July 28, 2020 Finance Committee meeting

July 28, 2020 Finance Committee meeting

Postby Mary Wright » Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:58 pm

TUESDAY, JULY 28, 2020

A meeting of the Finance Committee (FC) was held on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants were invited to join the meeting by video conference. Mr. D’Amico called the meeting to order after 7:00 PM.

PRESENT: Howard D’Amico (Chair), Carol Gogolinski, Sandy Kuipers, Phil Landry, Heather Morin, Lynne Mussulli, Dick Vanden Berg
ABSENT: Michael Hutnak (Vice Chair)
NON-VOTING: Jeanne Lovett (Finance Director), Matt Wojcik (Town Administrator-arrived 32:48)

Mr. Wojcik estimates a 50% reduction in Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) and a 4% reduction in Chapter 70 for FY21, which amounts to approximately $920,000 of revenue being removed from the Town’s Revenue Projection Sheet. Approximately $400,000 of Free Cash may have to be used to balance the budget.
The cuts involve the following: only a 1% year-over-year increase over FY20 for the Schools, a retirement in the Police Dept. will remain vacant for 6 months, a 2.5% reduction to all departments’ expense accounts, reductions to the Community Development Department (CDD), and 0% COLA for all union employees for FY21.
A discussion was held regarding the impact to the Schools. Blackstone Valley Tech (BVT) had asked Douglas to share some of the Town’s CARES Act funds with them, and the Town replied in the negative. Ms. Lovett will reach out to other towns to see who has held their town meetings and the result of their BVT votes.
Mr. D’Amico asked Mr. Wojcik for the difference in Douglas’ cost between BVT’s request and BVT approval at the same 1% Douglas is approving for their school budget. To clarify, if Douglas were to approve a 1% year-over-year increase rather than what BVT is requesting (3.9%), for the same number of students, what would be the difference in the impact to Douglas’ budget.
The public budget hearing was scheduled for 8/10/20 at 7:00 PM in the Resource Room at the Municipal Center. For the public budget hearing, Mr. D’Amico asked to know from the Schools, what is the full impact of the reduction to a 1% allocation over last year, and how much will the School be able to reduce that loss from its own accounts. Mr. D’Amico asked that each board come in one at a time or attend remotely. Mr. Wojcik reiterated that nothing has changed in the budget spreadsheet since the Board of Selectmen (BOS) approved it and it was made public six weeks ago. A few changes that need to be made to the budget are as follows: funds for two appraisals of real property ($8,800) owned by the Town that the Town will dispose of for one-time revenues; percolation tests and filings, for property that will be sold at tax sale at auction ($1,850); and unresolved issues regarding reconfiguring Fire/Ambulance.

Ms. Lovett stated that State Aid is not known and Cherry Sheet numbers may not be known in time for a 9/12/20 Town Meeting. There is no change from the information she had in June.
She explained that each month Douglas has to submit a request to the Dept. of Revenue to deficit spend, based on the actuals for FY20. August has been approved.
Ms. Lovett stated that the FC has met with most of the larger departments regarding their FY21 budget requests. Mr. D’Amico stated that, since the financial outlook has changed so drastically, it might make sense to meet with all the departments again. Ms. Lovett stated that the FC can start to meet with department heads in preparation for the November Fall Town Meeting.
Ms. Morin stated that the State guidelines for schools change daily. The new Superintendent is Zooming with parents tonight to discuss the three models they will present to the State. A formal request will need to be made to have the School Committee come before the FC. Ms. Lovett suggested that the School Committee be invited to the public hearing.
Ms. Gogolinski asked about the cuts to the CDD. Mr. Wojcik stated that the BOS gave him a target to reach in the CDD to help arrive at a general savings number to put the Town on a path to balance the budget with significant anticipated revenue reductions from the State. The number for CDD was in the range of $50,000-$56,000. His initial plans were to eliminate a position, reduce another by 50%, and backfill the workload with electronic permitting software. Now, $20,000 will be taken from the Wetlands Conservation Fund and put into the General Fund to support the Conservation Agent. Discussions are being held regarding the other position.

August 18, 2020 is the definitive deadline in order to allow enough time for the flyers to be mailed out prior to Town Meeting.

Old Business: There was no old business.
New Business: Mr. Vanden Berg asked if the FC could hold meetings at the Municipal Center as long as they social distance. The Resource Room can hold up to 50% of its occupancy, as long as social distancing is possible.
A discussion was held regarding the authority of the FC.
The next meeting will be 8/4/20 at 7:00 PM via Zoom.

5. MINUTES: June 30 & July 14, 2020
Mr. Vanden Berg made a motion to approve the June 30, 2020 Finance Committee meeting minutes as presented. Ms. Mussulli seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-6, Mr. Landry abstained.
Mr. Vanden Berg made a motion to approve the July 14, 2020 Finance Committee meeting minutes as presented. Ms. Kuipers seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-6, Mr. Landry abstained.

Ms. Kuipers made a motion at 8:25 PM to adjourn the Finance Committee meeting. Ms. Mussulli seconded the motion. Vote: Aye-7.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Wright
Recording Secretary
Mary Wright
Posts: 609
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:56 pm

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