Saturday, August 28, 2010

A simple five-point plan

Guest article by Jim Pierce, Sandwich selectman

The proposal below addresses only four of the five big slices of the Town of Sandwich budget pie as shown on chart 5 of the August 5th presentation to the selectmen. The intent is to look at the 22% that goes to Gen. Gov't Operating, the 21% combine shown as Employee Related and State & County Assessments, and touch briefly on the 7% labeled debt. The 48% shown as School Operating Budget is the province of the School Committee.

If you want to skip the details, then scroll down to where it says PLAN and save yourself some pain.

To understand what's going on you also need to be familiar with chart 4 of the July 22nd presentation. The pie chart shows that the money comes from three places. Tax bills account for 74%. State aid provides 15% and most of the rest, 8%, comes from local receipts. The first simple fact is that by the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts those two pies must be equal. That is the definition of a balanced budget.

First let's look a the big piece of the income pie. For the current fiscal year the dollar amount is just under $45.2 million. Proposition 2.5 allows that number to grow by 2.5% in FY12. Estimated new growth will add another 1%. Doing the math, 3.5% of $45.2M adds about $1.58M to the income pie.

Now let's look at the 15% state aid piece. In FY09 the two biggest pieces of that, Discretionary and Chapter 70, added up to $9.25M.

In FY11 the total of those two was $8.45M. There is every reason to believe the downward trend will continue. The assumptions built into the FY12 budget projection include another 5% reduction in "discretionary" and flat Chapter 70. That pokes an $850,000 hole in the $1,580,000 growth from tax revenue. Local receipts have been relatively flat at $4.8M plus or minus $50,000 for four years. So, there will be no help from there.

Summarizing, the "income" pie will grow by about $730,000 in FY12 vs FY11. That assumes no further cuts in state aid, which is not entirely a safe assumption.

Now let's take a look at the "expenses" pie. The Gen. Gov't employees accepted a "pay freeze" in FY10 and the current year, FY11. The total "pay check" for all 173 employees is $10.5M. What might the employees have gotten if they had taken the town to arbitration? Let's just pick a number out of the air, 2%. That would have added $210,000 in FY10. That would have persisted as part of the base for another 2% in FY11. The FY11 increase would be another $215,000. Adding 210 plus 210 plus 215 comes to $645,000 cost avoidance over the last two fiscal years. Thank you, town employees!

In order to secure that second year "pay freeze" the town contracted with the municipal employees for a 3% raise in each of FY12 and FY13. What does that 0,0,3,3 mean? Over a four year period raises for Gen Gov't employees will average 1.5%. Adding in step raises included in the contract of about 1.25% and you get 2.75%. The "income" pie is growing at a little over 3.25%. That says something very important. Gen Gov't salaries will not add to the "structural deficit" over that four year period. And, if future increases are held around 2% the whole system is sustainable indefinitely within Proposition 2.5.

But, looking at FY12 alone, the 3% plus steps adds about $450,000 to the total Gen Gov't "paycheck". Remember, the whole "income" pie is only projected to grow by $730,000 and that has to be shared over the whole "expenses" pie.

If we look at the Employee/Assessment piece of the "expenses" pie, what do we find? Health Insurance up $400,000, county retirement up $150,000, liability insurance, unemployment and Medicare up a combined $150,000. That total of $700,000 does include the school system portion, which is about $500,000.

Summarizing: The town contracted for a $450,000 pay increase for Gen Gov't employees in exchange for a $645,000 two year savings and getting on a long term sustainable track. Cost elements largely controlled outside the town will grow by $700,000. The revenues available will grow by $730,000. This is the definition of the proverbial rock and hard place.

On top of that, some of our buildings are in need of repair. The Capital Improvement Planning Committee says about $25 million worth. However, they paired it down to a $5.25 million immediate need.

PLAN (Only deals with General Gov't, Employee and Assessment costs)

The problem is simple:
- The Gen. Gov't needs an operating cash injection via Prop 2.5 override, annual impact $750,000.
- The town needs a capital injection via debt exclusion, annual impact $550,000 ($5.25M financed over 20 yrs)
- The timing sucks!

Five Points

1. In 2005 the voters authorized a $2.5M override of Proposition 2.5. Later that year, the voters accepted a $500,000 "underride." Asking the voters to "override the underride" would provide two-thirds of the $750,000 leaving $250,000.

2. The state legislature provided us with an "opportunity" to add an estimated $137,000 to local receipts by raising the meal tax 0.75%. Grab that opportunity, and $250,000 becomes $113,000.

3. The Board of Selectmen has been "jawboning" Pay-As-You-Throw to death for months. There is a proven track record in over 130 communities that says Sandwich will save at least $125,000 in tipping fees alone. That also goes to local receipts. The $750,000 is gone, and, at no time did my fingers leave my hands. "Overriding the underride" does add about $50/yr to the average tax bill.

4. In 2000 Sandwich adopted the Community Preservation Act and added a 3% CPA surtax on top of property taxes. When 3% is applied to $45.2 million the total surtax is $1,356,000. One-third of that is $452,000. A Town Meeting vote coupled to a ballot question could reduce the surtax from 3% to 2%. That's a genuine, no smoke-and-mirrors tax reduction of about $42/yr for the average taxpayer.

5. The debt exclusion of $5.25 million financed over 20 years would cost the average taxpayer about $52 the first year decreasing to about $30 in year 20. That's an average of about $41/yr. A Town Meeting vote coupled to a ballot question is required for a debt exclusion. What is proposed is a shift of priorities from CPA activities to repairing our crumbling infrastructure.

Questions left open:

- Will the voters say, "Thanks for the tax reduction, but, no way on the debt exclusion"?

- How long will the $750,000 combined override, meal tax and PAYT last?

- What will the school system ask for?

55 comments:

  1. The problem as I see it Jim is: you have no "plan."

    Spending exceeds revenue so your "plan" is: raise taxes and fees.

    How about a "plan" that better aligns spending and revenue?

    Jim: Why not a serious effort to fix the problem? Why not a "plan" to reduce expenses?

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  2. Amen JTD!
    Here’s my plan. Ma state law imposes a hard cap on property tax increases (2.5%). This town regularly contracts to spend more than the legally allowed annual tax increase. Union wages increase on average (5.5%). Why this purposeful deficit spending is not considered a crime beats me. Time for the Town Manager, Selectmen and School Committee to do what state law compels and limit spending to what the law allows for tax (revenue) growth. How’s that for a plan?

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  3. Jim: thank you for at least putting your position in writing. I, however, am disappointed with your approach. You sound like politicians and government fans at all levels. When you say the "gen. gov't needs" and the "town needs" more money. When your "plan" is to raise more money primarily by increasing payments from taxpayers, you lose me completely. This is not the time to be thinking like that. In my business, I see employees taking pay cuts without the contractual promise of later increases. I see cost cutting in many forms. These employees and business owners, like myself, are also your taxpayers.

    On the subject of the crises in the condition of buildings, please explain a little more about how this has come to be. Every time I make a budget and underfund maintenance, it's a conscious decision. Has this subject been discussed with respect to every budget leading up to the current circumstances? Whose initial responsibility is this item? If some of these capital assets get repaired, will maintenance be properly funded in the future and what will this do to the annual budget?

    So as not to sound totally contrary, I do like the idea of reducing or even eliminating the CPA. Hasn't the seduction of matching state funds pretty well dried up anyhow?

    And, if "pay as you throw" is a cost cutting winner, stop talking it to death, as you say, and get it implemented.

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  4. Spike and JTD, You seem to be thoughtful individuals. The reason I put my position in writing is precisely to encourage debate. I do understand your point about cost cutting and reducing expenses. You are probably not retired. I am, so, I have time to paw through the data. The same information available to me is available to anyone on the town web site. Bud Dunham did a particularly good job of explaining what has been done over the last 5 years to control expenses. His charts from the last 4 BoS meetings are on the web site. For the first time in memory Gen Gov't salaries are sustainable within Prop 2.5 A lot of hard work has gone into reducing the growth in health insurance costs to 5% from double digits in FY06-FY09. Sandwich's Gen Gov't runs on about 2/3's the staffing level of comparable towns. If you have time, check the data. The sorry state of our infrastructure is the responsibility of past Boards of Selectmen. This BoS has the fortitude to ask the voters to address the problem. As you see I propose to fund that with a corresponding CPA surtax cut. Why not do away with CPA altogether? Town Meeting actions have already committed us to the tune of $25 million. We still are on the hook for those bills. Perhaps you'd care to identify yourselves with an e-mail to hawkeyejw@aol.com and we can discuss this further.

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  5. Jim:
    With all due respect and credit to Mr. Dunham and the town’s employees who have foregone raises, you really can not point to a single, significant change effected by the Town in the last 7 years besides the insurance coverage election change, (taxpayers still pay 75% of benefits) that has led to significant and real cost reductions.
    Worse yet, foregoing raises is actually a very discouraging signal to this taxpayer that management lacks the vision and will-power to effect real structural change.
    Mr. Dunham’s accomplishments (and they are accomplishments) consist largely of postponing expenditures or avoiding expenditures (like the much delayed capital improvements and building maintenance).
    Its really past time to prioritize spending, cut the extras and live within our means.
    The crux of our deficit problem is that this Town has never operated within the limits of Prop 2 ½. Bud and his managers and apparently you have simply banked on regular (but infrequent) overrides to cover the systematic and regular overspending of Town tax revenues.
    Frankly, its grotesque that Mr. Dunham and you Selectmen and the Finance Committee haven’t been able to make do on 3%, 3.5% and 4% revenue growth (tax increases!) year over year.
    And, its somewhat insulting to see all of the time, energy and effort Mr. Dunham and his team have poured into rationalizing and justifying overrides instead of reinventing and redefining government and its services.
    All you’ll get from me is what the law allows and nothing more - make it work!

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  6. No.....the answer is no.

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  7. Mr. Pierce, you sound like Obama. He blames Bush, you blame previous Selectmen. Suck it up and do what is necessary, not stick it to the Taxpayer.

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  8. When I am hurting why does government hurt me to protect itself?

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  9. Let me see if I can actually get off of my 'fat couch' here and make some sense of this rocket science being proposed. What you fail to accept Mr Pierce is that the can still needs to be kicked down the road until either spending is brought under control to match the tanked economy or until the leadership develops a tax base to support these desires. Its easy to blame the former boards for inaction but it is your can now. Your tactic of throwing the problem onto the voters is not creating debate its making people more angry, if that is possible. So lets consider what happens if we all 'Just Say No' to the debt exclusion and an override for the schools. The street in front of my house will go another 5 years without paving so that means over ten years without repair, but I will drive on that road to get to work because I have too. I can compare deferring the maintenance on my street to the same maintenance I have deferred on my furnace. Its going to go....but...right now...I have to wait untill the economic picture improves. Those who are proposing to close the transfer station are just doing what state government does...cut the programs that hurt the voters the most, the voter can't decide where to reduce the operating budget...but we will show you what happens when you vote down a 2 and 1/2 override. It seems so simple in my own home. If we don't have the money, we don't spend it, we don't charge it, we live without it. Increasing taxes, fees or spending at this time isn't logical, its the easy way. But I think that you don't feel the pain Jim. You can't feel the pain and suggest a debt exclusion. I think you may have helped me to enlist another dozen patriots for the 'Just Say No' campaign. But then again, I only have to sit here on my 'fat couch' and wait for the fall elections....the power of the vote is going to be immense this year. I wonder just how far we can kick the can?

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  10. Mr. Pierce, what you fail to be critical of is the real culprit, the Deval Patrick admunistration and one party legislature. They spend like drunken sailors and then places the burden to balance their state budget on the shoulders of the property owners in Towns like Sandwich, by reducing their funding to municipalities. Stop askingme to pay for their incompetence.

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  11. Yes folks, its a double whammy. First they increase the sales tax by 25% not including add ons such as the sales tax on my beer, and a myriad of other smaller taxes, but they also take away, from me, the taxpayer, some of the money they send back. Then, this wonderful one party system supports a union that holds all of us hostage under the pretense of helping the children.


    Its a NO BRAINER Mr. Pierce, its NO, NO, and NO again. Remeber this if you run again, they will come to me once and I will say NO, they will come to me again and I will say NO, They come a third time and I will say READ MY PEN SCRATHES AT THE POLLS....NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.

    Enough is enough. Fire stations for more than a third of the town are not as important as town hall, dumps are not important for the health and safety of the community, human recources for such a small community is overpaid and overstaffed, DPW is pulling signs while claiming to be over worked and understaffed when the building department is responsible, police meet in the parking lot of the Assembly of God twice a day for coffee and doughnuts, teachers get a 7.5% when there is no money and I get a 20% cut.

    I need a new roof, my gutters need to be replaced, my windows need to be replaced. Guess what, I "ain't got the money, so it ain't gonna get done". If I have to save to get it done, then so too will the town, and, they can figure it out. We have been screwed for the past 25 years, especailly the people of East Sandwich.

    34B

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  12. Randy. I find it almost comical when the newest elected (Is it OK to say elected even if he was annointed by being the only one to run?) selectman puts forth his demands on the voters and then slinks off to spread his gospel of failure! I am impressed that his attempt to convince us of our apathy raised such a red flag with respondents. If we were to use your blog as a litmus test and worked our sharp pencils to gin up some rocket science numbers..can you imagine the intensity of anger that a debt exclusion really causes in this town? The tactic of throwing information out there to see what sticks on the wall just doesn't work these days. I am sure he thinks he solved the problem by dropping a line or two on the blog. Here's hoping that he at least comes back to read the pain others have written. This isn't debate...... there is real anger out here. 'Just Say No' grows in intensity each day in the hearts of those who feel real pain because of the economy. Your blog is a great way for us to vent.... even though I am not sure that he really cares what the average joe thinks. Thanks for being here Randy.

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  13. Greg, you are correct, Mr. Pierce has been fierce in his criticism of voter apathy. Has anyone check on his voter and attendance at Town Meetings record? This information is in the public domain and can be obtain at the Town Clerk's office. I wish I had the time to go there myself and check on this.

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  14. To 34B anonymous:

    Regarding your DPW remark ("DPW is pulling signs while claiming to be over worked and understaffed when the building department is responsible"), I have to be fair here and point out that it was the state DPW, not the town's DPW, that was pulling campaign signs.

    That correction does not take away at all from your larger point.

    Randy

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  15. Mr. Pierce I was wondering why we only have two choices on the disposal issues? How about just doubling the fee charged now? How about eliminating one work day from the present schedule. Have the transfer station only open 5 days a week. That would be a good savings I would think.

    As far as the overide goes, we keep hearing let the people decide, well let the people decide as to what they are willing to pay for and unbundle all the different needs and put a cost to each need.
    You just may get something passed out of the needs, because going the other way is a death sentance for any type of an capitol overide.

    If we attempt to place one capitol overide before the taxpayers, the people will decide that they do not need it and will vote NO. How does one determine the priority of any need, should it all be placed as a single event. If it did pass, you and I know that some things that had been placed a need would be side tracked and never get done at all. My suggestion does have some merit and logic as to unbundling and place each need with its cost to let the people make the call as to what they feel is important to them. Perhaps we only get one need funded, by this process, but that may be better then going for the whole bowl of needs, especially during these hard economic times.

    Now when the next override is proposed in the spring for salary purposes, be sure to also have both the munisple and school seperated out for the people to choose where they may want to spend there money on.

    Now as to the CPA money, it is time to stop the bleeding a little for those of us that do not get a cost of living increase and reduce the percentage taken out in taxes by one percent over the next three years and give that money back to the people. As long as we continue to have funding, we will never stop finding a way to spend it and adding to our deficit problems overall.

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  16. All bets are off when this hurricane Earl smokes Cape Cod. There will be some serious finger pointing come Saturday afternoon when the Police and Fire Dept are under water. The debt exclusion will be the least of this towns worries

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  17. Mr. Pierce, the person who suggested the town double the dump sticker fee. It is a good idea proposed at open forum by two different taxpayers, and, of course, in five ears and out the other five. I can't understand why this would not be considered. Twice the fee would still be less than hiring a private trash pick up company.

    The writer mentions "unbundling". I am not sure what that means because to my knowledge, nothing that the voters will need to vote on is bundled as yet.

    The writer has now written to you which is different for him as he usually writes to Randy. You should be honored. As for his comment which reads in part "You and I know", I would have said "as most of us who follow town government know".

    By the way, what is meant by "capitol", it it a new way to say "capital"?, "munisple"? "overide"?

    Luigi

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  18. Mr. Wack, are you not happy you came to Sandwich?

    Savanah Huglenaglle Forest

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  19. To the honorable Mr. Johansen, If we doubled the sticker fee, in theory that would work, but practically speaking, many people will just double up. They are doing now. Someone in the neighborhood becomes the designated dumper, loads his car, van, or truck and takes two, three, or four other families' trash and dumps it.

    I am a business investor, so am I now a CAPIOLIST and not a CAPITALIST.

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  20. Here is another question for you....town hall this part week was busy as a beaver signing up for employment 50 NEW employees. Not 10, not 25, not 37, not 46.....50 brandy new, minty fresh employees. In all fairness I do not know how many are being refilled due to retirement etc. What department you ask? School Department. On another blog I saw a phrase that fits perfectly. "Whisling past the graveyard." Oh....the question, is there a need for an override then?

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  21. To Anonymous 9/4 1:38 PM


    ?

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  22. There is no question. The school dept this past week had town hall/HR set up payroll for 50, yes 50, NEW employees. Don't believe it? Call town hall Tuesday and verify it for yourself.

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  23. 1:38 ---

    Your half a story is worse than no story. I'm sure your goal is just to stoke the rumor mill -- but here's 2 important questions that you don't answer --

    1) How many School employees are being replaced through retirements, resignations, etc.

    2) How many of these new employees are part-timers who may be replacing full-timers (saving benefits costs)

    I bet if you have the new hire info, you could also go back to your desk and get the answer to these questions too!

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  24. read Anon 1:38 again....it answers your two questions

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  25. Luigi, you obviously are not a COMCAST customer or the concept of bundling as Mr Pierce presents it would be easily understood. Carl is one of my strongest reasons for supporting the 'Just Say No' to any tax increase be it the debt exclusion or a 2 1/2 override for the schools and here is why. Mr Pierce, our newest selectman has the audacity to throw out his version of lets make a deal. We really don't have any choices within the deal, its all or nothing. Carl is recommending that the selectmen should break up the debt exclusion into a list that we, the voting public, should prioritize and Carl forgive me if I am misrepresenting your thought, the same thing could be done with the schools. If Mr Pierce continues to insult the voting public by chastising them, perhaps he should consider what he really is offering to the voters. Maybe the voters could decide where the money should be spent. A new public safety building? Not in the cards for this year, I would rather fix those safety issues that threaten our brave firefighters and policemen. I did away with Comcast because their bundling of services led to an unaffordable monthly bill. It was my way or the highway for them, so I gave them the boot and put a dish on the roof. Now, the only similarity I see between Comcast and the suggestion offered by Mr Pierce is the shell game played with the voters. Carl has a great idea, one that more voters would support for a debt exclusion. I am not sure how the selectmen could package funding for such a deal. As it is, they just seem to want it their way and its our fault if we don't support it. Just Say No Luigi...somehow, the taxpayer has to be heard.

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  26. I support an all or nothing because it will force the town, both non-school and school, to figure out a way of paying for the proposed capital expenditures. In other words, they will have to cut programs.

    Rick S.

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  27. Sleepless in SandwichSeptember 6, 2010 at 7:09 AM

    Mr. Pierce, let's get the voters to vote for a "small" debt exclusion and then work towards and override. No need to try to bridge the gap, just go for the override. I voted for you (had no choice) to watch out for MY interests. Look at the waste in the schools and general government. You supposed leaders do not listen to the waste THE TAXPAYERS see, but to the noise of the empty drums of your boards.

    I am sick of government taking and taking from myself and from my family, but only feeding their own insatiable appetite. With all the latest tax increases by the Federal, State, and Local government with less and less service, I wonder how long before the masses truly do start to understand how much all the phonies are killing the hand that feeds them.

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  28. To all of the above, did you here Thursday's Selectmen's meeting (September 2, 2010)? On top of a Debt Exclusion for several projects totaling approximately $5million, the Capital Improvement Planning Committee (CIPC) strongly suggested the Selectmen add approximately another $400,000 to the override as contingency funds. That's right more debt (taxes) but without specifying a "project" for the money, in other words, give us your money before time and we will eventually decide what to do with it.
    This idea is crazy, crazy, crazy. Don't these morons know what's going on in our country? Don't they have any feelings, or compassion for those who are struggling?
    The voters should say no to all of this. There hasn't been a serious conversation by the Selectmen on any of this. I hear one voice and only one voice, where are the other Selectmen voices? I want to know their position and rationale if they support this Debt exclusion. They haven't even thought of using a Capital Debt exclusion for a limited project scenario.

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  29. Sleepless in Sandwich is right on the money. Blogs, newspaper letters, and talk around town point out many forms of waste in town government. Mr. Pierce claims to want to be open and listen to the people. What about a meeting in the High School Cafeteria. Have people speak on the waste, take it in, and then go back and find a way to fix it. That would be community service, open government, and problem resolution all in one.

    You Selectmen have not worked very hard on cleaning up the waste. Once you do that you can ask me for more money, otherwise the answer is no.

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  30. Greg you have explained my thoughts in regards to unbundling the Debt exclusions, both from the School and Municiple side. As having watched the process from the beginning, the words I keep hearing [LET THE VOTERS DECIDE} does not in any form or fashion allow the taxpayer to do just that. It is a nothing or all approach and with todays economic downfalls, we the taxpayers should be giving that guidance to the problems at hand to determine what we are willing to give and what we are willing to give up.

    Does it make any sense to invest money on a problem that only is going to be a band aid approach and actually result in placing good money after bad?

    Lets start the ball rolling on building a new fire and police station along with other town offices in the center of Sandwich, where it will better serve all of Sandwich and further the safety of every citizen in Sandwich for years to come.

    Just throwing out some of my thoughts, especially when those in charge seem to have a one track mind when it comes to how we should do things , going forward.

    The taxpayers who get to pay the bills should be the ones who decide the fate of any debt exclusion and not some self serving enity that will be getting a little help in finances.

    As far as the matter of the choices when it comes to the transfer station that is strictly in the hands of the Board of Selectman, but once again the voice of the people should be heard to help in this process and not jam any proposal upon those of us, that use this service.

    Given that this editorial was started by a sitting member of the board of Selectman=, I find it rather disheartning that Mr> Peirce did not continue with his dialog,when questions were asked of him here.

    Let the citizens decide there own fate, give us a choice,rather then just `put it out,that this is the only way to go. If the path chosen is continued then I fear that an overide for any debt will go down in flames, where as given a more prudant approach to allow the taxpayers to choose what they feel is important may just result in at least some getting approved. It is all about how you approach the hurdles before the town. I would like to see if some of the needs can be supported, individually. Is it better to ask for the whole pie or part of one

    Carl Johansen
    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

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  31. I strongly agree with Mr. Johansen when he mentions that Mr. Pierce started this thread, but does not get involved with the it in so far as responding to some of the statements made.

    The Selectmen are a far cry from what they were several years ago. They totally lack in leadership. Rather than role up their sleaves, they start by saying "how can we screw the public to get this override, debt exclusion money".

    The pig that is government for once is on the run. Let's keep it that way.

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  32. Carl, I agree with most of your ideas and your repeated attempts to get the selectmen to at least consider another way of getting it done. I know they hear what you are saying but unfortunately they are hunkering down so they don't get hit by shrapnel during the upcoming elections. The one item that I agree with is to give our police and firefighters a new place to hang their hats. That new public safety facility should be the only goal right now. Close those old money pits down and give them a decent place to work. But the selectmen will not allow us to choose. I think their attitude is best reflected by the chairman when he stated that going with 'pay as you throw' at the dump could (?) have political consequences. Could? You betcha! It will stir up a hornets nest. I miss the days when the selectmen would challenge each other and the public professionally. Randy was outstanding at calling a spade a spade. That is why my vote for Randy is in the ballot box, guaranteed, because I know he is a man of his word. I am not sure any of these selectmen have the attributes necessary for real interaction with the public. The same problem exists ten fold with the new school committee makeup. So Carl, I apologize for not being as flexible as you. You have been an active participating member of the community for years. I just can't accept the methods being used by our elected officials (please notice I did not say leaders!) I only hope that the angry majority, the people who feel pain everyday trying to meet the tax burden that currently exists...I hope they will 'Just Say No'!

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  33. Greg, you have now convinced me. I am with you. Just say NO!

    The Selectmen lack gumption and I will not vote for them. I do feel it is important that other folks in town express how they feel. If they don't, these guys might squeak one through to the deteriment of the taxpayers. Although I don't care much for Mr. Pierce (as a Selectmen), I like the fact that he writes in Public and lets us know where he stands.

    Barrette was a big mistake. People like him because they think he is smart, but the question should be: what is his agenda.

    Gus

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  34. Gus, thanks for hearing me. There are times that I fear Randy will slash me for my repetitive rhetoric of 'Just Say No' yet after reading the most recent Sandwich Enterprise article concerning our finance committee being left out of the loop on this debt exclusion....now, now I am beginning to feel like Howard Beale. Why does Bill Deidering III, a former straight talking selectman, have to ask for a budget before the over ride or debt exclusion is proffered to the voters? The Board of Selectmen shoot right for the debt exclusion without really trying to adjust the budget. Tell me what the town needs gentlemen, not what you want! I am beginning to feel the accumulative negative effects of debt burden that I cannot control...in fact...I am getting mad! I hope Randy can let the attached link to You Tube run...its a classic....and it really portrays the way the average homeowner in this town feels...I am mad as hell....and I will 'Just Say No"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WINDtlPXmmE&feature=related

    Thanks for listening!

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  35. Greg, your articulation of the problem is right on. I doubted myself when I thought that maybe there was something wrong with coming out of the gate with an override without the figures. They did not even try!

    Where is the Sandwich Taxpayer's Association. Are they really an organization or just two people who say they represent all the taxpayers.

    All I want is fairness.

    Just Say No.


    Gus

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  36. I guess it doesn't take long for the ranters to be shushed into a corner. I am having nightmares, vision of TQM and ISO 9000 whenever a suggestion box appears. Everyone involved in management programs realize where those suggestions go, yup,the circular file....so, I guess those of us who rant have no opinions of value! Pick thru the anger and frustration and any intelligent selectman would realize that we are asking for no increase to our tax burden. Since they can't develop taxable business in this town, dare I bring up the failed Golden Triangle? The failed Shaws supermarket, that leaves the easy way out. Debt exclusion or a prop 2 1/2 override. I am beginning to feel like a commercial for the Republican party. Reduce the size of government, don't employ what you can't afford, downsize the budget from the spend-freely years. Just Say No is my last rant. They won't accept my suggesiton....and that makes people angry. Why can't we Just Say No and cut the fat that exists, fat that will hurt but fat that was gained when we were all eating those high calorie sub prime mortages! Its important to listen to people ranting....important to read between the lines because a lot of folks feel the same way. Make our homes affordable in the town of sandwich...that is my dream....that is becoming a nightmare. I rant....no more. Just Say No!

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  37. Please Vote No! To Whom It May Concern;

    Our Town Manager treats the elected Boards like Mushrooms, he feeds them crap and keeps them in the dark. Its is a simple Modus operandi, every year he comes to us with his humor and antics and slings us the same story that he crunched the numbers every which way but we're still not going to make it.
    He then calls the local papers (who only publish what pleases the town) and paints the picture of what a fabulous job his employees and departments head have done to get by with little or no help. Every year he pulls out the comparison numbers of the surrounding towns and points out how x-y-z town has 5 times the staff compared to our little nestle of heaven.
    My question is how come each year all these other towns keep on increasing their staffing? Why do we never seem to get the numbers correct and yet we see huge lots of money go out the door and presto its for some pipe dreamers project that is not a priority.
    I have a simple plan to follow - "A five point plan"
    1. Re-dedicate the nice new Town Hall
    2. Walk the Town Managers, HR Director and Town Accountant in the front door and out the back door (buh-bye)
    3. Hire a T.M. that works for the people
    4. Hire an HR person that was not the former Planning and Development Director and someone who specializes in Human Resources.
    5. Eliminate the money pit botched projects (I.E. golf course, oakcrest cove and the wonderful useless workamper program)

    "He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it."
    - Plato

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  38. Its been awhile and its obviouis that Mr Pierce will never respond to any remark that does not align with his stars. After all, a rocket scientist doesn't always have to have the correct numbers do they? Just ask the russians...they crash them all the time. However, sharp pencils and fat couches aside, I wonder how the elected officials feel about todays announcement that our federal government will, once again, withhold any COLA for the Social Security masses. I guess their pencils are sharper than Mr Pierce's. The cost of living isn't higher at all...nope. So lets raise all the Senior Citizens taxes with a nice tiny debt exclusion and we can follow it up with a back breaking over ride in the spring. Now, if Obamacare doesn't kill us...the town sure will! 'Just say no' is becoming a more serious issue every day folks. So where do these folks find the money to give to the Pierce Plan? Hmmmmmmmmm I don't think it matters to him...its just numbers after all.

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  39. Very nicely put Greg. I am sure that we need part of the debt exclusion money. Let's vote NO and they will come back with what is most important.

    KJ, I find Mr. Dunham to be a good man and a good Town Manager. Sometimes you have to work with what you have and it "ain't nice". As for the HR person, why do we need two people int hat office making more than the town average? It "ain't" that way in the private sector.

    Pierce Peterson

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  40. Personalities aside, the business status of a town with the geographic location of Sandwich, should be flying high with little worries, even in trying economic times. We have management and leadership that does not see the opportunities that bely them. It is time to bring in those with serious vision and know-how for this enormously and undeservedly neglected municipality. People of Sandwich deserve to see the Village and Town blossom. The current Town administration could easily blame the dying on the vine on the economy, but Sandwich simply has no excuses to fail. Time for new leadership. Opportunities abound for Sandwich. Do not give those in current management and leader positions additional monies to squander. I agree with KJ, let's walk them out the door!

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  41. I feel that it is time to replaced most of the Selectmen. Certainly Barrette and Grundman have had a chance and have failed. Kennan is a nice man but is only inerested in being a nice man. Pierce spends too much time with the School Committee. Its almost as if he were trying to get to the next election with the school people on his side. He goes up to open forum and tells the School Committee what is happening the next night that might be of interest to them. Two things about doing that, first, the School Committee should have at least one if not all of themselves watching and second, I think they could look on the website to find out what is going on.

    Barrette, Pierce, Kennan, and Grundman always think of the schools before the Town. Let's replace them.

    As for the bundling of the debt exclusion. I previously thought it would be better to put each property up separately. I now think we should bundle them, have them lose, and scramble to put up a new one for much less money.

    Bring back Dedering, Dexter, Keyes, and Hunt.

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  42. Mr. Pierce asks the question of what will the schools ask for. They, KJ, unlike the general government are unfortunately not open to the public. There meetings are simply displays for TV. If you don't believe it, then watch some other towns if you have a chance. There is no bitching back and forth as we see with the "FAB FOUR and the "REMARKABLE THREE". All seven of them don not look at anything with an inquisitve eye.

    Take the last meeting when the Superintendent was asked where the eighth graders who left the system went by one of the "FAB FOUR" got an answer by the Superintendent that she would find out and report back. One of the "REMARKABLE THREE" asks why are we making the Supeintendent waste her time looking for those answers. Well, it could be a clue to why people are leaving the system. Obviously, it is a good system academically, so why? Did the go to Upper Cape Tech. If they did, then that might tell us that those students sought out the programs that only they can offer. Did they go to Sacred Heart or Bishop Stang. They may have gone because their parents were brought up as devout Catholics and had received such an education themselves. Did they go to one of three high tuition schools with a great name. They probably would have done so wherever the lived. Did they go to another public school? Was it a charter school. If so, what is it that the charter school offers that Sandwich does not have. If it was another non-charter public system, then why in heavan would they leave the good system that we have. Was it because of the war between the REMARKBLE THREE AND THE FABULOUS FOUR. Was it because of the perception that may be reality that there are more drugs in Sandwich High than in other High Schools. Is it because they have a better sports program.

    After all this, I just ask, why did not the Superintendent have an answer for this. This subject was brought up last year. She told us she could not find out last year because it was too late. Being too late was not the truth. All she had to and has to do is ask one of the secretaries where they sent the recors of those students who left. There must be a paper trail would not you think.

    Is the Superintendent the mushroom that is keeping the school committee in the dark.

    Let us all roll up our sleaves and start to work together. Never before have I seen such childishness on any committee.

    The school committee needs to work together instead of just trying to boost up their side in this Superintendent contract squable. The Superintendent seems to be the only one who is not childish.

    She, though, must be open and honest for the her own sake, for that of the committee and most of all for the children.

    To the "REMKABLE THREE" please stop being so nasty in your remarks, questioning anything that the "FABULOUS FOUR" want to do. To the "FABULOUS FOUR", please remember that the Superintendent is a real person with real feelings whether or not you think she is up for the job.

    Start to help stop the stupidity in this town of all the proposing to suit you personally. Its getting out of hand. The taxpayers are just thinking "NO" and you as a board know that if we do not get an override or debt exclusion it will destroy the school system, deystroy the town and most of all the children.

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  43. Jack....oh Jack. We are well past thinking about saying 'NO'. The most recent federal government decision to deny COLA for seniors should be the final straw for Selectman Pierce's ill-timed and inconsiderate plan to impose a debt exclusion on the taxpayers using the illusion of it only costing a few bucks over the years. That 10,000 pound gorilla being created by the school committee in the form of an over ride come spring...that is a very large nail they are driving into their own coffin. Reality hurts folks, it doesn't matter which name is on the school right now, the cost of that large corporation is killing the average homeowner. The pending lawsuits against the school committee for contract violations/breech of contract will be suffered by the town and please spell that 'taxpayers'. Years ago, my generation called Sandwich 'Camelot'...we didn't have a drug problem then either! Jack, you can't change the dynamics on the school committee any more than I can change Selectman Pierce's insult to the average taxpayer's intelligence! However, you have the power to 'Just Say No'. It will be interesting to see how the elected officials scramble if the debt exclusion and the over ride for the schools is rejected by 'WE' the voters. 'WE THE PEOPLE' such powerful words.....its the wrong time....the wrong request of some very hard working people.

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  44. Carl Johansen reponse to the last poster in regards to if an over ride fAILS then the school system will also fail.

    The over ride will not be passed by the majority of the Sandwich Taxpayers and that is a fact.

    It will never pass again until the Union led school committee stands up to the Union and reduces the overhead that places our school district in one million dollar structual deficit every year it remains unchanged. In case you do not know what that means, it simply means that given the present pay scale of the whole school system pay scale, no matter the circumstances the cost to operate the district will continue to escalate every year. The Union has not made any concesions and from all past history it will
    continue that way. . That is,
    until a massive layoff happens

    Given the likley loss of further dollars from a pending law suit that I am sure will be announced shortly by Union led school committee in regards to there roles in not preforming the job we all voted them in, to do. It gets even more troubling when you see the state, also enforcing unfunded mandates that cost dollars , but guess what folks they fail to provide the money that would make the program a success and allow the towns a little breathing room to survive.

    We all need to take responsibility for these actions that allowed most of the problems that have beset our schools, not only here, but in other towns as well.

    The days of a free ride in Health and welfare benifits in regards to school jobs that have been protected by the unions needs to be addresses and worked out that those employed by our towns pay a fair share of the burdan it places on the whole community of our town.
    It may just aid the towns in still providing quality education, but now it is shared by those that get a pay check from it

    It is not a simple solution, but one that needs to be addressed by those that are working in it .

    Smile, for the time is near, when we all will get the news as to how bad this present union led school committee will take our fair town ?

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen in the wonderful town of Sandwich

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  45. Johansen, do you dare tell anyone how how you know that "it is a fact that the override will not be passed by the majority of Sandwich by the majority of Sandwich taxpayers and that is a fact." Are you God that you know it is a fact? If you are, or even you are not, could you tell me what the next lottery number is going to be?

    32B

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  46. 32B, I cannot believe I have not converted you yet to the 'Just Say No In 2010' movement that truly is growing, leaps and bounds, each day that the next media release appears on TV or the local rag. It is obvious you have kids in the schools and I commend your parental zeal in protecting their future. Unfortunately, you are blinded from the reality that most older people in town are experiencing. It isn't us versus the schools...it is us versus surviving this economic hole we are all buried in. I think what Carl and myself try to say becomes an attack against the schools. Not so. We want the schools to succeed, however, we also want the schools (that includes the Committee, the Administrators and yes the parents!) to realize just how deep the hole is becoming for everyone. For once, I would like to see the Sandwich School corporation accept reality as they did today in Falmouth. Its amazing how quickly a union will bargain when they see the loss of employees, when a face is assigned to that employee number that will be eliminated. 32B, what I believe to be your corporations greatest fault is the 'absolute' refusal to ever reduce your spending. I have experienced the downside of a smaller educational program in this town. Some very bright minds (TEACHERS!) accepted the changes to the curriculum during those cutbacks and delivered an outstanding education to my kids. Once the economy bounced back, so did the programs. Its just not the right time for your corporation to insist on more when so many are struggling every day. What we need is communication and that means 'your' side of the equation, that monster of a corporation, should try to understand that we can't afford the 10,000 pound gorillas being created by the elected officials on the committee. Yes, the lawsuits will be a killer for any override you might think can be passed in the spring. Even the town manager realized the danger is linking the debt exclusion to your corporations' spring time override. Join the force 32B, it grows every day. It doesn't involve God though I assure you that Carl and I are both strong believers in his corporation. Less anger 32B, how about more understanding of the other aspect of society that helps you to educate your kids! Thanks for listening.

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  47. Carl Johansen said

    Greg I do believe you have expressed my thoughts, even better then I did. To assure those that perhaps may look in here, I am and have never been an opponant of a good quality educational process. I strongly have encouraged many youngster's to get the best educational tools they can, it is tough out here in the real world.

    It is unfortuned that some do not want to understand or care about those that are out here surviving in todays economic depression.

    We need to find as a community a finacial balance that take into account the needs of every one in that community, that is fair to every one.
    Each of us have to make adjustments in how we live and survive the decrease in cash flow.

    I realize it may be school bashing to some, but that simply is not the case. I have been an outspoken supporter for Dr.Johnson, because I believe she has made a difference in how education can be a viable enity in a reduced finacial economy.

    We all, must re-adjust our belts[to use and old expression] and see the picture through anothers eyes.

    We are not right, nor are we wrong as we all have philosophical difference as to how we anaylis some of the places one needs to take in the belt, a little.

    The educational system in todays world has been controlled by the union and not the teachers, nor the towns.
    Educational laws have been passed that directly affect how education is taught and managed, but guess what , those that pushed for these reforms did not include who would get to pay for it. Since the unions were the main push behind the unfunded mandates, why should they not also find a way to fund these programs. One way for me would be for every one to look at the Health and Welfare packages and share the cost equally between the taxpayers and those who have a good working job that pays well and gets yearly increases, no matter what the economy does.

    Most on a fixed income , must help to pay for all these cost, but they can never find enough money to pay for a roof over there headsa or pay for there own health cost/.

    These are a differant times and we need to start looking at the cost and effects in all matters that concern our town. Education, Fire and Police protection and other town services will continue to be at the forefront of how we manage our resources and are we getting the most from the investment that we can and are those that manage each budget doing the job they should, to protect the integraty of our community./ Many question's and with time the answers will come.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen in the great town of Sandwich

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  48. I think it is really important to avoid generalizations and stereotypes. I would argue that there are at least as many young families struggling in this economy as their are older folks. I would also argue that there are many older folks in Sandwich who are living a more than comfortable lifestyle.

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  49. Anon at 2:45. Anyone who is living on a pension or social security can't help but generalize our situations because we are sterotyped by the younger generations. I would not disagree one bit that the younger Sandwich residents are hurting. The endless tax increases are cutting into their available income too. What you have not experienced in your life yet, because you are younger (I have to assume that I'm sorry sorry) and still have time on your side....you do not know what its like to be in that last quarter of life without time or the ability to increase what once was an excellent retirement income. Most of us have not seen a Cost of Living Increase in over two years and we have NO way to make up for these continuous attacks on our economic stability. So we fight like hell whenever the Selectmen propose a debt exclusion during a hugh recession. They just can't wait to see if this ugly tide is going to turn. Most of us worked very hard to earn the pensions we have and many of us have had 401K's reduced to pocket change so we do share common ground with the younger generations. What we do not share is the time to rebuild our nesteggs. We do not have the health we once had when we were younger yet part time work has become almost mandatory for most of us. If you read an early message from me, I agree with you, some of those well preserved elders in town who can afford to live in East Sandwich, they do not feel the pain of the average Sandwich resident. We share more than you realize Anon at 2:45 and I hope you can see that we don't sterotype....not really....we are all in this same ugly economy. Now, if you really want to become paranoid, just take a moment to think about that white elephant sitting on the canal. That power plant is the ultimate killer for us. When we can't afford to fix roofs right now....how many years will the younger generations have to pay taxes for the loss of that plant? Nope, we are all going to suffer together on this one...well, except for those comfortable lifestyle folks who almost live in Barnstable! 'Just Say No' with me Anon and hope that Randy's idea of killing the sales tax for an over ride gets by. Its one of the few smart ideas I can get behind. We pay for things we need......not what others say we need.

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  50. Carl Johansen,
    Greg one could say that among the many residents in our fair town we do have many with financial problems. In fact one must empathise with those young families, that also feel the same difficulity as those on a fixed income..
    I am still waiting for some dialog from the gentleman who began this discussion process and has not contributed towards the evaluation of all the concerns facing the good citizens of Sandwich.

    Hopefully the new year about to come to pass will provide at least some more revenue for the town. It may not be much , but long time incremental losses in revenue sources can affect long time management of our town. It will be nice to recover a portion.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

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  51. To all this blog is the talk of the town,

    I find it odd that Mr. Hunt's blog is being viewed by all but the Selectman, Enterprise or The Broadsider.....

    What are they afraid of, the cat is out of the bag and they are heading for a rough Town Meeting. Why not get it all for all to see, write a story bring more discussion, right now its the only place where people can be fairly heard. If anyone of these poster attempted to speak their minds at any "public" forum they would be shut down and labeled as making a personal attack on poor Mr. Dunham or one of our fine elected officials. Let the voices be heard open the playing fields and shed some public light onto this very spot!

    Keep on posting Mr. Hunt, its a win-win for you!

    K.J.

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  52. KJ, I do agree with you. They are afraid and they can control at Town Meeting. Most of us would be shut down at open mike, but some, like Mr. Johansen will not be. For some reason they are all afraid of him. He should be our mouth piece.

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  53. You should get shut down at Forum if you just repeat rumors and hearsay that have no basis in fact, or if you haven't done eve the most basic research on an issue.

    Almost nobody goes to Town Meeting because a few poorly informed people waste everybody's time babbling about things that they haven't made any effort to understand.

    They need to do their homework before the meeting!

    But --- you shouldn't use that as an excuse to stay home and let the inmates run the asylum.

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  54. I don't think people are afraid of Mr. Johansen. I think they respect his honesty and straight-forwardness. There's never any question about what he really means!

    Also -- Mr. Johansen does his homework BEFORE speaking and, whether you agree with him or not, he puts a lot of effort into every presentation.

    And -- he has still been shut down several times at Public Forum -- usually for time constraints. (Although I did see an amusing dust-up with the current School Committee Chair over 1st Amendment issues!!)

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