BOS - April 10, 2007 Warrant and Budget Workshop

BOS - April 10, 2007 Warrant and Budget Workshop

Postby Suzanne Kane » Wed Apr 11, 2007 1:26 pm

Douglas Board of Selectmen
Workshop Meeting Minutes
April 10, 2007
Approved November 6, 2007

Warrant / Budget Workshop:

Madam Chair Shirley Mosczynski called the workshop to order at 6:03 pm.
In attendance:Paula Brouillette–Vice Chair, Mike Hughes, Mitch Cohen, Executive Administrator Michael Guzinski, Administrative Assistant Suzanne Kane, Town Engineer Bill Cundiff , EDC Chair Hal Davis, Tribune Reporter-Tom Mattson

Mike G reviewed the following:
-Article 14, Chapter 43D, Annual Town Meeting Draft Warrant (Handouts/):

Hal Davis- reviewed the expedited permitting in the area. Article includes Jim Sullivan’s property-near the Webster line, Devries property and Pynes near Rt 146 both in the northeast corner and 4-Town area. Paula suggested using this money to work on our 4-Town Group. Selectmen have to submit the actual application to the Commonwealth. Bill Cundiff- If you compare the parcel numbers with what the article says, there’s a few lot numbers missing, think the article is drawn on an old assessor version and shouldn’t be referenced in the language. Concern with the timeline regarding the proposed regulations and the statute. The Town moves forward and adopts 43D, then the Selectmen have the authority to designate parcels that qualify under 43D by getting a signature or signoff from the land owner. Reviewed the obligations the Board of Selectmen must comply with which will require them to go through our rules, regulations, bylaws and modify them to address 43D. A lot of time and effort involved. Encourage Economic Development to send some contact to Conservation and Planning.
Discussion: Consider timing and effort of getting things done, what the affect will be and any parcels around these would make sense to expand and be added later. Hal- We can get April Anderson (Deputy Director of Mass. Permit Regulatory Office) to come out and give us something in writing clarifying the regulations and requirements. Conservation, Planning and the Board can ask their questions. It doesn’t show a strong interest in Economic Development if we hold this until Fall Town Meeting. Like to inform Town Meeting with as much information possible, what changes need to be made and what benefits there are and would authorize the Selectmen to begin the process. That’s the whole point in hiring a consultant. Your permitting process is one of main purposes of the grant. Need your approval to move ahead. There’s a provision and local adoption 2.06 in the regulations: “A governing body shall adopt the provisions of 43D by endorsing the check from the technical assistance grant “. This triggers the 120 day period and will get a letter to clarify that.
Consensus of the Board: Hold on Article 14 until next Tuesday when we’ll have a definitive answer and make sure Town Counsel reviews it.

-Snow Budget Deficit: Mike- Since the Board approved $50,000.00 deficit spending for the Snow and Ice Account we’ve had one bad storm and other bills are coming in. Highway Superintendent has requested and received approval from FinCom last evening to deficit spend an additional $29,000.00 from the Snow and Ice Account leaving a $5,000.00 buffer but will not cover another 6-12 inch snow storm.
Motion - Mitch Cohen to approve a snow deficit increase of $29,000.00.
Seconded - Paula Brouillette. All - aye.


-Photo Contest/Annual Town Report Cover: Suzanne- Suggested theme “Government at Work – in Douglas”. Will be presented to the School on Friday and then to the public. Photos will be used for the front and back covers, honorable mentions will be used for fillers.
Motion - Mitch Cohen to approve as presented. Seconded – Mike Hughes. All - aye.

-Whitin Reservoir: Mike G- Town Counsel outlined there are ways to modify “the Act” to handle such powers as eminent domain and other things involving the Association that the Board could request as it proposes legislation. Will compile a list of the options Counsel mentioned that can be done for this weekend that will alleviate concerns. Read for the meeting with them next Tuesday.

BUDGET WORKSHOP Updates (Handout) - Mike G: Summary of Expenditures and Revenue Sheet-a basic breakdown of where we are as far as requests, shows the dollar and percent changes FY07-FY08. Second grouping shows what it would look like if limited to a 4.25 % increase. Does not include fixed costs.
New Growth: at 2.5%-increase is $175,000

Mike G- For purposes of discussion and to show a balanced budget: Increase Free Cash Application from $500,000 to $600,000 and another small adjustment/reduction of $5,000 made in our Insurance Account as Water/Sewer will be covering for some of their buildings. Currently show a balance in the black of $722.00. Aware the Board had a goal to limit the amount of Free Cash applied towards the budget. Looking at requesting the School to limit its increase to 4.25% a decrease of $486,000. Spoke to the Business Manager, they’re working diligently to make cuts-conveyed will be painful. It’s approximately a 70 – 30 ratio between the School and the Town. Looked at the history of Free Cash with the accountant. Two of the biggest contributors are turn backs from departments and underestimation of receipts in revenues and tax collections.

Recommendation to utilize the $600,000 in free cash in trying to maintain the Town and School at 4.25% increase for FY08. We’ll be $600,000 in the hole next year before we even start.
Board discussion: New growth is still an estimate; basic cause is a decrease in the number of new homes being constructed. Eventually will change again and how quick the economy recovers. After this budget season we need to get the Five Year Plan going. This will at least give us some advance notice of what kinds of decisions we’re going to have to make so we’re not sitting at the table at the final hour. There may come a time when we have to make do with the staff we have and not hire anymore. Ether we do prop 2 ½ or start laying people off. Some costs are far exceeding the 2 ½%. Need to look at some of the core issues like the State’s education fund and health insurance that can make a big difference. Average increase over the past four years in health insurance has been 11-12%. Look at the Fee Structure. Need to sit down with the school over the summer and see what their long term goals are for the district. Want to support them as much as we can. Need to have a 4-Town Board of Selectmen meeting that starts pushing more on the State. The Governor has proposed a partnership act which is great but are small steps unfortunately. It’s not going to solve the problem but would like to get to a mode where we don’t have to finance small projects. When you use all of your Free Cash to balance the budget it makes it difficult to “Pay as you go”. School Administrators are hard pressed, doing a great job trying to get a handle on their budget situation. Once we get through Town Meeting hopefully be able to work with us on the long term.
Get the public to understand the strain this budget is under. Excise tax is our biggest local receipt.

Proposed Capital Plan Funding (Updated Handout): Mike G- Review/Board Discussion. The front end loader was removed, the number two request from Highway. Possibly receive a dump truck with sander and plow for $131,000. Checked today with the Treasurer, our Stabilization Account is receiving 4.7%. Free cash will have $60,500 left. After May 8th have a hiring freeze.
Motion - Mitch Cohen to support the two proposals from Mike Guzinski, Budget and Capital Funding as presented. Seconded - Paula Brouillette. All - aye.

Motion - Mitch Cohen To direct Mike Guzinski to present the Board of Selectmen with recommendations of Fee Structure and Health Insurance. Seconded, Amended and Added - Paula Brouillette to have the Executive Administrator establish a Five Year Budget Plan to be started in May and make a recommendation to the Board about a hiring freeze. Freezing salary adds other than what’s being implemented for this ’08 Budget. There will be no additions of staff. Mitch Cohen – agreed. All - aye.

-Water/Sewer Budget: Paula- Presented their budget last night at FinCom. There was a $25,000 new item to evaluate the water situation and new well site study. In the Capital Plan a number of years ago to be funded by the general tax rate. Something worth talking about even though it’s an Enterprise. Request they do not move ahead until they’ve had a dialog with the Board and everyone is aware of what’s going on. Share the costs as it’s a benefit to the municipality as a whole, should not be borne by the rate payers.
Motion - Paula Brouillette have Mike (Guzinski) send a letter to Water/Sewer requesting their assistance and have a discussion with the Board of Selectmen on a well exploration study and participation in Capital Planning by having a representative. Seconded – Mike Hughes. All - aye.

Warrant Articles for Monday, May 7, 2007 new High School Auditorium- Drafts -April 9, 2007 (Handouts) Review/Discussion. Mike G - Will be working on the motions the next couple days.
-Special Town Meeting at 6 pm: Mike G - Reviewed the six Articles
-Annual Town Meeting at 7 pm: Mike G - Reviewed the 20 Articles

-Douglas Dive Rescue Team Request (Handout): Mike G- Part of the Police Department. Their account is built through excise taxes for boats. Under Chapter 60B, Section 2I, and Chapter 40, Section 5G, it includes law enforcement and fire prevention. They feel this could be used for a boat and equipment in connection with training and law enforcement with the waterways.
Consensus of the Board to put on the Special Town Meeting Warrant.

Adjournment- Mitch Cohen made a motion to adjourn at 8:35 pm.
Seconded – Mike Hughes. All – aye.



Respectfully Submitted;



Jane L. Alger
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Suzanne Kane
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