Monday, October 18, 2010

Cutting school spending and raising taxes

On Monday, October 25th, voters in the Town of Sandwich will attend a special town meeting to decide whether to cut the school budget by nearly $400,000 and borrow $5.4 million to make improvements and repairs to town buildings.

Click here for the special town meeting warrant.

The November 2nd ballot will include a question relative to the $5.4 million debt exclusion. If town meeting fails to pass Article 2, the ballot vote will be moot. It must pass at town meeting and the ballot booth to become effective.

Where do you come down on these two issues? Vote in the poll at the right regarding the $5.4 million borrowing and log your comments here on either or both issues.


  1. Half baked (hfbkt, häf-)
    1. Only partly baked.
    2. Informal Insufficiently thought out; ill-conceived: a half-baked scheme.

    Mike Baker our Capital Improvement Planning Committee Chairman and former long-time Finance Committee Chairman is leading the charge for a massive debt exclusion. It’s ironic that Mike Baker has become the face of the override. Why?

    Well, for years the Town Manager, Selectmen and Finance Committee (which was led by Mike) crafted and executed operating budget schemes that purposefully planned (by omission) for the neglect and destruction of virtually every town hard asset.

    A careful review of past budgets, all of which that were endorsed by the Town Manager, Selectmen and Finance Committee (which was led by Mike), set aside almost nothing to finance on-going repair and improvements. The Town literally let its hard assets, like buildings, roofs, tennis courts, track and fields, etc., rot.

    Now Mike’s back. He and the Town Manager, Selectmen and Finance Committee are asking taxpayers to fix and repair everything they neglected for the past 15 years. Worse yet, us taxpayers are being asked to fix buildings for which there exists today no plans for set asides to finance on-going repair and improvements, no written maintenance plan and no maintenance resources. Taxpayers would quite literally be rebuilding assets to once again leave them to rot.

    Mike Baker’s plan is half baked and voters would be wise to vote no Monday night.

  2. Assuming Mr. Baker's hired consultant is correct, what has happened to our municipal buildings is sad. Sooner or later, we will all have to pay a large penalty for management's neglect of these assets over a long, long time. In my experience with budgets, there is no acceptable excuse for allowing deferred maintenance to continue for so long that it rises to crisis status. Deferred maintenance is always a conscious decision. Certainly not the only player, but the one constant in this long running and reckless conduct is the town manager.

    Two points: It is not the time to raise taxes; an override will have to wait. It is time for a change in professional leadership.

  3. Anon at 4:36 you hit a raw nerve that has almost died from overstimulation because of this debt exclusion. Two of the brightest minds on the finance committee agree with the average sandwich resident....why this debt exclusion now? Why jump right to the exclusion without so much as a thought towards developing a real long term plan. Actually, the best course of action is to destroy these aging facilities and reduce the footprint of our public safety work areas. Give them something safe, but only what they need. Do NOT include a new mini town hall or library or place for the part time elected officials to sit for 20 minutes a week. Anon, you hit the nail on the head. This entire debt exclusion warrant article is a bogus attempt to get a 'little' while they can. Dare I mention the 10000 pound gorilla on the canal that does not produce power anymore, let alone the impending meltdown of our failing school administration? I never did think a Bakers dozen was a real deal! I truly hope enough sandwich residents who can smell a bad deal when they hear one....I hope they 'Just Say No'

  4. I feel we're throwing good money after bad with repairs to the police and fire headquarters. This part of the country can't avoid a substantial storm forever. (Hurricane or Blizzard) It's time for new buildings away from the water and centralized for the police and fire departments. The town even has the land to build a complex on! Heck it would also possibly mean downsizing the number of firemen if we could run with one station. Proceeds from the sale of the properties could go into the general fund, after the new buildings are built. In addition, the thing that stands out the most about the override is the $300,000 for a Club House! Sorry the town shouldn't be in the golf course business, and expect folks to pay for it as part of an override. By the by new Ford Explorer for the Police? New Envoy for the new building inspector? New pick-up for the DPW? (The old one is still working and being used by the DPW.) New split rail fence at the corner of Boardley and Farmersville. Ok we could go on and on. Don't ask for an override when funds are being spent elsewhere that we may need not need to be spending.

  5. This is the best yet folks.....think about this....the school roof repairs are eligible for a state reimbursement for half the repair costs or more. And yet the debt request we vote on Monday night funds 100% of the roof repairs. That's an over charge of at least $1 - 2 million to us taxpayers! Stop the madness! Vote no.

  6. Carl Johansen would ask Greg about our long range goales for Sandwich?

    Given that Mr. Baker has been the front man for this capitol overide in attempting to sell this to the taxpayers of Sandwich, can we be assured that what has been proposed can be accomplished?
    Given our present economic picture here in Sandwich.
    My question still remains as to why was this capitol overide was not seperated out and allow the taxpayers to decide on the merits of each need?

    After all the mantra from some of the Selectman were let the votors
    decide, decide what ?

    No numbers have been spoken too as to the actual cost of each project and or what it will buy us long term.

    Mr. Pierce came before the School Committee and announced that he has all this free cash floating around and that they did not need to be concerned about some of the school budget, perhaps he may want to put some of that free cash toward some of the capitol needs instead?

    Why not take the remaining free cash and spend it on salaries as well. Our Bond ratings would go down and we all then get to pay more taxes to support all the outstanding loans the town presently has occurred.

    Great plan, but it has a few flaws.

    I urge every one that calls themself a resident of Sandwich to attend tonights town meeting. Make your vioce heard pro or con on the articles of concern for our great town

    Carl Johansen
    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

  7. Carl, trying to develop a long range plan under the current economic conditions is a tough nut to crack. The state of the economy is so poor right now, that I believe all government entities should be in a spending freeze. In our town, the elected officials (Selectmen and School Committee) automatically plan to spend the 2.5% rather than seek true efficiencies. So at this moment in time Carl I say it has to be status quo. We shouldn't have any pay raises, we shouldn't be building anything, no club house, no new vehicles, a total freeze. Someone has to step up to the plate and demand that. Our spending must equal the money coming in. The unknown is always the school funding. I enjoy reading what Randy and Tom Keyes have been saying about spending and local aid formulas. Our ability to develop a valid long range plan will probably hang on this election, we need to stop the spending spree on Beacon Hill and also the way they hurt a town like Sandwich. Until we can see the hilltops again from way down here in the bottom of the valley, we should curtail spending. I know that there will be two members of my household at the meeting tonight who will 'Just Say No' when asked to support this bandaid warrant which does nothing to stop the bleeding. We might lose the vote at town meeting tonight (it is so easy for a small group to hijack the voting percentages there!) however, I truly believe there is enough anger and frustration with the taxes currently levied, that we just might stand a chance. If this town has the courage to say no tonight, then this may be the time to develop a plan that will achieve consensus among the people who pay the bills. We need to go back to the drawing board in this town. Our elected officials need to 'hear' the people and truly consider their input. The ability to say 'No' has to be an option.
    the rush to push this debt exclusion though before the upcoming election results are known is almost unethical to me. The selectman who sponsored this exclusion is trying to grab what he can without considering the pain the rest of us are experiencing. Shame on him. Tonight, I hope we can send the message that needs to be heard.

  8. After attending BOS and Town meetings over the past year, I see a pattern. The Town Manager claims great pride in holding down the tax rate...yet the town of Sandwich is whirling out of control with inefficient personnel, rotting buildings and neglected resources. Meanwhile our Manager continues standing in his glory of all of the money he has saved the taxpayers. He doesn't take action on the need for a long term multi scene capital PLAN/TIMELINE/BUDGET. I hated to hear the news of one teacher at the Forestdale School who passed out from heat exhaustion (classroom temp so high) and had injuries so severe she had to have her jaw hinges replaced...the windows will not open and her personal fan broke part way through the day. The situation took its toll. I see this as a connection to a severe lack of planning. Care of our Town is just pitifully lacking. Our teachers and students suffer. Our resources are suffering from our part time DNR staff who are getting full time salaries. Our emergency and Town workers exist in morale depleting conditions. Our taxes are high and our Town Manager is PROUD! Who wants to move to a Town with these aching concerns. Our Town has grown stale and sad with this leadership. We need a Manager with longer range focus that can show us the potential that Sandwich can achieve. Many great and contributing residents live here. We only get one Town Manager ...we should have only the very best.

  9. Besides the "entertainment" at town meeting last night there were some enlighting points. The Oak Ridge and Forestdale School roofs were leaking within 5 years of construction. (Per Ms. Susko at the podium.) Why didn't the town take action to repair/fix the two roofs then? Go after the contractor? Ok the argument was made that we need the repairs, and we must RUSH to approve because we MIGHT miss out on funding from the state for the school roofs. A lot of if's and maybe's. If the improvements had been listed seperately then some of the them would have a better shot of getting voter approval, as is, I highly doubt it. Besides with new town vehicles, fences, trees and it would appear new employees are at the transfer station, why would we vote to raise our taxes when town management can't control how funds are spent now? Seems to me that the vehicle purchases alone would of paid for the "consultant", $100,000 as listed in the warrant, to tell us we need a new municipal complex, which many of us already know is needed. $300,000 on the clubhouse. I just can't say yes.

  10. An earlier poster said, "The unknown is always the school funding".

    For the past five years, the schools have dealt with that risk and resolved it internally with budget cuts as needed.

    There has been nothing unknown about school funding by the Town.
    The BOS determines how much the Town will contribute to the School Budget and the School Department plans accordingly. In the past 4-5 years, I have never seen them come back and ask for more.

    When state aid was cut last year, the SC Chair was the first one at the microphone at TM to endorse cutting the school budget to give money back to the Town.

    The discussion about the Schools not giving "surplus" funds back to the Town at year-end is a non-issue. Under State law, SPED tuitions for the coming school years can be paid at the end of the current school year. Given the volatility of SPED tuitions, this is a very small mitigator for what can be a very expensive, and very hard to control, budget line.

  11. I heard last night at least three times that there has not been a new town building built in the town of Sandwich in last 20 years. That, my friends, is not true. There is HUGE 50x60x30 (approx)minty fresh building here in town. Does this building house teachers? nope. Does this building house the elderly? nope. Does it house police/fire? nope. Any town worker or administrator? nope.

    it covers road salt and sand behind the DPW.

    So there!

  12. I am very torn after hearing the discussion at last night's town meeting. I was a no vote going into the meeting. Part of that was the timing of the debt exclusion and part was the inclusion of repairs to the golf course clubhouse. However, now I hear that the school roof reimbursements are time sensitive. I feel like I'm being railroaded and I don't understand why the school roof expenses were not separated into a different warrant article instead of the extremely convoluted 3-motion single article that was presented. Now, if I vote 'no' we could lose out on getting partial reimbursement for the school roof projects.

    On another note, I am very concerned about the impact of the cost overrun for the town hall project. This money is coming from the town budget? Also, if the new town hall cannot accomodate returning all workers who are currently at Oak Crest, then are we going to increase our utility and maintenance needs by having employees at both town hall and Oak Crest for the forseeable future? I remember being told the non-CPC money needed to get town hall done was minimal. Now, it doesn't look like this is the case. I feel like this happens over and over again. We are told one thing to get us to say 'yes' and then the reality is something quite different...

  13. I would like to take a line or two to thank Carl for being first up in the line of fire and he did very well. It was immediately apparent to me, sitting in the audience, that the deck was stacked to favor passing the warrant article. I wonder if people realize others can hear their conversations? No folks, we didn't stand a chance last was their battlefield and like a good football team's coach, they sure controlled the game clock. To the woman who almost brought it all to a halt, what a great idea to motion a temporary postponement I say Hoorah! I almost believed in the tooth fairy when the non-supporters started to reveal themselves. Nope, we just didn't have enough numbers but this is the nature of town meeting. What I do know is that when that article 2 passed there was a movement of people out the door. Most of us, talking to our spouses were saying the same thing...wait till November 2nd! Anytime someone tells me we have to build something new, just because Mashpee did...I want to scream! These are the same people who buried any chance of business coming to this town in the early 80's. That Mr Baker was the point man on this attack was no surprise. His 'death by powerpoint' explanation was lost in his periodic shaming of those town residents who didn't see it his way. Shame on us. We know there is a significant emotional event scheduled for all of us come spring time, a powerplant that isn't providing power and the school department in meltdown phase as I type this. They sure didn't want to talk about that either. I just know that every selectman and the town manager appeared to lose their ability to breathe when that article was challenged. Almost...almost brought reality back to the floor. I am even more angry that Mr Baker pointed a finger at the previous elected officials for their 'conservative' approach in managing the budget in past years. Please tell me why did those very elected officials stand before that microphone and arrogantly demand that we pass this article? We were shamed twice last night folks... fool me the saying goes. November 2nd is our last chance to send a message. I believe that those of us in the minority last night...will prevail. Just say no!

  14. Randy Hunt would, as a Selectman, often point out that an Override or Debt Exclusion isn’t a plan; it’s an option and, if it’s not available (meaning voters reject it) then you still need a plan or strategy to accomplish your goal.
    I wonder what Bud and the BOS plan to do if voters reject the Debt exclusion this Nov?
    Mike Baker didn’t speak to this idea and neither did the BOS or Finance Committee and that’s too bad.
    Recently, in a different but related story, the Cape Cod Times asked “What’s plan B.?”
    Specific to the Debt exclusion, I hope somebody has an answer to that very question – if voters reject the Debt Exclusion this Nov what is Plan B?

  15. Carl Johansen would like to thank Greg for his kind words. Before the meeting even started I looked around and came to the conclusion that this article was not going to fail at Town meeting. The proponants of this article had all the ducks lined up in order to pass.

    Mr. Baker was given the job of confusing the issues even more by his power point presentation in my opinion. You can bet if you had a different view point you would have been given 5 minutes and out the door.

    Is it not alarming that the very person who by his own admissions was the leader of not performing these capitol needs when he was the leader of the Finance Committee is now the one to lead the charge about how bad it is.

    When one breaks out the basic needs of building maintance windows and doors that need to be replaced, I ask, how can this be possible, when we give over 400,000 dollars each year for capitol needs at town meeting.

    Now my next question would be, who is going to benifit from the 150,000 clerk of the works job? That is, should are fellow taxpayers feel a need to approve this at the polls. Perhaps an inside job for some one and you can bet this person will not be a resident or maybe it will.

    When will the long term plans include capitol needs for each building and a schedual of repairs that are associated with making the repairs going to be done.

    If you are a family in need, you need to really evaluate this overide[because that is what it is]but only as long as the bond is floated for. The one in the spring will be a another overide, but you get to pay for that one forever, That is if approved by the votors.

    We need to have more accountabilty, as to how we as a town plan to rectify all the sins from Mr.Bakers time on the Finance Committee and attempt to process those needs in a more efficient manner. He was not alone, however, in the way we as a town allowed our buildings to get in the state they are now presently are in.
    It did not need to happen the way it did, no matter what the power point presentation showed in my opinion. Keep Smiling, better days are comming.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

  16. Again and again and again a school improvement is rolled into a municipal need when IN FACT bud repeatedly states that he can only speak to the municipal side. How many times will the taxpayers fall for this trick? Make no mistake, it IS a trick. This town will continue to use this ploy each and every time because half of the request simply can not stand on its' own merit. No one can allow someone to take advantage of you unless you allow it. I voted no Monday night and I will vote no on Nov 2nd. Place your bets that the override in the spring will will be rolled into one neet little package. Don't be surprised that at the next town meeting a motion will be made to split the needs of the override into a menu of choices. If the town won't do it, someone will.

  17. Anon 8:10am
    Are you suggesting that roof replacement at Forestdale and Oak Ridge is a school improvement and not a need? REALLY? The schools are 20 years old and it is possible that we can get reimbursed for a substantial portion of the cost. If it wasn't for these items, I think the article would have been delayed until May.

  18. Speaking of roof issues, most people in the auditorium for town meeting probably did not realize who the gentleman was that kept questioning the roofing needs data. Lou Benn is a building contractor in town and has probably more knowledge on roofing systems than anyone. He also does work within the Massachusetts contracting system. I am amazed at the lack of response to the questions he was raising. The data on the roofs appears to be questionable. When they are your numbers you can pretty much make them say what you want. I also know, from experience, that there are a lot of bad roofing companies out there that drool over state contracts. If those roofs had leaks after five years, someone in this town should have been responsible in enforcing the warranty on the roofs. This is just another symptom of why a lot of folks don't trust the numbers. This entire article is an end run around the KNOWN over ride that we will be forced to face in the spring. If we allow this tactic to succeed, we will be stuck with the policy of never being able to choose where money is best spent. Kicking the can into the spring town meeting is the ethical thing for our elected officials to do. If they won't, then we, with the power of the vote, must Just Say NO.

  19. Some of you think there is no plan B, but there is. They will simply, after losing the vote, separate the school roofs from the rest, or maybe not put anything over the next request for a debt exclusion only for the roofs. We will need to spend about $6,000 for an election in December, but it will be worth it.

    Instead of bitching about the new vehicles, why don't some of you bitch to the selectmen and demand an accounting of vehicles. That could save mucho dinero, but you don't, you just philosohhise about everything.

    Why don't some of you instead of asking others step up to the plate, just do it yourself. You are afraid of losing.

    The schools need a roof and they will get one one way or another.

    The firefighters went out on a limb giving up two years worth of raises, but for what, so they can be kicked in the face by Greg and Mr. Johansen?

    The schools need the roof, no doubt about it. Just say YES.

  20. Carl Johansen would ask Greg if we ever mentioned any thing in regards to the Fireman or Police departments in all of the above postings?

    I know that It has not been part of any dialog from this end.

    The main purpose that I had brought up about unbundling all of the needs was to actually allow every taxpayer the opportunity to approve each item indivually.
    This approval would undoubtly have included the sacrifices some departments have made over others.

    It would have given some recognition to those departments that did not hold the town hostage because of the union led school contracts.

    If these roofs are needed now they were needed last year as well and perhaps even the year before that. We had the need and the money then to pay for them , but the powers that be, decided to not do so.
    So whose fault is that ?

    That is why we are in the quandry today.

    Greg it is apparent that some around here have failed to grasp the very essence of the conversation, but this is an equal opportunity blog.

    Greg, perhaps you may want to chime in with your reponse.

    Carl Johansen
    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

  21. Today our Town is not able to pay all its bills - essentially our generous police, fire and DPW gave up raises that they were entitled to (think of those pay raises as unpaid bills). Without this give up the Town would be in deficit/broke.

    Think about that....the town cant pay its current bills and yet it’s borrowing more (maybe) to make repairs. Repairs that could have been made and should have been made but were not made because the Town Manager and political leaders chose to spend the money elsewhere.

    Tell me this...if you were behind on your mortgage or maybe behind on some credit card bills and unable to pay your monthly debts, would you ask a bank to lend you more? Would the bank lend it to you? Would your Father? Isnt it a fact that right and best thing to do would be to cut your living expenses, live within your means and pay down your debts?

    Why is it that so many seem to think about Town finances, borrowings and spending in a way that is seems to be completely detached from our everyday fiscal rules and realities? Why is it when some of us suggest these simple fiscal rules and realities should apply to Town finances some folks seem to get so damn angry?

  22. Carl, I was surprised by Anon at 5:00pm's remarks. I know that the individual has not readour remarks closely. If Anon were to go back a few posts, I think they would find that the ONLY new building plan I fully support is for our brave firefighters and policemen. A new public safety building would probably achieve a passing grade from everyone, as long as those old failing buildings are disposed of. Again, back to town meeting, Mr Baker made it a point to jump in and tell the crowd that 'oh no, we won't be closing the old fire HQ building we will house units there'.....hmmmmmmm? Anon also seems to see this as a contest to win, rather than a large segment of the Sandwich society that needs to be considered in any of these high cost decisions. Anon, to you it appears that we are kicking someone. Not this blogger and for sure not Carl, who I think has fought for the general government side of the equation for years. To Anon, I will try to say it as clearly as I can....we shouldn't be doing anything until the financial condition of the town is known and understood. Sliding this exclusion by at this time while knowing trouble is brewing come the spring meeting....that is unethical. It isn't about fireman, police or teachers. It is about the ability of people who have to pay the bill, the taxpayers, who may not be able to handle two over rides in one year. Anon, I do know more than a little about roofs. Those roofs have not failed, they have leaks. Leaks can be repaired on a temporary basis...and that is ALL I am asking for. Slow the runaway freight train down till after we see the results of the elections. There is even more danger to this town financially with the forecasts in State shortfalls next year....more cuts to local aid possible? Absolutely. So why would any intelligent person facing such a negative fiscal picture replace an entire roof when it may not be needed? And one final thought back at you retirement has not seen a cost of living increase for over two years...and I will bet you a hot dog....that will become three. I fully understand what our general government employees did to save jobs. I agree with you that the school corporation snubbed all of us. The reaction to that one painful fact will reveal itself in the spring. I share the pain of the firefighters and the police....and I hope you go back and read what Carl and I have said in the past. Plan B, I hope, can become reality with town wide support if it is developed along the lines that Randy has described. Repeal that sales tax...and let the town come back to us with real numbers. $160 bucks, I would write that check out why the big hurry to sneak this by? One thing is certain, if the warrant is turned back by the voters, there will be a mix of infrastructure and personnel decisions to be made. At least we can make those decisions with full vision of the problems.

  23. Carl, I was surprised by Anon at 5:00pm's remarks. I know that the individual has not readour remarks closely. If Anon were to go back a few posts, I think they would find that the ONLY new building plan I fully support is for our brave firefighters and policemen. A new public safety building would probably achieve a passing grade from everyone, as long as those old failing buildings are disposed of. Again, back to town meeting, Mr Baker made it a point to jump in and tell the crowd that 'oh no, we won't be closing the old fire HQ building we will house units there'.....hmmmmmmm? Anon also seems to see this as a contest to win, rather than a large segment of the Sandwich society that needs to be considered in any of these high cost decisions. Anon, to you it appears that we are kicking someone. Not this blogger and for sure not Carl, who I think has fought for the general government side of the equation for years. To Anon, I will try to say it as clearly as I can....we shouldn't be doing anything until the financial condition of the town is known and understood. Sliding this exclusion by at this time while knowing trouble is brewing come the spring meeting....that is unethical. It isn't about fireman, police or teachers. It is about the ability of people who have to pay the bill, the taxpayers, who may not be able to handle two over rides in one year. Anon, I do know more than a little about roofs. Those roofs have not failed, they have leaks. Leaks can be repaired on a temporary basis...and that is ALL I am asking for. Slow the runaway freight train down till after we see the results of the elections. There is even more danger to this town financially with the forecasts in State shortfalls next year....more cuts to local aid possible? Absolutely. So why would any intelligent person facing such a negative fiscal picture replace an entire roof when it may not be needed? And one final thought back at you retirement has not seen a cost of living increase for over two years...and I will bet you a hot dog....that will become three. I fully understand what our general government employees did to save jobs. I agree with you that the school corporation snubbed all of us. The reaction to that one painful fact will reveal itself in the spring. I share the pain of the firefighters and the police....and I hope you go back and read what Carl and I have said in the past. Plan B, I hope, can become reality with town wide support if it is developed along the lines that Randy has described. Repeal that sales tax...and let the town come back to us with real numbers. $160 bucks, I would write that check out why the big hurry to sneak this by? One thing is certain, if the warrant is turned back by the voters, there will be a mix of infrastructure and personnel decisions to be made. At least we can make those decisions with full vision of the problems.

  24. What I found really weird about town meeting was that the selectmen, finance and school committees had little to say. I thought they were the leaders, didn't you all?

    The biggest problem in this town is that there are no leaders, but there are gadflys. The gadflys are listened to more than the leaders. The leaders are mostly right and the gadflys mostly wrong.

    I hear crazy things like promising to suit individuals for wanton actions even though their hired board attorney supports them. Others will talk to themselves but not to regular slobs like me. I am sick of Sandwich. It is so dumb to accept the baloney of this blog over what is necessary and practical.

  25. Some of these School versus Town posts are just dumb.
    Having to replace a 20 year roof after 20 years is NOT a conspiracy or a problem it’s a necessity.
    That the Town (collectively) failed to plan for (and save for) the eventual replacement of the 20 -year roof is dumb too.
    Since when is painting, caulking windows and fixing gutters a major capital issue? These are everyday maintenance events.
    Again, that the Town (collectively) failed to plan for (and pay for) on going everyday building maintenance is also dumb.
    We’ve got the same managers and department heads making the same mistakes year after year after year and nobody is ever held accountable. That’s dumb too.
    What do you call Taxpayers who willingly go to the polls and vote to pay for all these mistakes and to keep the same managers in their jobs? Dumb.

  26. Carl Johansen, Greg apparently we have touched a few buttons that some express opinions on , but did not read the postings in the order they were posted.

    We both know that this town has a long way to go, before the taxpayers have a clear view into how difficult this next budget season will be.

    Not withstanding any long range maintence for town property, how can we make an informed desicion on where to allow our tax dollars to go.

    We allways seem to place good money against bad desicions to repair or fix problems just for today and not tomorrow.

    You and I have posted that the town would be much better off to bite the bullet now in building a new fire and police complex where it should be. It would better serve our whole town and provide the much faster responce time every one is talking about. I have been on this for over four years, as I have gone before the Selectmen during public forum many times to bring this point up over these many past years.

    Untill and unless we know what the union led school committee will be doing in regards to the actuall payroll problems facing the town, we should not be making any fast desicions on how we will go forward during these hard economic times. We all need to see the full impact of what the numbers will be.

    The school district faces a one million dollar structual deficit from the last contract and perhaps it may be facing another, bringing the total to over two million dollars just in salaries for next years budget process alone. This will be a big nut to crack, especially if a pending law suit against the school district is ruled not infavor of the town.

    How and who gets to pick up those deficits should be up to the taxpayers who will pay the bills.
    I an sure we all can agree with that, perhaps not for some.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

  27. JTD you must have missed that part of the Town Managers explanation on the roofs when he was asked how many employees he had to repair the towns buildings. His answer was '2'. Like most government agencies, state or federal, keeping a large workforce to maintain/repair buildings isn't plausible anymore. The bean counters will tell you its cheaper to put the job out for bid to the long list of local contractors who specialize in state construction and repair work. I am sure that Bud Dunham traded in any extra personnel positions he had in favor of contracting out the work and to keep valuable people on the payroll. The problem in doing that is that you lose the day to day maintenance that all of us perform on our own homes. Once again, the cutbacks in service on the general government side are beginning to show because time has passed. The real answer to the inferior roofing issues in town was to contract and pay for metal seamed roofing, good for over 100 years and never leaks unless you hit it with a pick. However, I guarantee you someone, when the schools were built, went with the cheaper solution of 20 year shingles, and here we are. And to Carl, I could not agree with you more! Anyone that has been following the towns business for a few years is aware of the problems. Anyone who regularly follows the Selectmans meetings or the school committee corporate show would understand your position, clearly and logically. Firing Bud Dunham isn't the answer as some are saying. He has watched his assets dwindle to bare bones...I am not sure he can save people this time around...and all for the same reason. The School Corporation has been a killer for Bud Dunham and any attempt he has made to fix anything in town. Before I am yelled at for picking on the schools again, I am referring to the inadequate funding from our great State legislature not the folks who put in their time and hard work trying to make their ends meet too. Carl, you are correct, we are all in this together...sink or swim.

  28. When the Town Manager and Selectmen negotiated the Fire, Police and DPW taking a 0% for a year they also signed an agreement that with steps and longevity and other payments grows compensation on average at 5.5% or more in years 2 and 3 of the contract.
    If tax revenues continue to grow at 3% or so, they have knowingly perpetuated our deficit problem.
    If you earn $3 and spend $5 you’re dumb.
    When will this nonsense end? When will the Finance Committee intervene and object? When will the Town Manager be held accountable? When will the Selectmen just say no?
    Schools do the exact same thing and its dumb! At least past School Board leaders fought that contract nonsense all the way to arbitration. How did taxpayers reward them? Those same leaders lost the next election! Dumb is a Town-wide problem folks.

  29. Just to be clear for those who have trouble connecting the dots.....because the Town (both our schools and municipal leaders) contract for higher pay than we can afford, these leaders systematically take money from other accounts, like maintenance, building repair, text books, road repair, teacher training, almost anywhere, to pay the inflated compensation.

    Finally, when there’s no money left in any other account and the buildings are literally falling apart, then they come back to taxpayers asking for overrides and debt exclusions saying: but the buildings are falling down and the textbooks are so old.

    Last year’s total Town budget was $65 million and there wasn’t enough to paint the DPW building or buy new doors for the Council on Aging. Really? Really?

    Really dumb.

  30. Johansen, JTD, and Greg have all the answers so I ask of them: If we do not pay our teachers, then what happens to our educating of children when we are less copetitive.

    The three of you should not be such snobs, but rather talk..write. We are not dumb nor are the leaders dumb; the fact is that people do not understand how government works, don't want to know, and accept that although they may not like it, they will be paying more in taxes. It's that simple.

    While I agree with some of your ideas, I think some of them are dumb. Speak to us all, don't just answer yourselves. If you can't engage the public, then you don't deserve to be leaders, and, leaders you are on this blog.

  31. Carl Johansen would ask Greg if every one is so concerned about the children of our school district, why did they put in place those whom have managed to destroy what was put in place by Dr. Johnson?

    Where is the concern of those we elected to the school committee in regards to how they plan to fund the 2011,2012 budget?

    Do we get to pull a rabbit out of a hat and magically all the problems go away?

    If you listened to last nights Selectman meeting where one member was using a magic formula to make all of our financial problems disappear, perhaps we do not have a problem? Then why do we need any overides?

    As far as calling any one dumb around here, did we use that term when we were posting our comments. [NO] We may all be a little slow on the uptake at times,, but not dumb.

    I do not consider myself a leader, how about you>

    We are simply attempting to face the reality of how and where are tax dollars get spent and we get the biggest bang for our buck.

    The education of our children is our most important product and when we see how folks on the school committee get to use this mantra to justify placing obsticles in this learning process, I get a little concerned.

    All parts of economic development begin with a plan and that plan should include the educational process for every child in our school system. With out good planning, we lose the income to sustain this educational process long term and at the same time lose good teachers and administrators. It also should include the funding of a good police, fire and town wide services as well

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

  32. To Anon 10/29 7:32
    We do pay teachers - lots! In fact, over the last 5 years teacher compensation has grown on average 5.5% a year! Has your pay grown 5.5% a year?
    Why is suggesting that teachers accept annual raises of JUST 3% a year such a slap in the face and just how does a 3% raise impact our childrens education and futures exactly?
    How exactly am I a snob? Blunt -yes. Direct - yes. Curt - yes. A snob?
    The facts as I've posted them and recent town events suggest that taxpayers and leaders are in fact dumb; or at least that they act in a way that is inconsistent with logic. (Hey - that’s a nice PC phrase for dumb!)
    I am not a “leader.” I have elected folks to do the leading and want them to be held accountable for their actions and inactions.
    And, a blog is intended to facilitate the free exchange of ideas. Right? That’s what we’re all trying to do - exchange ideas, freely.

  33. JTD you are, by the way, absolutely correct about the automatic pay raises negotiated in towns across the state. Even in the face of know fiscal downturns, the unions received some very healthy increases and no real loss of benefits when compared to the outside world. You are also correct that we are in this deep black hole mostly because of personnel expenses. Add this to the broken Chapter 70 funding issue and you have an ever increasing tax assault on each of us.

    To Carl, I hate to say it sir, but these days, if you step up to the plate you are a leader! I accept that as a compliment and you should too. Your personal attempts to work with town government clearly place you into a unique care. Nothing wrong with that!

    Anon 10/29 7:32 thinks we have all the answers and that is far from the truth. If I were the tooth fairy, I would fix all these broken things but I am not. That I care to take the time to write my opinions in an open public forum such as Randy's blog, thats my way of participating. If you believe, Anon, that you agree with some of the things we say, I think its great that we can communicate and disagree, at least we are communicating. As far as teachers pay Anon, they do very well in this town as far as salaries and benefits go, and in turn they give not good, but outstanding results. I can't figure out why people think we dislike teachers! I love teachers. I spent most of my life a way...and its a gift some people have. Not everyone can impart knowledge. We are lucky in Sandwich because I think we have the best teachers on Cape Cod, however.... Anon, how can we continue to increase pay for that small sector of our government while everyone else is experiencing a negative cash flow? Their has to be a balance. I believe we have to wait till we see who our elected officials are going to be on the state and federal level and then sit down in the spring and look at how big this deep black hole really is. Then all of us can try to find an answer...I sure don't have them....all. With the upcoming elections I would also like to thank the moderator of this Blog Randy Hunt. I know he will be successful in his endeavor to become our next State Representative. This blog may not be able to continue, but I have enjoyed the ability to speak my mind and share my opinions with others. Communication is everything today and I know that Randy will be key in beginning dialog with Beacon Hill from a Cape Cod point of view. Thanks Randy!

  34. FYI, Greg. I have no plans to discontinue my blog. The discourse is important and I won't be beholden to anyone in the Statehouse who may have a different opinion about the blog.

  35. Anon 7:32 -- I have a problem with the statement you made saying:

    "the fact is that people do not understand how government works, don't want to know, and accept that although they may not like it, they will be paying more in taxes. It's that simple."

    It's not that simple. It's bad enough I need to work 2 jobs to pay taxes to support those who won't work (not those that "can't" )-- now you expect me to pay higher taxes because people don't bother to find out what's going on and do something about it?

    Why bust your butt if you're going to get whacked with even more taxes because some clueless dope wandered off the Pop Warner field, or the golf course whose sole concern going into the election was not to elect anybody who might charge to use the field. Or, the teacher whose sole election motivation was to save their salary and maybe get rid of that annoying supervisor who was disrupting the "way we always did things".

    People need to start paying attention.

  36. Carl Johansen,GREG ,One could debate the wording of a leader in severel ways and perhaps in some way being concerned about issues carries some responsiabilty with it. I never really thought about it from that veiw point.

    In a past life, I had many opportunities where by I had a more personal role in the development and implimenting programs that were benificail to the comunity I was engaged in.

    Having served in severel roles, from president, chairman, advisor I was limited to what I could expound upon from the perspective of a team effort approach to any leadership role when ever a problem arose that was complicated.If the majority of any board, committee was for a particular solution, Being in the leadership role meant that the majority ruled on the decision rendered. That has resulted in some disputs and hard feelings, especially when the majority ruling failed.

    My many fishing outdoor writings over many years has made me aware of the needs to be a good writer.

    It is all about the research to make sure that I get my article factual,before it goes to print.

    I have allways asked questions in regards to what I do and I guess that has continued where ever I have lived. It is the questions in most cases that most would not ask or even address, for fear of retribution. I attempt to look at the other side of issues with an open mind and make my own decisions as to the value on how it is being addressed.
    I Have stated many times that I am not allways correct or wrong, but some where in the middle of how I precieve whatever the issue really may be. It is forums such as Mr. Hunts that allow a more balanced question and answer to be given, by whom ever cares to participates in the diolog

    One thing that I can feel good about is knowing that we have folks around like yourself, that also care and if that makes us leaders, then who am I to disagree.

    I some times wish that life would remain still, so that we all could understand all of the issues the same way, with the same conviction.

    That is not to be, so we all must attempt to do the best we can with what we have been given.

    Carl Johansen
    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

  37. The only person that I think is a snob is the one who always answers to my and other folks' comments through JTD, Randy, or Greg. He is too good, in his own mind to write to anyone else. To me, JTD or Greg are just as anonymous as myself.

    I too have more than one job, big deal, I had in good times and in bad, sometimes its the only way to survive. I have consistently made over 5% more each year, and yes, I am in the private sector. I don't care what you call it, but teachers in this town will get 0% increase (which is a good thing), BUT it will put them even more behind than other towns.

    I care JTD, Johansen, and Greg as much as anyone. Don't think you are leaders, if you were, you would get out there and run for office, but you don't. Johansen is unique because he cares, well, I guess no one else cares, because unique is like one of a kind.

    God Bless Sandwich (and yes Dr. Johnson, there is a God).

  38. Anon at 4:10 PM, hmmmm, let me think about your last posting:

    lead·er (ldr)
    1. One that leads or guides.
    2. One who is in charge or in command of others.
    a. One who heads a political party or organization.
    b. One who has influence or power, especially of a political nature.
    4. Music
    a. A conductor, especially of orchestra, band, or choral group.
    b. The principal performer in an orchestral section or a group.
    5. The foremost animal, such as a horse or dog, in a harnessed team.

    I am having a terrible time following your thoughts. I do not think you don't care, otherwise you would not invest your time in this conversation. It is important that we all try to talk this thing through because none of us has the perfect answer to such a large problem. We all care, though we might see various parts of this puzzle from different viewpoints because of our lifestyles. Without a common core of experience we will always read or hear things differently from the way others say them. I don't need to know who you are Anon, I value what opinions you offer, even if different from my own. I respect your opinion about leadership and that I should run for office, however, because you do not know me or my common core of experience, would it matter that I have already given 32 years in service to this great country in uniform and another 5 wearing a civilian suit? Would it matter that the job I currently perform is in a service industry that I find very rewarding because of those I serve? No Anon, I have done my time and I expect no thanks for serving. When it comes to leadership, Anon, someday you would be surprised at what it takes. Personally, I have experience in numbers 1, 2 and 5. I say 5 because some of my fellow aviators would consider me to be a horses butt......Anon, one doesn't always have to run for office or be a selectman to care. Some of us only have time left to give. You do, however, echo the words of our newest Selectman in chastising us for not volunteering more, to get off of our fat couches, as he once stated. Funny thing is, he has not returned once to this forum to discuss or to accept our thoughts. One thing is for sure Anon, I will vote 'NO' on the upcoming ballot question that asks for a debt exclusion while Rome is burning. I can't agree with you more that the public employees in our town should not be granted a pay raise, unless the value of the raise does not force an over ride. See, we agree on more than you think.

  39. Fellow bloggers, it was a pleasure to enter the voting booth this morning. Where once I had to think about checking off those blocks, todays' decision was easy beans. Hunt, Keyes, Perry, Baker, Polito, and Mary easy it was to align myself to the candidates who don't just walk the walk. Each one earned my vote by speaking the truth. I stopped for a moment to chat with Lance Lambros, a very sincere and capable individual and I apologized for not giving him my vote. I asked him if he really was a good friend with Randy and he grew a really big smile. So I don't think Mr Lambros minded that I voted for his friend Randy, who is obviously the most qualified candiate in this race. I hope the reason folks are not writing to the blog is because they are too busy voting! Oh yes, before I forget...the questions went #1 YES...#2 NO...#3 YES...Barstable County Charter Rewrite YES AND FOR THE SANDWICH DEBT OVER RIDE ABSOLUTELY NO! I truly hope that the truth in lending law will prevail with this request for a debt exclusion. We shouldn't be borrowing any money until we know the real cost of crushing debt that is to be exposed in the spring. Please folks....your vote is critical don't have to vote my way...just exercise your right to feels good. Hopefully we will all hear the champagne cork pop at Randy's tonight!

  40. The debt exclusion question will have a markedly different outcome at the ballot box. I'm not even sure it passed by 2/3rds at TM but it was quickly announced that it did.

  41. Greg, your are correct about not thinking that the debt exclusion did not pass by 2/3 at Town Meeting. The sad part is that "leader" like Mr. Johansen did not stand up to challange it. I did and was not even seen. Too bad.

  42. First of all, congratulations to Randy on an impressive win in his election. I know that Randy will engage with the entire cape delegation on Beacon Hill to begin working on the local aid problem. Its an uphill climb for sure, but we picked the right guy for the job! It also looks like the voters of Sandwich sent a loud message to Mr Pierce concerning his ill-timed and poorly designed back door attempt to levy a tax against us. Now the real work begins and we will, unfortunately, discover the real extent of the problems with the towns budget. Spending, in general, has to be controlled like never before. Wages, new hires, construction...all of these things should be done in concert with the fiscal reality that is burying most of us. Again, congrats to Randy....he ran an excellent campaign!

  43. Carl Johansen, Greg like you I also voted early yesterday and had an opportunity to be in attendance at his victory speach. Mr. Perry on the other hand did not fare as well. I hope that does not come back to haunt us later on.

    In regards to the Override that was defeated by the citizens of Sandwich, this send a strong message to those in town politics that we still have a sense of what is occuring here in Sandwich.

    We need to find out what our real numbers will be and what are superficial repairs and those that that cannot wait.

    We need to present these as single financial needs and not bundle them into one warrant article.

    I also would like to say that it was also my impression that the voice vote did not receive the reguired vote to pass at town meeting, given the poor quality of the sound system and the inability of Com cast to re broadcast this meeting I was not able to ascertain if that was correct or not.

    I can tell you that no one on the podium wanter to do a hand count,as was evident by the fast declaration to announce its passage. I was a little slow to doubt it due to the very bad sound stystem in the hall. Hopefully that will not be an issue at the next town meeting for the overide presentation in regards to other financial needs.

    Sandwich can be proud that MR. Randel Hunt was elected as our represenative in the 5th didtrict and I publically wish him well in the job ahead. It will not be an easy task to change the corruptable system within Beacon Hill. With faith and conviction I feel that you will keep the course on true north and win more battles then you lose.

  44. Anon at 11-3 7:36, I hate to say it but when that voice vote was passed based upon volume of noise in the room, it was obvious that no one was going to be able to challenge that vote. The deck was stacked as it usually is at town meeting and that is the reason most people will not go. They just speak their mind at the voting booth and I think we should all be very happy that folks who normally stay home, got out and voted. Anon, if I were Carl, I would not have challenged the vote. The only attempt to challenge the warrant article came from the roofing contractor who put the roof on the fire department HQ building and they just ignored his attempt to correct Mr Bakers presentation. A stacked deck. We did well Anon at the voting booth. Now, it will be interesting for all of us to see what punishment awaits us for saying no. Close the dump perhaps? Mandatory pay as you throw? I am also excitedly waiting for the results of the ongoing contract negotiations in the school corporation. If you want to hear an explosion of noise, lets see if the magnificant four dare to offer an increase over the next contract to those that gave not one cent to saving their own teaching positions. Yup, its gonna get hot down here in Sandwich. Anon, you also have to remember that our moderator, as a Selectman, only had the little red school house on Route 130 as her pet project. Nope, town meeting has always been for the old families in town. If you aren't an Ellis, Jillson, Koenig, etc, you aren't allowed to talk and have people listen. I've been here over 30 years, and my spouses family has a cemetary on Quakermeetinghouse Road yet we are still wash-a-shores. However, even a stacked deck can be shuffled so I continue to care, like you and Carl...we care.

  45. Dr. Johnson filed a lawsuit Monday in Barnstable Superior.

  46. To the Honorable Representative Hunt and Family;

    Thank you for your effort in getting an elected official aboard that offers honesty, integrity, balance, intelligence and good wit! Mr. Hunt, you are now our Representative on Beacon Hill and we are thankful to you and your family for offering to our District what you gave to the Town of Sandwich.

    The Kiedeisch Family

  47. Greg, you are not very open minded when it comes to understanding where I stand on the issue of the debt exclusion. Several times, if you read the blog closely, I have been criticized for not quite understanding the process here in Sandwich. I understand it well despite what you might think. Perhaps my explanations were not clear. I was not born in this country and sometimes my ability to convey what I think does not clearly transfer in my writing.

    Let's be clear, I do understand. At the Town Meeting, IF THE VOTE HAD BEEN CHALLANGED, then the vote would have been taken by ballot. I did stand up. I shouted twice. No one else stepped up. If the "leader", Mr. Joahansen who always seems to sit by the microphone had stepped up with a few more people, then there would have been more choice. Miss Teehan has a record of screwing up on calling votes. When it is as important to the town as this vote was, she owed it to the citizens, not to take a chance, but rather go to a ballot vote. She, if the election vote had been successful for you folks that did want the debt exclusion, then, in my very humble opinion, should have been recalled from her position. A person of true principle and true fairness, would have left nothing to chance about criticism of what would be ruled by the moderator. She abused her position.

    What is terrible is that in this town, we do not have a newspaper that would ever call her on what she did. Mr. Johansen has called me a coward. I am not; in fact I believe the cowards are those who are not fair in the process and those that do what they want or not vote, bullet or not bullet have an opinion different from his own etc. Even those who believed in the debt exclusion, entitled to their opinions, at least, I believe they are, under our constitution. The tru beauty in America is that we can vote in or vote out those who do not do their job as leaders.

    Greg, I well understand how this town government works and I was not listened to when I stood up and shouted to challange Miss Teehan's call. For this, she will never get my vote.

    I accpet that the debt exclusion failed. Now, we will waste much time coming up with a plan to fix the fire station and police station and yet screw the citizens again. Greg, in other words "it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings" and in this case the fat lady is more taxes. I don't like it, you don't like it, but believe me, in the end they will go up. It just may be time for me to move on.

  48. Anon at 6:53 please don't move on! What makes a public blog like this so important is the ability of people to speak their mind regardless of their position on a subject. In the case of town meeting, believe me, I feel your frustration in the way that vote was quickly gavelled along. I think thats the history of town meeting I was trying to relay to you. Rarely do the opposing opinions get a fair shake. If you saw the Enterprise paper following the meeting you would have thought it was a unanimous decision to pass the warrant. NOT SO! Unfortunately unless you are standing in front of that mike, the moderator will never recognize you. She felt the results were appropriate and moved on very quickly. I wonder if it would have moved so quickly if she was on the other side of the debt exclusion issue. Anon, I think I was confused by your comments only because we were addressing more than one issue and I just lost my train of thought. Not your fault...its the person listening to you who has to really listen. I am concerned about the 'coward' remark you say was directed to you. I don't remember it, but I promise to re-read the blog. Maybe Carl can explain what he meant to say...I think he was addressing a segment of the Sandwich population, not necessarily you. I think you have done a great job on explaining your position on the exclusion. You are 100 percent correct, taxes will be going up. We have to fix things, however, I think the largest concern that Carl and I speak to all the time, is for the town not to ram it down our throat. They should have a good, heated brain storming session with the residents who care to sit down and chat about facilities. In fact, what Bud Dunham really needs is a Facility Engineer/Town Project Manager who's job should be to evaluate, monitor, update and propose repairs to our buildings. Of course, he would have to trade some personnel positions to obtain that individual. No growth in the personnel department, not yet. And, if we the residents of Sandwich could empower the Town Manager to fence funds for building maintenance, a small percentage of the annual taxes collected should be dedicated to that account EVERY YEAR. Those funds must be untouchable for anything except building maintenance. I think there are enough bright minds in this town that could quickly reach consensus on which buildings should be fixed and which should be demolished/sold. I think the validity in any proposal from Selectman Pierce should be closely watched considering the recent confusion raised within the school community by his comments. Anon, I am always the first to scream about that fat person singing, not just because I am one...but....we did vote down the exclusion and it is our responsibility to step up to the plate to help develop a survival plan. You will probably scream at me for saying this, considering my past posts, however, I would gladly pay an additional $200 a year to a debt exclusion that built a new public safety building for police and fire, if, if, if the older failing facilities were destroyed! Time to centralize, build small, not like the Mashpee taj mahal......a fully functional, clean, modern and SAFE facility. I wonder, perhaps if what we need in Sandwich is a good old barn raising party?

  49. Greg,

    Thanks for writing back. You see, I am very down these days. I can't believe the type of non-human, vicious campaign that Mr. Keating used, the lies, distortions, lack of addressing issues. Then, the sales tax thing failed, based on what?, lies, lies, and more lies. Then my man Scott B. lost out to a hot dog like Barney Frank.

    When I said I would move on, I meant move out of state. Frankly, this state is not in touch with other parts of the United States.

    As for Mr. Johansen; he is most well meaning, but quite often he irritates me with what he says. I see him as an important part of Sandich, but he gets carried away. Example, I think that voting a bullet in the ballot box is quite fine when you don't know the people running or want a particular person to win over all others even when there is more than one choice. Mr. Johansen thinks it is un-American. I don't!
    He may not be always right in my mind, but he often shows concern and is a good citizen in this town.
    He is also well versed when he rights. He, unlike myself, is not afraid to put his name down on a blog or face the major boards. I am afraid for my children at school. Dr. Johnson has done things to other parents which have caused them money and ridicule. Who knows, it might come out in the suit if one of the many chooses to break from the fear and testify.

    I am sick of the town politics and more so when it comes to the state. It is time for me to consider moving on. It may take a few years, but I will do it, as much as I love this town.

    As for town meeting. If one reads Town Meeting Time, then one sees that the most important thing that a moderator must do is to be fair. IF A NUMBER OF PEOPLE STOOD UP AFTER THE EXCLUSION VOTE, I THINK 7, THEN SHE WOULD HAVE HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO GO TO A BALLOT. I am seldom wrong, and in the case of that vote, quite sure it did not hit 2/3. In the future, maybe 7 of us should be at the mic to quickly stand up.

    Just as an aside, she did not do it this time, but when one calls a question, she has the power to not put it to a vote. I firmly believe she should ask those sitting on the side IF THEY HAVE ANYTHING DIFFERENT TO SAY. Often, I have known people who did have something but have not been heard.

    This town is going to the dogs. I hope you and Mr. Johansen will keep it up. I will be following and I will put my 3 cents in once in a while.

    Thanks to you two as well as Randy.


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