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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Atkinson chief still head of elderly affairs program Brand new name, new uniform, same leader

From the eagle tribune;

Atkinson chief still head of elderly affairs program Brand new name, new uniform, same leader
By Meghan Carey
mcarey@eagletribune.com

ATKINSON — The town's three elderly affairs cruisers are getting new decals. Their four drivers are getting new uniforms. But the program isn't getting a new home or director — at least for now.

The elderly affairs program is still going to provide senior citizens with hundreds of rides to doctors appointments, assistance with paying utility bills, birthday cards and other services. But it will soon do so as a town department, not a division of the Police Department.

The shift was six months in the making. In April, the state Attorney General's Charitable Trust Unit fielded complaints from residents about the program's donation accounts and police Chief Philip Consentino's control as its volunteer director.

Charitable Trust Unit Director Terry Knowles spent three months "inquiring" about the senior citizen service program and Consentino's practices. Her recommendations were to separate police and elderly affairs, and she's worked with selectmen over the last month to do that legally.

Selectman Bill Friel has put together a separation plan packet, which Knowles approved. It was on the selectmen's agenda Monday night to discuss and vote on the plan, but Chairman Paul Sullivan said he hadn't gone through the packet yet and asked to wait a week.

Some details of the plan were discussed, however, as Consentino read his proposed 2009 Elderly Affairs Department budget. Consentino arrived at the meeting in his police uniform, which he rarely wears. In case selectmen pushed for him to keep his duties separate, he said yesterday, he had also brought an elderly affairs jacket that he could have put on to hide his uniform.

The separation will cost $5,250. That includes money to take the "Atkinson Police Community Service" writing off the cruisers and replace it with "Town of Atkinson Elderly Affairs Department." There's also money to buy the part-time elderly transport drivers new uniforms since they currently wear police uniforms.

The Elderly Affairs Department likely will get a bigger budget in 2009 — $37,668, up from $24,149. That will include the one-time cost of separating its name from the Police Department. On Knowles' recommendation, the budget includes line items for car maintenance, postage and payroll.

Prescriptions, fuel assistance and other items Consentino usually purchases with donations will still be funded the same way. The money can come either from previously donated money, now controlled by the Trustees of the Trust Fund, or from new donations to the charitable trust Consentino set up — the Atkinson Police Charitable Trust.

Selectmen voted Monday to transfer the balance of the previous police donation account — $11,412 — to the Trustees of the Trust Fund. Consentino will have to go to the trustees with specific expenditure requests to tap into that money.

There are written instructions for receiving and spending donations in the plan selectmen will likely adopt.

Consentino said he could donate money from his charitable trust to the town to cover some of the elderly affairs budget.

"Some people don't understand we take in $10,000 to $12,000 a year in revenue to offset what it takes to take care of seniors' needs," he said.

But Consentino said he is thrilled that much of the program, which he started, will remain the same. The senior citizen transports will still be coordinated inside the police station and he is still in charge.

For now, Consentino will have to document his time spent as the paid police chief and his time as volunteer elderly affairs director. In the future, Selectman Fred Childs said, the idea will be to have the departments run by two different people.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nothing has changed except the cost. Taxpayers pay more for the same service and there is less accountability to the residents.
Nice going.

Anonymous said...

Same SCAM, same crook, new name.

Anonymous said...

Bend over Atkinson!! Here he goes again!

Anonymous said...

So to get this done, we have to spend even more money?? New uniforms? Why on earth do they even need a uniform? The stupidity goes on and on and on and on.

5 grand for separation costs? What is this a divorce? But it still gets run from the PD. This is nuts and stupid beyond belief. Let's just piss away more money.

All these changes need to get put before the voters and approved. STOP SPENDING STUPIDLY.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen such a display of arrogance,tom-foolery,---can not even find the words to describe what we witnssed at the Budget meeting.

The costumes were expensive and are certain to get even more so. The lauding of the duties that are performed was pitiful.

Do we think that any other town is not running up against these problems? Yes - they certainly do but they are taken care of with with some decorum of dignity.

As a senior I resent being used for the benefit of these politicians.
This was not a Budget meeting but a demand for everything that the EA wants and the BOS wiil see to it that it will happen.

When will the BOS ever do what has been mandated to them .

Anonymous said...

Why does it take $5000 to put decals on 3 cars?

Chief lied, drivers do NOT wear police uniforms when they drive elderly now. I see Mr. Magoon, and Mr. Anderson, drive in their civilian clothes, sometimes wearing a jacket that says senior transport division.

Why do they need uniforms?

And his ARROGANT complaint.., "well if nobody complained to the Attorney General you wouldn't need to spend this $5000, but now you do."

This guy is a disgrace!

Good people of Atkinson, especially the elderly you are being used!

Anonymous said...

I want to see all of this crap brought to us the voters. So i can vote NO NO NO NO! Police Budget, NO! Elderly affair scam, NO! This is wacko.

MAcciard said...

I should point out that the Budget Committee separated the two depts. budgets 5 years ago. And, in practice, everything continued as before. The depts. were neither separated nor accountable. And this lack of transparency has brought us to where we are today, with the AGO telling the chief and the town to do what the budget committee tried to do 5 years ago.

And the problem is, that if you fail to physically separate the town depts. you will continue to have a bleed over in funds between the two depts., If it is accountability you want, the only way is total separation.

Anonymous said...

Mark's right. Phil can still use Police funds for whatever he darned pleases.

My thought is to incorporate the Elderly line into the Charitable donations accouont and cancel out a few of the ones we presently support. Regrettably, my first thought is the Salem Caregivers. This IS a charitable organization now, and it belongs there. At least we can reduce the cost to the taxpayers that way. Why should be duplicate, when, as Phil says "one call does it all".

Anonymous said...

Beware what you wish for, for you may receive it. And receive it we did. Ouch, ouch, ouch!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to figure out how to ask a question that everyone can read. Can someone please let me know? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Just post it! If you have an article for submission, put article submission at the top.

Anonymous said...

Why is this a surprise?

The selectmen didn't do anything when he admitted falsifying time sheets, and violating town sick time policy for 6YRS!

They NEVER do anything when the issue is the chief!

And the issue is ALWAYS the chief or one of his bone headed actions.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know if the "poser" officers working with the EA will be turning in their police badges, or will they still have them to try and flash for some perks? Only certified police officers should be carrying badges.