Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Live reporting: Finance Committee

Present: Dewsnap, Quinn, Dowd, Fleming, Smith, Dufour, Huempfner, as well as Nutting, Gagner, Dacey
Absent: (tbd)

Approval of minutes from Nov 3 meeting
Seconded, passed unanimously

Jeff introduces the proposal for the land purchase
map copy to be added later
the plot available will add 18.1 acres to two existing plots of 18.2 and 30.8 acres already in Town hands
no plans for development but could be used for a park or at least green space

appraised about $288K sale price negotiated at $326K
funds from the Open Space Trust Account targeted for allocation in this use

currently bylaws require land be kept as open space or recreation

discussion on other open space items, history recap of bylaws governing growth, mention of bylaw workshop coming up Jan 29th

motion to approve purchase as outlined, seconded, passed unanimously

discussion on minor item of $5K for Fire detail account
reconciliation of account revealed a small shortage to settle past due accounts and details
1st full reconcile of account in Susan Gagner's time here (about 12 years)

motion to approve transfer as outlined, seconded, passed unanimously

Capital budget still be worked in the final phases, all requests are in, need some follow up meetings with a couple of departments to clarify the requests

anticipate Library architect final report in a couple of weeks, recommends a walk through of the building
this is a follow up of the work done a few years ago when the outside was done, the inside was left alone
likely to include a small addition to resolve some space and ADA issues at the Library

would like to put the crossing lights similar to those at Parmenter up for the High School and other locations that could use it

examination of small accounts to see what is still needed and what may be re-purposed
for example, approx $70K left from the Downtown Project and another $100+ in the King St/Constitution St crossing due to the Franklin share of work done by MADOT

will need to bring forward the technical PC license dollars to cover the Windows XP licenses rather than wait for the full capital budget

will attached draft of 5 year fiscal forecast later
executive summary

it is draft as Jeff is looking for feedback from the FinCom and Town Council to see if something was left out before it becomes a final document

we get 60% of our funds from property taxes, we have less state aid than we got years ago, don't see that changing

the state budget was based upon the casino deal which has been slow moving
they will have some additional money due to the stock market increases but they have learned not to increase based upon the fluctuation

salary side for the next 5 years, contracts now for a couple of years out
changing mix of full-time vs part-time
turnover is also a consideration, if you turn someone every 8 months and it takes 2 years to learn the position, maybe it doesn't make much sense to do so without taking a hit on customer service

negotiated 2 phase contracts, new folks get different set of benefits than those who were already in

save countless dollars in health insurance through cooperation with the employees
maybe facing an issue with our rates being so low, other carriers won't want to bid for the business
the rates will need to go up

Franklin's health insurance is determined by collective bargaining
town pays 2/3 and employee pay 1/3, others communities pay more and will be looking to do likewise

teachers were in a pool unto themselves in the GIC system, manage to remove the teachers from that system and take them back to the Franklin plan; established a trust fund for that pool of teachers, it will fade away as that population declines

would like to move the retired teachers to the Franklin account out of the School budget someday to more fairly reflect this on both budgets

one of the possible moves would be to move some of the retires to a 50/50 split from the 60/40 split

pensions will go up and hurt until 2031

on the expense side, I don't see too much more dramatically different
50% of the increase will be in facilities and DPW, not much money to be saved elsewhere
our money is in personnel
do we not look elsewhere, we did the solar deal, that will save
we are going to LED lights to get both energy and maintenance savings
we are part of the state bid list to gain purchase power where ever possible

payback on solar systems for roofs is not always working
we don't get the tax advantages, we did put the unit at Parmenter with a grant

we have $1.3M in the budget reserve we can use when we need to
we need to maintain our reserves to keep our credit rating, etc.

how do we fix the roads? an override is probably the only way to solve it
it is a political decision left to the taxpayers and voters

it is so hard to get regional services, it is 300 years of history and tradition

currently spending $15K to put GPS units in the snow contractor units to monitor their whereabouts
on a $900K budget for snow, it is a small payout with potential for some savings

anything we can do to increase the opportunity for hotel and meal tax it is 'easy money'

Q - we funded 4 firemen with a grant, what is the prediction for next budget?
A - next page

if stormwater comes (someday) we will need to fund that we fees, there is no other way, the DPW will not be able to handle that otherwise

environmental folks looking at manganese and treating it to remove it from the water
would require a couple of buildings at two of our wells to help treat the water

hearing on use of the Emmons St building coming up on Jan 21

cost for the Lincoln St bridge is unknown

is Prop 2 1/2 likely to stay? Yes, don't see that going away anytime

when we designed this building, we did so to put the Schools and Town offices together
it has worked out so well

ultimately the Council is the legislative body that sets the budget, yet better than a true city form of government with an elected mayor

any ideas for feedback are welcomed...

found mistake in FY 17 where the total for the Regional Dispatch ($47K) is missing)

Old business
no subcommittee meetings have been held due to the holidays, but they should be starting again soon

one vacancy scheduled to be filled with Council meeting on the 15th

appointment of Dacey also scheduled for the Council meeting
posted internally and followed the remainder of the interview process

all the senior management positions in Town are scheduled for retirement over the next 5 years
transition and documentation, succession planning is important and becoming more so

New Business
opportunity for a small increase in the FinCom budget for training and conferences

FinCom used to have a reserve fund to provide for some small transfers of funds to cover minor expenses within the overall Town budget

During February try to figure out the budget calendar

next meeting Feb 4th, joint budget subcommittee scheduled for 2/3/14 at 6:00 PM

motion to adjourn, approved

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