May 14, 2015 Strategic Budget Committee

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May 14, 2015 Strategic Budget Committee

Postby Mary Wright » Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:37 pm

THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2015

A meeting of the Strategic Budget Committee was held on Thursday, May 14, 2015 in the Municipal Center. Ms. Brouillette called the meeting to order at 5:03 PM.

PRESENT: Paula Brouillette (Chair), Dave Cortese (Vice Chair), Pamela Holmes (arrived 5:10 PM), Mike Hughes (arrived 5:16 PM), Melissa Morrison
NON-VOTING: Cortney Keegan (School Business Manager), Jeanne Lovett (Finance Director), Norm Yvon (School Superintendent)
ABSENT: Michael Guzinski (Town Administrator), Scott Yacino (Alternate-Excused)

1. Review and Discuss Comparative Analysis
Ms. Holmes reviewed the information that was agreed upon at the last meeting. Ms. Lovett reviewed where she gathered information, which was from the Dept. of Revenue (DOR) website. Compared to similar communities, Douglas has a lower than average single family tax bill and a large debt load. Ms. Lovett stated that the second sheet in the handout was the original sort based on DOR Income per Capital, including Littleton and Georgetown. Douglas has slightly lower than average per capita income compared to towns in the Blackstone Valley.
A discussion was held regarding EQV. Ms. Keegan stated that the EQV for a community can change dramatically from year to year, and it is not known when each town updates its EQV.
Ms. Lovett walked the committee through the charts she prepared. Douglas is high up on State Aid as a Percentage of the Budget and Real Estate of a Percentage of Levy. FY12 was the year the refunding of the high school was done, and the principle payment was much higher that year. Ms. Holmes wondered if that number harms the Town from receiving state aid. Ms. Keegan will look into that. Ms. Brouillette asked for the real number backing up that one-time payment. Ms. Kane will be asked to find out if Monson and Northbridge had a similar situation.
A community has the ability to increase taxes without an override if they do not tax to the full 2.5%. Douglas has $8,000 excess capacity. Ms. Brouillette asked Ms. Lovett to add Excess Capacity to the chart. Ms. Holmes stated that, of the State’s 351communities, 209 have 1% or less excess capacity.
The last two sheets are in draft form. Ms. Lovett and Ms. Kane are still gathering information. It was not clear if Ms. Kane was asked to find out if the towns have a Dept. of Public Works (DPW) and what functions are included in that DPW. Ms. Brouillette would like to look at a coordinated infrastructure plan.
The next step for the Committee would be to look at what the budget impact is and how the towns are operating.
Health Insurance was discussed.
Ms. Brouillette presented a listing of override attempts across the same group. Douglas was not on that list.
Ms. Holmes suggested having a joint meeting with Monson, as Douglas and Monson seem to be very similar.
At last the Town Meeting, the last article was a petition for a zoning change of 58 acres from commercial to residential. Ms. Brouillette looked at what the evaluation and tax income would be for that area if it were commercially developed. Two parcels (42 acres) are currently assessed at $212,000, and the Town is receiving $3,500 in taxes. If nine developed commercial properties were on those parcels, the evaluation would be $3.5 million with the Town receiving $57,000 in taxes. A discussion was held.
Ms. Brouillette feels, from a budget perspective, Douglas must bring in commercial development. Ms. Keegan suggested surveying the taxpayers to see whether or not they want Douglas to be more commercially developed and educate them about the value of commercial development. Ms. Brouillette suggested putting together a plan so the public would know what the development would look like. Mr. Cortese suggested linking the plan to the Town’s current financial situation. A discussion was held.
For the next two meetings, which are scheduled for May 28, 2015 and June 11, 2015 at 5:00 PM, Ms. Brouillette hopes to finish gathering information and start to talk about what areas they want to focus on and what magnitude they have. In the fall, recommendations can start to be developed.
A discussion was held regarding Special Education.

2. Minutes: March 12, 2015, April 16, 2015
Approval of the March 12, 2015 and April 16, 2015 meeting minutes of the Strategic Budget Committee was deferred to the next meeting.

3. Old/New Business/Open Session
Old Business: None
New Business: None

4. Adjournment
Ms. Holmes made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 6:25 PM. Mr. Hughes 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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