MWDN: Southborough commission’s reserve account getting low

by susan on March 6, 2012

For the past several years, the Conservation Commission has subsidized its annual budget with funds from its reserve account, but members told the Board of Selectmen and Advisory Committee last month that practice may be coming to an end because funds are running low. Apparently, that was by design.

The Metrowest Daily News explains:

The Advisory Committee asked the commission to spend down the account “rapidly,” (Conservation Administrator Beth Rosenblum) said, because it didn’t like the idea of big pockets of money sitting around doing nothing.

Accordingly, the commission has been pitching in on some of the bigger items in the budget — including paying for 25 percent of Rosenblum’s salary.

Also, as peer reviews of Wetlands Protection Act projects became more necessary, it also began paying for peer reviews for which it could have charged applicants, Rosenblum said.

Those reviews varied by project and could range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, Rosenblum said Thursday.

She said the Conservation Commission wasn’t advised to pay for the reviews per se, but decided that doing so would be an efficient way of complying with the Advisory Committee’s request to spend rapidly.

You can read the whole article here, including the Advisory Committee’s response to the news.

1 Disappointed in ConCom March 6, 2012 at 11:04 AM

Wow! Somebody needs to have a heart to heart conversation with Conservation. All this double talk translates into a decision by Conservation NOT to charge the developers and residents for the mandatory peer reviews required for Wetlands Protection Act projects. Instead, the Conservation Commission essentially decided that the money in the reserve funds (which belong to the taxpayers like all other town funds) should be used by the developers and residents to pay for these reviews. Why in the world shouldn’t they pay for this work caused by their requests? Should we ask the Building Inspector to use any extra funds in his budget to pay for building permits for developers and residents?

With all the town’s efforts to get people to pay extra for services ranging from Senior meals at the Senior Center to school fees, this is just a wrong decision.

Wow.

If I told my teenage she is keeping too much of her savings in her dresser drawer, I wouldn’t expect her to just spend that money to reduce the balance in the dresser drawer.

This is a disappointing decision by the Conservation Commission.

2 Al Hamilton March 6, 2012 at 12:07 PM

I participated in the original assessment of the Conservation Fund. This was a pool of monies collected over the years from applicants that appeared before the Commission. The monies had been largely untouched for years. I believe that the balance at the time was about $85,000.

After a review of the appropriate regulations Advisory recommended that the Commission begin spending down this fund by using it to fund part of its budget. I do not believe that there was ever any intent to use this money to subsidize development or to permit the Commission the luxury of paying for services that should properly have been funded by applicants. The use of these funds for this purpose is disturbing.

At the time it was understood that the spending down of this fund would eventually bring it to a point where it would be diminished and a greater percentage of the Commissions budget would have to be funded by the taxpayers.

This by the way is an example of the managerial review and investigation powers that Town By Law vests in Advisory. The proposed Town Manager legislation would strip Advisory of these powers and we will be the poorer for it.

3 Mark Ford March 6, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Al,

As you know, I was involved with Advisory at that point in time, and I agree with you entirely. Conservation paying for Peer Reviews which ought to have been paid for by the applicants? I don’t think so.

4 Jeff March 6, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Who is running this town????

I secound the WOW.

5 Neil Rossen March 6, 2012 at 9:36 PM

The School Committee, the town employees, the unions run this town. It is so easy to spend other people’s money. If Advisory thought that you could have public officials actually think, they misplaced their trust . Maybe if it were the official’s own money things might be different. Are there no audit controls? To me it is mind boggling but predictable.

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