February 23, 2016 Strategic Budget meeting

Moderator: Mary Wright

February 23, 2016 Strategic Budget meeting

Postby Mary Wright » Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:37 pm


A meeting of the Strategic Budget Committee (StBC) was held on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 in the Municipal Center. Ms. Brouillette called the meeting to order at 7:01 PM.

PRESENT: Brett Argall, Paula Brouillette (Chair), Dave Cortese, Pamela Holmes, Mike Hughes, Sherry Zetlan
NON-VOTING: Michael Guzinski (Town Administrator), Jeanne Lovett (Finance Director), Norm Yvon (School Superintendent)
ABSENT: Cortney Keegan (School Business Manager-Excused)

1. Reorganization
Ms. Brouillette turned the meeting over to Mr. Guzinski who asked for nominations for Chairperson.
Mr. Hughes made a motion to nominate as David Cortese as Chairperson of the Strategic Budget Committee. Ms. Zetlan seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Cortese resumed as Chairperson, however he asked Ms. Brouillette to Chair this meeting. Ms. Brouillette asked for nominations for Vice Chairperson.
Ms. Holmes made a motion to nominate Brett Argall as Vice Chairperson of the Strategic Budget Committee. Mr. Hughes seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.

2. Minutes: September 1, September 15, & December 10, 2015
Ms. Zetlan made a motion to approve the September 1, 2015 minutes of the Strategic Budget Committee meeting as presented. Mr. Hughes seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-4, Mr. Cortese and Mr. Argall abstained.
Ms. Holmes made a motion to approve the September 15, 2015 minutes of the Strategic Budget Committee meeting as amended. Mr. Cortese seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-4, Mr. Argall and Mr. Hughes abstained.
Ms. Zetlan made a motion to approve the December 10, 2015 minutes of the Strategic Budget Committee meeting as presented. Mr. Cortese seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-5, Mr. Argall abstained.

3. Charge Assigned by Board of Selectmen (BOS)
Ms. Brouillette stated that strategies for cost reductions, recommendations for use of new growth revenues, plans for fully funding the capital plan, and recommendations for use of one time revenues were uncompleted topics from the original charge of the StBC. Additional charge items: determine recommendations to reduce local services and/or increase local taxes or fees to balance the budget in the next five years, determine a method to monitor State Aid (FY17 0.43% increase), and change the membership of the StBC from five members to seven members.
Mr. Guzinski stated that Mr. Argall has been appointed as a member of the StBC by the BOS, and an application has been received for a Citizen-at-Large. If that appointment is made at the next BOS meeting, the membership of the StBC would be seven. The new quorum would be four members.

4. Existing Financial Policies
Mr. Guzinski and Ms. Lovett developed a number of financial policies in 2011 and 2012. All were included in the packet. Ms. Holmes asked the StBC to consider a policy to audit accounts after a department head leaves. Mr. Guzinski will reach out to the auditors about that.
Ms. Lovett stated that she reviews procedures with new department heads. She also reviews the cash-out procedures of two departments each year.
A discussion was held regarding capital and maintenance needs. Mr. Guzinski stated that a there is a list of needed capital items; the struggle is the revenue end.
Ms. Lovett explained the OPEB account (Other Post Employee Benefits).
The StBC discussed defining what a sustainable budget means for the Town. Discussions were held regarding reviewing the financial policies and identifying areas to quantify.

5. Communications with the Public
Discussions were held regarding what would be the best way to get information out to the public. People are not pulling information themselves. Ms. Lovett stated that two mailings a year go out to every household notifying the public about the town meetings. Information could be added to those mailings.
Mr. Yvon cautioned that Facebook is a two-way medium and many administrators do not have time to respond to all comments in order to keep information accurate.
Ms. Brouillette mentioned holding a State of the Town address. She would like it to be a narrative asking the public to do something, because help is needed to fix the budget situation. The disappointing attendance at public meetings was discussed. Ms. Zetlan feels that joint meetings with other committees will help all boards get on the same page and work towards a solution.
Next Steps: joint meetings, look back over the past year and see what was successful, compare FY17 on the Strategic Plan to the FY17 working document, get a 7th StBC member, and create a plan on how to move forward.
Goals: in July, do a State of the Town address and a present a comparison of FY17 projected vs. actual and some implications as to what that means for five years out.
Ms. Lovett suggested having an earlier start to the fall Town Meeting for a StBC presentation, however it would need to be done in a manner so as not to create a lot of emotion before voting.
Ms. Holmes feels that a continued dialog with the State legislative body is a priority. Mr. Guzinski stated that Sen. Fattman and Rep. McKenna will be in attendance at the joint meeting with the School Committee, Finance Committee and BOS on March 15, 2016.
Ms. Brouillette suggested thinking outside the box to make the meetings fun. The main points of the presentation should be: hook the public in to the information that you want them to walk away with and how can they help the Town. She feels that the two items to stress for action are a legislative effort to get Chapter 70 working and economic development. Ms. Holmes recommended that a percentage of new revenues be put towards economic development.
Ms. Holmes distributed a copy of an article from the Dept. of Revenue regarding excess levy capacity. The article states that having excess levy capacity, which Douglas does not have, does not affect a town’s ability to receive State Aid or receiving grants. A discussion was held.

6. Old/ New Business
Old Business: There was no discussion.
New Business: Ms. Brouillette recommended that a comparison of the FY17 strategic projection to the FY17 working budget be done to create a start for the presentation to the public.
Ms. Holmes suggested that those that cannot attend a meeting have an alternate attend in order to have a quorum for each meeting.
The next StBC meeting is scheduled for March 29, 2015.

7. Adjournment
Mr. Cortese made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:44 PM. Ms. Zetlan seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Wright
Recording Secretary
Mary Wright
Posts: 461
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:56 pm

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