Category Archives: Town Services

Treasurer/Collector’s status report

At selectmen meeting on Tuesday Georgia Colivas, the Treasurer Collector, reported on the status of the work of her to offices to the town as follows (MVE is for “motor vehicle excise”) -


Selectmen’s meeting Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Update of current items on the to do list for the Treasurer’s office:

*The town will be selling general obligation bonds amounting to $7.2 M on Wednesday, October 1st. This borrowing includes 2 authorized articles: first one is the $5,840,000 MSH Water Tower, and the $1,360,000 Red Gate Farm Land Acquisition.   As you may recall, the Red Gate Farm was previously authorized in June of 2014 with a BAN, a short term borrowing, that matures on October 17th. Once these borrowings are completed, the town will have no authorized and unissued debt…well until the next town meeting. Currently, as of the beginning of this FY, the town’s outstanding debt is approximately $46.1M with $37.8 M in principal and $8.3M in interest. The Town’s current bond rating by Moody’s is an AA1, and town will be subject to another rating call on September 23rd for the current borrowing.

*The month of September in the treasurer’s office will bring back the large biweekly payrolls now that school is back in session, and rather large weekly vendor warrants for all town and school departments. Millions of dollars of funds are disbursed each month- for example, in June of 2014, the last month of the FY, nearly $8.2M was expended. The beginning of each month to a municipal treasurer means a monthly cash reconciliation for all funds, town and school with bank statements including all revenue collected and expenditures paid. With school back in session, school revenues will make their way into the treasurer’s office- in fact, ALL types of revenue from all town and school departments must be deposited and accounted for by the treasurer. Currently, taxpayers may use the town’s online payment option to process RE tax bills, water bills and MVE bills. I am currently working with the new school business manager to implement many of the school user fees to the online payment system as well. We collect athletic fees, tuition, adult education fees, rents, all departmental revenues, including all revenues associated with student activity accounts.

*The management team will also begin preparing for the workers compensation audit, the town’s fy 2014 audit which will continue in Nov/Dec., and we will begin working to set the tax rate for fy 2015.   Our current tax rate is $16.12. In the winter of 2015, we plan on updating the OPEB actuarial valuation, and also begin to assess how to structure the OPEB liability in a protected trust fund as approved at the April town meeting.

*In late October, I plan to advertise any outstanding parcels whose real estate taxes are not current and are not on an approved payment plan with the town. The Treasurer currently has 4 parcels in tax title, and 3 parcels in the foreclosure process, 2 of which should be settled by the end of the calendar year. In addition, the treasurer has 10 parcels in tax deferral status whereby the owners defer their RE taxes until they sell the property or until the passing of the owner.

*October will also bring water/sewer bills to all users’ mailboxes. These bills cover the usage period of April 1, 2014 to October 1, 2014 – or as we have named them, the summer usage bills. But before those bills are processed, water and sewer liens are imposed on past due balances which are added to the 3rd quarter real estate tax bills for prompt and assured collection.

*And on an ongoing basis, I handle all unemployment issues, health insurance for retirees, act as the liaison to the NCRS, keep up to date w/ record retention, balance trust funds on a quarterly basis, update investment policies based upon market conditions and advice from auditors, work closely with DOR and Division of Local Services, monitor appropriation expenditures and revenue, and most importantly work with the public.

 

Now on to the second hat that I wear, the Tax Collector:

*as of 6.30.2014, for the 2014 tax levy, 99.3% of all real estate tax receivables have been collected. This %age is a reflection of the town’s solid tax base and the commitment of it’s’ taxpayers to the town.   In FY2014 the tax collector’s office prepared over 300 MLC’s which gives you an idea of the number of sales/refinances that occurred in town.

*the next MVE commitment will be released in early October by MASSDOT (formerly known as the Registry of MV), and the largest MVE commitment will be released to the town in February. In FY14, MVE revenue was approx. $1.9M

*In a few weeks, 2nd quarter preliminary RE tax bills will be processed and mailed. These bills are due on or before November 3rd. We issue approx. 4600 RE tax bills and around 80 personal property bills each fiscal year.   In addition, water and sewer bills, which are collected by the Tax Collectors’ office, will be issued by the middle of October and due by the end of November

*Most importantly, the lines of communication between the Treasurer /Collectors office and ALL TOWN AND SCHOOL departments are healthy and clear- we work extremely well together, we respect one another, and this is all evident in our year-end financial statement s, bond ratings, and collection rates. It is my pleasure to work with such a dedicated team of professionals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ed Hinkley retired

Edward Hinkley was born, raised, and educated in Medfield, and then Ed worked for the DPW, for almost fifty years when he retired last week from his positions as foreman in the Water Department and tree warden.  The DPW held a retirement party for Ed a week ago, at which he collected numerous citations, and a neat looking lamp made out of a water valve with a hard hat for a shade.

I met Ed when as a new selectman he lead the then Board of Selectmen to perambulate the bounds of the town, which turned out to involve visiting the granite markers that delineate the actual town boundaries.  As we left the Town House, Ed first taught me the short cut from the town hall parking lot out to Rte 109, and then amazed me when he lead us to a myriad of granite markers, most standing the the middle of woods.  My immediate reaction at the time was that those markers were so remotely sited that Ed was probably the only person who knew where all those markers were actually located.  At Ed’s retirement party, Selectman DeSorgher mentioned that while walking the Medfield State Hospital grounds with Ed, Ed had told someone to find the water valve they were seeking behind some brush, and sure enough that is where it was.

Ed has a detailed and encyclopedic knowledge of the infrastructure details of the Town of Medfield, and the town will be poorer for his departure.

Town of Medfield owes Ed Hinkley a huge thank you for fifty years of service.  We wish him well on his visit to Yellowstone.

Liz Loveless leaving

Liz Loveless, Youth Outreach Worker at Medfield Youth Outreach, announced today that she will be moving to Needham Youth Services this month – a copy of her email appears below.  This is a big loss for Medfield Youth Outreach, MCAP, and the kids in town.


 

7/08/2014 2:38PM
News from MYO
Medfield Youth-Outreach
===========================================================
Hi everyone,

I am writing this note to let you all know that I will be leaving my position as Youth Outreach Worker at Medfield Youth Outreach. I have decided to take a child therapist job at Needham Youth Services where I have been doing some part time work over the past few years. My last day here at MYO will be July 18th.

I have enjoyed serving the wonderful Medfield community and working closely with school staff, needs based organizations, town departments, and of course, Medfield children and families. It has been a pleasure to work with you and I wish you all the best!

Best,

Liz

Medfield Youth Outreach
459 Main St.
Medfield, MA 02052
508-359-7121

W&S – state $ & impact fees

This from the State House News service, via John Nunnari.  This could be helpful both with respect to the new water tower and with respect to the redevelopment of the Medfield State Hospital site -

SENATE ADDS LOCAL OPTION WATER SURCHARGE TO INFRASTRUCTURE BILL

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, FEB. 27, 2014….After agreeing to a plan allowing a new local option water surcharge, the Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday aimed at addressing some of the unmet funding needs for water infrastructure projects in Massachusetts.

Senate President Therese Murray, who has several communities in her district facing water infrastructure challenges, pushed the water infrastructure needs as a priority this session, along with Sen. James Eldridge – who headed up a two-year-long commission studying the issue.

Rep. Carolyn Dykema, a Democrat from Holliston, has been pushing the issue in the House, where the bill heads next, and co-chaired the Water Infrastructure Finance Commission along with Eldridge.

A Senate Ways and Means version of the bill (S 2016) passed 37 to 0, with several amendments adopted that were filed by both Democrats and Republicans.

“This bill that was debated today is a really strong bill that will not only create investments in water infrastructure but better protect the environment, and create incentives for green infrastructure,” Eldridge said after the bill passed.

The bill authorizes low-interest loans for water infrastructure projects and establishes criteria for the loan process. It requires the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust – the new name for the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust – to create a sliding scale interest rate, from 0 to 2 percent on loans for qualifying projects.

The bill increases a contract assistance ceiling from $88 million a year to $138 million per year and requires the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust to commit 80 percent of that limit and report to the Legislature in any year that the threshold is not met.

The bill also authorizes cities and towns to collect impact fees to help offset environmental impacts caused by developments requiring new or increased water and sewer system withdrawals. The bill calls for fees to be assessed in a “fair and equitable manner” and allows separate fees for residential and commercial usage.

On a voice vote, senators rejected an amendment to the bill that would ban hydraulic fracking to extract natural gas, filed by Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport).

Environmentalists applauded the bill’s passage.

“I think it is great this bill does a lot to level the playing field for green infrastructure,” Steve Long, government relations director at the Nature Conservancy said.

Incentives for green infrastructure – which uses nature to help provide clean drinking and stormwater – are embedded throughout the bill, Long said. The legislation allows for reduced financing for green infrastructure projects, which will go a long way to help achieve clean water goals, he said.

Senators adopted an amendment establishing a local option water surcharge for communities. Cities and towns that vote to adopt the program could levy a water infrastructure surcharge up to 3 percent, similar to the way the Community Preservation Act works. The amendment passed 31 to 5.

“Now we are creating a mechanism if communities so choose to use the same method for water infrastructure,” Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), who filed the amendment, said referring to the CPA.

Communities that vote in favor of adopting the water surcharge would be allowed to assess a fee on new uses for water. It would apply to new residential and commercial development, according to Long, from the Nature Conservancy. The money would be deposited in a water infrastructure fund.

“That fund could be used to find ways to replace water that has been taken out of the system. It could be used for conservation, fixing leaky pipes, making infrastructure repairs, anything that helps save water and also mitigate the extraction of water,” Long said.

Sen. Michael Moore, a Democrat from Millbury, was successful in getting an amendment passed, by two votes, that would allow communities that are too far away to join the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to be eligible for a one-to-one match for infrastructure needs.

Moore said it would create parity for non-MWRA communities to have access to state aid that is dedicated to the MWRA. Eldridge spoke against the amendment, which passed 19 to 17.

“Given the fact that we don’t have new revenue in this bill, the question is where would the money come from?” Eldridge said after the session.

Communities outside the MWRA district feel there is too much attention directed to the MWRA, Eldridge said.

“I think that vote reflected that we do need to provide more investments in infrastructure in every city and town,” he said.

Sen. Bruce Tarr proposed an amendment, which passed unanimously, that creates a municipal impact fee. Tarr said there needed to be some emphasis on water conservation in the legislation. The amendment incentivizes conservation by offering individual ratepayers a fee reduction of up to 25 percent if they install any low flow fixtures or water efficient appliances in their home.

END
2/27/2014

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Town reports back to 1857 on-line

This email from David Temple -
As a result of having these annual town reports scanned and readable on line, the information is much more accessible to researchers – and the society can recycle several cartons of duplicate old reports, freeing up some much needed space in our basement.
I encourage you not to delete this message, but leave it in your email file for possible future reference when you need the information..
In your reply, please include my original message. AOL users please note!

David Temple
David F. Temple, Inc.
300 South Street
Medfield, MA 02052
508-359-2915

eBills now available

Per the email e-newsletter today from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services the town can now opt to offer residents e-bills for all their town bills, plus the town can now bundle multiple bills (e.g. – real estate tax bill plus the water and sewer bill) in one transmission -

Ask DLS
City and Town Editorial Board

This month’s Ask DLS features frequently asked questions about e-billing. We hope the answers will provide timely and helpful information. Please let us know if you have other areas of interest or send a question to cityandtown@dor.state.ma.us. We’d like to hear from you!

Can cities and towns send property tax or other bills by email?

With the approval of the Municipal Relief Act on July 27, 2010 (c. 188 of the Acts of 2010), cities and towns are now authorized to issue property tax bills in electronic form. Section 54 of the Act amends M.G.L. C. 60 by adding new language to Section 3A that allows tax bills to be sent by email and other bills and nonpolitical information to be inserted with the mailing.

The local decision to allow issuance of the so-called “e-bills” rests with the board of selectmen in a town and the mayor in a city. There are two primary components to the authorization:

1.) Like hardcopy bills, electronic property tax bills must be in a form approved by the Commissioner of Revenue and must meet the “content” requirements imposed by c.60, s.3A, subsection (a), which are unchanged; and

2.) The program must be voluntary. Taxpayers cannot be forced to receive an electronic bill.

The legislation encourages a paperless system where the only tax bill received by property owners would be an email copy. Savings would be realized through the elimination of printed bills and postage for mailings two or four times a year. To receive an electronic bill or notice, taxpayers must explicitly enroll and provide their email address to the collector.

In addition, municipal collectors are permitted to include, with the electronic property tax bill, other charges for water or sewer use, solid waste disposal or collection, or electric, gas or other utility services. These can only include charges that are authorized by ordinance or by-law and that are assessed by the city or town. The inserted bills or notices of payments due must be separate and distinct from the property tax bills. In the case where a separate commission oversees the water or sewer operation, it rather than the selectmen or mayor would authorize utility e-bills.

The authority previously granted to municipalities to include nonpolitical informational material in an envelope with the tax bill is now expanded. The inclusion of additional information with an email tax bill is permitted, but requires the approval of the selectmen or mayor.

In developing an electronic tax bill program, the municipal collector should work with local assessors and a technology advisor. Among other topics, consideration might be given to the following:

Program Management: Consideration of the tax billing process, staffing, web access and software capability should help local officials determine the most practical option for managing the program. In most instances, we would expect this to be collector’s office, which has the legal responsibility to send proper notice of the tax due. The same analysis should be completed relative to any other bills allowed to be inserted with the electronic tax bill. Alternatively, companies are emerging that will contract with a city or town to manage its e-billing program.

Enrollment: Property owners should have the ability to enroll on-line at a dedicated town webpage. A verification mechanism must be built into the process. For instance, enrollment could be confirmed through a required return email acknowledgement by the property owner. The pertinent information could then be incorporated automatically into a data base. Over-the-counter enrollment or enrollment by mail is also an option and must include a written enrollment acknowledgement. Staff time would then have to data enter the information into the system or program.

Technology: For tax bills, whether in the assessors’ appraisal system or a collector’s billing system, software should allow property accounts to be flagged where owners have requested an electronic bill. The taxpayer’s billing account would remain in the commitment, but no hardcopy bill would be printed or mailed. A similar process should be developed for other types of bills that might be inserted with the electronic property tax bill. In each instance, the collector should have the ability to print a copy of the bill, if needed.

Legal: At the time of enrollment to receive an e-bill, property owners should be required to, at least, acknowledge that:

  • they understand by enrolling they will not receive a bill in the mail or in any other hardcopy form;
  • they are responsible for the accuracy of the information provided;
  • they are solely responsible for reporting any changes to the information on file;
  • they are not relieved of the legal obligation to make timely payment if they fail to receive a tax bill, or any other bill, because of incorrect information;
  • they attest to the truth and accuracy of the information provided.

Selectman goals & objectives

I am being interviewed on Medfield TV on 6/18 by Jack Peterson and Theresa Knapp of Patch, and Jack asked me to bring along topics to discuss, so I updated the list of goals and objectives I prepared for the Board of Selectmen last September:

2013 Goals and Objectives for the Medfield Town Administrator and the Board of Selectmen

By Osler L. Peterson, Selectman
June 3, 2013

1.    Institutional good governance systems, such as
a.    Thorough planning,
b.    Government transparency, and
c.    Complete reporting to the residents
2.    Have the Board of Advisors (former selectmen) conduct a zero based review of our town government systems to determine whether we are using best practices and have the right systems.  Consider partnering with an educational institution to get interns for this task.
a.    Establish expectations, policies, and procedures for all town boards and departments.
b.    Evaluate staffing levels and positions.
i.    Consider hiring a Finance Director.
3.    Get written five year plans from the Town Administrator and department heads.
4.    Have Town Administrator use annual calendar for the Board of Selectmen.
5.    Hold a Board of Selectmen joint meeting annually with each town board and commission to review our shared purposes and goals.
6.    Report to town on DPW’s road and sidewalk repair plans and funding.
7.    Work with Water and Sewer Commission on its master plan.
8.    Study the possible purchase and/or control of the development of the Medfield State Hospital site
9.    Oversee the process of dealing with the clean up and reuse of the Medfield State Hospital site.
10.    Complete bylaw review, especially for issues related to the Medfield State Hospital site.
11.    Work with planning board for new economic growth; Town’s master plan and downtown zoning.
12.    Work on strategy for maintenance and renovation of all town buildings and a strategy to build a new DPW Garage, Public Safety, and Community Center.
13.    Examine opportunities for additional revenue streams, such as:
a.    Housing can be the “business” of Medfield (e.g. – Old Medfield Square)
b.    Power purchase agreements for PV power
c.    Selling Medfield bottled water
14.    Identify opportunities for regionalization of services, such as:
a.    Dispatch for public safety
b.    Board of Health
15.    Target completion of union negotiations before contracts expire.
16.    Create a three-year financial forecast of the town, working with the Warrant Committee and the School Committee.
17.    Implement succession planning for key municipal positions.
18.    Installation of solar PV arrays on town owned land.
19.    Become a Green Community.
20.    Solve Veterans Service Officer position issues.
21.    Perform an analysis of overtime use.
22.    Maintain town’s fiscal status.
23.    Determine whether our recycling rates can be improved, and our trash costs thereby reduced