April 4, 2016 Finance Committee meeting

April 4, 2016 Finance Committee meeting

Postby Mary Wright » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:46 pm


A meeting of the Finance Committee (Fin Com) was held on Monday, April 4, 2016 at the Municipal Center. Ms. Holmes called the meeting to order at 7:07 PM.

PRESENT: Pamela Holmes (Chairman), Brett Argall, Howard D’Amico, Carol Gogolinski, Ryan Hogan (Vice Chairman), Michael Hutnak
ABSENT: Jerome Kocur (Excused), Cynthia Shurick (Excused)
NON-VOTING: Michael Guzinski (Town Administrator), Jeanne Lovett (Finance Director)

7:08 PM Fire Chief
Chief Kent Vinson joined the meeting. He started with the Fire Dept. budget, which has been level-funded. He presented the duties and salaries of the employees first. He reviewed Overtime. He explained the stipend positions. Chief Vinson will look into the revenue amounts from inspections and permits. He also reviewed Utilities, Repairs and Maintenance, Inspections and Testing, Training Conferences, Telephone, Other Services (Radio Repairs, Hydrostatic Testing, etc.), Office Supplies, Building Maintenance, Custodial Supplies, Vehicle Supplies, Other Supplies, Travel, Training and Education, Dues and Memberships, and Replacement Equipment. He reviewed the total expenses. Mutual Aid was discussed.
Chief Vinson has a 1981 2500 gallon tanker that was put out of service a couple years ago. It is now used by the Highway Dept. as a sander. A few years ago they bought a 1987 rescue truck from Oxford. It has given its useful life. Chief Vinson would like to replace both trucks with a used rescue pumper at a cost of $460,000-$470,000. A savings would be seen in repair and maintenance. 70% of Douglas is out of the hydrant district. A discussion was held.
Chief Vinson next reviewed the Ambulance budget. They are behind in collecting for ambulance service. Ms. Lovett presented the Accounts Receivable reconciliation from the new ambulance collections service that was hired in July. Chief Vinson said that call volume is down. A discussion was held regarding the amount collected when Douglas was BLS (basic life support) vs. ALS (advanced life support). Mr. Guzinski stated that the current revenues are not able to keep the Ambulance Dept. running and pay back the ambulance. Collectibles are coming in less than expected. Also, those collectibles are not able to cover what was anticipated. Last year $125,000 was deferred to the Fall Town Meeting. Mr. Guzinski’s recommendation for FY17 is to continue with a $125,000 deferral. The Fin Com would like to revisit this issue in September.
Chief Vinson stated that the Ambulance budget is not much different than last year, except for what is contractually obligated. Additional Equipment was used last year to purchase State mandated fusion pumps for the ambulances for norepinephrine.
8:28 PM School Department
Superintendent Norm Yvon and Business Manager Cortney Keegan joined the meeting. They discussed how the School Dept. came up with a $1.5 million figure for an override amount. $1.5 million allows them to level-fund materials and keep all the current staffing, with the exception adding one music position, for five years. $2.7 million would have restored some staffing positions.
If an override passes, the School Dept. will not fund $100,000 from Circuit Breaker and approximately $186,000 from School Choice for positions. Instead, those positions will be funded from the General Fund budget.
Mr. Hogan is concerned about increases over the five years. Costs have increased more than revenues. Ms. Keegan stated that there will be a 70/30 split between the Schools and the Town for all new revenues. Mr. Guzinski explained that a large portion of those increases are due to Special Education. This override number is contingent on the stabilization of those Special Education costs. If Special Ed costs jump significantly, the override amount will not be sufficient. By State law, Special Education costs must be covered for a student up to age 22. A discussion was held.
Regarding athletic user fees, without an override, fees remain as they are with no cap. With an override, athletic line items would be increased and the fees could be reduced or capped. The need for a $50,000 Booster Club donation would be eliminated. Music students pay a user fee to cover the stipends for the chorus, band, and drum line directors for after-school programs.
Mr. D’Amico would like there to be a way to keep teachers for whom the School Dept. anticipates obtaining funding. Mr. Yvon explained that they have a contractual obligation to notify teachers of a lay off by June 1 using the financial situation as it is known at that time. They do not have a revenue stream other than additional State funding, which isn’t known until July. A discussion was held.
FY17 is the last year of the current teachers’ contract. They will begin negotiations again on August 31, 2016. School Choice was discussed in detail.
9:01 PM Finance Director
Ms. Lovett stated that there have been no changes to her budget. Her office consists of herself and a 30 hr./week assistant. Expenditures are level.
She removed $1,000 for assistance with the close out of the school project. Ms. Lovett explained that there are three pending payment issues that are holding up the close out of the project. September would be the earliest they could close. The second permanent borrowing for the project was done in January. The Town will have to do a Bond Anticipation Note in order to pay all the bills before the close out. They have been assigned a new Owner’s Project Manager (OPM). A discussion was held.
Ms. Holmes spoke about how the school project has been a drain on the Town personnel and finances. She asked Mr. Guzinski and Ms. Lovett to present to the Board of Selectmen (BOS) a breakdown of where the problems occurred.
The IT budget is level funded. There are no wages in FY17 because the IT person is contracted for 7 hrs./week.
9:16 PM Town Administrator
Mr. Guzinski spoke about pensions and health benefits for Town retirees. Douglas puts aside $50,000/year for OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefit).
Ms. Lovett and Mr. Guzinski presented Health Insurance. Mr. Guzinski stated that the renewal for Blue Cross/Blue Shield came in with an increase of 16.5%. They went out to bid and chose a new high deductible plan with Harvard Pilgrim with the Town putting in 50% of the deductible into a Health Savings Account (HSA) for an overall 6% increase to the Town over what is currently being paid. The amounts in the HSA can be rolled over from year to year. Open enrollment is in April. A discussion was held. Mr. Hutnak asked about instituting a wellness plan. Mr. Guzinski stated that they are still in discussions.
It was suggested to ask the Worcester County Retirement Board to attend a meeting in September to discuss the performance of the pension investments, etc.
Mr. Guzinski reviewed Salaries, Expenses (unchanged), Training and Conferences, Advertisements and Recording Fees, Postage, Cellular, Office and Other Supplies, and Dues and Memberships. He also presented the following budgets: Awards, Celebrations, Town Counsel, Property Insurance (8% increase estimated), Town Reports, Town Hall Supplies, Weights and Measures, and Street Lighting.

Mr. Guzinski stated that the warrants have been updated since they were last distributed. For the Special Town Meeting (STM) warrant Article 2, two items were added for the Board of Health. For the Annual Town Meeting (ATM) the Classification and Compensation Plan with an increase of 1.75% was added. Mr. Argall would like to know that dollar amount.
Article 12 on the ATM is a new article. Mr. Guzinski will be recommending to the BOS that they hold off on hiring an Economic Development employee for at least one year and continue to use consultants for FY17. The consultants will be funded using $12,000 from the remains of an Economic Development Grant received several years ago and $18,000 to be transferred from Stabilization from funds from last year’s Land Auction. A discussion was held including pros and cons. Article 13 is the previous Article 12; the petition article.
Ms. Lovett stated that the Administrator has a balanced budget for FY17. The Ambulance has been reduced by $125,000. The BOS will be voting on the budget tomorrow. Ms. Lovett met with the new Dept. of Revenue (DOR) representative. She presented the Excess and Deficiency for the past five years for Blackstone Valley Tech (BVT). Mr. Guzinski stated that the BVT LPN program is on the BOS’ agenda for tomorrow night. Mr. Lavin Douglas’ representative on the BVT Regional School Committee, will be invited to a BOS meeting in May. Mr. Guzinski will follow up with Dr. Fitzpatrick for his answers to a list of questions from the Fin Com. Mr. D’Amico asked for the Douglas Public Schools’ college placement records for the past five years.

Approval of the March 14 and March 28, 2016 Finance Committee meeting minutes was deferred to the next meeting.

Mr. Guzinski stated that the public budget hearing is scheduled for April 11, 2016 at 7:00 PM with another meeting, if needed, scheduled for April 12, 2016. Mr. Guzinski stated that he will have the motions for the ATM and STM articles to the Fin Com in a day or two. The agenda for the April 11, 2016 meeting was reviewed. The Town department heads have been asked to attend that meeting.
Ms. Gogolinski asked what the tax rate will be this November. Mr. Guzinski stated that that is not known because there are too many variables and everything is based on Town Meeting. What is known is that the total levy will go up by 2.5%. If the override and debt exclusion pass at Town Meeting, the average tax bill could go up by approximately 13% this November.

Mr. Hutnak made a motion at 10:24 PM to adjourn. Mr. D’Amico seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Wright
Recording Secretary
Mary Wright
Posts: 594
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:56 pm

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