Is there a line item city budget available to the public? Not the virtual budget. Rather a line item budget that details all the revenue, expenses and other?
I agree, the virtual budget is virtually useless as it gives no details, just big pieces of pie as if it were being presented to a third grader. If this is their version of transparency they must think we are all pushovers. As far as getting actual historical details on spending, you might as well forget it. Our alderman at large asked for this months ago, but she is still being stonewalled by the mayor, finance director and superintendent of schools and the other powers that be that don't believe in democracy or public records laws. Same thing happened before the last override attempt when a former school committee member requested numbers on legal fees incurred by the MPS administration. The information was never forthcoming from the superintendent of schools, nor the school committee chair and the city solicitor did his best on the tax payer's dime to block her efforts to get this information that she (and any Melrose resident) is entitled to by law. Don't expect much to change until these unsavory characters are removed from their positions of power. You can thank Dolan for putting them there.
That's FY 2018. I think the poster was looking for FY 2019, or maybe even the two "provisional" budgets Taymore talks about for FY 2020.
Melrose officials have been encouraged to provide the kind of transparency that other communities have done for a very long time (like Springfield's virtual checkbook). Melrose officials absolutely stand in the way of transparency, only providing the barest minimum, complete with as many "misrepresentations" (lies) as it thinks the gullible Melrose public will gulp eagerly. Melrose, sadly, has the governance it deserves. Too many here prefer the "quaint" fairy tales to the truth.
That's not a budget. It's Taymore's two "alternative" projections.
None of the online resources referenced provide actual complete financial data from Melrose. There are purposely large gaps and vagaries in the information provided. Hidden in those clouds are the "pots" of "free cash" and other accumulated slush funds (Revolving Accounts, Special Education, Transportation, etc.) that city officials make sure are never clarified. Until lawsuits force the issue (and they will undoubtedly win if anyone ever takes the trouble to do this), city officials will continue to call the bluff of all the naive Melrosians who choose to believe that these officials are honest and informed. They are neither! They are willfully ignorant and many add to that with willful dishonesty. There is plenty of evidence to demonstrate exactly how corrupt they are. There is no way that so many cases of law-breaking at the state and federal level were unintended. There is no way that so many parents accidentally had to sue the district to get the education their children are entitled to; it was willful refusal by hired attorneys and district administrators to provide what the law requires that jacked up costs astronomically. It was willful deceit by the superintendent and school committee that led to the enormity of the OCR crisis and legal costs. It was and is purposeful obstruction by these same elected and hired officials that led to all the open meeting law and public records violations and attendant legal costs. It is willful distortion of facts surrounding the water and sewer rate fixing that continues to jack up costs for taxpayers and keep the truth hidden (though Phil Taymore and Gerry Mroz, along with Monica Medeiros to some extent, have managed to unearth and share for all of us a great deal of it). It is the willful looking the other way that Melrose residents continue to do, along with support of flimflam organizations like MEF and One, that makes the blame for all of these vile situations a shared one.
When it comes to Melrose financial transactions, there is little reason to believe any of what is reported. Even what has been reported to federal and state agencies is full of "errors" or euphemistically recategorized items.
Melrose "budget" documents are so full of misrepresentations, purposely bloated line items, etc., that they have zero credibility. It doesn't take much digging to learn how fraudulent the financial characterizations are. Even the so-called "audits" are done by wink-wink, nudge-nudge "friends" of the officials, and are not in fact true audits. They just take the numbers provided by city officials as real numbers and compare them in superficial checks/balances against themselves. Even there gross errors and "issues" have been found (no excuse whatsoever!). But those superficial examinations do not get at the real issues, incompetencies, and false reporting.
So no, none of the docs provided by Melrose officials would be satisfactory, since they are based on incompetent reporting and outright fraud.
Start with the recent cemetery scandal. Where did you see any reporting of what this cost the city (it most certainly cost Melrose!)? Answer: you won't find any factual evidence because it was all concealed.
To read the blithering nonsense of posters (FB) like BBell claiming he trusts GI is so revealing. These are all the sorts of people who have kept the fraudsters in power and protected them the last 15 years. Such sycophants have hurt Melrose in many ways.
If you want to get to the nitty-gritty of big line items, like special education, be prepared to duke it out with months and even years of public records requests and obfuscation from city officials who will do anything to keep the real information from surfacing. Same is true for any of the deeper digs into meeting records. Many of the most important meetings here manage to be buried in the "focus group" type of category where agendas, minutes, public access, recordings are not done at all (illegally in many cases, and this has been proven after arduous challenges by the small handful of true Melrose patriots fighting for the public!). Dirty Melrose still does its most important business behind closed doors. And by the way, GI is and always has been one of the very worst in this regard, engaging in backdoor (typically phone) serial communications as her basic MO.
This was one of the key reasons that having the mayor on the school committee should have been the first item to be changed by the recent charter review fake process, in which the city's most ardent sycophants were put on the committee so as to maintain the status quo and not let the basic self-serving malfeasance be jeopardized. Of course they turned to one of the worst proven lawbreakers like Thorp to sit on the committee and vehemently protect the status quo. All of these bad players have managed to keep the system self-perpetuating in its lack of transparency. They all forget whom they are supposed to be serving!
So if you want real data, contact those who've fought hard to get real records. If you don't know who those few are, then you really need to do some archival searches online and discover for yourself. You have a lot to learn, but at least you will be on the correct path. Asking for the truth from current Melrose officials means you really don't understand how this corrupt system has operated for a very long time now.
You can interpret any way you like. The proof is there. You can choose to marginalize and minimize and believe the city officials. You are in plentiful company in this city, however you do so at your own peril, unless of course, you don't actually live here and instead are one of the officials who knows full well what is being referenced.
The chairman of the school committee was disbarred and served time in jail for stealing from his clients and has not finished paying restitution. The rest of the school committee voted him as chairman which shows very poor judgement. He was disbarred because he can never be trusted to represent clients ever again. How can anyone with a straight believe anything coming from the school committee, superintendent or city hall. Let’s not forget two years ago a school committee member resigned because the superintendent was not being transparent with an investigation. The superintendent was asked to resign by the school committee member.
Those items are certainly not criminal fraud. It’s just reasons why people do not trust city hall.
You have not paid very close attention the last 10 years.
This school committee has been found in violation of laws numerous times, willfully in violation. Those providing legal counsel testified repeatedly in public (and on tv) about the righteous actions of this school committee and superintendent, and billed them (us!) accordingly. Not once did those billing us for their bad legal advice (volumes of it on record) ever apologize or refund the vast sums they billed to us. Not once did the self-righteous SC or administration ever independently apologize for its many years of negligent and unlawful actions except for the two times the state required it of the chair as part of the remediation.
The entirety of the district was found in violation of federal civil rights laws, and even then the formal reply was self-righteous self-congratulation. The reason the former SC member resigned in 2016 was multifaceted, beginning with objections to the hundreds of thousands of dollars the rest of them had secretly agreed to spend in defending against the federal charges, concealing it from a duly elected member, along with a host of other illegal actions (like forcing the victim--a child--to be interrogated without a parent or METCO director and in the presence of the abuser, and failing even to notify the parents). The SC member (CKK) laid out solid reasons for resigning, starting with the McCarthyesque "norms" that the SC and its legal counsel had just passed restricting the independence of each elected member to see materials, to inquire about them, to comment, funneling all through the fascist maneuvers of the chair and superintendent. She laid bare to the public she served with distinction reams of factual analysis, including elucidation in many public meetings of costs that had been purposely concealed and/or otherwise manipulated to keep it from the public. Instead of coming clean and going straight, the SC and superintendent hired Guilfoil PR firm (to the tune of almost $10,000 a year), not to improve student outcomes but merely to cover the hind quarters of the self-serving and ignorant characters running the district. Those SC norms still exist, by the way, and now all information regarding the school district is funneled through a disbarred convicted felon who stole from old people and never made full restitution.
You want evidence of fraud and illegality? How about paying for a PR firm and calling it an "educational" expense?! It's all there, bud. Just open your eyes. At a minimum, go back and start reading some meeting packets the past few years and see how much ISN'T revealed therein, though it is supposed to be!
I am sitting down now writing out a check for my new HIGHER tax bill and my as always high water bill. I would have put more thought into my decision to vote no if this override was not RUSHED! Yes rushed ! Too fast. Why are we spending money on April vote? I will tell you why they City hopes this will be low turnout. All,of a sudden Dolan leaves , we had no decision as residents on interim Mayor, and yikes the sky is falling. I do not understand this. We needed a Mayor that WE voted in to tell us what he/she would do with override monies. I have to vote no at this time. Again too rushed.
A rushed vote is to make sure all new tax monies will go to the schools. Other needs will never be funded, if it passes. The MEF and One Melrose folks don’t care about anything else but the schools. Higher taxes, high water bills and the Override money only for the schools will make further tax hikes impossible for any other cIty needs. Seems like the new, younger women on the BOA are acting like those who came before them. All they care about are the schools and their pledges to be transparent are meaningless so far. We are also VOTING NO because of a rushed process which is neither transparent or helpful to anything but the schools.
You're missing the point. The free cash will not go to any other department if an override passes. They will decide not to touch it it case another "structural deficit", whatever the hell that is, magically appears. And it will.
I have to laugh when people who don't know what they're talking about attempt to lecture others. It is impossible for Melrose to have a structural deficit, because by definition a structural deficit continues for a period of years. The City is required by law to have a balanced budget, so a structural deficit is impossible. If there is an actual deficit, which I doubt, it is either just called a budget deficit, or a cyclical deficit.
Can someone who really knows tell me what it means to have an 8.8% available operating balance? Should it be less than that or is that amount what it should be?
It's actually pretty good. It certainly belies the "crisis is imminent" claims being bandied about.
It generally means they have great budget flexibility. However, I would have to see the context in which that balance was stated. Fiscal year? But an 8.8% unrestricted fund balance with consistent free cash balance from prior years indicates a healthy financial picture.
The reason you don't see many administration supporters posting here is because every time they do try to pass on the administration's propaganda, they are totally and thoroughly debunked with facts they can't dispute.
The administration is scared to death of this site, both now, and in it's prior incarnation. Why else do you think Dolan banned access to it, a practice that continues to this day?
This is the only place where voters can get even a portion of the truth. They certainly can't get it from city officials, who continue to mislead, obfuscate, and outright lie about all things fiscal. Melrose is a house of cards. The sooner that house of cards collapses, the sooner we can get a mulligan and fix the mess we've allowed to happen.
Lack of transparency isn't fraud but it makes it look like fraud is going on.Why the secrecy?
Ah, yes. You're voting no, so you must be stupid.
Your entire "house of cards collapse" is pure bull$hit, based on a pack of lies. An 8.8% unrestricted fund balance with consistent free cash balance from prior years indicates a healthy financial picture, not an imminent "collapse". You know it, I know it, and most everybody else knows it too, despite the doom and gloom projected by yes supporters. You lose. Again.
BC Alum, I defer to you. I referenced your comment, which even Come On, Man seemed to accept, and is pretty specific. I remember also seeing it in another string, but don't remember where.
I would also point out that the all-our-eggs-in-one-basket position, the basket being the schools, completely ignores any other need, like public safety and infrastructure, two other equally critical components that make a community desirable.
All of this information is so easy to find. You would have to be TRYING to not know it to make some of the claims made here about lack of transparency and "I think I saw you post it somewhere so I assume it's true".
The last Free Cash distribution made included money for police cars and for a computer server, in addition to an infrastructure project at the lincoln school, medicaid funds, and school budget deficit.
But I know you don't actually care to know that.
He's wrong. Free cash fluctuates year to year but we fall between 3 and 5%.
What? How is a free cash balance falling between 3% and 5% yearly not consistent? How is he wrong?
Is he wrong about the 8.8%? Is the other poster wrong in saying it's impossible for Melrose to have a structural deficit too, since a balanced budget is required by law?
The free cash carried forward from the prior year was 3.6 million. The BOA allocated only 1.1million of it last month. Since 2014, the city has had an average of 3.4 million free cash. The city should be determining which accounts are continuously over budgeted and the revolving accounts and budget a portion of it to the schools rather than rely on free cash at the end of the year. There is no 750k structural deficit in the schools. Nothing prevents city hall from budgeting the 750k to the schools. It’s a shell game. They use the kids and schools to scare people. Wonder why we never hear about any deficits in other city departments besides the schools.
As far as the unrestricted fund balance of 8.8% of operating expenses, review the audit financial statements and the accompanying notes. It’s 85 pages.
For a cliff notes version of it for the lay person, read the bond rating narrative by S&P. The narrative states we have an unrestricted fund balance of 8.8% of operating expenses and our budget flexibility remains very strong. In addition, according to fiscal 2018 financials the fund balance is 9.4% due to positive financial operations. Furthermore, the city’s budget in FY 19 does not include using any of it.Thus, its laughable when the city suggests its doomsday in 2020 if the override does not pass. Nothing could be further from the truth. The city knows it won’t be doomsday if override fails as well as an overwhelming majority of residents.
Thank you. Let's see now how the yes supporters respond to some facts that debunk their position and expose their deception. I'm sure it will be entertaining.