Print

Print


As a non-clerk/treasurer, I find all the communications interesting.  I
belong to our elementary School Board and am the ZA in Shrewsbury.  There
are many times when I hear things on this listserve that I share on other
lists.  Keep all the comments coming- more info is better than less and
everyone's viewpoint should be heard-- don't forget there's always the
delete key!  Saying all that, this list is a bit like a Facebook site- you
don't know who is "lurking".  Adrienne/Shrewsbury



From: Jennifer Hanlon <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Vermont Municipal Government Discussion Network
<[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2009 09:40:06 -0500
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Bill S.19  / legislative comm. update - long

Dear John Cushing, Karen Richard, fellow muninet contributors,

(apologies on the length of this)

I am impressed by your diligence and organized effort to educate the powers
that be about what we as town clerks/treasurers have to do to operate
according to statutory requirements and fulfill obligations and duties of
our positions.  We are lucky as a group to have you all to represent us and
be our collective voice at the gold dome.   I have no doubt you will do good
work for us and make us proud.

There is just one point in your post John that I take issue with.  That is
the comment about ³inappropriate comments² being posted on muninet and that
they might better be directed towards the specific legislator or responsible
party/entity that we as individuals are upset or frustrated with.  I do
understand your position, and that of others who feel that perhaps the old
adage ³if you donıt have something nice to say, then donıt say anything at
all,² might be wise to invoke before posting.  However, having worked within
state/local government for almost two decades now in various capacities, I
think that at this moment in time the muninet is one of the most effective
and powerful tools for communication between all these individual town
clerks/treasurers throughout the state.   This great tool will lose its
usefulness if for whatever reason the people who utilize it to ask questions
or share thoughts they feel strongly about no longer do so.  It also is the
same powerful tool for anyone (elected officials, media) who wishes to study
the current concerns and issues affecting the clerks and treasurers in this
state.  Also, how much effort are we supposed to put into finding who
exactly should be the recipient of our general comment on a specific issue?
That in itself can be a time-consuming task with little reward in the end,
not really worth the effort, and yet another source of stress and
frustration.  

We are all aware that this forum is a public place and our email addys as
well as our business signatures are public information when we choose to
post a comment or question here.  We donıt hide behind anonymity and most of
us speak from years of experience.   What Iım getting at is that we are all
responsible for our written words on here which are committed to history
just like the land records and documents we record and reference almost
daily in our jobs.  We are responsible people and are aware we play an
important role in our respective towns.   If  per chance I happen to stick
my foot in my mouth here on the "interweb", it is I alone who will live with
the consequence of that.

 As humans however, we also sometimes need to vent our frustrations about
the bureaucracies we deal with daily and need to reach out to our peers to
query them on their policies and procedures.  Frankly, I donıt know how weıd
all do that if we didnıt have this forum or similar tool to do that.
Sometimes when I read posts on here from different ³authority² figures
asking for private emails in response to a clerk asking about specific
situations, it gives me a feeling that ³they² (the authority figures) are
looking to divide and conquer us as a group, and to stifle our concerns, and
in essence not air dirty laundry in public.  No agency is perfect, none of
us is without fault.  If one doesnıt acknowledge a problem then it canıt be
addressed.  There is power in numbers.  How do we know there are a number of
us with the same concerns unless we become aware of it?  Can you count as
many times as I can the problems with a process,  system, or agency that
have come to light because a single clerk or treasurer reached out to their
peers on muninet with a question or concern?

We have regular financial audits but there are no audits on best practices,
procedures and policies and a clerk could spend their entire career unaware
of what is happening across the state, and not be subject to any consequence
for that.  A lot of what we do as clerks in running our offices is
³suggested² best practice.  The only consequence of ignorance or
incompetence in this office of clerk or treasurer is the person who follows
us may be at a tremendous deficit, and the town as a whole may suffer due to
poor office policy.

Not all clerks are members of the VMCTA and membership is NOT compulsory.
Therefore not all clerks have access to that listserve. Not all subscribers
to muninet here are clerks or treasurers.  Right now itıs a good mix here
and I feel we benefit from that combination.  I thank you all for your
contributions and comments to this forum whether someone deems them
appropriate or not.  Which also brings up another point: What one person may
deem inappropriate or offensive for whatever reason another individual  may
find to be humorous and enlightening and a trigger to remind ourselves that
life is too short to be so tightly wound and serious 24/7/365.  Lighten up!
While some readers may be expressing their concern to you John over the lack
of self-censorship, I know as fact that there are others who feel the
complete opposite.  Sometimes things get posted in error, not all are as
proficient in email as others and again, weıre only human.  And sometimes an
issue that is near and dear causes a person to speak uninhibited about it
(Cımon, tell us how you really feel!²) unlike politicians who double talk
and dance around issues always being politically correct with every word.
Venting is also a form of stress relief.


Especially for us out in the fringes of rural Vermont, this communication
tool called muninet is a fantastic asset in our toolbox of professional
resources.  I do hope that it continues to be a place to share and learn and
to help us find out what is happening in other town offices across the
state.  Thank you again to those who take the time to help educate those
making the laws we will have to implement.

Jennifer Hanlon
UTG Supervisor
www.utg-vt.org <http://www.utg-vt.org/>


> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Cushing
> Sent: Jan 30, 2009 4:29 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Bill S.19 "extending deadline date of homesteads"
> 
> The background as I understand S.19 was due to a couple of elderly people not
> receiving a Homestead due to an out-of-state person trying to help them file
> their HS-122. The Town Clerk was trying to help them out as well as others
> that may have been in the same boat because in this particular town the tax
> bills were not mailed until after the Sept. 1st deadline. The Senators who
> introduced it were sensitive to the issue and listened to that Town Clerk and
> they were trying to fix this issue by introducing this bill. Hooray for the
> Town Clerk for trying to find a solution to the problem and Hooray for the
> Senators who introduced it when asked for help by the Town Clerk.
>  
> The 2 points that I am trying to make are that we do not always understand the
> background on some of the bills that get introduced in the legislature and a
> very small percentage of these bills that are introduced ever become law. The
> Legislative Committee that is appointed by the Clerks and Treasurers
> Association works extremely hard to try to track and when appropriate to
> testify on new legislation. I would like to suggest that if we see a Bill that
> we do not agree with, that you please refer comments directly to the Chair of
> the Legislative Committee, Karen Richard of Colchester
> ([log in to unmask]) or Alison Kaiser
> ([log in to unmask]) through their email. They would be glad to
> hear from anyone about any legislation issue that you may have.
>  
> The fact is, while this discussion was going on through Muninet, Karen and I
> were sitting in the Government Operations Committee in the House of
> Representatives talking about the HS-122 and the difficulty that we as,
> treasurers, are having in complying with the requirements of the collection of
> the education funds. The Legislative Committee is very well versed on the
> issues affecting clerks and treasurers that are before the legislature - the
> introduced bills are read daily by at least 3 different clerks and treasurers.
> We are in the beginning part of this session and a great deal of discussion
> will need to be taken and I assure you that the Legislative Committee will do
> everything it can to get the information to the representatives and senators.
> Speak to your representatives and senators and make the legislative committee
> aware of what you have told them -- we need to be on the same page - and that
> is very difficult in Vermont as there are 247 towns and very few of us perform
> our duties in the same manner.
>  
> I, for one, do not intend to censor any comments made on the Muninet. However,
> I have had several people confront me about comments being made on this list
> serve that fellow clerks and treasurers felt were inappropriate. There is no
> one who can get more emotional about municipal issues than myself, but I have
> had to wait a couple of days before making my comments so as not to let my
> anger about an issue and say things that I might regret later. It might be
> better to not direct our comments at any particular person or persons when
> responding to an issue.
>  
> In closing, please stay in touch with Karen and Alison. We need your support
> more than ever this year if we are going to change some of the legislation
> that is before the House and Senate. Thank you and have a great weekend.
>  
>  
> John P. Cushing
> Town Clerk & Treasurer
> Town of Milton
> PO Box 18
> Milton, VT 05468
> (802) 893-4111
> Email: [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> Visit our website: www.milton.govoffice2.com
> <http://www.milton.govoffice2.com/>
>  
>   
> 
> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: Roberta Dana <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009 10:33 AM
>> Subject: Bill S.19 "extending deadline date of homesteads"
>> 
>> In the legislative report from VLCT dated 1/23/09 there is a bill (S.19)
>> being considered in the Senate Finance that
>>  
>> "Would extend the filing deadline for homestead declarations and property tax
>> adjustments from September 1 to 21 days after the postmark date on the tax
>> bill.  Would extend the deadline for property tax adjustment claims from
>> September 1 to 60 days after the postmark on the tax bill."
>> I don't know about all the other towns but in Groton, we do NOT have a
>> postmark date on OUR TAX BILLS.  The envelope would have a postmark date but
>> we DO NOT accept postmarks as timely payment so why do this to us?
>>  
>> Does anyone have any idea what the idiotic purpose of this bill is other than
>> to make the whole process MORE confusing and MORE work for tax collectors?
>> Legislators, you need to come and process this work in the town offices and
>> see how you like it.  Don't you have anything more serious to work on in
>> Montpelier?
>>  
>> Let's make people take responsibility for their own actions and if you are
>> supposed to file your homestead declaration by April 15th then if you file it
>> on April 16th IT IS LATE, NO HOMESTEAD, DEAL WITH IT!
>>     
>> I don't see the IRS giving all these "late" options to anyone other than the
>> normal 3 month extension which does not eliminate interest, etc.
>>  
>> Opinions????
>> Roberta Dana
>> Town Treasurer & Tax Collector
>> Groton, VT
>> 802-584-3131
>> [log in to unmask]