Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Live reporting - Finance Committee - Budget Hearing

Present: Quinn, Fleming, Conley, Smith, Dufour, Aparo, Dowd
Absent:  Dewsnap, Huempher

Nutting, Gagner, Dacey, McNeil

Motion to approve minutes for meeting of Jan 14, seconded, passed 7-0

Nutting  - budget overview
Revenues up, what the Schools do with their budget, we'll find out (School Committee actually meeting on their budget this evening)

Town Administrator budget going up with Town Clerk no longer able to do passports by law

new high has more glass and surfaces that will need to be cleaned regularly
Schools had laid off 8 custodians several years ago, this is time to add one back

Police looking to add one position; between vacation, holiday, sick leave accumulated it amounts to 3 people,  this covers one; haven't been replacing them regularly

4 firefighters being paid by Federal grant, that will expire, no increase budgeted for as there still is not a negotiated contract with the fire fighters union

Retiree health costs transferred to Town Budget from Schools; better situation for this to be handled
this accounts for an extra increase of $555,000

Snow budget increase, this year is up so the rolling average is

looking to add 2600 seniors so Senior Center will be increasing

Library monthly book sale increasing revenues to open up Sunday hours

Bond request coming in the Spring for water improvements
Bond request coming for Library improvements and renovations (within budget)

Sewer plant improvements going to hit budget next year, hopefully the increase will did last year will help us cover that, the exact amount will find out and see

mediation/arbitration coming again with fire fighters but not really an expectation of getting a settlement given the recent history

This is an 'easy' budget in the grand scheme of things, next year will be another sotry

trash account likely to increase about $4 next year, hard to believe it is already coming up to the end of the five year contract.as the economy gets better the trash rates will get better

Q - if recycling rate goes up does that help the overall rate?
A - yes, it does.

Q - would the declining enrollment affect some of their planning?
A - question is better answered by the School Committee. The grade student teacher ratio is different from elementary, middle to high school.

Employee Benefits - G - 10  Budget line 910
Retirement assessment comes directly from the the County
Pension will be about 15% of the budget once we get out of the hole
had been paying 1.7M for retiree health, now it is down to 1.05M
major increase in this line is the $555,000 as mentioned during the overview

all health insurance subject to collective bargaining, they have been good 12 of the 13 have been at the table regularly (800 subscribers, 2000 people) (all non-school and retirees)

Schools generally doing most of the layoffs, teachers not renewing get laid off

OPEB had been planned for $100K but with the funds, lets god with $200K now and slowly grow this. we really need 2.7M per year to fund it, that would be our entire increase each year....

Compensation reserve increase due to the unsettled fire contract, which outstanding requirements increase for another year. what is unused (due to unsettled contracts gets into 'free cash'

Human Resources - A-21  Budget line 152
Police exam didn't cost the Town, the applicants admission fees paid for the exam
promotional exam already in Police Budget, that we do pay for

Town Council - A -1   Budget line 111
minor increase for conference admission fees

Town Administrator A - 2   budget line 123
increase here due to shift in hours from Town Clerk as mentioned

Finance Committee  A - 4  Budget line 131
minor increase for conference admission fees

Comptroller  A -5  Budget line 135
looking to replace a retiree at the end of the year and provide some overlap

Assessors - A - 10   Budget line 141
minor expense increase, less than $5K
usually get a 5-8 fold payback for the expense so it helps

Treasurer/Collector   A -14   Budget line 147
UNibank dropped the ball on the $.25 increase
10-15% use the online bill pay
100 people use the drive up window about this time with excise taxes due

Legal - A - 19   Budget line 151
can hardly measure the cost avoidance for this but likely proceless
reviews contracts before they out the door
works on the real estate deals
working on all the bylaws, still a couple left to do
if we get sued, 99% we are covered by insurance
works with the assessors to cover the appeals to the Tax Board
pretty cheap legal budget for the size of the operations we have
The School do have a separate legal coverage for special ed

more than 20 hours a week counts for benefits, and thereby is 'permanent'
good for some folks but not for everyone as there are some continuity issues

Appeals Board   A -37    Budget line 176
purely advertisement fees, paid for by the applicants

Central Services   A - 50   Budget line 196
covers the copy machines, Iron Mountain records storage
postage machine rental use
postage except for schools covered here
annual report printing comes from this line too

Animal Control  B - 56   Budget line 292
regional agreement with Bellingham
24 hours coverage provided
animal pound down by the DPW facility

Parking Meters  B - 58  Budget line 293
looking to replace the existing meters
pricing for use of credit cards prohibitive
coins or swipe cards
busy is good, if people are parked downtown, then the meals tax revenue will increase
mostly for maintenance for the existing meters
meters and fines pay for the small lot rental and meters

Memorial Day - F - 12    Budget line 692
flags for the veterans

Cultural Council   F - 13   Budget Line 695
cultural events and grants

Debt  G - 1   Budget line 710/750
next year peak year for debt, then we get available capacity
debt ratio in historical data, (page 10)
policy of Council is to not exceed 3.5%
debt is level principle, declining interest - hence able to build capacity
one more small debt financing for the high school when it finishes

General Insurance  G - 22   Budget line 945
a plug number, a best guess until the numbers are available
the old high school cost 9M to build
the contents alone for the building is a staggering amount

collective bargaining agreements are 2.5%
some increases are due to step increases
so there amount will vary from department to department

240 employees, all non union part timers except for the library
all management are non-union (probably 50-60 total)

HR does market analysis; some jobs are easier to compare than others

old business
new business - meeting  Thursday 3/13

end of Mar/Apr will need to talk about the capital budget

motion to adjourn, seconded, passed

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