April 11, 2017 Finance Committee meeting

April 11, 2017 Finance Committee meeting

Postby Mary Wright » Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:01 pm

FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING
TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2017

A meeting of the Finance Committee (FC) was held on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at the Municipal Center. Ms. Holmes called the meeting to order at 7:01 PM.

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

1. DEPARTMENTAL BUDGET REQUEST MEETINGS:
Veteran’s Agent-Carl Bradshaw
Mr. Bradshaw joined the meeting. He explained the multi-town agreement Douglas has with Sutton, Uxbridge and Northbridge to share a Veteran’s Agent. The Agent gives support to local veterans based on income and assets. Mr. Bradshaw stated that three new Douglas clients were added in February at a cost of over $2,000 each/month. The Town is reimbursed 75% quarterly, however the reimbursement is for the previous year. Douglas pays 17% of Mr. Bradshaw’s salary.
Mr. Bradshaw also assists veterans with Veterans Administration (VA) claims. He files an average of three new VA claims each week. A discussion was held.

2. 7:20 PM PUBLIC HEARING:
Ms. Lovett stated that the only change in the FY18 budget draft was a reduction in Ambulance Receipts of $60,000, which reflects the receipts up to this date. She stated that the Conservation Commission did agree to transfer $10,000 from their Wetland Protection account to the budget.
Ms. Holmes opened the public hearing at 7:20 PM. Mr. Purcell and Ms. Lovett made a presentation on the Town Administrator’s FY18 Budget as it was presented to the Board of Selectmen (BOS). Ms. Lovett started with a general overview and the change in Revenues. The total net change in Revenues is $305,456, with the school’s portion being $213,819 and the municipality’s share being $91,637. She reviewed the revenue sheet.
Regarding salaries, there was a 2% increase for COLA and a step freeze for municipal non-union employees. The Police and Fire have settled on a 2% COLA. The library is using $2,300 in 53e.5 funds for the library budget, therefore the library budget has been reduced by that amount. Ms. Lovett explained that health insurance rates went up over 11%, however the overall health insurance budget decreased due to fewer participants.
Regarding the street lighting budget, there is now a smaller gap than in previous draft budgets, and Mr. Purcell feels a supplemental street lighting budget at the Fall Town Meeting is now doable. Mr. Hogan recommended fully funding the street lighting from OPEB. Ms. Lovett explained the OPEB (Other Post-EmploymentBenefits) account and a discussion was held. Mr. Purcell explained that underwriters want to see a consistent effort to fund OPEB.
Police Chief Patrick Foley asked how many street lights would be eliminated. If it is decided to turn lights back on, it is more expensive for the Town. Mr. Hogan replied that there is currently no plan on which street lights to turn off. Mr. Purcell suggested that the FC adjust its Reserve Fund by $9,500 to fully fund street lighting. Ms. Lovett cautioned using Reserve Funds as they are used as a funding source. Mr. D’Amico suggested reviewing the entire budget first.
Mr. Hogan has strong concerns about future budgets, specifically the $197,000 increase in Blackstone Valley Tech (BVT) assessment and increasing health insurance costs. He would be supportive of Selectman Kevin Morse’s recommendation to remove $100,000 from the Library budget and put it back into Free Cash or reducing the expenditure on Capital items and put those back into Free Cash. Mr. Hogan feels that doing this would give the townspeople the clear message that the Town is having financial struggles. Ms. Lovett reminded the FC that a meals tax article is on the Town Meeting warrant, and she and former Town Administrator Michael Guzinski tried to create a balanced budget with balanced services. Ms. Shurick feels the balanced budget should be recommended as presented.
Scott Yacino, Chair of the School Committee, explained about the 70/30 school/municipal split for new revenues, which has allowed the school to stay in line with the required State per pupil spending. However, the school is very close to that required net school spending amount and any reduction would cause them to be in danger of not meeting that amount. He spoke in favor of funding the library as the FY18 budget currently recommends.
School Superintendent Norm Yvon spoke about School Choice In and Out. Cortney Keegan, School Business and Operations Manager spoke about the uniqueness of how well the Douglas’ school and town departments work together. She spoke about how hard she, Mr. Yvon, Mr. Guzinski and Ms. Lovett worked to provide a balanced budget that kept level services. She spoke about presenting a unified front at Town Meeting.
Library Director Justin Snook spoke about the consequences of decertification. If the library is decertified, its circulation would be cut in half as materials from other libraries would not be available to Douglas residents. In order to become recertified, the library must still reach the budget mark as though it were still certified. In other words, the budget that must be met still increases each year, even if the library is not certified.
Shirley Mosczynski, 60 Oak Street commented on all the new subdivisions being proposed in Town. She asked the public to consider how difficult it would be to attract people to buy in Douglas if there is no library and the schools are “going down the tubes”.
Ms. Gogolinski spoke in favor of recommending the budget as it stands.
Mr. Hogan recommended not voting for the additional assessment of $34,667 for BVT and only approving the actual assessment, as they have done in the past. Ms. Holmes suggested mobilizing to other communities instead.
Ms. Holmes closed the public hearing at 8:34 PM.

3. VOTE ON RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 2018 BUDGET:
The FC voted on the Town Administrator’s FY18 Budget dated April 11, 2017. Each line item was reviewed.
Mr. Hogan made a motion to adjust the Reserve Fund line in the budget from $50,000 to $40,500, with the intention of putting the $9,500 in the Street Lighting budget. Ms. Shurick seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-6, No-Mr. Argall.
Mr. Hogan made a motion to recommend the Total General Government budget in the amount of $1,506,781 as amended. Mr. D’Amico seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Hogan reviewed the Public Safety budget line items. Mr. Hogan made a motion to recommend the Public Safety budget in the amount of $2,465,461 as presented. Ms. Shurick seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Hogan reviewed the Public Works budget line items. Mr. Hogan made a motion to recommend the addition of $9,500 to the Street Lighting line item for a total budget of $44,000, and to recommend the Public Works budget in the amount of $775,887 and recommend that the Other Public Works line item total $55,350 as amended. Mr. D’Amico seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Hogan reviewed the Health and Human Services line items. Mr. Hogan made a motion to recommend the total Health and Human Services budget in the amount of $251,647 as presented. Ms. Shurick seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend reducing the total Finance Committee budget in the amount of $9,500 to total $46,200 as amended. Mr. Hogan seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Hogan presented the Culture and Recreation line items. Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend the total Culture and Recreation budget in the amount of $219,156 as presented. Ms. Shurick seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-6, No-Mr. Hogan.
Mr. D’Amico made a motion that any motion not voted as unanimous, note the number of “Aye’s” and “No’s”. Mr. Hogan seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous. A discussion was held as to how to show alternative recommendations on the budget at Town Meeting.
Mr. Hogan reviewed the Education budget line items. Mr. Hogan made a motion to reduce the Blackstone Valley Regional assessment by $34,667, which equals the amount of the additional assessment per the Blackstone Valley Regional documents for a total Blackstone Valley Regional budget amount of $922,877. Mr. D’Amico seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-3 (Mr. Argall, Mr. D’Amico, Mr. Hogan), No-4.
Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend the total Education budget in the amount of $15,198,185 as presented. Mr. Hogan seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-5, No-Mr. D’Amico, Mr. Hogan.
Ms. Lovett reminded the FC that Total Debt and Total Insurance will be rolled up. Mr. Hogan made a motion to recommend the Total Insurance/Employee Benefits budget in the amount of $4,090,245 as presented. Mr. Argall seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Hogan reviewed the Total Debt Service line item. Mr. Hogan made a motion to recommend the Total Debt Service in the amount of $2,651,969 as presented. Mr. Argall seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Ms. Shurick made a motion to recommend the total budget request of $27,159,331 as amended. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-5, No-Mr. D’Amico, Mr. Hogan.

4. VOTE ON RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ANNUAL (ATM) AND SPECIAL (STM) TOWN MEETING WARRANT ARTICLES:
The FC began by reviewing the ATM articles.
Fire Chief Kent Vinson joined the meeting as Chair of the Capital Improvement Committee (CIC) to explain the Capital list totaling $305,000 in Article 9 of the ATM. He listed the items and explained how they were ranked. Mr. Vinson will check with Adam Furno, Facilities Maintenance Manager to see if carbon monoxide detectors are included in the fire alarm system upgrade for the Municipal Center. A discussion was held regarding the use of the front end snow blower attachment.
Bill Cundiff, Town Engineer also joined the meeting to speak about an Environmental Protection Act unfunded mandated stormwater program under the Clean Water Act. Mr. Cundiff solicited proposal to implement the program from a consultant, whose estimate was $50,000. This request was submitted to the CIC, but was not ranked high enough for funding. Mr. Cundiff is trying to collaborate with other towns.
Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 9 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. D’Amico seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-5, No-Mr. Hogan, Mr. Hutnak.
Article 18 is in regards to adopting the Stretch Code. Mr. Cundiff stated that the BOS entered into an agreement with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts called the Community Compact Cabinet. As part of that, the Town is obligated to strive to become a Green Community. One of the subcategories is adopting the Stretch Energy Code, which is an adaptation of the building code which makes buildings more energy efficient. The difference between the base code and the energy code is not vastly different than the Stretch Energy Code. The Building and Facilities Construction Committee (BFCC) will be meeting next Wednesday at 7:00 PM to discuss the Stretch Code with the Dept. of Energy Resources (DOER). By adopting this code, the Town has access to funds under the Green Communities Act.
Larry Lench, Building Commissioner joined the meeting. Ms. Gogolinski does not feel enough research has been done on the Green Communities Act, and she is concerned about the cost to the Town. Mr. Cundiff clarified the five criteria the Town is required to meet to be a Green Community. Regarding adopting bylaws, the Town’s bylaws currently meet the standards regarding wind energy. Nuclear energy is not allowed in the Town’s code. Mr. Purcell stated that when you submit a competitive grant application, the application gets additional points if the applicant is a Community Compact community.
Mr. Cundiff suggested tabling recommendation of Article 18 until after the BFCC meeting to take their input into account. Mr. Hogan made a motion to defer recommendation of Article 18 until Town Meeting. Mr. Argall seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Cundiff presented the zoning bylaw in Article 19. The Planning Board has a public hearing scheduled for April 25, 2017 at 7:45 PM. The State legislature is in the process of establishing laws to regulate recreational marijuana. Town Counsel and the BOS feel it would be prudent to institute a moratorium until January 1, 2019 when all the regulation should have a sound structure. If the Town does not adopt this moratorium, then recreational marijuana facilities could be placed anywhere that retail is allowed. A discussion was held. Mr. D’Amico asked for clarification from Town Counsel, Jay Talerman, who drafted the moratorium.
Mr. Argall made a motion to defer recommendation of Article 19 until Town Meeting. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Cundiff presented the zoning bylaw in Article 20. In the Planning Board’s opinion, excavation is not permitted within 100’ of property abutters, except under specific situations. Recently, an applicant challenged the language. This amendment clears up the language and clearly does not allow excavation within 100’ of an abutter’s property, unless it is waived by the Planning Board. This article has no financial impact. The public hearing for this article is scheduled for April 25, 2017 at 7:15 PM.
Mr. D’Amico made a motion to recommend Article 20 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. Mr. Hogan seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-4, No-0, Abstained-Mr. Argall, Mr. Hogan, Mr. Hutnak.
Mr. Cundiff presented the zoning bylaw in Article 21. The public hearing for this article is scheduled for April 25, 2017 at 7:00 PM. In going through the Assisted Living Facility bylaw, a number of contradictions were noticed. This amendment makes the zoning districts consistent and does not require that an assisted living facility be tied into a public water system.
Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 21 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Cundiff presented Article 12 regarding the Old Grammar School. One proposal is being reviewed for presentation to the BOS. Mr. Purcell recommends passing of this article. A discussion was held.
Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 12 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. Hogan seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-4, No-Mr. Hutnak, Ms. Shurick, Ms. Gogolinski abstained.
Mr. Hogan asked if the BFCC has taken a vote on Article 17. Mr. Cundiff stated that it is on the agenda for their next meeting.
Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 1 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. D’Amico seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Hogan made a motion to recommend Article 3 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. D’Amico seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Hogan made a motion to recommend Article 4 to Town Meeting as written. Ms. Shurick seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Hogan made a motion to recommend Article 5 to Town Meeting as written. Ms. Shurick seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-6, No-Mr. D’Amico.
Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 6 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. Hogan seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Ms. Lovett stated that a 2% COLA with no steps is being recommended for all nonunion, non-school municipal employees. Mr. D’Amico made a motion to recommend Article 7 to Town Meeting as written. Ms. Shurick seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Ms. Lovett stated that the only change from last year is an increase in the spending ceiling for the library to $2,500. This change makes the item nonrecurring. Mr. Purcell stated that the motion would be, “I move that the Town vote to approve the recurring business as written in the warrant, except that the spending ceiling for the Simon Fairfield Public Library be raised from $500 to $2,500.” Mr. D’Amico made a motion to recommend Article 8 to Town Meeting as written in the motions. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Articles 10 and 11 ratify the contracts for the Police and Firefighters and include a 2% COLA and an increase in the off-duty police rates to $45/hr. for the first 8 hours and $67.50/hr. after that. Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 10 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 11 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
The intent of Article 13 was that the Moderator and Clerk would not end their terms concurrently. Mr. Argall made a motion to not make a recommendation to Town Meeting for Article 13. Mr. D’Amico seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Ms. Lovett stated that five towns in the surrounding area have adopted a meals tax. Ms. Lovett estimated an additional $26,000 in revenues for the Town if this article passes. The tax is 0.75%. Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 14 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Purcell stated that the proposed change to the current by law is in section “b”, and in section “d” “bylaw” is changed to “section”. Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 15 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. D’Amico seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Purcell stated that the Strategic Budget Committee has been discussing fees. MGL Chpt 40 section 22F allows communities to accept provisions to exceed fees defined by State statute. Ms. Lovett considers this to be a “housekeeping” act. Mr. Hutnak made a motion to recommend Article 16 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. Argall seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Mr. Purcell stated that the BFCC is looking to raise their jurisdiction threshold from $10,000 to $50,000. Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 17 to Town Meeting as written. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-6, No-0, Mr. Hogan abstained.
Next, the FC voted their recommendations on the STM warrant articles.
Ms. Lovett stated that Article 1 is for prior year bills. Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 1 to the Special Town Meeting as written. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Ms. Lovett reviewed each item in Article 2. Ms. Holmes asked about the septic issues at the Fire Dept. Ms. Lovett stated that the issues are still not fixed. A discussion was held regarding painting of the gazebo. Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 2 to the Special Town Meeting as stated in the motion. Mr. D’Amico seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Ms. Lovett stated that the amount being transferred is $200,000. Ms. Gogolinski made a motion to recommend Article 3 to the Special Town Meeting as written. Ms. Shurick seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Ms. Shurick made a motion to recommend Article 4 to the Special Town Meeting as written in the motion. Ms. Gogolinski seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Ms. Shurick made a motion to recommend Article 5 to the Special Town Meeting as written in the motion. Ms. Gogolinski seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Ms. Lovett stated that the school building project is closed. Town Meeting authorized a certain amount to be borrowed. The amount that was authorized and unissued needs to be rescinded. Mr. Argall made a motion to recommend Article 6 to the Special Town Meeting as written. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.
Ms. Gogolinski made a motion to recommend Article 7 to the Special Town Meeting as written. Mr. Argall seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.

5. SIGN EXPENSE VOUCHER:
There was no expense voucher.

6. APPROVE MEETING MINUTES: March 28 & April 4, 2017
Approval of the March 28, 2017 and April 4, 2017 Finance Committee meeting minutes was deferred to the next meeting.

7. RESERVE FUND TRANSFERS
There were no transfers.

8. OLD/NEW BUSINESS
There will be no meeting tomorrow on April 12, 2017. The next meeting will be before Town Meeting on May 1, 2017 at 6:30 PM at the high school.

9. ADJOURNMENT
Mr. Hogan made a motion at 11:06 PM to adjourn the Finance Committee meeting. Mr. Hutnak seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Wright
Recording Secretary
Mary Wright
 
Posts: 458
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:56 pm

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