Thursday, April 30, 2015

Live reporting: Finance Committee - Budget Hearing #1 - Apr 30, 2015

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

The first of a series of budget hearings for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016) begins Thursday night.

motion to approve minutes, seconded, approved 7-0

proposing a balanced budget (as required by law), the revenue numbers are as of estimates from the State which should finalized their numbers by Jun 30

Chapter 70 is done over the past several years by 2.6M
they have changed the formula, we have declining enrollment
so unless something changes, we expect a continued decline

most of the growth in the budget comes from property taxes
by right can go up by 2.5%

local receipts

we do ultimately collect 100% of the taxes
they may be late but they pay plus a penalty
no major changes in the budget
a couple of position increases

explanation on overall tax rate setting process, single tax vs. split tax

question on Charter school funding, has been under funding
similar to SPED reimbursement, transportation and other

next year reimbursement for Charter schools may double unless something changes
may be a continuing struggle with the funding formula

Charter school is looking at a new location, they have the right to expand enrollment
they are looking at it now, it is an unknown right now
85% of the students are Franklin and if they moved, it might cut into the enrollment

Budget Presentations:

240 Building Department
Gus Brown - Building inspector
budget unchanged except for salary changes per bargaining agreements

motion to not approve any individual line items until the whole budget has been reviewed
seconded, passed 7-0

176 Appeals Board
budget here is for notifications based upon appeals, the fees for advertising are reimbursed

152 Human Resources
Stephanie Lutz, HR Director
9 collective bargaining units
switching to Tufts from Blue Cross/Blue Shield
4.7% vs 10.9%, better plan for the people, and saves the taxpayers
work together with the School Dept to coordinate the human resources processing

if we do hire police/fire fighter, the medical/psychological exams are about $2,000

pre-employment medical are a requirement by the Town (but not the School Dept currently)

management salary analysis done periodically and adjusted as needed through Town Council/FinCom approvals

910 Employee Benefits
retirement assessment, we are part of the County system and the largest member of it
unfunded liability of $40M, do have a discount if paid early in July
budget amount does include the discount 2%

active and retiree

non school GIC (retired teachers) (a cost savings paying $900K vs $1.5M under prior plan)
grandfathered group of 218 people

health insurance is looking a whole lot better than it was

workers comp has gone up, three bad claims have driven this, three year rolling average
the claims are gone so the average should start rolling down

police and fire fighters get 100% of their pay if injured on duty; others get 70%

unemployment has been going down

OPEB policy is to increase by 100,000/year. didn't this year due to other pressures
if we can put it back, we should
we should be paying over 2M per year and we can't do that
OPEB trust should get  better return on the funding set aside
so while it is not fixed we are doing what we can for it

it is a policy not a bylaw, it makes good fiscal sense
we'll have a new Council next year, will it be the same 9 or different, don't know

discussion on changing the eligibility for retirement, the statues need to change to change the Town obligations

once the unfunded portion is covered, the requirements going forward are significantly less, only 3.5% of the payroll going forward

whenever the fire arbitrator decision comes down, it will be up to the Council to ratify

111 Town Council
most of the 4K is for dues to the Mass Municipal Assoc

123 Town Administrator
big change request to add a deputy town administrator
looking at transition issues on a lot of fronts
HR director expecting to retire
Comptroller/Treasurer also possibly retiring in a few years
want to bring some one on to help understand what is going on
to help plan ahead

would take 2-3 months to fulfill the position
biggest change in the budget from a cost perspective
when Norma left, we were scrambling for months as we have no backups
full impact would be seen for FY 2017

looking to explore on how to improve communications
additional funding added to provide some flexibility within the $100M business

131 Finance Committee A-4
advertising, dues, training

135 Comptroller A-6
level funding, however some additional training

141 Assessors A-11
adjustments to salary in FY 2015 but not shown in the budget total, hence it looks like an increase for this new budget but is really isn't an increase

performance and market adjustment

147 Treasurer/Collector
budget went down a little, a few adjustments on expense items, overall down

151 Legal
extra expenses due to arbitration related costs
unusual this year but hopefully we are past that
a little more added this year as all 9 bargaining units are up for renewal

196 Central Services
largest chunk for postage machine
printing, copy machines, annual report printing
Iron Mountain storage

if we could get 10% of the folks to go with electronic payment we could save some big dollars but it is hard to change

292 Animal Control
shared with Town of Bellingham, they have the pound, we have the people, split the vehicles
works very well, get very little complaints, a whole lot cheaper than doing it all ourselves

692 Memorial Day
flags for veterans cemetary plot

695 Cultural Council
redistributed back to the Town via grants
Concerts on the Common, etc.

710/750 Debt
re-funded two bonds to save money
will be going to market for the high school and library in late May
the numbers should come back before the Council approves the budget in June
the State is holding back 5% of what we are supposed to get until it all finishes
we should get that next year

debt policy, up to 3.5% of the budget
number has been declining since 2012
the Library fits well within the debt plan
it is lower this year but will go back up

other than schools, our current debt will be gone by 2018
Remington Jefferson will be paid off with FY 2016
there will be more debt but for what we don't know yet
could be a roof

945 General Insurance
insurance for all property casualty and liability
single sprinkelr head went at Keller Sullivan school
the insurance re-assed all the buildings for replacement value
over 1M square feet of space
we are a big company and we have lots of liability
it is a big number but it is a busy place
we do competitive quotes

The agenda for the meeting can be found here

Old business

New Business
Fleming - will miss Bob Fahey, he has been doing a fantastic job

Dowd - I wasn't aware of that, he has been a huge help

we already have an offer out to one who has been helping Bob the last several years

next meeting Monday, May 4
May 5, May 7 have currently been scheduled
may not need the meeting for May 11th at this point

motion to adjourn, seconded, passed 7-0

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