Monday, March 31, 2008

Audit Supports Jankowski 100%

Here are the key quotes:

1) "The estimated amounts of co-payments to be received from the Board of Education is significantly different than actual co-payments received from the Board of Education."

2) "Over the last two years, actual co-payments received exceeded the estimated amount by $1,103,981...[T]herefore the budget appropriations for the last two years were higher than they needed to be by $1,103,981."

3) "As of June 30, 2007, the Medical Reserve Fund has a balance due from the General Fund of $2,409, 181. This is due to the timing of when revenue is recognized in the Medical Reserve Fund and when the actual cash is received by the Medical Reserve Fund."

4) "The development of a budget for amounts that will need to be charged to other funds of the Town by the Medical Reserve Fund is subject to estimation. However, we noted that actual co-payments were significantly higher than estimated, causing the budget appropriation to be higher than necessary. "

5) "We recommend that the estimate that is developed for co-payments be developed based on historical collection experience. Historical collections of co-payments were approximately $1.3million in 2006 and approximately $1.5million in 2007, while the estimated amounts used in 2007 and 2006 totaled $900,000 and $800,000, respectively."

So there you have it. The real question that needs to be answered is the one asked by BOE Member Julie Turk...what has the BOE been doing with the surplus?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Police Camera A Good Idea

I cannot walk from Grand Central in any direction without being recorded on video. Whether it's a camera set up by the NYPD or one that's used for commercial security, it's a fact of life. An unfortunate but necessary fact of life in this post-9/11 world.

The bottom line is that I have nothing to hide and, weighing the privacy concerns against the potential for protection, I think this is a good idea.

"The purpose of this tool is to deter, detect and dissuade criminal activity," said Police Chief Colin McCormack. "I feel very strongly about the responsibility to use it correctly and I am going to write a very restrictive policy about how it will be used.

"One person will be assigned, there is no facial recognition software and there is no audio recording."

The Chief explained that it is likely that recordings will only be retained for up to 60 days unless it has to be preserved as evidence and subject to the records retention rules that he is still researching. Thereafter the recordings will be destroyed.

The camera is easily moved from one location to another and its motion detection software will enable it to give an audio warning that it's in operation should the Department personnel decide to enable that feature.

"Whether we decide to get more cameras will depend on our success with the first one," said the Chief.

Some BOE Salaries

Here are some important BOE salaries. Note that I have not included benefits. The Principals and Assistant Principals are Members of "The New Milford School Administrators Association."

Superintendent: $160,602

Assistant Superintendent: $139,945

Director of Fiscal Services: $90,738

Director of Technology: $76,858

Hill and Plain:
Principal 113, 102
Assistant Principal 95,000 (shared with Pettibone)

Principal 111,902
Assistant Principal 45,240 (additional pay for teaching)

Principal 111,902
Assistant Principal 95,000 (shared with Hill & Plain)

Principal 125,294
Assistant Principal 109,307

High School:
Principal 125,294
Assistant Principal 109,307
Assistant Principal 109,007
Assistant Principal 100,591

Sarah Noble:
Principal 110,702
Assistant Principal 100,532
Assistant Principal 99,032
Assistant Principal 91,159

This article from the December 13, 2007 edition of the News-Times is important reading:

New Milford's school administrators get new contract
Nanci G. Hutson STAFF WRITER

New Milford school district administrators have negotiated a new contract that will give them an average 3.7 percent salary increase each of the next three years, with some administrators advancing to a new step each year. In an arbitrated agreement with school district leaders, the 17.5 administrators negotiated a settlement that will allow all to advance to the highest of three salary steps between the start of the contract in July 2008 and its end in June 2011.

In the first year of the contract, administrators will see a 3 percent increase. In the next two years, the increase will be 4.25 percent.

The new contract extends the Sarah Noble Intermediate principal's job to a 52-week work year and extends the three assistant principals' work time from 48 to 50 weeks.

In addition, the new contract increases the administrators' share of the cost of their medical and dental insurance from 13 to 15 percent in the first year to a maximum of 17 percent.

The principals at the high school, middle school, intermediate school, and the special services director will receive 20 vacation days each year, and others will receive 15 days.

Sick days will be accrued at the rate of 16 to 18 days per year, depending on the position. For every year an administrator does not use a sick day, two days are added to his retirement bank. All administrators will receive four personal days.

"I think it's been fair for both sides," said Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfote.

Dr. Paddyfote said the award came after the two sides went through mediation. Because of strict time limits they were unable to resolve all the issues, so arbitration was required.

At the November arbitration hearing, the board and administrators reached agreement on all outstanding issues, and the arbitration panel issued a stipulated award that reflected the wishes of both sides.

Under the Connecticut Teachers' Negotiation Act, the Town Council had until Dec. 21 to review the final award and reject it by a two-thirds vote.

On Monday the council decided not to object, although some members expressed concern about the increases.

"I feel that the board met its objectives to increase the work year for Sarah Noble administrators and change the insurance plan and premium cost-sharing," Dr. Paddyfote said.

Staff writer Lynda Wellman contributed to this story.

Friday, March 14, 2008

An Example of BOE Budgeting

Here's a perfect example of the BOE budgeting technique.

As shown, object 532 is "postage." The records for this account are maintained in Ray Jankowski’s office so they are readily available for inspection.

According to the BOE, the actual expenditure for the 06/07 fiscal year was $43,505. Curiously, however, the records show that the total expenditure for that year was $39,675.20.

The amount budgeted for the current year 07/08 is $60,375. That sum is $16,870 more than the BOE claims was actually spent in 06/07 and $20,700 more than the records show was spent.

The BOE proposed the sum of $62,025 for 08/09. That sum is $1,650 more than the current Budget and $22,349.80 more than the actual expenditure for 06/07.

Here are actual expenditures obtained from Ray Jankowski’s office:
FY 01/02 $29,815.69
FY 02/03 30,413.06
FY 03/04 38,332.11
FY 04/05 38,345.40
FY 05/06 33,099.66
FY 06/07 39,675.20
FY 07/08 year to Jan., 23,032.43; projected: $39,484.16

So if the projection for the current year is correct – it is certainly consonant with experience – the current year was overbudgeted by about 53%!

So would someone please answer these questions:

1) why did the BOE budget $60,375 for the current year knowing that this line hasn’t exceeded $40,000 in 7 years, even with an increase in postal fees?

2) why did the BOE budget $62,025 for next year knowing that this line hasn’t exceeded $40,000 in 7 years even with an increase in postal fees?

3) how many other lines are similarly overbudgeted?

As Councilman Roger Szendy said, all parents know that the BOE's use of e-mail is growing. To this I add that the BOE employs a "courier" and the Town’s mail clerk processes the BOE’s mail. much is needed to avoid pay-to-play?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Final Numbers and Corrections

Ray Jankowski confirmed the mill rate of 22.13 and the tax increase of 3.7%

The total Budget to be sent to the BOF is $91,362,948.00

Two corrections to my earlier post:

The Fire Marshal (15k) and Youth Agency (38k) are not reductions but positive revenue adjustments. Sorry!

Lundgren's Incivility

Councilman Mary Jane Lundgren made some choice comments during last night's Town Council Meeting. "Some of the comments from the Council have been a huge embarassment," she said, "Some of the nastiest comments I have ever [sic] seen." I guess she's including her own ugly snap at Councilman Pete Bass who made a thoughtful observation that she totally misunderstood.

The classy act continued when she later called him a "fat-head." Nice display, Mary-Jane.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Council Budget Deliberation Pictures

Budget Details

Ray O'Brien made the motion. Here are the numbers; they are not perfect but they are very close.

The Mayor's Budget was $93,051,566
(164,380) reduction of Town-side based on savings by self-insuring
(275,000) reduction based on payments on new debt
(43,000) reduction in line 6090, Building Maintenance
(31,000) reduction of request for expanded library hours
(12,000) reduction in line 6334 for a new air-conditioner
(657,522) reduction of BOE based on savings by self-insuring
(512,889) reduction of BOE capital to be taken from its capital reserve fund (740,000 balance before deduction)
(1,500,000) from capital reserve instead of 2,500,000
(1,000,000) from Internal Service Fund
(15,000) from Fire Marshal [see 3-13-08 correction]
(38,000) Youth Agency [see 3-13-08 correction]
2,000 Womens' Center
8,500 Cemetery

Town Council Votes 3.7% Tax Increase

Subject to Treasurer Ray Jankowski's fine-tuning, the Council approved a Budget tonight that results in a 3.7% tax increase and a mill rate of 22.13. The Budget now goes to the BOF that will have a Public Hearing on April 2 and begin its deliberations on April 4.

More to follow.

Turk Wants Answers

In an e-mail circulated this morning, BOE Member Julie Turk makes clear that she intends to get to the bottom of the issues raised by Town Treasurer Ray Jankowski. Here it is in its entirety:

Good Morning, JeanAnn - I just want to clarify the level of detail that I feel is absolutely necessary in order for the Board to adequately respond to Mr. Jankowski's claims in his letter of March 4th - and to share that with the other Board members. I still maintain the detail listed in my email to you of March 9th (pasted below) will provide everyone involved with a very straight-forward response.

The amount of information may be large - however it is not complex nor should it require anything other than gathering the payroll data as of a particular date (I propose 10/1/FY), and sorting the accounting records to list all transfers out of the account(s) in question.

I'm looking forward to the report, and resolving the issue - as I am sure you are.
[the following is the march 9 e-mail referred to above]:

Dear Dr. Paddyfote: In order to propose an adequate and thorough response to the issues raised in Raymond Jankowski's letter of March 4, 2008 - I will need to see the following detail from you and/or your staff:

1. An accounting of how the ASO Account(s) was estimated for budgets for FY 1993-1994 through FY 2008-2009. (If records do not go back to FY 1993-1994, please state the beginning record FY for which they are available.) (ASO accounts are definded as any account which was utilized to compute the data listed under "ASO Acct." in the spreadsheet entitled "New Milford BOE Medical Expenses & Payments" presented at the BOE Operations meeting on March 4, 2008.)

Information that must be minimally included is:

o No. of employees electing single coverage and amount of co-payment per contract as of 10/1/FY
o No. of employees electing family coverage and amount of co-payment per contract as of 10/1/FY
o Roster of all retired teachers (include name, date of retirement, insurance coverage elected, co-payment required per contract ) for each of the above listed fiscal years

2. List of all transfers out of all ASO accounts from 7/1/1999 through 3/1/2008: At a minimum, the list is to include:

o Date of transfer
o Amount of transfer
o Transfer to: account number and account name Please include these details in the data you are assembling in response to Mr. Jankowsi's letter, along with other pertinent data you deem necessary.

If any of this data is unavailable, or the administation is unwilling to provide it, please let me know at your earliest convenience. I am confident that going forward, regularly supplied detailed information such as that listed above will serve to provide the transparency necessary to allow the Board to make informed decisions, and to restore public trust.

Julie Turk

Route 7 Flooding

I thought that this comment by "Steve-New Milford" should be posted:

Maybe one of these days, the mighty Bob Guendelsberger will use his considerable legal superpowers to put the screws to the state of Connecticut to quit screwing around and FINALLY fix the flooding that chronically shuts down Route 7 in front of Southworth's.This chronic flooding is a hassle; but more than that, it's an embarrassment. I think it's just great that we're improving Route 7, but I don't recall a plan to similarly improve the DETOUR around Lake New Milford every time we get heavy rains and run-off.Is Pat Murphy, Clark Chapin and/or our Town Council addressing this issue? If so, what are the plans?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hello ...Is Anyone Home?

The Town Council could not agree on a Budget tonight so Councilman Bob Guendelsberger asked that it meet again to discuss how much can be saved by going to a four-day work week. Be sure to schedule your emergencies on the days that the Police are working.

BOE Has A Plan

It was sheer torture to sit and listen to some of the Members of the BOE air their ignorance tonight about the issues Town Treasurer and CFO Ray Jankowski raised in his letter regarding the internal service fund.

Vice-Chair Tom McSherry appeared to be clueless about the fact that a forensic auditor did his study of the infamous account today. This, despite the fact that it has been in all the newspapers (and I broke the story in this Blog). It also appears that he didn't read any of the stories about the merits of the issue in either medium. "Did we have a lot of money left over? It appears that we did," he said. "The accounting that I see needs to be done is on the town-side." "If we find that we put too much money in there then we have to take it out." Tom, please read the very simple explanation I wrote about what happened, I'm sure that will help. And did you listen to your former Chair explain that the GAAP Rules don't allow what you're asking? Did you hear about the letter from the Town Attorney? Did you do any homework?

But McSherry wasn't alone. Tom Mulvihill and John Turk both told me tonight that they didn't know about the auditor doing his job today. And it's very clear that David Lawson is similarly unaware of the facts although he clearly has the right intentions. Yes, a lot of homework needs to be done.

The bright portion of the night came in Bill Wellman's insistence on getting an opinion letter from the Board's Attorney: "It seems to me that there is a conflict of interest between the interests of the Board and the interests of the Administration," he said. "Should the board have its own investigation?" That is to say, for the BOE to ask its employees to investigate the very serious allegations leveled against them is akin to hiring the fox to guard the chickenhouse. Of course there's a conflict. But what will the "Board's attorney"opine? Is the firm in such close lockstep with the Administration that it will find that there is no conflict? Yes. That's my prediction. And here's why that's significant.

This is the "plan": 1) get a written opinion from the BOE Attorney about whether there is a conflict of interest; 2) if not, continue the "internal investigation;" 3) deliver the report of the investigation to the Operations Committee together with a history of the account that was requested by Member Faulenbach; and 4) maybe have a special meeting to discuss the matter.

So a legal opinion that there's no conflict of interest is clearly in the Administration's best interest because if they say that there is a conflict, the BOE will likely hire its own forensic auditor who will tell them the truth about the financial hanky-panky.

Now here's a big clue about where this is going from the education side. About her "internal investigation," the Superintendent said that "we're looking at all the DYNAMICS that Tom Corbett used." Dynamics, not rules and laws? Tom Corbett? Hmmm....I smell a hatchet job and a whitewash.

Update: Jankowski Issue Added to BOE Agenda

This item has been added to the Agenda of tomorrow night's BOE Meeting:

Review of parameters suggested by the Operations Sub-Committee to the administration regarding an internal review of the funding of the medical insurance line.

The Meeting is at 7:30 in the SNIS Library. There is an opportunity for public comment at the beginning of the Meeting.

Monday, March 10, 2008

New Milford On the Global Map: Can You Say 'Cellulosic Ethanol?'

Little ole' New Milford on the global map. A solution to our dependence on foreign oil. A boon to the local and national economies. Jobs for New Milford and so much more. This is certainly the most significant and timely project that I have seen in this Town and it may ultimately be one of the most important projects that many of us will experience in our lifetimes -- up front and personal -- with significance for generations!

The Mayor announced at tonight's Town Council Meeting that an entity named American Energy Enterprises in Brookfield has offered $4,500,000 for the Brass Mill. That alone is significant but the kicker is that it intends to build a $100,000,000 facility that makes ethanol from biomass materials -- green waste -- not from food crops such as corn.

The project has obviously been in the works for a while and it appears that a lot of groundwork has already been done by Mayor Murphy and various Town agencies. Although the State DEP and Fed EPA have clearly been hands-on, no permits have yet been issued for this green-waste to ethanol plant. I have no doubt that the Governor has an eye on the project and you can bet that the big oil boys do, too. "As soon as the big companies like Exxon see us coming, they're going to start to kick us," said AEE's Chairman, Christopher H. Brown, an affable, down-to-earth entrepreneur who lives in Brookfield who presented the proposal. With him were many of his associates, all of whom live in the area. Some, I believe, in New Milford.

Simply, the process uses any cellulose-based materials such as wood and leaves, anything that can be broken down to its carbon base, to make ethanol. Ethanol is then blended at a "gas" station to fuel your car using E85, a product that is 85% ethanol.

The enzyme process produces no odor, no noise, no water pollution, no air pollution. The small amount of water that is used is treated and is put into the sewer system cleaner than when it went into the plant. Here are some other highlights:

1) it has already raised $75,000,000 of the $100,000,000 estimated cost of the project without any of the many government grants that are available;
2) the waste materials are fertilizer, liquid gypsum used for the manufacture of drywall, liquid carbon dioxide, lignan which is separated from the sugar in the green waste and furferol, a byproduct of the breaking down of cellulosic materials. These are readily marketable commodities;
3) If spilled, ethanol evaporates and thus doesn't get into the ground water;
4) the plant will generate between 5 to 7 Megawatts of clean and green electricity -- enough to run New Milford and areas south --that will be put back into the grid as KC is doing and the Company is willing to make a deal with the Town to buy its needs at a discount;
5) it will produce about 200 jobs, with preferences given to area residents. Three to five engineers, 20 lab techs, 40 to 50 person labor force, security personnel, railroad engineers, truck drivers and sales reps. It will operate 24/7 with 3 shifts;
6) it is self-sustaining. Once up and running, it will not need any energy to keep running;
7) the plant will have its own safety and fire-fighting equipment and the Company will train local fire personnel in the correct procedures for handling emergencies; and
8) the project will need between 200,000 and 500,000 tons of wood and plant materials per year and this will include properly sorted waste demolition materials. [ed. note: thanks to Mark, I corrected these numbers]

The Council authorized the Mayor to move ahead with negotiations. It also authorized her to bring some consultants for the Council to interview.

Councilman Walter Bayer said it all. "I don't see anything wrong with us being a beacon for this type of project...I don't want AEE to be chased away." Bravo!

"This is going to change the future," said Mr. Brown and I agree. New Milford can play a role in ending our dependence on foreign oil and it can be the envy of the world. What a wonderful idea. I hope the Members of the Council have the wisdom and foresight to embrace it.

Wellman Request to Discuss Jankowski Letter Ignored...So Far

"I think that it's very important that this be an open matter and that the public be informed," BOE Member Bill Wellman said this morning, "that's why I asked the Chairman to put it on the Agenda for the full Board Meeting tomorrow night."

But you guessed it, folks. It's not on the Agenda. But the Agenda can be amended until 24 hours before the Meeting, so let's hope.

"Apparently, the Chairman and the Superintendent are doing nothing about the issues raised by Mr. Jankowski so tomorrow night I am going to ask the Chairman to contact the Board's Counsel and find out what our legal obligations are. "

I predict that either Bill or Julie Turk will make a motion at the Meeting to have the matter added to the Agenda, a motion that must pass by a 2/3 vote. What are the odds that it will pass?

Let's Hear From Dr. Armand Fusco

In 2006, BOE Member Julie Turk's suggestion to allow Dr. Armand Fusco an opportunity to talk to the Board was flatly ignored. Now is the perfect time to hear from this published expert about accountability and transparancy. "Too many boards have not accepted their sacred covenant -- an implied legal, ethical, and moral contract -- to guard the public purse while providing quality educational services."

Here are his credentials: teacher; superintendent of schools in Hadley, Massachusetts; postdoctoral fellowship with the Boston Labor Management Center; superintendent of schools in Branford, Connecticut; professor of education and director of teacher intern programs at the University of Bridgeport; author of many professional works, including the book School Corruption: Betrayal of Children and the Public Trust; degree in education from the Central Connecticut State Teachers College; professional diploma from the University of Connecticut; Master of Arts from Columbia University; doctorate from the University of Massachusetts; founder of the Parkside School and Academy for special-education students and co-founder
of the Springfield Preparatory School. He resides in Guilford, Connecticut, with Constance, his wife of 53 years. They have four children and fourteen grandchildren.

One of his articles may be downloaded at the bottom of this page: and here are some of the very poignant questions he addresses:

Is there a comprehensive list of school assets and an independent system in place to regularly document the existence of each asset? Failure to have a list of monitored assets is an indication that the school district does not believe it is important to manage school resources responsibly.

How are grants being managed in the school district? Who is responsible for monitoring the grants for proper implementation? How is the monitoring actually done?

How are student activity funds and other cash collections monitored? Who monitors such funds? Are income and disbursements verified for accuracy, and proper usage? Are bank statements reviewed on a monthly basis? Who conducts the review?

Which contracts (construction, insurance, consultants, etc.) have been awarded without competitive bids? What process was used to award such contracts? Who received such contracts? What school official was given the responsibility to oversee the proper completion or implementation of each contract? Was any form of nepotism or favoritism involved? Were board policies followed?

Here's an interesting quote: "School boards and administrators usually claim that 75 to 80 percent of their budget represents 'fixed costs.' Taxpayers should never accept such a statement, because this is the biggest deceit of all. Such a statement assumes that every school employee is essential, that no consolidations can take place, all programs and services are efficient and effective, all resources are managed with quality guidelines, and every operation is managed with utmost efficiency. Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to any organization supported by taxpayer dollars -- and this is especially true of schools.

If the BOE has nothing to hide and since intelligent people should always be willing to learn from experts, why not ask him to come in?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Century Brass To Be Sold?

There's an interesting tidbit on Monday night's Town Council Agenda: the possible purchase of the brass mill. If the sale takes place quickly, it could have a very positive impact on the 08/09 Budget.

Town Auditor Coming Tuesday to Examine Account

I learned a few moments ago that the Town Auditor will be here on Tuesday to examine this account. He will report his findings to Ray Jankowski, CFO and Town Treasurer.

I believe that it is in the best interests of the Town and everyone implicated in this issue to come forward, admit the wrongdoing and let us move on with the tough task of passing a Budget.

School For Scandal

"I am conducting an internal review of the health insurance line and the manner used to project employee contributions, School Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfote said in a story by Nanci Hutson in today's News-Times. "When the internal review is concluded, the information will be shared with the Board of Education."

Sure. Sounds like the fox/henhouse fable to me. And what do you suppose that this "internal review" will likely find? Uh-huh. I agree with you. Nothing. That's why I believe that the Town Auditor should be looking into this.

Let me see if I can explain two of these issues very clearly.

1) The $2,400,000: Every year, the Town has a budget line for the medical expenses of its employees. That line is part of the General Fund. Medical claims are paid out of the Internal Service Fund that, for obvious reasons, is highly regulated and to which strict accounting rules apply. During the fiscal year, all payments are made to the providers of medical services out of the ISF and then the ISF is reimbursed for those payments by the monies in the GF. It is this payment due to the ISF from the GF that people are calling the "receivable." As you can see, this is nothing more than an accounting or bookkeeping entry. At the end of each fiscal year, there are always payments that have to be made that either weren’t billed or weren’t paid prior to the end of the fiscal year and this is "washed out" shortly after the beginning of the new fiscal year. That receivable is the $2,400,000. There is absolutely no "shortfall."

2) The BOE slush fund: The ISF was established in 1993 but Ray Jankowski put his foot down in 2001 when he began to see discrepancies about its handling by the BOE. Prior thereto, this is how its predecessor, the medical reserve account, worked. Or didn’t. Let’s say that the BOE budgeted the sum of $10,000,000 for receivables...any and all co-pays for employee medical insurance. And let’s say that it did this even though its history (in accounting parlance it’s "experience) suggested a different number, let’s say $11,000,000. Despite that experience, with full knowledge that it was grossly underestimating the revenue, the BOE apparently did this year after year, generating a surplus that was then transferred from this account to others. Remember that the Statutes, unlike the Town, allow the BOE to make these transfers from one account to another. Now please understand this next point. The so-called "Town-side" had no specific knowledge of the problem since the BOE was sending the allegedly proper amount – the $10,000,000 -- to Ray Jankowski for deposit into the ISF. Without access to the data such as the number of retirees in the school system, he could not know for sure that there was anything untoward happening.

In about 2000, former Town Auditor Derek DeLeo made a comment about the way that the BOE finances were being handled. I will follow up on this and post as soon as I can find them. [ed. note: see comment 3]

So the affect on the taxpayers is that we footed the bill for $1,000,000 more than we had to. This is truly voodoo accounting; it is unlawful to overtax the taxpayers and, in my opinion, that’s exactly what was being done for years by the BOE and it is exactly what Ray Jankowski alleges in his letter.

Who knew about this? BOE Finance Manager Tom Corbett surely had to know. Former Chair Wendy Faulenbach? JeanAnn? Time will tell.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Jankowski Cites BOE, Paddyfote and Diamond "Improper Budgeting Technique"

I have known Town CFO and Treasurer Ray Jankowski for more than 15 years and know him to be a quiet, gentle man who avoids the limelight and the fray. No one's dupe, he does his job expertly and efficiently with a small, excellent staff and pays close attention to and abides by all applicable laws and accounting procedures.

Thus the tone of the letter that he wrote today to the BOE and JeanAnn Paddyfote came as a surprise. In a scathing rebuke of what he describes as the use of "an improper budgeting technique," Ray makes accusations of what in my opinion clearly amount to malfeasance.

Insisting that this "budgeting technique end immediately," he wrote, "this is not the result of poor guesswork but [was] deliberate and with purpose that could never be attained under the rules imposed by my office using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles on the funding of an Internal Service Fund."

Let's put this in context. This is only one account. One portion of a bloated budget for which no one is held accountable and which I would guess that no one except Bill Wellman understands. Can you imagine what Ray would find if all of the books were open to him?

Mr. Jankowski has the power and the authority to take over the BOE Finance Department or to hire someone for it who reports to him. Such dire changes are long overdue.

This is very, very serious. The person or persons who are responsible for this ought to retain an attorney forthwith.

Breathalyzer For Students And Parents

The BOE is considering the adoption of Rules for the "Use of Alcohol Detection Devices." Here is the draft. The italicized matter is the proposed new language. Note the language in Section 5 that applies to "students and/or their guests"who attend events.

Lundgren Pushes To Raid Medical Reserve for BOE

Town Councilman Mary Jane Lundgren put on quite a show last night at the behest of her BOE buddies. Working from a folder containing materials that were obviously prepared for her, she demanded answers to questions that she herself did not understand. So embarassing to be asked a question about your question and have no meaningful response.

The BOE people think that they are entitled to money from the Internal Service Fund. Not so, for the reasons elaborated by CFO Ray Jankowski, the Mayor and Town Attorney Randy DiBella.

Come on, folks, you're already getting the benefit of $500,000 from the fund, half the million that was included in the Mayor's proposed Budget.

BOE Reduction At $320K, Not 1.7M

Here's an update of the BOE 1.7M reduction:

1) it was reduced by 280k as a result of retiring personnel (60k) and lower insurance costs (220k)

2) it should be reduced by taking the 560k that the BOE wants for capital from its capital reserve fund; and

3) it was reduced last night by 640k which is 80% of the 800k savings from going back to self-insured.

So the 1.7M reduction can be down to 320k. Surely the BOE can find that amount and if it can't, Ray Jankowski certainly can! Give him the books...I'll bet he can find some voodoo accounting going on over there!

Town To Be Self-Insured, Saves $800,000

Town CFO Ray Jankowski announced last night that the Town is going back to being self-insured effective July 1, 2008, resulting in a savings of approximately $800,000.00.

The newly calculated tax increase is 3.5% instead of 4.9% and a mill rate of 22.09.

Umbarger: 'Don't Lay the Blame Entirely On BOE'

I have to take exception to several comments in your post on the proposed New Milford budget deliberations.

But first, I agree that the economic situation is ‘not good’. Actually I think the national, state and local economic conditions are the worst I have seen in my lifetime, with no ‘blue sky’ on the economic horizon. Forces are in play beyond the control of federal, state or local policy makers.

You, in draconian or theatrical fashion, mention that to close town hall, curtail all capital projects, higher town employee medical contributions should not be entertained as discussion points for budget deliberations.

I believe everything should be on the table, what’s wrong with discussing having town employees pay the increase for their health insurance (the premiums are not going to go down – there has to be a restraint on this expense). Certainly there will be resistance, but not to discuss such a significant expense borders on dereliction. Soon, very soon the unions will have to realize that this benefit should not and cannot continue as it is currently structured.

To lay the blame entirely on the BOE, as you do, is an attempt at obfuscation and/or misdirection. A quick perusal of the budget indicates there are some material benefits that could be realized by looking at the ‘Town’ side.

Why in this economic environment do we need a two person staff for economic development, which have salary expense of over $100,000? If the thesis of dire economic forecast is correct, then the Town’s support of this expense is counterintuitive. Why should we pay to entice economic activity if there is none to be had? Why not cut these positions to a .2 personnel allocation, which would allow the Town to maintain development activity commensurate with the economic forecasts (and save $80,000)? But the big one, the best piece of pork, is $7,000 for workshops/memberships/conferences for the Economic Development Supervisor and Secretary. Let’s get real – that’s a complete waste of money when ‘every dollar counts’. Sounds like we are ‘building a bridge to nowhere!’!

And what about the Candlewood Lake Authority contribution of $58,800? That’s the amount the Town pays First Light (a private equity firm, or, - hedge fund) all the while First Light wants to ‘tax’ lakefront property owners for shoreline management and recreational boaters a sticker fee to support marine enforcement, while the Town has no zoning/building/health code jurisdiction below the 440 line according to the recent Supreme Court decision. I think the Town should seriously reconsider its $58,800 ‘tax’ payment to First Light.
Isn’t it interesting that First Light has been given zoning, environmental, health, jurisdiction which supersedes the towns’ in which the lake is domiciled, but additionally has quasi-police power through the marine patrols, proposed taxing power through the boat sticker and lakefront property fees. Sure sounds like we are ceding governmental power to a ‘private equity’ firm. Jay – you’re an attorney, with the recent court decision is First Light subject to local municipal ordinances below the 440 line, and are they even subject to State Statute with the FERC (Federal) governance decision?

Lastly, about deferring the implementation of the BOE strategic plan. I would bet the same folks who are now suggesting that the BOE defer plan implementation are the same folks who several years ago criticized the BOE for not having a plan – damned if you do, damned if you don’t.