Wednesday, January 16, 2019

MORALE IN LISBON by Larry Fillmore




At last night’s Town Cou
ncil workshop, the subject of the morale of the town employee’s was discussed. There was talked about having an employee appreciation day at Beaver Park, which is an excellent start. It is a shame the Town Council is so blind to the obvious. The reason employee’s morale is so low, as I see it, is twofold: (1) The lack of leadership and (2) all employees being treated the same.

I think the lack of leadership is self-explanatory. So I will move on to the second point and that is rewarding, the good and bad, employees with the same pay raises. This is done every year by the Town Council, recommended by the Town Manager, approving Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA) for all town employees. This is probably the dumbest idea anyone ever came up with. 

The employee who is work the hardest and trying to improve themselves are compensated at the same rate as the employee who is enrolled in the Retired on Active Duty (ROAD). The road program means that they are doing just enough to get by or less and being rewarded the same as someone working to improve the quality of service residents deserve.

The reason the town approves COLA is because all town employees are rewarded by the same percentage but the pay raises are never the same. The percentage is based on the current salary and this stupid program applies to wage workers and management personnel the same. An example of this is the Town Manager; whose annual salary is over $90,000.00, receives a 2% COLA increase of $1,800.00 while a wage worker earning $40,000.00 receives only $800.00 a year increase. How can anyone justify this?
Management positions should never be included in COLA increases in this town.
If you want to raise the morale of the employees in town, they need to start rewarding ONLY the good employees who are working the hardest. This is rewarding the good employees and hopefully encourages the poorer employees to work harder. Another method is to have each department nominate an employee for “Employee of the Month” and “Employee of the Year”. With both these positions, comes a small increase in their pay or time off. This will recognize these employees and hopefully push other employees to improve.

There are numerous methods to boost morale in the town. The problem is the leadership has to first to acknowledge the problem exists and then come up with a plan to address the situation.
I understand because I have recommended a number of solutions, they will never be considered, which is too bad.

Larry Fillmore

Monday, January 7, 2019

WHY LISBON’S TAXES CONTINUE TO RISE! by Larry Fillmore




Have you ever wondered why our taxes continue to go up every year? Does anyone really care? The answer to these two questions is explained below.

There are several reasons why our taxes go up every year. The first reason is mismanagement of our tax dollars. In March 1, 2016, the town entered into a seven (7) years contract for a software package called MUNIS to replace the old one called TRIO. I totally agree with this decision but would have never entered into a seven (7) year contract without first having the software installed so I could evaluate if it was going to do the job I wanted it to do. This was a total blunder by the Town Council but they are not totally a fault. The Town Manager, I am told, recommended this action to the Town Council. Once again, this is poor advice by the Town Manager.

MUNIS cost the taxpayers $79,761.00 per year for fifteen (15) modules for seven (7) years. As of today, I am told that only a portion of one (1) module has been installed. At that rate, at the end of the contract MUNIS will NOT BE fully operational. On March 1, 2019, the contract will have been in place for three years. This means taxpayers will have paid $239,283.00 and the software package is not even installed, so we are paying for nothing. This is not only disgraceful but borders on fraud, waste and abuse of our tax dollars.


A few months ago, the Town Council spent $4,400.00 for an evaluation to determine the cost to fully install MUNIS and its fifteen (15) modules. The assessment came back and it would cost the town approximately $186,000.00 to have professionals come in and install the software package. This is a great deal of money but the town has spent, as of March 1, 2019, a total of $239,283.00 and the taxpayers have nothing to show for it. This is a crying shame because there are at least three residents available that have been through a transition from one software package to another and neither the Town Council nor the Town Manager called on their expertise. These subject matter experts (SME) are former Councilor Greg Garrison, Jeffery Costanzo and I. I am sure that there are a few more but I do not know them.

When the management of our town continues to waste thousands and thousands of our tax dollars every year, it is no wonder our taxes continue to rise. Whenever the citizens of Lisbon decide enough is enough, they need to contact the Town Council and demand a stop to wasting our tax dollars. I recommend as a subject matter expert that the Town Council stop wasting our tax dollars and pay the $168,000.00 to have professionals convert the town from TRIO to MUNIS so the town can move on. From my limited experience with TRIO, it is a lousy software package that allows management to hide money.

The Town Council needs to recognize the mistakes of the past and move the town forward.
This issue is supposed to be discussed on January 15, 2019 at the workshop.

Larry Fillmore

Thursday, December 6, 2018

REQUIRED READING FOR COUNCILORS by Larry Fillmore



I reviewed Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting for December 4, 2018 and was surprised to see Councilor LaRochelle being nominated for the position of Chairman of the Town Council. This just demonstrates members of the Town Council have not read or do not understand what the town Charter says.

Section 2-04, Chair, paragraph (b) reads “Term Limits. No member of the Town Council shall be eligible for election as Chair or Vice Chair for more than two consecutive one year terms. For the purposes of this section, election to an unexpired term of less than six (6) months shall not be considered a term.”

One would think this is very clear. However, it is not and I do not understand how anyone can interrupt this any different. If you have served as the Chair for two consecutive terms, you can no longer be eligible to serve again as Chairman/Chairwoman. If you notice, it does not say in the current term or any other terms. It says very simply, if you have served as Chairman of the Town Council for two consecutive terms; you are no longer eligible to serve as Chairman again.

On Tuesday night, Chairman Ward nominated Councilor LaRochelle for the position as Chairman of the Town Council. This is in violation of the above stated provision of our town Charter but our own Town Clerk did not explain this to the Council. Councilor LaRochelle served two consecutive terms as Chairman in his previous term on the Town Council. Currently, there are two Councilors that can no longer serve as Chairman of the Town Council ever again and they are Councilor LaRochelle and Councilor Ward because both have already served town consecutive terms as Chairman of the Town Council.

I personally believe after every election of Councilors; they should be issued a copy of the town Charter and required to read it. It is inexcusable when Councilors are not familiar with the town Charter. This should be the Bible they are required to live by. This minor requirement would eliminate a lot of mistakes made by the Town Council and improve the serve provided to this community.
Larry Fillmore

Friday, November 9, 2018

WHY MAKE THE TAXPAYERS SUFFER ANYMORE? by Larry Fillmore

Now that we have elected the same individuals to the Town Council, we can expect the same results from them. This is to say that the new Council will continue to spend our TAX DOLLARS instead of making any attempt to reduce the operating cost of the town which in turn would reduce the taxes on its residents.

The people have presented two options that would reduce the operating cost by nearly $300,000.00 yearly and both have been ignored by the Town Council. They are:


(1) Closing the Lisbon Communication Center would save the taxpayers approximately $200,000.00 every year.


(2) Eliminating Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) every year would save approximately $100,000.00 every year.
The Lisbon Communication Center currently performs the dispatching of Police, Fire, and Medical for the town of Lisbon. It use to perform dispatching for Sabattus and Durham but they determined it was not cost effective and decided to go to the Androscoggin County Dispatch. Utilizing Androscoggin County Dispatch for these services is much more efficient because it eliminates an additional step in the process.

The Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) was established by the Federal Government to offset a recession but Lisbon has NOT been in a recession for many years. However, the Town Manager uses COLA to cover-up wage increases for every employee of the town. For the past three years, the taxpayers have paid the Town Manager between $1,200.00 and $1,800.00 every year. This is outrageous to force the taxpayers to pay this.

By using COLA to cover-up wage increases, bad employees are rewarded the same as outstanding employees and to me this is not fair. Wage increase should be awarded ONLY to employees that are exceeding normal standards. I personally do not like paying for employees who are not doing their jobs up to the normal level required; maybe you do.

In both cases, the Town Council has rejected the opportunity to save residents their hard earned money. To me, this is very disgraceful and not what these individuals were elected to do. I believe it is their job to, at least try, to reduce spending so we can reduce our taxes. Lisbon is currently 2nd in the County for highest taxes; Lewiston is number one. I have no doubt that if these Councilors do not put a stop to spending Lisbon will pass Lewiston. This is NOT what I am looking forward too.

Call your Councilors and demand that they start reducing our spending immediately.

Larry Fillmore

Monday, October 22, 2018

WHAT IS GOING ON? by Larry Fillmore

Over the weekend, I had the misfortune to review the Town Council meeting of October 16, 2018. The meeting lasted two hours and twelve minutes. It should have taken an hour. Instead, we have two Councilors trying to outdo each other in stupidity.

Councilors LaRochelle and Albert continued to make comments that we already explained. This is my personal opinion: (1) LaRochelle just likes to hear himself talk because it makes his ego get bigger and (2) Albert talks to make people believe that he is as smart as All Ward, which will never happen.
There was a lengthy discussion between these two on what the towns’ marijuana policy is going to be. This discussion should have been held during the workshop but apparently was not. The Council should be united on each item before it is added to the agenda so that the Public can express their concerns.

This marijuana policy is being pushed through so very fast. I believe that Councilor Brunelle is the one doing the pushing. This is because Brunelle wants to corner the market when he opens his marijuana retail store in Lisbon Center. He is pushing this so he can open before Christmas. As it is going, I believe, that Lisbon will be the pot capital of Maine.

Also, during the meeting it was brought out there will be an environment inspection of the Worumbo Mill property. The Town Manager acknowledged that the last environmental inspection was done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) several years ago was on file. If I remember correctly the report found coal ash and other toxics underground on the property. Councilor LaRochelle was quick to point out this is a different kind of environmental inspection. I hope this is performed prior to the town purchasing the property for $30,000.00 as agreed by the Council.

If you remember a few years past when LaRochelle was last time on the Council, he pushed for the town to purchase the Worumbo Mill from the Millers. This is when the EPA did their inspection and the people turned it down. I believe that LaRochelle is back on the Council to purchase the property now.

It was also brought out that the Lisbon Communication Center will no longer be dispatching for Durham effective January 1, 2019. Durham, like everyone else, is having Androscoggin Country Dispatch perform this task. If Lisbon chose to take advantage of Androscoggin Country Dispatch, it would save the taxpayers over $200,000.00 yearly. This will never happen because the Town Council is not interested in saving taxpayers money instead spend, spend, spend and raise taxes. Lisbon has the second highest tax rate in Androscoggin Country. We passed Auburn this year and will be pushing to pass Lewiston in the years to come.

Also, it came out that the town has now loaded the Accounts Payable module of MUNIS. This has taken close to three years to accomplish load the first module. I predict that at the current rate, MUNIS will not be fully functional by the end of the seven year contract. I personally believe this was major blunder, that the Town Manager and Ryan Leighton, forced the Town Council to do. Now it will cost the people a large amount of tax dollars to correct this mistake but putting this task on the Finance Director is insane. I have performed several conversion and they are extremely hard for a team of professionals to do but impossible for someone to perform alone.
Larry Fillmore