Non-Public BOS Session Scheduled (December 16, 2019)

By Muriel Bristol | December 15, 2019

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, December 16.

The BOS meeting is scheduled to begin with a Non-Public session beginning at 5:30 PM. That agenda has one Non-Public item classed as 91-A3 II (c).

(c) Matters which, if discussed in public, would likely affect adversely the reputation of any person, other than a member of the public body itself, unless such person requests an open meeting. This exemption shall extend to any application for assistance or tax abatement or waiver of a fee, fine, or other levy, if based on inability to pay or poverty of the applicant.

Likely someone is seeking some partial relief. There were many, many of these after the false “push-button” valuation and mistaken rate-setting of 2016, and we have just experienced yet another preposterous “push-button” valuation. One might expect to see many of these secret 91-A3 II (c) sessions scheduled going forward.

The BOS intend to adjourn their Non-Public BOS session at 6:00 PM, when they intend to return to Public session.


The Public portion of the agenda has New Business, Old Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.

Under New Business are scheduled nine agenda items: 1) Town Clerk / Tax Collector Letter of Appreciation, 2) 2019 Encumbrances Discussion, 3) Town Report Dedication Discussion, 4) Police Patrol Room Equipment Purchase Request (R. Krauss), 5) Heritage Commission, 6) Capital Improvement Program Recommendations Discussion, 7) Preliminary Town Warrant Article Discussion, 8) Approve Town Deposit Process and Policy, and 9) Solar Garden Ratification Discussion.

Town Clerk / Tax Collector Letter of Appreciation. There are no doubt many reasons to express appreciation of the Town Clerk.

2019 Encumbrances Discussion. Several commenters have expressed their strong disapproval of this. This could be a contentious discussion involving money approved at the ballot for one or more specific purposes during a calendar year. If the money is not spent, or is not fully spent, it may be “encumbered” for use in another year.

Has the originally authorized purpose has been fulfilled? If so, any extra monies should be returned promptly as tax reductions. (Note that the rate has been set prior to this, from which one might infer that there was never any intention of returning any money).

Having slush funds and large fund balances relieves the Town of having to seek voter authorization – a taxpayers’ check on its expenditures. “It’s just easier that way.” As you may well imagine, the bypassing of checks and balances is an indication of unaccountable government.

Last year, the BOS neglected to “encumber” money approved to fight European Naiad until after the deadline. They then took that amount from their “emergency fund” for European Naiad. Did you know they even had an emergency fund? I mean, apart from the excessive fund balance that is? Presumably, they replenished the “emergency fund” in some other way. They covered also a significantly larger budget overflow and presented it as a rate reduction by drawing from the fund balance. The BOS does this sort of thing fairly often.

When last numbered in a public meeting, The Town had then over twenty-nine different bank accounts. (Their bank wanted to charge them fees on all of them, which added up to a tidy sum).

Town Report Dedication Discussion. Is this the year in which the Town Report will be dedicated finally to its taxpayers? Without their ever-increasing contributions, nothing contained in the report would have been possible at all.

Police Patrol Room Equipment Purchase Request (R. Krauss). Aren’t the police cars the patrol rooms? I must be misunderstanding this.

Heritage Commission. Would Milton have a heritage without having a Heritage Commission? Yes, of course it would, absolutely.

Would another commission be yet another expense? Let us hope not. If so, its very existence would hamper Milton’s heritage to some degree.

It is indeed a desirable thing to be well-descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors. – Plutarch

Capital Improvement Program Recommendations Discussion. An increasing number of Milton taxpayers recommend that the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) be scrapped entirely. Its supposed advantage, that of “smoothing” expenses, has instead resulted in a constantly rising trend in expenses and, therefore, taxes. (See Capital Reduction Program (CRP)).

Preliminary Town Warrant Article Discussion. Where the increases fostered by the CIP plan process begin to make their way along the conveyer belt to the ballot. Unanimous approvals anyone?

Approve Town Deposit Process and Policy. The Town Treasurer and the BOS dumped his Town Deposit Process onto the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk objected rightly to extra tasks without extra staffing.

After a bit of a donnybrook, the BOS provided the necessary clerical support after the fact. Missing from all of this was any discussion of the time gained by the various departments that had offloaded their deposit tasks to the Town Clerk.

How are they using  the time that they gained thereby? In the absence of any explanation, one must assume the departments simply gained more time in which to do fewer tasks.

Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. – Parkinson’s Law 

The Town Deposit Process worked out nicely for the departments, but was perhaps less advantageous for Milton taxpayers. The taxpayers “gained” another salary, benefits package, etc., with which to accomplish the very same tasks previously performed by the departments. Remember to thank the Town Treasurer for his new, more expensive Town Deposit Process at his next election outing.

By the way, did anyone ever apologize to the old Town Treasurer for the calumnies heaped upon her by BOS Chairman Thibeault on the eve of her election outing? The Treasurer emeritus seems to be still in good standing at the county level, while we have gained a new process, a new policy, and a new expense.

Solar Garden Ratification Discussion. These things never pay for themselves. Every one that you see, be they at the transfer station, or on individual houses and buildings, is made possible by Federal and state subsidies. That is to say, the savings decrease, or even disappear entirely, when one remembers that the subsidy was taken from your other pocket.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL).


Under Old Business is scheduled two items: 10) Request to Repair Ladder Truck (N. Marique), and 11) Budget Progression Discussion.

Request to Repair Ladder Truck (N. Marique). The fire chief seeks authorization for the maintenance and repair expenses for the used firetruck purchased from Gray, ME. (See Gray, ME, Voted to Sell Fire Engine to Milton).

Budget Progression Discussion. Regrettably, the Budget has never regressed in recent years, or remained the same, or even “progressed” at merely the inflation rate. However, in this context, this might be simply a status report of [default] budgeted versus actual expenditure at this particular point in the fiscal year. Or a discussion of the extent that the new budget has progressed through the bureaucracy.


Other Business That May Come Before the Board has no scheduled items.

There will be the approval of prior minutes (from the BOS Meeting of December 4, 2019), the expenditure report, Public Comments “Pertaining to Topics Discussed,” Town Administrator comments, and BOS comments.


The BOS meeting is scheduled to end with another Non-Public session. That agenda has two Non-Public items classed as 91-A3 II (a) and 91-A: 3II (c):

The agenda has, for the third time in recent weeks, a Non-Public item classed as 91-A3 II (a): investigation, discipline, dismissal, promotion or compensation of employees.

(a) The dismissal, promotion, or compensation of any public employee or the disciplining of such employee, or the investigation of any charges against him or her, unless the employee affected (1) has a right to a meeting and (2) requests that the meeting be open, in which case the request shall be granted.

One would like to think that investigations, disciplines, and dismissals of employees are not required at the rate of three times over four meetings. The more likely topic would be promotions and compensation, i.e., raises and COLA.

(c) Matters which, if discussed in public, would likely affect adversely the reputation of any person, other than a member of the public body itself, unless such person requests an open meeting. This exemption shall extend to any application for assistance or tax abatement or waiver of a fee, fine, or other levy, if based on inability to pay or poverty of the applicant.

Yet another one.


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

State of New Hampshire. (2016, June 21). RSA Chapter 91-A. Access to Governmental Records and Meetings. Retrieved from www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91-A/91-A-3.htm

Town of Milton. (2019, December 13). BOS Meeting Agenda, December 16, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/miltonnh/files/agendas/12.16.19_bos_agenda.pdf

Youtube. (1965). Cone of Silence. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eUIK9CihA&feature=youtu.be&t=19

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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