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Showing posts with label Citizen Letters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Citizen Letters. Show all posts

Thursday, December 6, 2018

REQUIRED READING FOR COUNCILORS




I reviewed Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting for December 4, 2018 and was surprised to see Councilor LaRochelle being nominated for the position of Chairman of the Town Council.  This just demonstrates members of the Town Council have not read or do not understand what the town Charter says.
 
Section 2-04, Chair, paragraph (b) reads “Term Limits.  No member of the Town Council shall be eligible for election as Chair or Vice Chair for more than two consecutive one year terms.  For the purposes of this section, election to an unexpired term of less than six (6) months shall not be considered a term.”
 
One would think this is very clear.  However, it is not and I do not understand how anyone can interrupt this any different.  If you have served as the Chair for two consecutive terms, you can no longer be eligible to serve again as Chairman/Chairwoman.  If you notice, it does not say in the current term or any other terms.  It says very simply, if you have served as Chairman of the Town Council for two consecutive terms; you are no longer eligible to serve as Chairman again.
 
On Tuesday night, Chairman Ward nominated Councilor LaRochelle for the position as Chairman of the Town Council.  This is in violation of the above stated provision of our town Charter but our own Town Clerk did not explain this to the Council.  Councilor LaRochelle served two consecutive terms as Chairman in his previous term on the Town Council.  Currently, there are two Councilors that can no longer serve as Chairman of the Town Council ever again and they are Councilor LaRochelle and Councilor Ward because both have already served town consecutive terms as Chairman of the Town Council.
 
I personally believe after every election of Councilors; they should be issued a copy of the town Charter and required to read it.  It is inexcusable when Councilors are not familiar with the town Charter.  This should be the Bible they are required to live by.  This minor requirement would eliminate a lot of mistakes made by the Town Council and improve the serve provided to this community.
 
Larry Fillmore

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

THANKSGIVING GREETING


THE LISBON REPORTER

WOULD LIKE TO WISH EVERYONE

A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

AND BE SAFE

SAFETY FIRST

Friday, November 9, 2018

WHY MAKE THE TAXPAYERS SUFFER ANYMORE?


Now that we have elected the same individuals to the Town Council, we can expect the same results from them.  This is to say that the new Council will continue to spend our TAX DOLLARS instead of making any attempt to reduce the operating cost of the town which in turn would reduce the taxes on its residents.
 
The people have presented two options that would reduce the operating cost by nearly $300,000.00 yearly and both have been ignored by the Town Council.  They are:

 
           (1)  Closing the Lisbon Communication Center would save the taxpayers approximately $200,000.00 every year.

(2) Eliminating Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) every year would save approximately $100,000.00 every year.
 
The Lisbon Communication Center currently performs the dispatching of Police, Fire, and Medical for the town of Lisbon.  It use to perform dispatching for Sabattus and Durham but they determined it was not cost effective and decided to go to the Androscoggin County Dispatch.  Utilizing Androscoggin County Dispatch for these services is much more efficient because it eliminates an additional step in the process.
 
The Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) was established by the Federal Government to offset a recession but Lisbon has NOT been in a recession for many years.   However, the Town Manager uses COLA to cover-up wage increases for every employee of the town.  For the past three years, the taxpayers have paid the Town Manager between $1,200.00 and $1,800.00 every year.  This is outrageous to force the taxpayers to pay this.
 
By using COLA to cover-up wage increases, bad employees are rewarded the same as outstanding employees and to me this is not fair.  Wage increase should be awarded ONLY to employees that are exceeding normal standards.  I personally do not like paying for employees who are not doing their jobs up to the normal level required; maybe you do. 
 
In both cases, the Town Council has rejected the opportunity to save residents their hard earned money.  To me, this is very disgraceful and not what these individuals were elected to do.  I believe it is their job to, at least try, to reduce spending so we can reduce our taxes.  Lisbon is currently 2nd in the County for highest taxes; Lewiston is number one.  I have no doubt that if these Councilors do not put a stop to spending Lisbon will pass Lewiston.  This is NOT what I am looking forward too.
 
Call your Councilors and demand that they start reducing our spending immediately.
 
Larry Fillmore

 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

UPDATE ON WORUMBO MILL PROPERTY


After the Town Council meeting of October 2, 2018, Executive Session, the Town Council approved the purchase of the Worumbo Mill property.  The motion was made by Councilor Kolbe and seconded by Councilor LaRochelle moved that the Town enter into an agreement for purchase of real estate at 1 Canal Street, Tax Map U05, Lot 14 with payment for the real estate not to exceed $30,000.00 contingent upon the town entering into an agreement to obtain access to the real estate for purposes of conducting environmental assessment; and contingent on the results of said environmental assessment, and that the Town Manager be authorized to negotiate the final terms of the agreements and to execute the agreements and all related documents on behalf of the Town.
On the agenda of the Conservation Commission meeting of October 18, 2018, this purchase was to be discussed.  However, I contacted a member of the commission and it was never discussed.  I contacted the Town Manager, Mrs. Diane Barnes, on November 1, 2018 and learned quite a bit of information I want to share with residents of Lisbon.
According to Mrs. Barnes, the town has received a Brownfield grant of $200,000.00 for the purpose of conducting Phase I and II environmental assessments.  These funds will be used to conduct assessment on the property at 1 Canal Street.  This assessment is broken down into two Phases.  Phase I is a review of all the documentation (which includes the Maine Environmental Protection Agency’s report from years ago) and Phase II is an analysis of the soil.  The town has entered into an agreement with a company called TRC to perform Phase 1 and 2 on October 31, 2018.  Phase 1 will begin next month and Phase 2 will begin in the spring.
I am concerned because the last time Councilor Fern LaRochelle was on the Town Council; he tried to have the town purchase this same property from the Millers.  This original deal was behind closed doors, in Executive Session, but the people voted NOT to purchase the property.  I believe that this was due to the fact of the Maine Environmental Protection Agency report on toxic material under the surface and the fact it is in a flood zone.

Now, Councilor LaRochelle is back on the Town Council and the purchase of this property comes up again.  I am concerned because I do not feel the people are being provided ALL the facts here.  According to Mrs. Barnes, the Town wants to purchase this property to put a parking lot on it to service the downtown area.  As you know from previous letters, I personally do not trust Fern LaRochelle.  This is just me and my opinion.  It is strange that the ONLY time this property comes up is when he is on the Town Council.
As I learn more about this property and its purchase, I will pass it along to the people.
Larry Fillmore

Monday, October 22, 2018

WHAT IS GOING ON?


Over the weekend, I had the misfortune to review the Town Council meeting of October 16, 2018.  The meeting lasted two hours and twelve minutes.  It should have taken an hour.  Instead we have two Councilors trying to outdo each other in stupidity. 
 
Councilors LaRochelle and Albert continued to make comments that we already explained.  This is my personal opinion:  (1) LaRochelle just likes to hear himself talk because it makes his ego get bigger and (2) Albert talks to make people believe that he is as smart as All Ward, which will never happen.
 
There was a lengthy discussion between these two on what the towns’ marijuana policy is going to be.  This discussion should have been held during the workshop but apparently was not.  The Council should be united on each item before it is added to the agenda so that the Public can express their concerns.
 
This marijuana policy is being pushed through so very fast.  I believe that Councilor Brunelle is the one doing the pushing.  This is because Brunelle want to corner the market when he opens his marijuana retail store in Lisbon Center.  He is pushing this so he can open before Christmas.  As it is going, I believe, that Lisbon will be the pot capital of Maine.
 
Also, during the meeting it was brought out there will be an environment inspection of the Worumbo Mill property.  The Town Manager acknowledged that the last environmental inspection was done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) several years ago was on file.  If I remember correctly the report found coal ash and other toxics underground on the property.   Councilor LaRochelle was quick to point out this is a different kind of environmental inspection.  I hope this is performed prior to the town purchasing the property for $30,000.00 as agreed by the Council.
 
If you remember a few years past when LaRochelle was last time on the Council, he pushed for the town to purchase the Worumbo Mill from the Millers.  This is when the EPA did their inspection and the people turned it down.  I believe that LaRochelle is back on the Council to purchase the property now.
 
It was also brought out that the Lisbon Communication Center will no longer be dispatching for Durham effective January 1, 2019.  Durham, like everyone else, is having Androscoggin Country Dispatch perform this task.  If Lisbon chose to take advantage of Androscoggin Country Dispatch, it would save the taxpayers over $200,000.00 yearly.  This will never happen because the Town Council is not interested in saving taxpayers money instead spend, spend, spend and raise taxes.  Lisbon has the second highest tax rate in Androscoggin Country.  We passed Auburn this year and will be pushing to pass Lewiston in the years to come.
 
Also, it came out that the town has now loaded the Accounts Payable module of MUNIS.  This has taken close to three years to accomplish load the first module.  I predict that at the current rate, MUNIS will not be fully functional by the end of the seven year contract.  I personally believe this was major blunder, that the Town Manager and Ryan Leighton, forced the Town Council to do.  Now it will cost the people a large amount of tax dollars to correct this mistake but putting this task on the Finance Director is insane.  I have performed several conversion and they are extremely hard for a team of professionals to do but impossible for someone to perform alone.
 
Larry Fillmore

 

 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

TRULY AMAZING


It is truly amazing to me how Councilors on our Town Council can negotiate the purchase of property, the tax dollars being spent, environmental studies and more.  Then turn around and purchase the property from the town for a song and turn around and make a profit.  I call this abuse of their position.  Currently, we have two Councilors that, I believe, fall into this category.
 
The first one is Councilor Chris Brunelle who purchased the town property at 385 Lisbon Street.  Councilor Brunelle’s desire for the property is to renovate the building into a marijuana retail store.  However, Councilor Brunelle is trying to strong arm our Code Enforcement Officer into getting out of having a structural engineer look at the building.  Our Code Enforcement Officer is doing his job to ensure the building is structurally sound.
 
The second objection I have to this is that even though the zoning is commercial and Councilor Brunelle has a legal right to put a marijuana retail store in Lisbon Center it is located near three housing developments with families and kids. 
 
Councilor Brunelle is currently fighting the emergency moratorium ordinance currently in place.  This is an items on the agenda for October 16, 2018.
 
The next Councilor is Fern LaRochelle, who is on the Town Council for a second time.  During the first time he was on the council, he used the council and his position to purchase town property.  According to the town lawyer, it is perfectly legal for councilors to purchase town property but he never addressed the negotiation by Councilor Fern LaRochelle leading up to the purchase.
 
During the Executive Session, which we are not allowed to see, the Town Council came up with purchasing the property at 1 Canal Street.  This is the location of the old Worumbo Mill site.  The Town Council agreed to purchase the property for $30,000.00 of tax dollars and have an environmental survey done. 
 
This is the same property that is in a flood plain zone which runs to Davis Street.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has told the town about coal ash that is currently under the surface which is very toxic.  I am sure that this idea was that of Councilor Fern LaRochelle directly or indirectly, because Councilor LaRochelle wants to put a garage on that site.  This issue is going to come before the Conservation Commission on October 16, 2018 and I am not sure this commission is aware of the Environmental Protection Agency’s report.  Trust me; I do not believe that Council LaRochelle will bring this to their attention.
 
The two Councilors have used their position on the Town Council for pure profit.  I personally do not believe that this is legal.  For years, I have complained about the “Good Old Boys” network and this is more of the same.  Several years ago the Planning Board approved a Land Use Condition which was for a former Councilor.  It was a “temporary” land use condition with no expiration date.  How can you have a temporary condition without an expiration date?  This situation is still in effect today. 
 
In my opinion, these two Councilors have abused their position on our Town Council for their own agenda for a profit.
 
Larry Fillmore

 

Friday, October 12, 2018

HERE WE GO AGAIN!!!!

 
By now everyone has received the information sheet published by the town pertaining to the bonds everyone will be voting on November 6, 2018.  Naturally, this information sheet was sent out after some absentee ballots were issued.  Kind of defeats the purpose, don’t you think.
 
This is yet another example of the town spending money.  They have absolutely no problems spending our tax dollars but you never see any councilor trying to save our tax dollars by reducing the town’s operating cost.
 
If one was to pay attention to documents associated with the Town Council agenda for October 16, 2018, they would have noticed that the last paragraph of the Police Department’s report states that come January 2019, the Lisbon Communication Center will no longer be performing dispatching for Durham.  If I remember correctly, that leaves only Lisbon performing dispatching for Lisbon.  This means the taxpayers have to pay for the entire Lisbon Communication Center which was budgeted for $345,246.00.
 
Several years ago, Councilors Garrison and Pesce conducted a survey and determined that by joining the Androscoggin County Dispatch, the town could save at least $200,000.00 per year.  However, the Town Council voted 4-3 not to join Androscoggin County Dispatch and again the following year the Town Council voted 4-3 not to join Androscoggin County Dispatch. 
 
The reason provided was that the Town Council did not want to give up control to Androscoggin County Dispatch.  This effort both times was spearheaded by Fern LaRochelle who neglected to inform everyone that he was and is a subcontractor of the town who works directly with the Lisbon Communication Center.  In my eyes, this was then and still is a conflict of interest that he should have revealed at the time.  Now that he is once again a Councilor, he should recuse himself from any vote on this issue, if it ever came up again.
 
This is an excellent way for the town to save at least $200,000.00 tax dollars and no one is willing to look into saving taxpayers any money, just spending.  It has been proven that letting Androscoggin County Dispatch perform our 911 calls if a much more efficient and at a cost savings to taxpayers.
 
I can almost guarantee you that this will never happen because it makes sense and it is the right thing to do.  No one, from the Town Manager or the Town Council wants to do away with Chief David Brooks’ legacy.  This has nothing to do with logic; it is strictly a political decision.  Well, political decisions do not pay the bills or provide for taxpayers’ family. 
 
So tell me again, why is our Councilors NOT looking for way to save our money?
 
Larry Fillmore

 

 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

MUNIS UPDATE

 
 
During the last Town Council meeting on September 4, 2018, the Finance Director, Lydia Colston, updated the council on the assessment of the MUNIS system.  If you remember in June, the council was trying to determine what to do with this software system.  They decided to hire someone to come in and evaluate where the conversions was and what to do next.
 
Apparently, the assessment was completed costing the taxpayers approximately $4,400.00.  According to Mrs. Colston, the conversion was going very slowly.  It seems after nearly two years; there are NO departments up and full operational.  However, Mrs. Colston believes she can have the financial services operational by October 1, 2018, payroll and licensing by next year and the financial piece, utility and tax billing by July 2019.
 
The firm that conducted the assessment offered the town to complete the installation for $186,000.00.  I have performed many conversions in my career and I can tell you this is a steal.  Without their assistance, I can almost guarantee you that by the end of the seven (7) contract this software package will not be FULLY operational.  I understand that this is a great deal of tax dollars but:  (1) it will be worth every penny and (2) it is unfair to saddle the installation and training of this software on our Finance Director; who has better things to do.  The installation and training of any software conversion is a full-time job and the individuals performing this task must be 100% dedicated to the job at hand. 

 
I can tell you from many years of experience, the town screwed this up from the beginning:

            (1) The Town Manager and the Town Council did not seek out   anyone with conversion experience to get their input.

(2) All conversions need to have the installation and training included in the original contract.

(3) Never enter into a multiply year contract prior to having seen how well the software package is working for your organization.  The Town Manager, Diane Barnes, recommended to the Town Council to accept the software owners’ proposal for multiply years.
 
 So how does the town recover from this self-infected mess?  I recommend the town spend the additional tax dollars to the firm that conduct the assessment or the firm that sold the software package to the town and get the installation and training done as quickly as possible.  The town is losing money every day this software is not fully operational.  Because the town has no way to perform simple tasks without this software, it will take longer to perform these tasks by hand.
 
I do not like the Town Council spending our tax dollars uselessly but I feel that this expenditure is up front money and will save a great deal of money long term.  Trying to have Mrs. Colston perform both the installation and training is absolutely crazy.  Mrs. Colston has more than enough on her plate as the Finance Director alone.
 
A fully operational installation of MUNIS will enable the town to terminate the use of TRIO, which is the current software used in some areas.  I believe by developing queries in MUNIS; it will eliminate the need to run two operating systems.  The town has to pay for running two software packages at the same time.  Eliminating the need for TRIO will save the town more money.  This is another great mistake, I believe, the town has made.
 
As much as I regret saying this but the town needs to spend the money to correct the mess the Town Manager and the Town Council created. 
 
Larry Fillmore

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?



According to google, these are the mil rates and population for towns in Androscoggin County.  What should stand out to everyone is the major discrepancy between the mil rates and the populations.

TOWNS                     MIL RATE                 POPULATION

Auburn                      23.68                         22,948 

Sabattus                    17.75                         5,015

Lisbon                       24.84                         8,846

Lewiston                   28.67                         36,140

Durham                    18.85                         3,940

Wales                         14.85                         1,634

Greene                      17.80                         4,373

Poland                       14.74                         5,544

Minot                         15.85                         2,596

Livermore Falls       21.60                         3,115

Turner                       17.05                         5,765

As you can see Lisbon has moved into second place in the county as far as the mil rate goes surpassing Auburn.  These figures for population are from 2016.  The reason for the discrepancy is because our Town Manager, Diane Barnes, compares populations when determining salaries instead of the tax base for the towns.  As everyone knows Auburn has many more commercial businesses than Lisbon and yet our mil rate is higher.
There is no way that the salaries of Department Heads in Lisbon should be as high as they are starting out.  We just do not have the tax base to support such high salaries and the Town Manager knew this from the start but used population to establish salaries without comparing tax bases and our Town Council believes everything the Town Manager says as gospel.
The Town Council needs to delay voting on spending issues until the Council can do adequate investigations.  The Town Council needs to cut spending to include the Town Manager’s salary.  The Department Heads are receiving between $1,200.00 and $1,800.00 annually and taxpayers in Lisbon cannot afford these increases.  There is no way to reduce Department Heads salaries because the Town Manager, Diane Barnes has committed the taxpayers into paying these outrageous salaries.
Taxpayers and the Town Council have to pay more attention to the spending habits of the Town Manager and her Department Heads.  We have to bring down our mil rate so that it is more in line with our population and other towns in the county.
Let’s put a halt to excessive spending and start comparing apple to apples instead of apples to oranges.
Larry Fillmore

 

CENSORSHIP IN LISBON

 
Over the weekend and on Monday, there was a discussion my members of Lisbon pertaining to the increase in taxes.  This discussion was started when Hank Frazier asked the question “Anybody else’s property tax go up significantly?” on the Lisbon Maine Community Information website.  I believe that there are approximately 319 comments posted to this site.  However, there are several more than were deleted from this website by the webmaster playing God.
 
I wrote a comment with my opinion and it was deleted so I cannot show you the post, however, I called a Councilor by name and the webmaster said I was too aggressive.  Councilors are Public Officials and are fair game to the rest of the world but not this webmaster.  However, below is a post that the webmaster let go through in which my name is clearly stated.  This was NOT censored because the webmaster clearly has a double standard.  You be the judge!
 
Normand Albert  Larry Fillmore if you don’t like the direction the town is going, take out papers and run for council. Please come earn $1400 a year to deal with some of these complex issues that require hours of reading and research to make an informed decision based on the best info available at that moment. All while balancing a full time job and a family. Only to be second guessed and vilified by a few. Don’t cry for me Larry, I have thick skin. I can take it.The town’s problems are systemic from years of a “kick the can down the road” mentality displayed for decades.All in the name of lower taxes. We had stagnant business and job growth. High dropout rates and a few shouting down many in a town meeting style of government. This lack of a comprehensive vision or goals had left our community in a place with very little hope of being anything more than a drive through community. Infrastructure has been crumbling for DECADES and you have the gall to blame the current council for the latest tax increase? We are the first council not to bury our heads in the sand and pretend the problems don’t exist. These are complex issues, with large price tags to properly address them. We need to be forward thinking in our approach to address these issues and make sure we develop plans that will include clear strategies for routine maintenance of that infrastructure so we are NEVER in this position again. That’s not going to happen overnight. It will require some short term pain for some long term gain. If not for a change of attitude and focus of a few citizens that has now turned into many, the positive changes and the promise that they bring would have never happened. I know I was inspired by those few in the begining to take a more active role because of the concerns I had with the direction of our town. I ran for this seat because I believe the majority of the people in this community want to create a place to be proud of and a place their kids will stay and become the next generation to lead this community.Larry, I do not subscribe to your narrative that the current council is the problem. This council is not spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave. We are a committed group who are doing our very best to be as transparent as possible. We provide clear information to the people of this community regarding the decisions that we make and the impact it will have on the property taxes. So in closing, I understand that people will be upset about the increase in taxes. I used humor to lighten the mood when I saw a blatant falsehood regarding the supposed “slush fund” the town has. If you didn’t like the joke, just keep scrolling.
 
As you can tell I did not change or correct anything in the post.  Since, I cannot answer this post on the Lisbon Maine Community Information website without being; I will try and answer Mr. Albert’s comments now. 
 
First and foremost, I want to address why I do not run for the Town Council.  I have served this country for 40 years in the Army and as a Department of Defense civilian.  I am aging and in poor health and cannot attend meetings but as most of you know I write for the Lisbon Reporter and make my feelings known.  Second, one vote does not count as we have seen from when Councilor Roger Cote was on the Council.  Most votes were 6-1.  Third, I have served my time and it is now time for young people to take the lead.
 
Now, I want to address some of Mr. Albert’s feeble attempt to justify the continued tax increases during his tenure.  My first objection is that this Council was presented two ways to save money and they both were rejected.  One was to close the Lisbon Communication Center which is a duplication of services and could save the taxpayers roughly $200,000.00 a year and second is the COLA increases every year to ALL employees; this would save the taxpayers approximately $100,000.00.       
 
COLA is nothing more than a cover-up for wage increases.  This means that if we have a bad employee; they get a wage increase every year.  Wage increases should be given ONLY to the outstanding employees of the town and does NOT include management positions.  Management Positions are normally salary employees and this should never apply.  Because all employees get the COLA, the Town Manager received a $1,400.00 plus increase this year alone.  Totally ridiculous; no one is worth that much increase every year.
 
Mr. Albert – until the Town Council start making an attempt to cut spending; I will continue to complain.  In my opinion, you are an Allen Ward wannabee but you will never gain that status because he is much smarter and has more experience.  Since you have been in office, you have voted with Mr. Ward on everything.  As far as you doing research, tell me again why you voted to approve a 7 year contract for MINUS.  If you did any research before voting, it was very poor research.
 
I hope I have addressed all your points without being censored by a webmaster trying to playing GOD.
 
Larry Fillmore

Monday, August 27, 2018

TAX BILLS




From the chatter this weekend on Lisbon Maine Community Information website, residents of Lisbon received their new tax bills.  I found it amusing that residents were shocked their taxes had increased so much.  The Lisbon Reporter and LisbonMaine.net have been warning residents for several months prior to the Town Council approval of the budget.
 
I have been trying to educate residents of Lisbon to exactly what is going on with our local government.  It would appear that the residents were not paying attention to my efforts.  Now, it is too late and the people are upset over the tax increases.
 
In my opinion, the problem is that the Town Manager, Diane Barnes, does not work for the people of Lisbon.  She works for and answers ONLY to the Town Council.  Mrs. Barnes and her staff have duped our Town Council in order to get the Town Council to vote their way.  She and her staff leave out important details on issues.  This neglect causes our Town Council to vote in their favor.  These decisions, by the Town Council, are good decisions based on the information provided to the Council, however, if the Council was provided ALL relevant information the vote may have been completely different.  In my opinion, the Town Council has too much faith in the Town Manager.
 
It was the Town Manager who presented a proposed municipal budget to the Town Council.  This proposed budget was almost accepted in its entirety.  Neither the Town Manager nor the Town Council is looking for ways to save money.  On numerous occasions Mrs. Dorothy Fitzgerald and I have offered suggestions on ways to save roughly $300,000.00.  Now to me, this is a significant amount of tax dollars, but the Town Council dismissed these suggestions.  These suggestions when in one ear and out the other.  It is nice to be ignored when you are trying to help.
 
Residents of Lisbon need to pay more attention to what is going on at these Town Council meetings.  The best and preferred way is to attend the meetings in person.  However, you can always go to the town website and watch the meetings.  It is critical the people of Lisbon start taken a more active role in our local government.  It is too late this year but please make your feelings known to the Town Council.
 
We, the people, need to take back our town and put an immediate stop to this outrageous spending. 
 
Larry Fillmore

 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

 
 
We need your input on a situation that is happening right now.  At the last Town Council meeting, the Council has decided to transfer the responsibility for the Moxie Festival from the Economic Community Development Department to the Recreational Department.  This decision, I believe is a poor decision by the Town Council.
 
Before the Town took over responsibility for the Moxie Festival, it was operated by the people of Lisbon.  The community did an excellent job running the Moxie Festival and it made money.  The Town Manager, at that time, decided he wanted to get some of this money and took over responsibility for the Moxie Festival.  Big mistake!
 
Now, the Town Council is trying to pass the responsibility on to the Recreational Department.  The Recreational Department is manned by three full-time individuals and has an enormous responsibility to this community already. 
 
However, it was brought to their attention that the responsibility should be passed to Positive Change Lisbon (PCL).  PCL is partially made up of business owners in Lisbon and is in their Mission Statement of the organization.
 
POSITIVE CHANGE LISBON MISSION STATEMENT:
 
To bring together the resources of Business people, local Government and Citizens, partnering together in a positive environment, to improve the image of our community. Through the efforts of a group of highly motivated individuals guided by a clear vision of our future, we aim to build on the favorable attributes of our Town and make Lisbon a more attractive place to live, recreate and to conduct business.
 
The Moxie Festival is a landmark of Lisbon.  It is conducted in Lisbon Falls business district and who better to have the responsibility of Moxie Festival than the business owners in Lisbon Falls.  Since this is part of their Mission Statement, who better than PCL to take over the responsibility for the Moxie Festival.  Who better to take this over responsibility than Ross Cunningham and Fern LaRochelle, the towns leading citizens?
 
I can appreciate the Council’s decision to turn the Moxie Festival over to the Recreational Department for their many successes but PCL is a much better fit.  Mark Stevens and his staff have done a super job supporting this community and providing activities for all.  I believe it is unfair to saddle the Moxie Festival on the Recreational Department when we have an organization and leadership in Positive Change Lisbon that this responsibility is in their Mission Statement to perform.
 
Tell me and your Town Council what you think.
 
Larry Fillmore  

 

 

Friday, August 17, 2018

DIG DEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
 
During the latest Town Council meeting, our Town Manager, Diane Barnes, informed the Town Council that the current mil rate is 24.84; our taxes will increase $1.64 per thousand which is a 7% increase.  I hope you are not surprised since the people did NOT turn out to voice their concerns.  Now it is too late!
 
This increase in our mil rate and taxes is significant for this small town.  Those residents on a fixed income are going to suffer the most.  This increase in our taxes every year is a trend that needs to be reversed.  Our Town Manager does NOT work for the people, so she could care less.
 
The Town Manager is receiving a salary of $96,482.00 this year.  This is an increase from last years’ salary of $95,047.00.  According to my calculator that is a $1,435.00 pay raise in one year.  It would appear that the Town Manager can afford a 7% increase in her taxes but can the rest of the residents?  I do not know any job where you receive pay raises like this; I never did and I was one of the top individuals in my field.
 
This pay raise was disguised as a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) which was approved by the Town Council.  Of course, Diane Barnes recommended this increase in HER budget.  COLA was first created by the Federal government to offset a recession but the Town of Lisbon uses it to cover-up for wage increases.  Wage increases, in my opinion, should be ONLY for those personnel who have done an outstanding job during the year and make less than $45,000.00.  No management positions deserve wage increases because they are above the $45,000.00 threshold, in my opinion.  We are paying individuals in management position plenty already and they do receive longevity pay.
 
The Town Manager and the Town Council have got to start looking for ways to save the taxpayer some money.  At good start would be by closing the Lisbon Communication Center which is a duplication of services.  The Androscoggin County Dispatch (911 services) could perform our dispatching services much more efficient than it is now.  This would increase the response time of First Responder and make our community safer.  By the way, the estimated cost savings was around $200,000.00 two years ago and has probably increased even more today.  This figure was provided by two previous Councilors, I trust, and not me.
 
The elimination of COLA will save the town appropriately $70,000.00 per year and will eliminate Department Heads and the Town Manager from receiving salary increases in the thousands every year.  They may very well be worth it but we cannot afford to pay them if it means increasing our taxes every year.
 
The people need to talk to the Town Manager and their Councilors and tell them how you feel.
 
Larry Fillmore

WHO’S IN CHARGE????


 
I just reviewed the latest Town Council video and was amazed.  The video reflects that the Town Manager, Diane Barnes, ONLY feeds the Town Council information she wants them to know instead of presenting ALL the facts.  The Town Council can never reach a sound decision unless they have all the information available on any subject matter.  I will explain:
2018-152 Asset Forfeiture Funds – This item was on the agenda because during the budget prepared by Diane Barnes; she conned the Town Council into using taxpayer dollars from the Unassigned Fund Balance instead of using Asset Forfeiture funds available in the Police Department.  According to the Recommendations, prepared by the Town Manager, Diane Bares, it says and I quote:  “Staff did not recommend the use of forfeiture funds since there is uncertainty in replenishing these funds now and in the future.  These assets have been used for matching grant funds for law enforcement equipment.”
The last time I checked, the people elected members of the Town Council to represent them when it comes to spending their money, not Diane Barnes or her staff.  The option of using the forfeiture funds should have been presented, at the time of the budget discuss, for the Town Council to decide which way they wanted to go but instead this information was withheld from the Town Council.  There is $6,786.04 in Federal funds and $13,972.30 in State funds available to be used for the purchase of the firearms at $7,800.00.  The Town Council reversed their decision and is now using the forfeiture funds instead of the Unassigned Fund Balance.  This is the right choice, as far as I am concerned.
This is a prime example of how the Town Manager, Diane Barnes, manipulates information she presents to the Town Council to get her way.  At first, I blamed the Town Council for making, what I considered poor decisions, but when I started looking into it, I realized they were not getting ALL the information and therefore they could not make a logical and right decision.  This has happened a lot and really needs to stop. 
I thank the Town Council and especially Councilor Allen Ward, for getting this on the agenda and correcting this situation.  Taxpayers are paying much more in taxes than they should and the Town Council must start looking for ways to cut spending.
Thank you Councilor Ward.
Larry Fillmore

Saturday, August 11, 2018

WAKE UP MAINERS - PART 2


As Mainers, we have a responsibility to support our President until he does something against the law.  Mainers elect their representatives to speak for them in Congress.  One of those individuals is Senator Angus King.  I have downloaded the last four months of his voting record and it is below for everyone to see.
 
July 23 Nomination of Robert L. Wilkie to be secretary of veterans affairs (86-9) Voted – Yes
July 11 Nonbinding motion calling for congressional approval of national security tariffs (88-11) Voted - Yes
June 20 Rescinding previously approved but unspent funding (48-50) Voted - No
May 23 Expanding private care options for veterans (92-5) Voted - Yes
May 17 Nomination of Gina Haspel to be director of the CIA (54-45) Voted - No
May 16 Reinstating net neutrality rules (52-47) Voted - Yes
April 26 Nomination of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state (57-42) Voted – Yes
April 18 Repeal of guidance to protect borrowers from discriminatory markups on auto loans Voted – No
 
Senator King also voted NO on the following nominations:
Britt Grant to 11th Circuit Court
Ryan Wesley to 9th Circuit Court
Andrew Oldham to 5th Circuit Court
Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
Mick Mulvaney to Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Steven Mnuchin to Secretary of the Treasury
Jeff Session to Attorney General
Betsy DeVos to Secretary of Education
 
As you can see, Senator King has voted “NO” the majority of the time when it comes to confirming candidates.  In fact, Senator King has only voted 46.1% of the time to support the President’s agenda.  I believe that this definitely reflects that Senator King does not vote the way Mainers he represents feels.

 
Senator King is up for reelection this year and I for one will not be voting for him.  I believe that our representative in the Senate must support our President.  I hope there are more Mainers that will follow my lead.

Larry Fillmore
Concerned Mainer