December 17, 2014 Strategic Budget Committee

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December 17, 2014 Strategic Budget Committee

Postby Mary Wright » Sat Jan 17, 2015 9:15 am


A meeting of the Strategic Budget Committee was held on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 in the Municipal Center. Mr. Cortese called the meeting to order at 2:05 PM.

PRESENT: Dave Cortese (Vice Chair), Pamela Holmes, Melissa Morrison, Nancy Spitulnik, Michael Guzinski (Town Administrator)
ABSENT: Paula Brouillette (Chair-Excused), Cortney Keegan (Excused), Jeanne Lovett (Excused), Kevin Morse (Excused), Scott Yacino (Alternate-Excused)

1. Review Examples of 5 Year Operational Budget Plans from Other Communities
Yesterday, Mr. Guzinski sent the committee financial forecasts for the towns of Andover, Framingham and Montague for 2016-2020. He feels these plans mirror what this committee is trying to do. He suggested looking at these plans over the next month.
Ms. Holmes suggested highlighting the areas of where the plans fit into Douglas. She liked Montague’s Departmental Budget Summary format listing of the budget code amounts and reasons behind them. Mr. Cortese asked if Douglas has a Special Education Stabilization Fund like Andover has. Mr. Guzinski replied that Douglas does not have the funding to be able to do that.
Ms. Spitulnik stated that Northbridge has a Northbridge Ed Foundation that is run by parents and they do fundraising, but it is not a large amount. Ms. Holmes is thinking of ways to get the public and businesses involved in raising funds. Ms. Morrison stated that the PTO currently does fundraising that comes directly from the parents.
Mr. Guzinski will try to gather more plans for the next meeting. He hopes to find one from a local town that is close in size to Douglas. He suggested that the members make notes and comments on these plans, including areas they would like to focus on.
The mechanics of an override for an operational budget was discussed. Ms. Spitulnick described how that was attempted in Northbridge.
In response to Ms. Spitulnik’s query, Mr. Guzinski replied that his understanding is that the general goal is to map out a picture, based on Douglas’ current budgetary trajectory, of where the Town is going to be in five years from a service perspective and talk about options the Town has in order to change the projection. He feels the completed document could be updated on an annual basis to be used as a budgetary tool.
Ms. Spitulnik stated that at the hearings of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, municipal people are coming forward opposing changes to Chapter 70 because they feel it will negatively affect the municipal side of things. Ms. Spitulnik, as a member of a group of superintendents from small school districts, will testify January 24, 2015.
A discussion was held, including what and when to disclose budget information to the public. Ms. Morrisson feels that the public needs to be better educated and told the truth. She stressed that negative messages need to be combined with positive messages. A discussion was held regarding finding ways to disperse the information to the public. Ms. Holmes suggesting inviting a reporter from the Blackstone Valley Tribune to meetings.

2. Minutes: December 4, 2014
Ms. Holmes made a motion to approve the December 4, 2014 meeting minutes of the Strategic Budget Committee meeting as amended. Mr. Cortese seconded the motion. Vote: Aye – 2, Ms. Morrison abstained.

3. Old/New Business/Open Session
Old Business: Mr. Guzinski will continue to look for five year budget plans from other communities. Ms. Holmes asked if they had a plan from Blackstone Valley Tech.
New Business: None

4. Adjournment
Ms. Holmes made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 2:45 PM. Ms. Morrison seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Wright
Recording Secretary
Mary Wright
Posts: 586
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:56 pm

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