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Showing posts with label Town Council. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Town Council. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

MORALE IN LISBON


At last night’s Town Council workshop, the subject of the morale of the town employee’s was discussed.  There was talked about having an employee appreciation day at Beaver Park, which is an excellent start.  It is a shame the Town Council is so blind to the obvious.  The reason employee’s morale is so low, as I see it, is twofold:  (1) The lack of leadership and (2) all employees being treated the same.
I think the lack of leadership is self-explanatory.  So I will move on to the second point and that is rewarding, the good and bad, employees with the same pay raises. This is done every year by the Town Council, recommended by the Town Manager, approving Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) for all town employees.  This is probably the dumbest idea anyone ever came up with. 
The employee who is work the hardest and trying to improve themselves are compensated at the same rate as the employee who is enrolled in the Retired on Active Duty (ROAD).  The road program means that they are doing just enough to get by or less and being rewarded the same as someone working to improve the quality of service residents deserve.
The reason the town approves COLA is because all town employees are rewarded by the same percentage but the pay raises are never the same.  The percentage is based on the current salary and this stupid program applies to wage workers and management personnel the same.  An example of this is the Town Manager; whose annual salary is over $90,000.00, receives a 2% COLA increase of $1,800.00 while a wage worker earning $40,000.00 receives only $800.00 a year increase.  How can anyone justify this?  Management positions should never be included in COLA increases in this town. 
If you want to raise the morale of the employees in town, they need to start rewarding ONLY the good employees who are working the hardest.  This is rewarding the good employees and hopefully encourages the poorer employees to work harder.  Another method is to have each department nominate an employee for “Employee of the Month” and “Employee of the Year”.  With both these positions, comes a small increase in their pay or time off.  This will recognize these employees and hopefully push other employees to improve.
There are numerous methods to boost morale in the town.  The problem is the leadership has to first to acknowledge the problem exists and then come up with a plan to address the situation. 
I understand because I have recommended a number of solutions, they will never be considered, which is too bad.
Larry Fillmore

 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

WHY LISBON’S TAXES CONTINUE TO RISE!

 
Have you ever wondered why our taxes continue to go up every year?  Does anyone really care?  The answer to these two questions is explained below.
 
There are several reasons why our taxes go up every year.  The first reason is mismanagement of our tax dollars.  In March 1, 2016, the town entered into a seven (7) years contract for a software package called MUNIS to replace the old one called TRIO.  I totally agree with this decision but would have never entered into a seven (7) year contract without first having the software installed so I could evaluate if it was going to do the job I wanted it to do.  This was a total blunder by the Town Council but they are not totally a fault.  The Town Manager, I am told, recommended this action to the Town Council.  Once again, this is poor advice by the Town Manager.
 
MUNIS cost the taxpayers $79,761.00 per year for fifteen (15) modules for seven (7) years.  As of today, I am told that only a portion of one (1) module has been installed.  At that rate, at the end of the contract MUNIS will NOT BE fully operational.  On March 1, 2019, the contract will have been in place for three years.  This means taxpayers will have paid $239,283.00 and the software package is not even installed, so we are paying for nothing.  This is not only disgraceful but borders on fraud, waste and abuse of our tax dollars.

 
A few months ago, the Town Council spent $4,400.00 for an evaluation to determine the cost to fully install MUNIS and its fifteen (15) modules.  The assessment came back and it would cost the town approximately $186,000.00 to have professionals come in and install the software package.  This is a great deal of money but the town has spent, as of March 1, 2019, a total of $239,283.00 and the taxpayers have nothing to show for it.  This is a crying shame because there are at least three residents available that have been through a transition from one software package to another and neither the Town Council nor the Town Manager called on their expertise.  These subject matter experts (SME) are former Councilor Greg Garrison, Jeffery Costanzo and I.  I am sure that there are a few more but I do not know them.

When the management of our town continues to waste thousands and thousands of our tax dollars every year, it is no wonder our taxes continue to rise.  Whenever the citizens of Lisbon decide enough is enough, they need to contact the Town Council and demand a stop to wasting our tax dollars.  I recommend as a subject matter expert that the Town Council stop wasting our tax dollars and pay the $168,000.00 to have professionals convert the town from TRIO to MUNIS so the town can move on.  From my limited experience with TRIO, it is a lousy software package that allows management to hide money. 
 
The Town Council needs to recognize the mistakes of the past and move the town forward.  This issue is supposed to be discussed on January 15, 2019 at the workshop.
 
Larry Fillmore

 

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

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

Thursday, October 25, 2018

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