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Brava!!! Jennifer.  So well stated.
Marianne in Windsor
 
 
In a message dated 2/4/2009 9:40:31 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
[log in to unmask] writes:

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  “inappropriate comments” 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 “
if you don’t  have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all,” 
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 don’t  hide behind anonymity and most of us 
speak from years of  experience.   What I’m 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 don’t know how we’d all 
do that if we didn’t have this forum or  similar tool to do that.   Sometimes 
when I read posts on here from  different “authority” figures asking for 
private emails in response to a clerk  asking about specific situations, it gives 
me a feeling that “they” (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 doesn’t  acknowledge a problem then it can’t 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 “suggested”
 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 it’s 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, we’re only human.  And sometimes  an issue that is near and dear 
causes a person to speak uninhibited about it  (C’mon, tell us how you really 
feel!”) 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] (mailto:[log in to unmask]) )  or Alison Kaiser 
([log in to unmask] (mailto:[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] (mailto:[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] (mailto:[log in to unmask]) 




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