Towns need fiscal literacy now.
In January, Templeton Town Accountant Fred Aponte reported a $505,000 deficit. He stated: "The deficit likely arose while a previous accountant used different software to handle the town's books.'' This equated to every household coming up with $209 to make up the deficit, or $505,000 not being available for future spending, or borrowing money.
So now we read that the Winchendon town manager "is developing a plan to fix the deficit, which he thinks is $2.3 million, but Selectman Blair Jackson said could be as much as $5 million.'' This equates to $575 (or $1,250) per household.
The price for almost everything keeps rising -- electricity (projected to rise 37 percent), heating, gasoline, trash collection, property taxes, water taxes, sewer taxes, food, education, etc. These are the legitimate costs, I'm not suggesting otherwise. Is $575 (or $1,250) a lot of money? Ask our senior citizens.
I propose, once again, that everyone involved in spending large sums of money (those that approve, concur, or sign the checks) be required to pass a certification exam that would test their proficiency in applicable software, Massachusetts General Laws, accounting procedures, and anything else necessary to demonstrate that they know how to do their jobs. Would there be a cost for this? Probably. But would it be less than $545 (or $1,186) per household? I think it would.
Templeton, Wachusett Regional School District, Spencer, East Brookfield, and now Winchendon -- different towns, different departments, but the same story -- financial mismanagement. Is your town next?