March 28, 2017 Finance Committee meeting

March 28, 2017 Finance Committee meeting

Postby Mary Wright » Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:33 am


A meeting of the Finance Committee (FC) was held on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at the Municipal Center. Mr. Hogan called the meeting to order at 7:03 PM.

PRESENT: Brett Argall, Howard D’Amico, Carol Gogolinski (left 7:24, returned 8:12 PM), Ryan Hogan (Vice Chair), Michael Hutnak, Cynthia Shurick
ABSENT: Pamela Holmes (Chair), Jerome Kocur
NON-VOTING: James Purcell (Interim Town Administrator), Jeanne Lovett (Finance Director)

Library-Justin Snook
Mr. Snook’s budget requests the minimum amount needed to retain certification with the State, which is a 2.5% increase over the average of the past three fiscal years. If the library does not receive this amount and certification is lost, Douglas residents will lose the ability to borrow materials from other libraries. If the library loses its certification and wishes to become certified in the future, the requirement continues to climb by 2.5% each year the library is decertified. Mr. Snook explained the circumstances under which the library could apply for a waiver. Mr. Snook outlined the grants that the library would lose if it were decertified. He presented Douglas library’s total circulation of over 40,000 items in 2016.
Fines and the library’s late fee policy were discussed. Mr. Snook has not yet looked into how much would be saved if library hours were cut.
Fire/Ambulance-Chief Kent Vinson
Chief Vinson joined the meeting. He spoke about the new 24/7 operation. Two trained staff are in the station at all times. He presented some statistics from 1/5/17. The new rescue pumper arrived last week.
Salaries have increased; expenses have stayed the same. Chief Vinson would like more money in the budget for vehicle maintenance and training. There should be an equipment maintenance program for the exhaust system in the station and the overhead doors. Chief Vinson will look into getting a group rate for service agreements. A discussion was held regarding Ambulance Receipts.
School Dept.-Superintendent Norm Yvon
Mr. Yvon, Cortney Keegan, Business Manager and Sherry Zetlan. Vice Chair of the School Committee and Budget Subcommittee joined the meeting. Currently, the School Dept. is working from a proposed bottom line budget of $12,867,097, which is a 1.64% increase over FY17. An increase in Revenues from the Town, a reduction of Salaries due to two teachers taking unpaid leave of absences for FY18, Out of District Tuitions lower than last year, an increased use of Circuit Breaker/Revolving Funds, and reduced spending for textbooks and hardware have allowed the School Dept. to maintain current levels of staffing and programming and keep high school athletics and extracurriculars in the General Fund with user fees. A discussion was held regarding user fees.
Mr. Yvon stated that Mr. Maines has held meetings for the eighth grade parents in order promote continuing their students’ education at the high school. Mr. D’Amico asked about promoting college placements of Douglas students. He would like to see side-by-side comparisons made visible to parents. Mr. Hutnak suggested piggybacking college placement information with the report cards. Mr. Yvon will look into mailing out a packet and connecting the documents in iPass.
Mr. Hogan asked about paring down the selection of athletic team offerings. Mr. D’Amico disagreed with Mr. Hogan and would like to offer more extracurriculars. Ms. Zetlan stated that in the past, the budget was not able to fund any teams. Mr. Yvon stated that this conversation has been held with the School Committee.
A discussion was held regarding transportation. The School Committee’s budget hearing is next Monday at 7:00 PM.
Mr. Yvon will ask Guidance for college placement statistics for 2016 and the past five years.
MCAS 2.0 is coming in place of PARCC. By 2019, everyone in the State will be expected to take the test online. If the State increases the technology requirements, the current iPads will not be able to meet the requirements.
The FC and Ms. Lovett thanked Mr. Yvon for his service to the Town and wished him well in his new position.
A five-minute recess was called at 8:53 PM.

Ms. Lovett stated that the budget is still fluid. Mr. Hogan stated that when the increase in hours at the fire station was approved in January, he was not anticipating that an additional $100,000 would be spent in Free Cash for the Operating Budget. Ms. Lovett explained that her and Mr. Guzinski’s motivation was to infuse money to stabilize the departments. This $600,000 is the largest sum of Free Cash used in the Operating Budget to date. $200,000 in Free Cash is being used for the Excess Snow & Ice deficit. The balance of Free Cash, $305,000 will be used for Capital expenses.
There was an increase in Veterans Benefits because Douglas has additional veterans that need benefits. The Veterans Agent will present to the FC on April 11, 2017. Worcester Regional (retirement) increased by just under 12% based on their actuary study. Mr. Purcell explained how Douglas’ share is calculated. Mr. Hogan asked if a representative could present to the FC in the fall.
Mr. Purcell is speaking with the Chair of the Conservation Commission regarding Mr. Guzinski’s recommendation that the Conservation Commission transfer $10,000 from their account to help defray the municipalities’ cost to maintain conservation lands.
Ms. Lovett stated that the increase in Technology is for three extra hours for the shared technician. Ms. Lovett feels that this line item has been severely under budgeted in the past.
The budget includes a 2% COLA and no steps for the Police, Fire, and non-union employees. This does not include the School budget. The budget also includes a $22,000 reduction in street lighting, implementation of which is still to be determined. Mr. Purcell does not feel the logistics of turning off streetlights would balance the return on investment. He feels reconciliation would be best at the fall Town Meeting. Mr. Hogan suggested that the Board of Selectmen look into passing the streetlight cost on to the townspeople as other towns have done.
A discussion was held regarding the funding for police cruisers.

There was no expense voucher.

4. APPROVE MEETING MINUTES: February 28, 2017
Mr. Argall made a motion to approve the minutes of the February 28, 2017 Finance Committee meeting as amended. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.

There were no transfers.

The next FC meeting is scheduled for 4/3/17 at 6:45 PM for presentations by the Council on Aging and Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick from Blackstone Valley Tech. The public hearing for the budget is scheduled for 4/11/17, with a reserved date of 4/12/17 if needed. The FC will review the Annual Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting warrants on 4/3/17.

Mr. Hogan asked if any additional Snow & Ice spending was authorized after 2/15/17. Ms. Lovett stated they are still slightly below the $200,000 that was last approved, for a total spending authorization of $335,000.

Mr. Hutnak made a motion at 10:02 PM to adjourn the Finance Committee meeting. Mr. Argall seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Wright
Recording Secretary
Mary Wright
Posts: 506
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:56 pm

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