BOS - March 13, 2007 Joint w/FinCom and School

BOS - March 13, 2007 Joint w/FinCom and School

Postby Suzanne Kane » Fri Mar 16, 2007 6:47 am

Douglas Board of Selectmen
Joint Workshop w / FinCom & School Committee
Meeting Minutes - March 13, 2007
Approved August 7, 2007

Call to Order- Board of Selectmen:

Madam Chair Shirley Mosczynski called the workshop to order at 7:03 pm in the Resource Room at the Municipal Center.
In attendance: Paula Brouillette-Vice Chair, Mitch Cohen, Mike Hughes, Executive Administrator Michael Guzinski and Administrative Assistant Suzanne Kane.
Town Accountant-Jeanne Lovett and Town Financial Advisor from UniBank-Clark Rowell.
FinCom: Pamela Holmes-Chair, John Bombara, Scott Medeiros, Tom Rochon.
School Superintendent-Nancy Lane, Business Director-Dean Iacobucci
School Committee Vice Chair-Tom Navaroli, Leslie Breault and Tom Devlin
Others: T & G Reporter-Steve Foskett

Clark Rowell, Jeanne Lovett and FinCom joined the Selectmen at the table.
Shirley –
requested that anyone having questions throughout the presentation go through the Chair so that all questions and answers are heard. Introductions made around the table.

Mike – Everyone invited here tonight to look over our long term financial situation, debt schedule as a group with Clark Rowell.

Clark Rowell (Handouts) - Reviewed financial planning issues, Moody’s rating and bonds. You’ve had good representation, a lot of things done over the last six years, how you present yourself to the rating agencies and how you’ve done in the market. Rating is A2, not sure if you’ll be able to upgrade as it’s a small community. You have good level of management and planning, have the reserves and why they were there, healthy stabilization fund, keep the tax rate steady and managing it during the school project, drawn reserves accordingly and institutionalized a finance team.
-If you want to borrow for a purpose you have to have it explicitly cited in the General Laws (find the authority under Chapter 44.)
-Contributing to Pay as You Go Capital or when you do take on debt, abbreviate the term and pay it off faster.
Paula – Agree as recommended putting some financial policies together formally. The school project is now a payment, we have a Stabilization Account we regularly put money in, a Capital Plan, a lot of the elements but no policies behind it. Those policies will be important if we add another school or do needed renovations.
Clark – This is a time to look at your policies. Rating agencies, like good management often look at good written policies as a reflection of good management and it’s a good idea to have those policies in place a couple years before you might be talking to them again rather than saying we’re just about to implement one.
Pam – Possibly increasing payments to our Stabilization Fund, on a regular basis or where we should be with that number?
Clark – Think you should choose the number that you can live with and once you have identified that number what you’ll use it for. Less troubled by what the number is and more troubled by it being a number that gets bounced around.
Mitch – Capital Exclusions as opposed to Short Term Borrowing? How widely is this tool used?
Clark – More likely to see items under Capital Exclusion maybe small enough to just be purchased from an Appropriation Stabilization. If can get a Capital Exclusion voted why wouldn’t you go ahead and get a Debt Authorization? Prefer the flexibility of the debt knowing you can do it over a number of years. Borrowing money these days is cost effective, rates are low.
Jeanne – Reflection of SBA. The final audit will allow us to get reimbursement.
Clark – Numbers updated at conclusion of the final audit.
Mike - One time lump sum and reminder is an annuity over a period of time.
Pam – In regard to financial policy what is a good format to go through getting all these policies written down and done?
Clark – Not sure there is one particular right way for a community the size of Douglas. Believe it would come from the Selectmen and Town Administrator with good representation from the Finance Team.
Mike – Currently pulling info from several other towns, including financial policy information. See what fits for this community. Will have some composite recommendations within the next couple months.
Pam – Believe the Finance Team brought a lot to the table. Douglas currently has elected officials not a finance director. I would recommend to the Board that the Finance Team working together with the Treasurer, Accountant and Clark could work with Mike, look at the policies and come up with something.
Clark – Give credit to the Finance Team in Douglas. They talked through everything and understood where you’re going with all these projects.
Shirley – If anyone else comes up with any questions you can talk to Mike, Jeanne or Clark can also be contacted.
7:50 pm – Clark Rowell left and was thanked for coming.

Short break for Mitch to set up power point.

7:55 pm – Nancy Lane and Dean Iacobucci came forward.
Shirley -
welcomed and stated it was a pleasure to meet with everyone and have good communications with the School Department.
Nancy – Remarked she thought everyone would be pleased with the budget this evening they’ve been working on since early fall. Biggest goal to make a transparent document so that if someone has a question about where or how we’re ex-spending funds, it’s crystal clear. Dean went back and reallocated funds appropriated to us and put them in order that made sense because of lack of structure in previous budgets. Believe we have been very conservative in how we’ve made requests and apparent why we need what we need.
Dean – Although the bottom line hasn’t changed, there have been some costs that have shifted from building to building (geographical changes). Consider this budget a work in progress and sure it will be reviewed outside tonight. Will stop for any questions. Heard of huge credibility issue in the past and did not want to present a “wish list”. Great relationship with the Town’s financial officers, Mike and various boards.
Dean reviewed the FY08 proposed budget (including Transportation is $11,227,282 a 8.92% increase above FY07 budget) and power point presentation (Handout). To get input from the community to develop the budget and to introduce themselves, he and Nancy created a series of 10 focus meetings. Have not addressed all of these needs, and some not addressed fully. All expenses associated with a particular building are carried in that particular building (five cost centers will have their own independent budgets).

FY08 Proposed Budgets as follows:
- District Wide Budget: $1,607,557 (School Committee currently negotiating with the Douglas Teacher’s Association and will soon begin negotiating with the Truck Drivers Union, Local 170. Amounts to fund increases in those contracts as well as amounts for increases for non-union staff and administrators included)
- Early Childhood Center: $100,287
- Douglas Elementary: $1,893,838
- Intermediate/Elementary: $ 3,281,826
- Douglas High School: $ 3,623,241
- Transportation Services: $ 719,993
- Vocational Education: $ 0.00 (Not aware of any students planning to attend next year)
Trying to prepare a document that brings you to the votes at Town Meeting.

-FY 2008 Proposed Budget Format, FY 2008 Proposed Operating Budget, Line Item Budget (A 15 page document, significant amount added. Dean thanked Jeanne for meeting a couple hours every week. Going through an evolution and will be able to provide year to date expenses when future budgets prepared.)
We have offset the proposed budget with other funding sources, made up primarily of three other sources: School Choice, Circuit Breaker Funds (reimbursement that we receive for certain qualifying special education costs) and a Fee Structure for athletics.
-FY 2008 Operating Budget Expense Increase by Cost Category: $ 919,280.
(Generated from scratch, literally created this, no existing templates to follow. Right now being maintained in excel which is not an efficient way to do it, previous line item budget did not exist.)
-FY 2008 Proposed Budget Major Position Changes: (New positions bolded.)
Total Cost of New Positions 389,997
Redirected Staff Positions -347,815
Net Cost of New Positions 42,182
-FY 2007 Grant Summary Total $ 586,128

Nancy – Textbooks: Consider this an emergency, something that has to happen and not because it would be a nice thing to do and on a wish list.
-Reading: Books from 1997, outdated, total revamping the way reading is now taught and showing in our MCAS scores. Working with a reading adoption team and give credit to the teachers who have been meeting on their own time to define what we want in a reading series to try to advance and improve our students. Because we are willing to open up our schools as a demonstration site the publisher Harcourt, is supplying us with $200,000 worth of materials for $60,000. Doesn’t show up as a grant but what our students can do. In addition they donated over $30,000 worth of science materials.
-Math: Books from 1998, research shows that particular publisher is two years behind in the concepts students need to pass MCAS. Math adoption team is starting right now and need to have in place for next year.
-Dean referenced a $22,000 contribution to the History Program at the High School. It appears the DOE has decided our current fifth graders need to pass an MCAS in History in grade 10.
Curriculum Instruction Position: Math Co-ordinator - In the next three or four years, hope to have personnel to help build and strengthen our instructional offerings. Concerned we’re going to end up on “warning status” if we don’t see significant improvement. Hoping to get one high school period taught by that individual.
Assistant Principle – Not only the disciplinarian but also does teacher evaluations.

Questions/Discussion followed:
Capital Needs: Dean –
Major repairs needed and welcomed everyone to take a tour to see what we’re faced with. Can not stop the roof from leaking, the heating unit is held together with duct tape, parts are so old we’ve had to have them manufactured. Both those two items alone are close if not over a million dollars. We as a School Department feel we need to develop a comprehensive plan with all the needs and form it into some type of building project which MSBA is now funding where the Town could see 60 or 70 cents on the dollar reimbursed. The building is pulling apart from all the expansion joints, all the doors and entrance ways are rotted out. For some reason the walkways are pitched towards the building and when it rains or thaws it sits right up against steel encased glass and rotting. Initiated a phone call to MSBA, concerns of the way it may or may not be funded. There is an old law on the books that says if you have received state funding you’re ineligible to receive funding for 10 years. Towns need to submit letters of intent by June 30th if you are going to seek funding. Need to include a vote by the Board of Selectmen in support of whatever project is being funded and a projected estimate. Concern of the impact of the cafeteria and portables attached to the intermediate school.
Health Insurance: Dean – Do not anticipate increasing the head count. Mike – Estimate of five positions as far as open enrollment. As Jeanne stated that budget has been tightened up from previous years because of improved communication with the schools.
Technology Director: Dean – Still a full time position now in the District Wide Budget.
Lay Offs: Dean – No definitive number, staffing changes may be absorbed by the Whitin Day Care Center.
Retirement: Nancy – If we know of a retirement we build the next budget on a lower amount.
Fee Based Programs: Dean – Not created yet. Next year we’ll only be operating a full day kindergarten and a preschool program. School Committee took action at its last meeting to eliminate a Town run Daycare Program as of June 30th.
Employees/Health Insurance Covered under the Grant: Dean – Typically the only fringe benefit paid out of the grant are the MTRB contributions required on federal grants.
Budget (Handout): Pam – For clarification came up with the total amount voted at Town Meeting and understood by the Board of Selectmen and FinCom. Dean – Transportation and Vocational doesn’t count towards Net School Spending requirements.
Funding for Repairs: Dean – We recognize the need to go back and look for more money. Still working with Nancy on trying to tighten up estimated costs, get firmer numbers on text books and service contracts.

9:15 pm - School Committee and FinCom left.

Mike Guzinski reviewed the following:
- Government Study Committee Request (Handout): Mike –
recommend the Board approve the committee’s request to interview the chairs of the nine (9) major boards, committees and commissions including the Board of Selectmen and offering others to give input if they choose. All agreed impossible to meet with everyone, support their request and make sure they hit the two major documents identified.
Motion - Paula Brouillette for the Government Study Committee to proceed as outlined in their letter of March 12th. Seconded - Mitch Cohen. All - aye.

- Highway Request to Deficit Spend: Mike – Recommend the Board approve the same amount in conjunction with the Finance Committee (acted on last night) spending up to $50,000 for this fiscal year
Motion - Mitch Cohen approve as presented. Seconded - Paula Brouillette. All - aye.

Shirley reminded of the meeting in Worcester Thursday morning at Clark University. Uxbridge and Worcester Town Managers will touch on the financial picture and municipalities.

Adjournment- Mitch Cohen at 9:25 pm. Seconded – Paula Brouillette. All - aye.


Respectfully Submitted;


Jane L. Alger
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