BOS - March 11, 2003 Workshop

BOS - March 11, 2003 Workshop

Postby Suzanne Kane » Mon Nov 10, 2008 9:07 am

Board of Selectmen
Joint Meeting
Finance Committee and School Committee
March 11, 2003
Approved April 1, 2003


1. Call to order:

Madame Chairman Shirley Mosczynski called the meeting to order at 8:10 pm. In attendance: Paula Brouillette, Rich Preston, Ron Forget, Edward Therrien, Executive Administrator Ken Mahony, and Administrative Assistant Suzanne Kane.

Other staff and citizens in attendance: Finance Committee: Chairman Pamela Holmes, Vice Chair William Pybas, Gene Morin, and William Krauss. School Administration: Superintendent Connie Verge. School Committee: Chairman John Durkin, Vice Chair Shirley Downs, Sandra Raines, and Ann Brunson. Town Accountant Rich Mathieu, T&G reporter Steve Foskett, and Tribune reporter Tom Mattson.

This meeting was called per the request from the Finance Committee in a memo to the Board of Selectmen, dated March 4, 2003, re: Joint meting – March 18, 2003. Pam Holmes passed out a “Joint Budget Meeting” agenda. Ken Mahony passed out a memo to the three Boards/Committees, from Rich Mathieu and himself, dated March 11, 2003 re: Budget Update. John Durkin started out by requesting the committees cooperate; he does not feel this is happening. Shirley Mosczynski explained that this meeting is to discuss the budget. She stated that there is no decision from the Board of Selectmen to honor the request of an audit by the Finance Committee. John Durkin went on to say he had heard that there was a comment made at one of the committee meetings questioning the qualifications and experience of the School Committee Members. Both Shirley Mosczynski and Pam Holmes stated that no such comments were made at any of their respective committee meetings and suggested Mr. Durkin check with his source. Connie Verge stated she is here to maintain cooperation with the Boards; she feels proper protocol and human decency was not extended to them; and the process was not followed in the manner of the audit request. Shirley Mosczynski again stressed that the Board of Selectmen had not taken any action on the audit request from the Finance Committee and this meeting was only to discuss the budget.

• Revenues:
Pam Holmes stated the School gets a budget based on Chapter 70 and local Contributions; she asked if they also get it from other revenues. John Durkin explained that they start with a base budget; revenues are earmarked for the programs they came from, ie: food goes back into food. He explained that they build the budget based on what is going to occur in the next year. They are conscious about using “soft money” or revolvers; stating they will not hire someone using that money. Mr. Durkin said the budget is based on appropriations; grants are separate items, they don’t mix the two. Connie Verge explained they have a Health Grant which their Lead and Nurse are mandated by the grant; if the grant is not revised, those people are done. Pam Holmes noted this is similar to the Police Grants. John Durkin stated they are reluctant to use grants that lock them into anything. Pam Holmes asked if they are aware yet of any local contributions? Rich Mathieu stated he is still working on this but has not given it to the Finance Committee yet. Pam Holmes asked if they know what the target is; do they know what they are looking for and what the state is requiring the Town to pay. Shirley Mosczynski stated that at this point the School Committee has run through their budget at least once. John Durkin stated they have run through it three times and tomorrow they go back again. Paula Brouillette stated the magnitude is huge and they appreciate the work the School Committee has done; but we know we have a 2 million gap and we need to whittle that down. Connie Verge explained the “Rainy Day” fund which was used to purchase the portable classrooms. Pam Holmes asked if the School Committee has put any thought into using those funds as they come in, and could they get an accounting of them. John Durkin stated they are doing the School Committee’s job. Pam Holmes replied that she was just asking a question. Rich Mathieu stated he met today with Connie Verge and Regina Cardone. He passed out a sheet entitled “Required School Spending – FY04 Prelim Requirements”. He said the figures are based on the current Schedule 19. Connie Verge suggested a signed agreement between the Town and the School. Rich Mathieu stated that Connie Verge is certainly the expert. Ken Mahony stated they are looking at a number of budgets, not just one. The first is the Municipal budget; the second is opening the school, the third – not opening the school, and the fourth looking at 2005 and structural capabilities to budget FY05. He gave an example of choice in; stating it will not reflect in ’04, but will reflect in ’05. John Durkin agreed; stating those are the things they are looking for. Ken Mahony finished by saying they started out looking at our annual increase in assured revenues; stating the potential income was going to be less than personnel increases. Pam Holmes stated she does not fully understand the sheet Rich Mathieu passed out; the figures are not presented in the manner in which she is used to. She put the figures on the white board in a way she is familiar with which gives different results then from Rich Mathieu’s memo.
Required: 9,372,096
-1,863,284 Schedule 19
7,508,812
+ 611,000 Transportation
8,119,812 Required Spending

Paula Brouillette stated they need to figure out how they are going to open the school. Rich Preston stated that it would be a failure on the Governmental part if the school does not open. He asked if there could be flexibility in staffing the new school that can save money. John Durkin stated that is something they have looked at. Connie Verge stated they have cut some positions, and some are mandated; as it stands now they can not offer art, etc. John Durkin stated their intent is to open the school; they are working to whittle the budget down.

• Expenses:
Pam Holmes stated she thinks a lot of the structural imbalance is in personnel costs. She explained that the Town has 10,000,000 in salaries. If everyone gets a 5% increase; as the School and Police are - that would be a 500,000 increase in the salary budget. We can increase the revenue by 411,000 with new construction and proposition 2 ½. Pam Holmes stated the built in discrepancy increases in expenses, just in salaries is 500,000; the Town has reached the point of having a number of personnel where the Town can not afford the increases – we are way out of balance. Connie Verge qualified the Schools increases by stating, “We are just becoming competitive with other communities”. Pam Holmes asked if the School Committee has talked to their union. Ken Mahony stated they have talked; we are still talking. Connie Verge said the feedback she has gotten, although not directly; is that “I work in the Town, if I vote for the over-ride I will get taxed, I will get hit twice” or “no way”. John Durkin stated they are looking at all avenues; they have a configuration they have to fit; the School will be all the way open or all the way closed. Connie Verge added it is not fully staffed. Paula Brouillette stated that if everything goes through; our local contribution is still out of whack. Connie Verge stated that is the purpose of the Town Meeting. Ken Mahony stated that if we get the over-ride; now we have to deal with the elderly who can not eat, or people who can’t afford their land anymore; there are a whole group of problems converging. There is not enough information to come up with decisions. He stated he is getting a lot of cooperation from the School about thinking outside the box. Bill Pybas stated that Mark Abraham alluded to – by setting a precedent of an over-ride for ’04 when ’05 and ’06 could be worse; you need to put in a plan that looks at the future and alleviates some of the pain. His hope is we will be looking at a contingency plan to alleviate any budget problems. Connie Verge stated they are looking at closing ’03, planning ’04 with contingencies, and looking at ’05; they are worried more about getting by this year. Bill Pybas stated that is why the Finance Committee worked so hard on the stabilization fund. Ann Brunson asked if we are going to ask Blackstone Valley Tech (Valley Tech) in for a meeting, noting they are asking for 50%. Paula Brouillette answered yes; but we have to get nine other communities to agree. Rich Mathieu reported that Valley Tech’s state aid was cut by one million. Pam Holmes asked if Valley Tech adopted their budget yet. Her answer was no. Pam Holmes stated that Senator Moore had mentioned that two Towns had not voted to abolish the State Income Tax, Douglas voted to abolish the Tax.

• Medicaid Reimbursements:
Pam Holmes asked what happens to the Medicaid reimbursements. Ken Mahony stated if nothing is done, they go back to free cash. He stated it can go back to the Town or to the School, but it has to go to Town Meeting. He feels it doesn’t make any difference, the bottom line will be the same. Connie Verge said she had thought there was a fund set up and that there was $100,000 in there. She did not realize it went back to free cash. She has submitted a request to place an article on the Town Meeting to have the funds given to the School. Pam Holmes asked how the funds are collected. Connie Verge stated that the School is fully responsible for getting these funds. Pam Holmes stated she thought Special Education was imbedded in Town funding. Connie Verge explained that our Special Ed children are main streamed.

• Choice out/in:
Connie Verge explained that choice out or choice in would require additional staffing. Ron Forget stated he does not understand why we keep beating a dead horse; we discussed this the other night. He explained that the reasons for choice out/in are 80% education and 20% non-education. Pam Holmes asked why then are not other schools having the same problem. John Durkin stated they are getting choice in but they can not take them; there is no room. Bill Kraus stated that we all realize we have a potential two million problem; everyone has stated what they can’t do – not what they can do. He said we need to come back to the next joint meeting with answers and ideas on how to do this. Suggested thinking inside the box and outside the box. Paula Brouillette suggested working back from Town Meeting to come up with decision dates. She supports the School, but now, being on the Board, she feels we are putting a huge burden on the tax payer. She wants to make sure, collectively, they come up with the best plan. Pam Holmes stated she would like to see any problems with Schedule 19 and reporting resolved/solved. Rich Mathieu stated they are working on it. Shirley Mosczynski asked the School Committee when they foresee getting the budget finalized. John Durkin stated they are meeting tomorrow – he doesn’t know. Ken Mahony stated that at this point it is ready.

2. Adjournment:

Ron Forget made a motion to adjourn at 10:00 pm. Edward Therrien seconded the motion. All – aye.


Respectfully submitted;



Suzanne Kane
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