Friday, December 5, 2008

Financial Planning Committee - meeting notes 12/4/08

Attending: Roche, Bartlett, Zollo, Cameron, Trahan, Hardesty, Nutting
Absent: Whalen, Wilschek, Kelley

Review of the planning scenarios
a – level service for 3 years
b – “the gap”; between maintaining status quo and the available revenues
c – restored services; add backs to staff, what would it cost

The notion of what “level service” means needs to get out there. Is level service what we see this year or what it was last year before the 40 teachers were cut? The school cuts were teachers this year. Some teachers and other personnel have been cuts since 2003, totaling 80+ positions. Police and Fire still under. DPW has not added personnel in 20 years compared to what changes there have been in the Town over these last 20 years.

How do you forecast salary increases? Contracts are mostly set through 2010 but would be open for negotiation after that. If economy is down, that will be a factor to hold down increases; if economy starts turning around, that would be a factor to go for more than the 2.5/3 percent increase that there have been. Pick a number that is historically accurate and justifiable. For the model do a sensitivity analysis to show the impact range.

Fair assumption to have a stable town and school population
Assumption for salaries to be competitive
Develop listing of all the assumptions that drive the model

Break out the step and level salary changes in the school budget from the salary rate (cost of living) increase
Identify the unfunded mandate costs, i.e. fixed cost – like special education (SPED), where the costs are determined by Dept of Education at the State level and not at the local level

For next meeting 12/18/08
Hardesty has surveyed the other cities and towns that have done a similar long term planning effort. He will send out that info for review. Pick out 3-5 things from what the others have used in their presentations to say that this is something we should consider using in our package for Franklin.

How do we address innovation? A lot is already being done in small ways. Each small way adds up. We need to tell the story that innovation and creative thinking is being done all the time. If we don’t, the folks in the street will never know.

Perhaps consider an “innovation advocate” or subcommittee. Anyone could present them with their cost savings idea. The subcommittee would work with whomever it was appropriate to do so to provide an answer back. In some cases, due to legal obligations (i.e. union contract) some things can’t be done. This would at least provide someone outside the Town Administration to do the vetting of the ideas and report back.

Looking for an open forum, hearing type presentation sometime late January, early February 2009. Committee would provide a summary of what has been done thus far, based upon the tentative model and the facts to date. Lay that information out and ask for input. Incorporate that into the “final” presentation, recommendation that would be brought back to the Town Council.

If there are cuts to be made, you can equate approx 20 jobs to each million dollar shortage in the budget. Where would the budget cuts come from? There really are only 5/6 places where cuts can be made; Schools, Police, Fire, DPW, Library. Most of the Town Administration functions are state requirements and we only have one or two people doing the work required.

The minutes for the 11/20/08 meeting were accepted via vote.
The minutes for the September meetings have been posted to the website but not yet voted on as accepted. Action for next meeting.

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