March 29, 2016 Strategic Budget meeting

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March 29, 2016 Strategic Budget meeting

Postby Mary Wright » Sun Nov 20, 2016 9:29 pm


A meeting of the Strategic Budget Committee (StBC) was held on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 in the Municipal Center. Mr. Cortese called the meeting to order at 7:04 PM.

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

1. Review & Compare Original FY17 Projections vs. Current Projections
Mr. Guzinski stated that in the packet are the original charts that the StBC put together for FY17-FY20 of estimated revenues vs. updated estimated revenues. He reviewed the changes. The tax revenues are slightly different due to New Growth from last year coming in higher than estimated by approximately $70,000. Local receipts are close to the same. The Cherry Sheet is less than anticipated. Overall, the estimates are close.
A lengthy discussion was held regarding the history of State Aid. Mr. Yvon stated that the Superintendents’ Association meets with members of the State legislature regularly. Ms. Zetlan stated that over 50 other town school committees have signed on to the resolution to accept the findings of the Chapter 70 Budget Foundation Commission. On April 26, 2016 there will be a bus going from Douglas to Boston for Day on the Hill. Mr. Guzinski and Mr. Yvon urged the public to contact their State legislative representatives.
Mr. Cortese asked for ideas on how the StBC can improve the process of projecting. Mr. Argall would like to see multiple projections for revenues and expenses with different scenarios. Mr. Cortese feels that would be difficult to do with the State revenues. Ms. Keegan cautioned conservativeness on the revenue side.
The impacts of economic development were discussed. Mr. Guzinski feels that the only way the Town will be able to stabilize its financial footing and maintain services for the short term will be from additional revenue, either from the State or from within.
Ms. Holmes asked if the StBC should put together a document on their projections and their findings. It was decided to reset the five-year projection every year in September.
Also in the packet is the History of Certified Free Cash. The recommended budget will have $500,000 in Free Cash applied to the operating budget. This is the most the Town has ever put forward for this purpose.

2. Continue Discussion on Methods of Communication with the Public
Ms. Brouillette feels that the State Aid chart should be used at every meeting. The message to the public needs to be simplified and consistent and updated on a basis of FY17 projected. Mr. Guzinski will work on updating the poster for Town Meeting.
The StBC would like to present at the Special Town Meeting in November. Ms. Holmes suggested advertising the recorded presentation from last year but include a short update with updated information. Mr. Guzinski stressed that the public needs to know that the $1.7 million override figure only maintains the status quo if it passes.
It was decided to form a subcommittee to work on how to communicate the organization of the override. Mr. Argall, Ms. Zetlan and Ms. Brouillette agreed to serve on the Communication Subcommittee.

3. Discuss Financial/Operational Impacts of Proposition 2.5 Override
In the packet is a page that shows a Prop 2.5 Override analysis. The FY16 levy is $14,871,858. The total levy with a $1.7 million override would be $16,571,858. 93.03% of that is residential. The FY16 valuation of all residential properties is $822,550,323. The tax rate with an override based on FY16 numbers is $18.74. The average value of a single family home in Douglas is $265,600. The current FY16 tax rate is $16.82. The average FY16 single family home tax bill is $4,467.39. With an override, it would be $4,977.34.
The first major debt to fall off will be the high school debt in 2023.
Also up for a vote at the Town election and at Town Meeting is a debt exclusion for a Fire rescue pumper and a Highway catch basin cleaner/sander/plow for $705,000. Based on a 3% interest rate and 5-year payback, the tax rate impact is $0.18/$1,000 for the first two years, $0.17/$1,000 for the next two years and $0.16/$1,000 for the fifth year. Douglas’ average tax bill is approximately in the middle when compared to other towns in the valley.
Mr. Yvon stated that based on their projections, $1.5 million carries the School Dept. through the current staffing with one additional FTE through 2021. Included in the packet is a document from the School Dept. outlining the 5-year impact of the potential override for the schools. Without the override, there will need to be 20.7 reductions in staff during that time period. Mr. Yvon explained the cuts that had to be made to get to the $12.5 million allocation for FY17. The School Dept. will soon be starting negotiations for the new teachers’ contract.
Again, discussions were held regarding the Chapter 70 formula and urging the State’s adoption of the Budget Foundation Review Commission’s recommendations.
Mr. Argall asked, if for example $100,000 comes in from the State, can $100,000 of the override be reserved? Mr. Guzinski explained the steps that would be involved in that decision. A discussion was held.

4. Next Steps for the Committee
Mr. Argall suggested devising a communication plan, revising the projections to have more “what if” scenarios and identifying the opportunities around the recommendations made last time.
Ms. Brouillette would like to support Town Meeting to avoid what happened last year, which was that the problem of a lack of economic development was identified and acknowledged and then no vote for action was taken. Mr. Argall would like this Committee to hold people responsible for making progress.
Mr. Cortese suggesting talking to individual department heads about the effects of the budget problem on their departments. Ms. Brouillette stated, if the override fails, the conclusion is that the townspeople do not want to support the level of services they have today. The StBC should add clarity as to what that really means.
It was decided to have another StBC meeting on April 13, 2016 to plan a presentation for April 26, 2016 at 7:00 PM at the high school auditorium.

5. Minutes: September 29, October 13, October 20, 2015 and February 23, 2016
Ms. Holmes made a motion to approve the, September 29, 2015, October 13, 2015, October 20, 2015 and February 23, 2016 minutes of the Strategic Budget Committee meeting as presented. Ms. Zetlan seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.

6. Old/ New Business
Old Business: There was no discussion.
New Business: There was no discussion.

7. Adjournment
Ms. Zetlan made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:38 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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