Auditing the Audit!

Well, tonight was a whole lot of number fun! Shifting dollars to and from surplus and escrow/reserve as well as “raise” and then making sure all the bottom budget line items sum correctly!  Good thing I love numbers 🙂

It seems that the auditor failed to read the town’s articles and allocations when preparing the audit, so, tonight, the dynamic and jocular team sorted out the sordid mess and the numbers at the town meeting will be correct. The poor budget committee is going to have to act fast, though, and approve/take note of the changes because the town report goes to print on Wednesday!

Tonight, as we dove headlong into numbers, I felt like part of the team. I saw more of the information in the folders (approving payroll and invoices) and got more information about what happens on 3/24. As soon as I put my hand on that bible I officially represent the town of Sidney!

Lots of good-hearted, playful-punch jokes tonight around the table. The numbers did it – made folks punchy 😉

An the funniest joke of the night – the auditors want to come in and teach the Board how to read the audit. I think we just did that for them. Perhaps we can teach them about how towns allocate funds instead.

And a word to the wise for those who would provide services to the Town. Don’t send the Board successive quotes where the prices are continually shifting upward, especially after the annual budget meeting. It makes one look quite shady…and it invites unfriendly scrutiny, especially from IT savvy folks who are coming on Board.


Sidney Maine Annual Budget Meeting 2/17

Image result for annual budget meeting memeJust got back from a 3 hour annual budget meeting at the Sidney Town Hall. There were 5 folks there to present their requests for funding and, besides myself, I think there was one other townsperson there just for the sake of listening in.

I love numbers, and budgeting, so it was a pretty interesting meeting to me. And the chair of the budget committee, John (I’ll have to find his last name), was a humorous hoot. He’d make an excellent auctioneer, too.

I thought on the way home that it really is a shame that more Sidney residents don’t attend these annual meetings – and for years, I didn’t either. This thought is not meant to pass judgment on any Sidney resident. Folks are busy with young families, older families, and just life in general. I fell into that category for many years. And now, as my kids are older and more independent, I find I have more time, and desire, to participate.

A lot of important discussions take place. Discussions like deciding which charity requests for funding will be presented to the townsfolk of Sidney on March 24th at the Annual Town Meeting for voting. How much funding for new equipment, supplies, maintenance, etc. that our volunteer Fire & Rescue folks get. Thoughts and procedures for new town ordinances. Lots of things.

For Sidney, one particularly sensitive issue arises repeatedly. It becomes an emotional and administrative tug-of-war to support the vast number of charity donation and support requests that come through. Everyone needs more money. In our hearts most wish all could be funded. But they cannot. In most cases, support requests get a motion for $0 dollars from the Board of Selectmen with a request to raise the requested amount. This means it goes before the citizens of Sidney for a vote at the annual town meeting. A point was made at the budget meeting today that normally it’s the folks who need the services from said charities that show up at the meeting to vote…and no matter how many voters there are, majority wins.

Sidney has about 4,200 residents, a large portion which are eligible to vote. Only about 40 folks, roughly 1%, show up at the town meeting. And if they vote YES on a measure that will add $1-2 tax dollars to your bill to pay for raising that money, the majority of Sidney is left to simply accept the decision. Now, this is not to say that its not a good vote.

I would support paying $1 to $2 dollars extra on my tax bill to support charities that provide quantifiable/justifiable life-enhancing/life-saving services to our elder and disabled residents. Charities like Spectrum Generations and Life Flight. We are a small, rural town tucked between 2 larger towns and our taxes are one of the lowest in Maine, because we have no overhead services, no post office, no police department. Services provided by Spectrum Generations and Life Flight can sometimes make the difference between life and death. I would gladly pay a few extra dollars on my taxes to support such charities. I would not, however, like my taxes to be raised for a charity that doesn’t provide substantial benefit to my community, small as it is. And, fair point, there are folks in Sidney who have trouble paying their annual property taxes, let alone support charities by having their taxes raised.

I would encourage Sidney residents to participate in the annual budget meeting in February and the annual town meeting in March. Grab a cup of Joe from Annie’s Variety Store or the Middle Road General Store and schedule 3 hours of your time just a couple times a year to be a more informed resident.

We also need more women. There are NO women on the budget committee. There are women on the Select Board.

Rise up my Sidney brethren. Find some time here or there. Make your voice heard and use your vote to effect changes you want (or don’t want!) Take a look at the calendar on Sidney’s website and keep up to date on Sidney’s Facebook page.

I’ll be there with a smile ready to shake your hand and show you around 🙂


The Journey Begins

One person can make a difference, and everyone should try. — John F. Kennedy

Today, January 19, 2018, I submitted my signature list to the town office of Sidney, Maine to run for one of the open selectpersons’ positions. Universe willing I will be able to serve after the town vote on March 23rd, 2018. If elected, I’ll get sworn in on March 24th at the Annual Town Meeting.

I have lived in Sidney for 17 years. This is my first foray into public service (so long as you don’t count being part of the PTO or a Cub Scout Den Leader.) I have decided I want to try and make a difference in my community. It takes leadership, cooperation, and organization at this very local level to impact policies and decisions at higher levels. Have to start somewhere. At the very least I am eager for the opportunity to learn how my town operates and to be more involved in decision-making and outcomes.

One of the biggest surprises to me as I collected signatures was how many couples there were in my immediate vicinity, older couples, where the husband was registered, but the wife was not – and the sentiment was that voting really doesn’t matter anyway. I passionately beg to differ. I will find data on close-call local races that shows just how much one or two votes can make a difference.

My intent in setting up this site is to share information, solicit opinions, listen to suggestions and ideas, and to bring your voice to selectboard meetings if you are not able to participate. I sincerely make myself available to you and you have my word that I will do the best job I can.