June 11, 2015 Strategic Budget Committee

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June 11, 2015 Strategic Budget Committee

Postby Mary Wright » Sun Jul 12, 2015 4:43 pm


A meeting of the Strategic Budget Committee was held on Thursday, June 11, 2015 in the Municipal Center. Ms. Brouillette called the meeting to order at 5:04 PM.

PRESENT: Paula Brouillette (Chair), Dave Cortese (Vice Chair), Pamela Holmes, Melissa Morrison (left the meeting at 6:01 PM)
NON-VOTING: Michael Guzinski (Town Administrator), Cortney Keegan (School Business Manager), Jeanne Lovett (Finance Director), Norm Yvon (School Superintendent)
ABSENT: Mike Hughes (Excused), Scott Yacino (Alternate-Excused)

1. Review and Discuss Comparative Analysis
Mr. Guzinski discussed that many towns rely on fees to offset the costs of ambulance funding. Most towns have 75/25 for health insurance. Ms. Keegan provided information on per pupil expenditures and required net school spending vs. actual. Most towns are at least 5% over the minimum. Douglas is only 1.3% over the minimum. Ms. Keegan stressed how difficult it is to compare school districts.
A discussion was held regarding regional schools. As more districts start to charge for athletic fees for their students, Ms. Lovett feels it would be only fair for Blackstone Valley Regional Technical Vocational High School (BVT) to charge athletic fees as well. It was felt strongly by the Committee that the State needs to review how the Chapter 70 formula is calculated for K-12 schools vs. technical schools. The 13 member BVT agreement should be reviewed. Mr. Yvon stated that conversations are being held with Sen. Fattman and Rep. McKenna asking them to support Douglas’ positions. Douglas is represented at the Chapter 70 hearings. Mr. Yvon said that the State is planning on setting up a meeting in Boston of the Federal and State Depts. of Education, Congressman McGovern and representatives from the towns to go over issues. Ms. Morrison also met with Rep. McKenna when he was first elected, and she gave him a lot of information about the Chapter 70 formulation.
Regarding regional schools vs. K-12 schools, Ms. Brouillette did not feel that anything conclusive came out of the survey. The K-12 schools in the Blackstone Valley have the same financial issues as Douglas has.
Ms. Holmes re-asked if the debt payment shown on the DOR website affects State Aid. It was decided to remove Provincetown from their comparisons.
The Committee asked Mr. Guzinski to look at towns with K-12 and look at the percentage of the levy that comes from commercial, the actual number of State Aid, and per capita income level as sources of income for their schools.
Regarding Health Insurance, Douglas is at 80/20. Most communities are at 75/25. If Douglas were to be at 75/25, that would mean a difference of $150,000. The split is a contractual item.
Grafton and Millbury have an ambulance service contracted at no cost to the town because the service bills insurance directly. Mr. Guzinski stated that this approach has been reviewed in Douglas and it would be more expensive because a crew would have to be stationed in the community because Douglas is so remote from a metro area. Mr. Cortese stated that regionalizations usually have large start-up costs.
Only four communities have call fire departments.
Mr. Guzinski and the Committee thanked Ms. Kane, Ms. Lovett and Ms. Keegan for the work they did to pull information together.
Mr. Guzinski is working on getting a date for Sen. Fattman and Rep. McKenna to come to a meeting. He would invite the Board of Selectmen to attend.
Ms. Holmes will look at excess capacity beyond the Proposition 2.5 cap. Mr. Guzinski saw some data recently that approximately 241 of 351 Massachusetts towns are at or within 1% of excess capacity.
Information on DPW and state land is still being gathered.
Regarding override attempts for Douglas, Mr. Guzinski stated that there was one in 1992 for $175,000 that was successful and two others since, 2006 for $475,000 and 2013 for $1.3 million, that were unsuccessful. He will double check those numbers and why they did not appear on the DOR report.

2. Minutes: April 16, 2015 and May 14, 2015
Ms. Holmes made a motion to approve the April 16, 2015 meeting minutes of the Strategic Budget Committee as amended. Mr. Cortese seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Ms. Holmes made a motion to approve the May 14, 2015 meeting minutes of the Strategic Budget Committee as amended. Mr. Cortese seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.

3. Old/New Business/Open Session
Old Business: None
New Business: The next meeting will be June 23, 2015 at 5:30 PM.

4. Adjournment
Mr. Cortese made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 6:37 PM. Ms. Holmes 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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