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

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