Town's "General Fund".  The General Fund receives a portion of Clinton's "State Aid" and the taxes we pay here in town.

Regionalization – The Chairman of that Sub-Committee is, I believe, Selectman LeBlanc.  To my knowledge he has not yet called a meeting of the Sub-Committee.  JRW, who posts here, is a member of that Sub-Committee.  Are we missing the boat on regionalization? Absolutely.

Head count – Of the two positions you point out, the Council on Aging position exists already and is filled.  It is part-time.  The plan is to change this position to full time.  The Dog Officer is a vacant position that the Town is trying to fill.  This position could be the subject of a new thread.  See my 4/18/2012 post above.

I concur with Murph – You need to run for Selectmen next year.

I agree that the budget process here seems to be a bit of a elementary exercise, which is really a shame.  I've been watching this process for the past 3 years and every year continue to be more and more flummoxed by what we're doing.  I've asked Mike Ward 4 times what I need todo to throw my hat into the ring for the finance committee, each time I've never gotten an answer. 

I'm not proposing that we slash the budget blindly, but that we stop and look at the full picture, and consider all options to ensure that we're funding to the right levels each of the core services of that the town provides.  It may mean that some services are right-sized downward, while others upward.  Having full fiscal transparency  is, IMHO the first step.  Second step is getting people to actually put thought and effort into discussion (beyond the forum here).

I'll head to to the BOS meeting tonight.

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#24 04.25.12 9:22am

Jester
Member
Registered: 10.28.11
Posts: 124

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

gusweber wrote:

I agree that the budget process here seems to be a bit of a elementary exercise, which is really a shame.  I've been watching this process for the past 3 years and every year continue to be more and more flummoxed by what we're doing.  I've asked Mike Ward 4 times what I need todo to throw my hat into the ring for the finance committee, each time I've never gotten an answer. 

I'm not proposing that we slash the budget blindly, but that we stop and look at the full picture, and consider all options to ensure that we're funding to the right levels each of the core services of that the town provides.  It may mean that some services are right-sized downward, while others upward.  Having full fiscal transparency  is, IMHO the first step.  Second step is getting people to actually put thought and effort into discussion (beyond the forum here).

I'll head to to the BOS meeting tonight.

Gus, you can count on my vote for selectman, too.  I really hope you consider running next year.

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#25 04.25.12 3:05pm

jmartin291
Member
From: Clinton, MA
Registered: 06.09.08
Posts: 642

Re: Town Budget Fiscal Year 2013

gusweber wrote:

I agree that the budget process here seems to be a bit of a elementary exercise, which is really a shame.  I've been watching this process for the past 3 years and every year continue to be more and more flummoxed by what we're doing.  I've asked Mike Ward 4 times what I need todo to throw my hat into the ring for the finance committee, each time I've never gotten an answer. 

I'm not proposing that we slash the budget blindly, but that we stop and look at the full picture, and consider all options to ensure that we're funding to the right levels each of the core services of that the town provides.  It may mean that some services are right-sized downward, while others upward.  Having full fiscal transparency  is, IMHO the first step.  Second step is getting people to actually put thought and effort into discussion (beyond the forum here).

I'll head to to the BOS meeting tonight.

Gus,

For reasons unknown, the Town Moderator appoints individuals to the Finance Committee.  I believe that all the slots on that committee are currently full.  Someone will need to leave the board and the Moderator will  need to know your name in order for you to be considered.  I don't know that there is an "application process" but you could ask the Chairman of the Finance Committee, James Tomolo, CPA, at the next Finance Committee meeting or contact him at his office.  I think he is currently on vacation, though.  While not yet set, they might meet Tuesday, May 1st.

I'll see you tonight.


Ezra 9:3

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