By S.D. Plissken | January 21, 2019
In a prior episode of Let’s Make a Deal, Selectman Lucier objected categorically to this CIP Warrant Article obfuscation:
This sum to come from the fund balance and no amount to be raised from taxation.
His objection arose out of an apparently sudden realization that the fund balance is also taxation. It is just last year’s taxation! The standard phrase endeavored to obscure that reality. It might not be an outright lie, but it is certainly a very close cousin to one.
Selectman Lucier refused to approve any one of the CIP warrant articles that had concluded with the offending phrase, that close cousin to a lie.
Chairman Thibeault: So, the concern when we talked about these last was the way it was worded, and that’s been changed.
Selectman Lucier: That helps.
Thibeault: Are you satisfied with that? [general laughter].
Selectman Lucier: It’s better.
Town Administrator Thibodeau: We had a long talk with [Town attorney] Walter about that and he was just like … I don’t know … he never got what I said … one of our selectmen was very concerned about the wording and he said, ‘Well, can I change it to this?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m going to give you Andy’s phone number.”
Thibeault: So the new wording is:
‘This appropriation will be funded by the transfer from the fund balance and no additional amount will be raised by taxation.’
Last time, Selectman Lucier sent this order back to the kitchen. He wanted just a soupçon of truth in his word salad. The Town lawyer did insert the synonym “additional,” instead of “new,” as well as introducing some passive-form verbs. But he left out Selectman Lucier’s particular preference: the fig-leafy word “new” in front of the “taxation.”
Thibeault: That’s the new wording, versus I don’t have the old wording …
(Nor does he care, either way. He’s a “process” man). All the kids then looked to Selectman Mikey (who hates everything). Will he tuck into this new word salad?
Lucier: Raised by new taxation?
Well, yes that was the word you had requested last time, but, no, that was not what the Town lawyer has given you.
Thibodeau: He said, “by taxation.” I tried. We kept going back and forth.
Lucier: I was in agreement that it would be no new taxation.
Thibeault: So, if we add the word “new” in there, are we still …
Lucier: Yeah, put it in there.
Thibodeau: If he [the Town lawyer,] tells us, “no,” can I …?
Lucier: Yeah, I’d love to talk to him.
Thibodeau: We’ll add the word “new” in all this.
So, in the end, the BOS agreed to add Selectman Lucier’s “new” verbiage, which proved sufficient to allay his concerns – sufficient to cover his embarrassment, so to speak.
And the BOS went merrily on to approve the pile of CIP warrant articles, with the new “new” wording. Let us see: $197,395.85 in budget increases, $435,500.00 in CIP warrant articles, plus the $500,000.00 needed to paper over the budget increases. That comes to $1,132,895.85. That must be a fairly hefty fund balance. Wherever did the BOS get so much money?
Selectman Lucier once said that he considered himself to be “The Taxpayers’ Friend.” He may have even believed it.
Might a taxpayer ask, as a friend, why there even was a fund balance of over $1 million with which to begin? That would be easily 25% over what was needed to cover last year’s budget. That is a lot of leftovers.
The amounts being bandied about certainly suggest that the Town over-taxed the average property by at least $420 in order to create its “fund balance.” ($1,132,895.85 / 2700 = $419.59). All of us might wish we had that money back in our pockets instead of in the Town’s “fund balance.”
We might then “encourage” local businesses with our custom, or otherwise invest or participate more fully in the free market, rather than in this coercive “command” economy. (Or we might just use it to keep body and soul together).
And it would be a pretty safe bet that the Town government has still more taxpayer money “squirreled away” in its fund balance, amounts above and beyond the $1,132,895.85 currently on the table.
All of that is just money taken out of pocket. There is also the inevitable reduction in everyone’s capital value to consider.
These fund tricks are certainly not “new” and there really are no words to make them less reprehensible, or even to make them less … embarrassing.
Town of Milton. (2019, January 7). BOS Meeting, January 7, 2019. Retrieved from youtu.be/qx6Nfzafn98?t=4537
Wikipedia. (2018, November 5). Fig Leaf. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fig_leaf
YouTube. (1908). Fig Leaf Rag. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=HocJMGlR3xY
YouTube. (1972). Life Cereal: Mikey Likes It. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLQ0LZSnJFE