Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sweeping Change Coming to Town Council

Dennis Martinek and Ken O'Brien

At December 19th's meeting, the town council will take up the following item:

17. Vote to authorize the Town Manager to proceed with the procurement process to purchase a Street Sweeper and to fund this purchase, that $172,000 is appropriated for the purpose for financing the purchase of a Street Sweeper and to meet this appropriation the Treasurer with the approval of the Town Manager is authorized to borrow $146,155.00 and issue bonds or notes therefore under Section 7 and/or 8 of Chapter 44 of the General Laws, or any other enabling authority; that such bonds or notes shall be general obligations of the Town and to fund the balance of the project by appropriating $10,000 from Sewer Enterprise Retained Earnings, $10,000 from Water Enterprise Retained Earnings and by transferring $2,046.00 from #6325 Replace Boilers, $2,474.00 from #6323 FY 2010 Capital Budget and $1,325.00 #6317 Pleasant Street Paving.
                                                                        (2/3 Roll Call Vote Required)

At a time when the taxpayers would like to see a concerted effort at austerity, this item is especially troubling.

The difficulty lies not with the need for a new street sweeper. For seven years we have been living with a piece of equipment that has spent as much, if not more, time undergoing repairs than being in use.

Rather the issue revolves around the economics and financing of this proposal.

First, there is the issue of taking a combined $20,000 from the Water and Sewer Enterprise accounts to underwrite the “allocated costs” incurred by the use of this equipment at their facilities. Having just undergone another increase in the tax rate, taxpayers are loathe to see another expenditure that will have a negative impact on water and/or sewer rates. There is also a question of the actual cost allocation versus the actual time a sweeper is used at either of these facilities.

Second, there is the appropriation of money from other accounts. Are these monies a surplus beyond the expected costs of these items at the time the appropriations were made? If so, shouldn’t these resources be returned to the General Fund to reduce other budget expenses?

Third, there is the addition of an additional $146,155 to our debt burden along with the associated interest expense.

It seems that this is a clear case where a little “outside the box” thinking would be beneficial.

Rather than spending $172,000 it would seem to make more sense to lease this piece of equipment.

The town has been doing this for the last three years, leasing a street sweeper from Dan Amorello for an approximate annual cost of $15,000. In addition to the leasing cost, there has been an additional cost of about $5,000 per year for maintenance and brush replacement.

Additionally, councilor Conrad Vandel has informed me that it would cost about $5,000 to bring our current sweeper up to spec.

Thus, for a cost of about $25,000 we could dispense with an expenditure of $172,000 plus interest.

That would be a savings of around $150,000. In addition, we would come out with a refurbished street sweeper that we would own.

If we assume that the allocated cost to the water and sewer accounts are valid this would reduce that cost allocation from $20,000 to about $2,900.

Certainly this suggestion would seem to merit consideration before jumping into this expenditure.


  1. Then there's agenda item #15 that would approve the contract with Green Brown consulting, for the purpose of "enforcement".
    At the last town council meeting Clark virtually guaranteed that it would go to the same contractor.
    At the subcommittee meeting Clark admitted that he only published the RFP in the Southbridge News. How many individuals or firms that might be qualified to do this work, and willing to do it for less, read the SEN?
    Whether you call yourself a left winger, a right winger or middle of the bird, there's no denying that this is crony capitalism pure and simple.
    In addition, coupled with the approval of the "trash cop" and a $250 to $300 fine if you don't conform to the clearly arbitrary judgments of these jackbooted enforcers, is there really any doubt that we are the vassals of Casella with Clark acting as Prince John, and Nickolla and Charette serving as bifurcated versions of the Sheriff of Nottingham?

  2. i can tell you first hand that this is yet another kick in the balls to all of us who have rebuilding from the tornado for over 6 months...basically all alone with no help from the town. we have been charged full price for building permits, when all other towns have waived the fees for tornado victims. we didn't get the tax break we were promised in a july post tornado meeting with FEMA and MEMA in attendence. we have been told that tree and debris removal is "responsability of the homeowner".....while we have paid out the butt to rebuild our homes and continue to go deeper and deeper in the same time they raised our taxes and water bills, while our property values went down because of the storm. now just this week i was personally told from the town's fire inspector that they are deeply concerned about the upcoming fire season due to the overwhelming amount of dead brush and trees, and that if a fire breaks out they wont have the manpower to stop it. not to mention the drainage/flooding issues we have been dealing with because of the loss of thousands of trees. but again....this is all "the homeowner's responsability". now they want to use my tax money to buy a friggin street sweeper!!!???? priorities. i will go on record tommorow and let them know that if we have a devastating fire this spring because of their lack of "give a crap", then there will be another lawsuit against this town. it must be nice to go on with your daily life not having to continually worry about what the tornado did, and is continueing to do......but unfortunatly we don't all have that option. HELP US OUT FOR GOD'S SAKE.....worry about your sidewalks, and streetsweeper once ALL residents are back to normal

  3. aka Jester


    5:54 PM, Sep 20, 2011

    Written by
    Danielle Waugh FILED UNDER
    WCSH 6 News
    WLBZ 2 News

    Titled: Town Managers across Maine stepping down

    OLD TOWN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Since May, several Town Managers have either resigned or been dismissed, and some are pointing to the economy.

    Town Managers in Hampden, Old Town, Sangerville and Veazie have left their positions in the last few months.

    According to a spokesman from the Maine Municipal Association, it's a combination of economic strain and public opinion.

    "Money is tight, and these are somewhat anti-government times. The public sentiment out there is pretty rough on all levels of government," said Eric Conrad of the MMA.

    "You put those two forces together...and it's a tough time to be in those positions."

    Yet; in Southbridge the Tax Payer is good "Til the Last Drop"!

    Just wondering when the "Majority Town Council" is gonna start passing the Tin Can around. After all; it's Christmas Time and they have a “Business to Run”.

    p.s. Does anyone have a clue as to what that "Modest 1% (cost-of-living) Increase" figure tallies up to?

  4. All that I can say is thank god that I have sold my home in Southbridge. Having read some of the post here and on other sites I find it amazing that the town council would go along with this purchase. This is not the time. If only the residents would come together and stress to council the diffculties that they are having. As the old saying goes in Unity there is strength and divided you fall. Good luck and for me no more water, no more sewer and no more taxes in Southbridge.

  5. In today's Southbridge News Clark remarks that he plans on expanding the advertising for the new cable positions because he hasn't gotten the response he had hoped for. Doesn't he realize the inherent hypocrisy of saying that after indicating that he was satisfied with the awarding a contract to Green Brown when they were the only applicant after advertising only in the Southbridge News?

  6. Excellent point Ken, you're right! Hypocrite is the word.

  7. I find it safe to say that if town officials in Joplin, MO or Tuscaloosa, AL or heck even Monson, MA brought up the purchase of a street sweeper in their towns right now there would be an uproar....but you know what, it won't happen because those towns have respect for the victims and what they are going through. too about we use that money to plant some new trees to help with the overwhelming loss of trees we suffered, which is a direct result of the recent flooding in our neighborhood. just one idea of many......and nowhere on my list does "purchasing a street sweeper" come up. just sick to my stomach about this.

  8. Stephanie J DeMartinoDecember 22, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Me and Dan Butler tried Monday night to squash the Street Sweeper purchase. It's a shame more people didn't show up to debate this agenda item to the Town Council. Only Butch actually heard us asking for them to wait till next year's budget and to go with the one they have now and use that for next spring. I went up twice and so did Dan.
    I also stressed in the last GG SC to the TM to expand the search on creating a consulting position for Cable and reaching out to Broadcasting schools in Mass, CT and RI. What you have is him saying he would reach out farther for the 3 positions.

    George you're very lucky to have sold your home and got out. I look at my house every day and wonder if I could sell it. Merry Christmas George. :)


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