Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Live reporting - Finance Committee - Nov 6, 2012

Present: Feldman, Goldsmith, Dufour, Quinn, Roche, Dewsnap, Smith
Absent: none

Motion to approve minutes for June meeting, tabled for next time

Leadership selection for new session
Nomination of Jim Roche by Chris Quinn, seconded
Passed unanimously

Nomination of Chris Quinn for Vice Chair, seconded
Passed unanimously

Nomination of Susan Dewsnap for Clerk, seconded
Passed unanimously

Jeff Nutting updates:
In middle of annual audit, should wrap up by end of yer

Dept heads working on budgets, lots of uncertainty
looking to keep flt as much as possible
(lost the use of my "a" key for some reason

tax rate hearing on Nov 28th to set the tax rate for next year

school building bids came in under estimates
public hearing next Weds, Nov 4th 7:00 PM

Library waiver request submitted, last year library budget discussion was different from other budgets
this year the budget increased but we still need a waiver, no decision until Feb 203
hopefully lots of discussions last year with the Commissioners will help this time round
still need to figure out what will efficiently and effectively operate the Library

given the uncertainty in the fiscal view, we do have about 800,000 in excess
state aid brought in about 300,000 more
new growth about 200,000 higher
local receipts coming in higher than anticipated
given the uncertainty, lets' create another stabilization account

60 folks in the School Dept turned over this year, usually around 25-30 could provide some relief but even so they'll have continued pressures

only limitation would be the 2/3 vote to take money via roll call as opposed to majority vote

stabilization account was at one point about 10M with about 6M from a legal settlement
2.5M was used when an override failed
had used a debt stabilization account to manage debt
used a debt overlay account to help balance, no longer available
did have an override of 2.7M but cut 20% of workforce between Town and Schools
reductions in service, 304 municipal now about 240
schools lost about 100 teachers, class sizes rose
can not balance increases on tax revenues, 2.5% increase does not provide enough leeway
no raises also helped saved money, along with increases in co-pay on health insurance

new homes are a loss leader, $5,000 in taxes does not cover the $20,000 expense to educate the two children

Nutting: "I don't ever not see us having a challenging budget"
"all came together for the first time in 5 years to not have to cut jobs"

Gagner: Free cash is a close out from last fiscal year

Roche: part of the urgency is to set the money aside legally or we don't get to touch it for another year.

Quinn: the general stabilization fund is good at about 4.5 to 5% of the operating budget?
Nutting: everyone wants to have some savings but can't have too much as it is the taxpayers money

Nutting: used $00K to repair the cornice that fell off Davis Thayer

Nutting: the addition of this account would modify our policies, we have just started talking about it so it is not set yet

Roche: it doesn't violate any of our fiscal policies but does help us set up for the future

Nutting: this is geared to avoiding having the taxpayer paying more
trust me, there is enough coming down the road for capital needs we will have some need of it

Quinn: we could use some of the extra for a snow budget
Nutting: that is why we keep back some of the free cash to help cover, you're never going to budget for the high, can budget for the average
Quinn: yes, budget for the average, and have something aside for the high

motion to raise and appropriate for the new budget stabilization fund, seconded
Passed unanimously

Nutting: lawsuit between Newton and utilities for how to tax the utility poles, law was changed to determine how to tax, the courts finally decided the suit, need to raise and appropriate the interest to pay the bill, money was set aside but the interest was not collected or set for this

interest rate set at 8% but set forever ago

discussion on overlay versus surplus, not released yet

motion to raise and appropriate $38,000 to pay the utilities
Passed unanimously

Dacey: when we borrowed money last April towards the high school project, received a premium, since this is a debt excluded project, whatever costs and interest are added to the tax levy but the premium is deducted, so this premium needs to be applied against an existing account to properly offset it

Gagner: this is housekeeping financially

motion to transfer from free cash, $1,405 to pay for the high school bands (bonds) (not musical instruments)
Passed unanimously

Deswnap - picked up good point from conference, points we can take offline and review what they mentioned versus what we do, always room to improve

Roche: held in Franklin, good breakout session, good info help every October

Nutting: spoke this year on merging facilities along with Lexington, interesting to see how some are having trouble doing something like what we did with facilities here switching from School to Town support

Nutting: Technology lost a staff person, might need some help sooner than later
Fire Dept with 5 folks out on injury, some new hires haven't been fully trained yet and class is not until next year, so overtime is going up; with reduction in staff, injuries hit you
2 firefighters are down in NJ called up by the federal government

Roche: mentioned to Jeff about getting a recording secretary, we don't have someone but it would be good to have; pretty hard to effectively do so and conduct the meeting; will try to advertise a 2 hour a month job once a month with summers off

A project, to develop a new member packet, what are the policies, phone number listing, mission statement, goals, etc. and a current budget

A project to review all the cash accounts, Jim remiss in sitting with Susan to review
Long range issues need to be picked up from the Long Range Planning Committee
it does happen but it is not formalized in Franklin, roads, sustainability of employment, etc.

Encourage the Chairman to appoint subcommittees to meet with the departments, Police, Fire, DPW and Schools makes a difference when it comes to the budget and decision making

motion to adjourn
Passed unanimously

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