Monday, October 15, 2018

TRULY AMAZING --- by Larry Fillmore

It is truly amazing to me how Councilors on our Town Council can negotiate the purchase of property, the tax dollars being spent, environmental studies and more. Then turn around and purchase the property from the town for a song and turn around and make a profit. I call this abuse of their position. Currently, we have two Councilors that, I believe, fall into this category.

The first one is Councilor Chris Brunelle who purchased the town property at 385 Lisbon Street. Councilor Brunelle’s desire for the property is to renovate the building into a marijuana retail store. However, Councilor Brunelle is trying to strong arm our Code Enforcement Officer into getting out of having a structural engineer look at the building. Our Code Enforcement Officer is doing his job to ensure the building is structurally sound.

The second objection I have to this is that even though the zoning is commercial and Councilor Brunelle has a legal right to put a marijuana retail store in Lisbon Center it is located near three housing developments with families and kids.

Councilor Brunelle is currently fighting the emergency moratorium ordinance currently in place. This is an item on the agenda for October 16, 2018.

The next Councilor is Fern LaRochelle, who is on the Town Council for a second time. During the first time, he was on the council, he used the council and his position to purchase town property. According to the town lawyer, it is perfectly legal for councilors to purchase town property but he never addressed the negotiation by Councilor Fern LaRochelle leading up to the purchase.

During the Executive Session, which we are not allowed to see, the Town Council came up with purchasing the property at 1 Canal Street. This is the location of the old Worumbo Mill site. The Town Council agreed to purchase the property for $30,000.00 of tax dollars and have an environmental survey done.

This is the same property that is in a floodplain zone which runs to Davis Street. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has told the town about coal ash that is currently under the surface which is very toxic. I am sure that this idea was that of Councilor Fern LaRochelle directly or indirectly, because Councilor LaRochelle wants to put a garage on that site. This issue is going to come before the Conservation Commission on October 16, 2018, and I am not sure this commission is aware of the Environmental Protection Agency’s report. Trust me; I do not believe that Council LaRochelle will bring this to their attention.
The two Councilors have used their position on the Town Council for pure profit. I personally do not believe that this is legal. For years, I have complained about the “Good Old Boys” network and this is more of the same. Several years ago the Planning Board approved a Land Use Condition which was for a former Councilor. It was a “temporary” land use condition with no expiration date. How can you have a temporary condition without an expiration date? This situation is still in effect today.

In my opinion, these two Councilors have abused their position on our Town Council for their own agenda for a profit.

Larry Fillmore

HERE WE GO AGAIN!!!! by Larry Fillmore

By now everyone has received the information sheet published by the town pertaining to the bonds everyone will be voting on November 6, 2018. Naturally, this information sheet was sent out after some absentee ballots were issued. Kind of defeats the purpose, don’t you think.

This is yet another example of the town spending money. They have absolutely no problems spending our tax dollars but you never see any councilor trying to save our tax dollars by reducing the town’s operating cost.

If one was to pay attention to documents associated with the Town Council agenda for October 16, 2018, they would have noticed that the last paragraph of the Police Department’s report states that come January 2019, the Lisbon Communication Center will no longer be performing dispatching for Durham. If I remember correctly, that leaves only Lisbon performing dispatching for Lisbon. This means the taxpayers have to pay for the entire Lisbon Communication Center which was budgeted for $345,246.00.

Several years ago, Councilors Garrison and Pesce conducted a survey and determined that by joining the Androscoggin County Dispatch, the town could save at least $200,000.00 per year. However, the Town Council voted 4-3 not to join Androscoggin County Dispatch and again the following year the Town Council voted 4-3 not to join Androscoggin County Dispatch.

The reason provided was that the Town Council did not want to give up control to Androscoggin County Dispatch. This effort both times was spearheaded by Fern LaRochelle who neglected to inform everyone that he was and is a subcontractor of the town who works directly with the Lisbon Communication Center. In my eyes, this was then and still is a conflict of interest that he should have revealed at the time. Now that he is once again a Councilor, he should recuse himself from any vote on this issue, if it ever came up again.

This is an excellent way for the town to save at least $200,000.00 tax dollars and no one is willing to look into saving taxpayers any money, just spending. It has been proven that letting Androscoggin County Dispatch perform our 911 calls if a much more efficient and at a cost savings to taxpayers.

I can almost guarantee you that this will never happen because it makes sense and it is the right thing to do. No one, from the Town Manager or the Town Council wants to do away with Chief David Brooks’ legacy. This has nothing to do with logic; it is strictly a political decision. Well, political decisions do not pay the bills or provide for taxpayers’ family.

So tell me again, why is our Councilors NOT looking for way to save our money?

Larry Fillmore

Saturday, September 15, 2018

MUNIS UPDATE by Larry Fillmore



During the last Town Council meeting on September 4, 2018, the Finance Director, Lydia Colston, updated the council on the assessment of the MUNIS system. If you remember in June, the council was trying to determine what to do with this software system. They decided to hire someone to come in and evaluate where the conversions was and what to do next.

Apparently, the assessment was completed costing the taxpayers approximately $4,400.00. According to Mrs. Colston, the conversion was going very slowly. It seems after nearly two years; there are NO departments up and full operational. However, Mrs. Colston believes she can have the financial services operational by October 1, 2018, payroll and licensing by next year and the financial piece, utility and tax billing by July 2019.

The firm that conducted the assessment offered the town to complete the installation for $186,000.00. I have performed many conversions in my career and I can tell you this is a steal. Without their assistance, I can almost guarantee you that by the end of the seven (7) contract this software package will not be FULLY operational. I understand that this is a great deal of tax dollars but: (1) it will be worth every penny and (2) it is unfair to saddle the installation and training of this software on our Finance Director; who has better things to do. The installation and training of any software conversion is a full-time job and the individuals performing this task must be 100% dedicated to the job at hand.


I can tell you from many years of experience, the town screwed this up from the beginning:

(1) The Town Manager and the Town Council did not seek out anyone with conversion experience to get their input.


(2) All conversions need to have the installation and training included in the original contract.

(3) Never enter into a multiply year contract prior to having seen how well the software package is working for your organization. The Town Manager, Diane Barnes, recommended to the Town Council to accept the software owners’ proposal for multiply years.
So how does the town recover from this self-infected mess? I recommend the town spend the additional tax dollars to the firm that conduct the assessment or the firm that sold the software package to the town and get the installation and training done as quickly as possible. The town is losing money every day this software is not fully operational. Because the town has no way to perform simple tasks without this software, it will take longer to perform these tasks by hand.

I do not like the Town Council spending our tax dollars uselessly but I feel that this expenditure is up front money and will save a great deal of money long term. Trying to have Mrs. Colston perform both the installation and training is absolutely crazy. Mrs. Colston has more than enough on her plate as the Finance Director alone.

A fully operational installation of MUNIS will enable the town to terminate the use of TRIO, which is the current software used in some areas. I believe by developing queries in MUNIS; it will eliminate the need to run two operating systems. The town has to pay for running two software packages at the same time. Eliminating the need for TRIO will save the town more money. This is another great mistake, I believe, the town has made.

As much as I regret saying this but the town needs to spend the money to correct the mess the Town Manager and the Town Council created.

Larry Fillmore

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? by Larry Fillmore




According to google, these are the mil rates and population for towns in Androscoggin County. What should stand out to everyone is the major discrepancy between the mil rates and the populations.

TOWNS MIL RATE POPULATION

Auburn---- 23.68 ------- 22,948

Sabattus--- 17.75-------- 5,015

Lisbon----- 24.84 --------8,846


Lewiston-- 28.67 --------36,140

Durham ---18.85----------3,940

Wales ------14.85---------- 1,634

Greene -----17.80 ----------4,373

Poland----- 14.74 -----------5,544

Minot------ 15.85 -----------2,596

Livermore Falls --21.60 ---3,115

Turner----- 17.05------------ 5,765

As you can see Lisbon has moved into second place in the county as far as the mil rate goes surpassing Auburn. These figures for population are from 2016. The reason for the discrepancy is because our Town Manager, Diane Barnes, compares populations when determining salaries instead of the tax base for the towns. As everyone knows Auburn has many more commercial businesses than Lisbon and yet our mil rate is higher.

There is no way that the salaries of Department Heads in Lisbon should be as high as they are starting out. We just do not have the tax base to support such high salaries and the Town Manager knew this from the start but used population to establish salaries without comparing tax bases and our Town Council believes everything the Town Manager says as gospel.

The Town Council needs to delay voting on spending issues until the Council can do adequate investigations. The Town Council needs to cut spending to include the Town Manager’s salary. The Department Heads are receiving between $1,200.00 and $1,800.00 annually and taxpayers in Lisbon cannot afford these increases. There is no way to reduce Department Heads salaries because the Town Manager, Diane Barnes has committed the taxpayers into paying these outrageous salaries.

Taxpayers and the Town Council have to pay more attention to the spending habits of the Town Manager and her Department Heads. We have to bring down our mil rate so that it is more in line with our population and other towns in the county.

Let’s put a halt to excessive spending and start comparing apple to apples instead of apples to oranges.

Larry Fillmore

CENSORSHIP IN LISBON --- by Larry Fillmore



Over the weekend and on Monday, there was a discussion of members of Lisbon pertaining to the increase in taxes. This discussion was started when Hank Frazier asked the question “Anybody else’s property tax go up significantly?” on the Lisbon Maine Community Information website. I believe that there are approximately 319 comments posted to this site. However, there are several more than were deleted from this website by the webmaster playing God.

I wrote a comment with my opinion and it was deleted so I cannot show you the post, however, I called a Councilor by name and the webmaster said I was too aggressive. Councilors are Public Officials and are fair game to the rest of the world but not this webmaster. However, below is a post that the webmaster let go through in which my name is clearly stated. This was NOT censored because the webmaster clearly has a double standard. You be the judge!

Normand Albert Larry Fillmore if you don’t like the direction the town is going, take out papers and run for council. Please come and earn $1400 a year to deal with some of these complex issues that require hours of reading and research to make an informed decision based on the best info available at that moment. All while balancing a full-time job and a family. Only to be second-guessed and vilified by a few. Don’t cry for me Larry, I have thick skin. I can take it. The town’s problems are systemic from years of a “kick the can down the road” mentality displayed for decades.All in the name of lower taxes. We had stagnant business and job growth. High dropout rates and a few shouting down many in a town meeting style of government. This lack of a comprehensive vision or goals had left our community in a place with very little hope of being anything more than a drive-through community. Infrastructure has been crumbling for DECADES and you have the gall to blame the current council for the latest tax increase? We are the first council not to bury our heads in the sand and pretend the problems don’t exist. These are complex issues, with large price tags to properly address them. We need to be forward thinking in our approach to address these issues and make sure we develop plans that will include clear strategies for routine maintenance of that infrastructure so we are NEVER in this position again. That’s not going to happen overnight. It will require some short-term pain for some long-term gain. If not for a change of attitude and focus of a few citizens that has now turned into many, the positive changes and the promise that they bring would have never happened. I know I was inspired by those few in the begining to take a more active role because of the concerns I had with the direction of our town. I ran for this seat because I believe the majority of the people in this community want to create a place to be proud of and a place their kids will stay and become the next generation to lead this community.Larry, I do not subscribe to your narrative that the current council is the problem. This council is not spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave. We are a committed group who are doing our very best to be as transparent as possible. We provide clear information to the people of this community regarding the decisions that we make and the impact it will have on the property taxes. So in closing, I understand that people will be upset about the increase in taxes. I used humor to lighten the mood when I saw a blatant falsehood regarding the supposed “slush fund” the town has. If you didn’t like the joke, just keep scrolling.

As you can tell I did not change or correct anything in the post. Since, I cannot answer this post on the Lisbon Maine Community Information website without being; I will try and answer Mr. Albert’s comments now.

First and foremost, I want to address why I do not run for the Town Council. I have served this country for 40 years in the Army and as a Department of Defense civilian. I am aging and in poor health and cannot attend meetings but as most of you know I write for the Lisbon Reporter and make my feelings known. Second, one vote does not count as we have seen from when Councilor Roger Cote was on the Council. Most votes were 6-1. Third, I have served my time and it is now time for young people to take the lead.

Now, I want to address some of Mr. Albert’s feeble attempt to justify the continued tax increases during his tenure. My first objection is that this Council was presented two ways to save money and they both were rejected. One was to close the Lisbon Communication Center which is a duplication of services and could save the taxpayers roughly $200,000.00 a year and second is the COLA increases every year to ALL employees; this would save the taxpayers approximately $100,000.00.

COLA is nothing more than a cover-up for wage increases. This means that if we have a bad employee; they get a wage increase every year. Wage increases should be given ONLY to the outstanding employees of the town and does NOT include management positions. Management Positions are normally salary employees and this should never apply. Because all employees get the COLA, the Town Manager received a $1,400.00 plus increase this year alone. Totally ridiculous; no one is worth that much increase every year.

Mr. Albert – until the Town Council start making an attempt to cut spending; I will continue to complain. In my opinion, you are an Allen Ward wannabee but you will never gain that status because he is much smarter and has more experience. Since you have been in office, you have voted with Mr. Ward on everything. As far as you doing research, tell me again why you voted to approve a 7 year contract for MINcompuctionUS. If you did any research before voting, it was very poor research.

I hope I have addressed all your points without being censored by a webmaster trying to playing GOD.


Larry Fillmore


Editors Note:  Councilors have rules about conduct when speaking about them at council meetings but it appears they have no compunction when it comes to denigrating their constituents.   Good one Normie...  :(

Monday, August 27, 2018

TAX BILLS by Larry Fillmore




From the chatter this weekend on Lisbon Maine Community Information website, residents of Lisbon received their new tax bills. I found it amusing that the residents were shocked their taxes had increased so much. The Lisbon Reporter and LisbonMaine.net have been warning residents for several months prior to the Town Council approval of the budget.

I have been trying to educate residents of Lisbon to exactly what is going on with our local government. It would appear that the residents were not paying attention to my efforts. Now, it is too late and the people are upset over the tax increases.
In my opinion, the problem is that the Town Manager, Diane Barnes, does not work for the people of Lisbon. She works for and answers ONLY to the Town Council. Mrs. Barnes and her staff have duped our Town Council in order to get the Town Council to vote their way. She and her staff leave out important details on issues. This neglect causes our Town Council to vote in their favor. These decisions, by the Town Council, are good decisions based on the information provided to the Council, however, if the Council was provided ALL relevant information the vote may have been completely different. In my opinion, the Town Council has too much faith in the Town Manager.
It was the Town Manager who presented a proposed municipal budget to the Town Council. This proposed budget was almost accepted in its entirety. Neither the Town Manager nor the Town Council is looking for ways to save money. On numerous occasions, Mrs. Dorothy Fitzgerald and I have offered suggestions on ways to save roughly $300,000.00. Now to me, this is a significant amount of tax dollars, but the Town Council dismissed these suggestions. These suggestions when in one ear and out the other. It is nice to be ignored when you are trying to help.

Residents of Lisbon need to pay more attention to what is going on at these Town Council meetings. The best and preferred way is to attend the meetings in person. However, you can always go to the town website and watch the meetings. It is critical the people of Lisbon start taken a more active role in our local government. It is too late this year but please make your feelings known to the Town Council.

We, the people, need to take back our town and put an immediate stop to this outrageous spending.
Larry Fillmore

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

WHAT DO YOU THINK? by Larry Fillmore


We need your input on a situation that is happening right now. At the last Town Council meeting, the Council has decided to transfer the responsibility for the Moxie Festival from the Economic Community Development Department to the Recreational Department. This decision, I believe is a poor decision by the Town Council.

Before the Town took over responsibility for the Moxie Festival, it was operated by the people of Lisbon. The community did an excellent job running the Moxie Festival and it made money. The Town Manager, at that time, decided he wanted to get some of this money and took over responsibility for the Moxie Festival. Big mistake!

Now, the Town Council is trying to pass the responsibility on to the Recreational Department. The Recreational Department is manned by three full-time individuals and has an enormous responsibility to this community already.

However, it was brought to their attention that the responsibility should be passed to Positive Change Lisbon (PCL). PCL is partially made up of business owners in Lisbon and is in their Mission Statement of the organization.

POSITIVE CHANGE LISBON MISSION STATEMENT:

To bring together the resources of Business people, local Government and Citizens, partnering together in a positive environment, to improve the image of our community. Through the efforts of a group of highly motivated individuals guided by a clear vision of our future, we aim to build on the favorable attributes of our Town and make Lisbon a more attractive place to live, recreate and to conduct business.

The Moxie Festival is a landmark of Lisbon. It is conducted in Lisbon Falls business district and who better to have the responsibility of Moxie Festival than the business owners in Lisbon Falls. Since this is part of their Mission Statement, who better than PCL to take over the responsibility for the Moxie Festival. Who better to take this over responsibility than Ross Cunningham and Fern LaRochelle, the towns leading citizens?

I can appreciate the Council’s decision to turn the Moxie Festival over to the Recreational Department for their many successes but PCL is a much better fit. Mark Stevens and his staff have done a super job supporting this community and providing activities for all. I believe it is unfair to saddle the Moxie Festival on the Recreational Department when we have an organization and leadership in Positive Change Lisbon that this responsibility is in their Mission Statement to perform.

Tell me and your Town Council what you think.

Larry Fillmore