Advisors asked Social Service League Some Hard Questions

Glenn Pratt and Marita Carpenter of the Social Service League addressed advisors last night on numerous aspects of the 8,000 sq. ft. senior center that will be ready for occupancy November 1.

Paul Kierce, chairman of board of elder affairs said: “This project has been adrift from public for some period of time. We’ve been working with Town Manager Chris Senior since Feb-March. On June 30 he began working with us to put things together for special town meeting. We’ve been contacting vendors and the numbers are coming. Senior told us we need to have final numbers together by the end of the month.”

“Why are you requesting a lease, and not a turn over of the building to the town; why is there this discrepancy from the memorandum of understanding?” Advisory Chair Peter Pescatore asked.

Marita Carpenter said the League had enough money to complete the project at no cost to the town. We have a $750,000 credit at Rockland Trust and we are continuing the capital campaign.”

Pescatore asked: “How does that change the original MOU (Memorandum of Understanding)?”

Marita Carpenter said the mortgage had changed things.

Joel Carpenter (husband of Marita) explained that the League had permission to give 1M to the town for construction, but the town wouldn’t want to take it with debt. “We will give it to you as soon as the we work the debt off.”

Pescatore wanted to know if the state prohibited the League from making transfer of money because of the mortgage? Where is the legality?”

Joel Carpenter said the League thought the Town would kick in some money. It didn’t happen. We are still subject to a trust kind of arrangement. We are very confident that the Attorney General will approve our petition and we can give it to you tomorrow. Most of our debt will get paid off when the pledges come in.”

Vice Advisor Chair Nan Roth asked: “What about the fact that the town never voted for this at all?”

Pratt said town meeting had voted over five times to move the project along, with regard to land transfers, etc.

“So this article is the up and down vote,” Pescatore concluded.

Joel Carpenter said selectmen can vote to not accept it, but he added that the risk of raising the money is totally on the Social Service League. Marita Carpenter has given lease terms to town. Town Manager Chris Senior has advised the League to have all its numbers together by the end of the month.

Pescatore said he has asked permission from the selectmen to attend its executive session Monday night to discuss the terms of the lease. Until more information is gleaned, advisors voted to table the article until additional background is revealed.

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Advisors put an article requesting the town to purchase furnishings for the building on hold until more information is generated. This is the discussion:

Pratt said there have been a tremendous amount of donations and in-kind donations of furnishings from the community.

Advisor John Chapman noted that furnishings would be a capital item, and asked if this had been dealt with.

Kierce said a 10-year forecast was presented and published with senior center planning group and had been in the public domain for some time.

“There were no furnishings included in that forecast,” Pescatore said.

Kierce said a $50,000 placeholder for FY16 was submitted to Capital Budget and that included van requirements.

“What would happen if the senior center was not approved?” Chamillard asked.

Advisor Bob Benson said he still felt there had never been an up or down vote on the Center.

Kierce noted that the town is not yet being asked to accept the Center. He said until the pledges are finalized the League could not turn the Center over the town. Kierce said he had personally donated $50,000 to the Center in honor of his parents. And he told Advisors that the town has determined that it needs more space. “We said we’d get the money ourselves, and we still need to get an operating budget together. If we have a lease with the town we can move into that building. We have a department of elder affairs that needs space.”

Benson said: “We wouldn’t be having these discussions if town had voted two years ago.”

“I agree,” Kierce said. “The process has been flawed since day 1. We need to move 3 Main to 91 Sohier in the most cost effective way.”

Advisor Linda Moony said: “I opposed a lease agreement from beginning. I’m still concerned about having the town in a lease agreement that can be fraught with problems”

“I think you will be satisfied,” Kierce said.

Pescatore noted that his committee had not yet entertained the money affairs needed to operate for the rest of the year. Pescatore noted that for two years in a row Elder Affairs has had a large increase. The baseline is now $275,000 a year. The current lease is $26,000 a year.

After a tour of the new Senior Center, Pescatore said “It’s beautiful, well laid out, the best function room in town. It would hold several hundred people”

Roth noted that an increase is staffing hasn’t been discussed.

One good thing, Pescatore noted, is that the town has been turning back $400,000 plus in its budgets for the past three years. “So we are $800,000 to the good. And next year, I don’t want to hear about any increases in the budget. We threw ridiculously amounts of money into the town budget. Now that’s just fewer Christmas cards we’ll get.”

© Copyright 2014 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed
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