Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Live reporting: Budget Hearing #1

– 7:10 PM Budget: FY 2016 Budget Hearing – 1st Reading

Jim Dacey, Susan Gagner, Jeff Nutting

about $2.5M additional revenue, mostly from property taxes, $300K from local receipts

about what we get every year
the Commonwealth is looking at Chapter 70 which is the school aid funding process, maybe it will change but not today
revenues next year to be about the same

the Town Clerk is not running again
therefore 2 different salaries, one for the current, one for the new one (to be elected)

the four fire fighters currently on via a grant are now fully funded

Regional Assessment reduced as the progress is not going as fast

Health insurance change this year, saving money for taxpayers and employees

we were not able to increase the OPEB budget this year, to do so would have required cuts elsewhere

benefits account for over $600K of the increase
1.3M for the schools
the remainder is spread out among the department
reduced unemployment

Vallee announced that he would not hold tonight but would Thursday hold the following -police, fire, DPW, and education

Town Admin
question on Technology dept expenses, salaries are paid by school
question on salary within TA account, wage increase for only 9-10 months of the deputy; includes in the expense account the public information

are we spending enough to take care of the problems with the drug problem
Semerjian - we have enough people to do what is needed, we are all behind the ball on the drug problem, it is not like motor vehicle incidents can be reduced by folks on the street

salary amount does include the deputy chief

question on ambulances, we are currently running 2, with what we have is that enough?

with what we have it is not in this budget, it is one of the pressing issues
3 calls 365 times, at least once a day now, it is a pressing issue

it is personnel related, we have a solution to grow the budget this year and the next couple of years to add a 3rd ambulance 

there are so many variable, it is trending, where it goes past that is anyone's guess; we will cover a foreseeable problem

Mercer - the schools are a major part of the town budget
I think the school departments viewing audience is different from the Town's audience

Sabolinski - thanks for approving the capital budget, we have not had a chance to do so before. we will keep you appraised with how the implementation goes with the chromebooks for the middle schools, different from the high school implementation

budget at 56.9M
48.4% of the budget is funded via Chap 70
anticipate State and Federal grants as well as some one time use of revolving fund to 'balance' the budget
the biggest addition to the budget is staffing
the elementary levels are decreasing, high school grows, middle school increasing but not rapidly
in this budget we reduce 5 elementary positions
added one to the HS; science has exploded
also 4 FTE 2 at Annie Sullivan, 2 at Remington to address class size problems
adding three elementary math specialists, an FTE for an ELL teacher
actually a plus 4 positions

1.3M still accounts for the bulk of the increase

bulk of the increase is the collective bargaining agreement

that clears it up a lot, thanks

retirees, last year 23

attrition can not be budgeted per the forensic audit from 2008

retirees, expecting at least 10 for this year

street lighting
how did the rates stay the same?

we made our solar deal with the nuns, that was number one in maintaining the budget dollars and avoiding the increase

we may still see some increases as there are underground wiring to be replaced for the lights

how close does this put us to the required?
the required is 900K
we are above the minimum hours, above the materials purchased, 
the formula requires a 2.5% increase over a three year average
we are not going to get there
we are getting waivers and will keep asking for them

the waivers are an annual request, we meet 2 out of 3 of their requirements and our budget is going up so that is good. We also hosted the commissioners here recently

once construction gets started, doesn't make sense to add now and have them not working when the library is 

if you were given $200K, how would you use it?
if we got it now, we don't know when we are going to be closed, or some section of the building during the construction
wait until after the construction to get a better answer

we could use for programming and library services

what is our total?
as of 2013 it was 89M, we just contracted to update it
we did form a trust, we are investigating investment options
we will transfer the money to the trust later this year

we would need 1.8 or 1.9 to invest each year
we are putting in 400K and should be putting in 2M

we can't put any more in this at this time
maybe some additional free cash from the capital account

the game plan is to put 10% of free cash each year
Wall St looks at the game plan and good faith effort
I think we are covered for now but it will continue to be an issue

what is OPEB?
Other Post Employment Benefits
for retirees and current employees
about 600 people on health insurance
currently pays 68% of the cost

it should be fully funded by 2031
health insurance was a negligible amount fro many years

which is why we are looking for part-timers to avoid paying the health insurance cost now and for the future

Charles River Assessment
an increase of 671K

due to the EPA regulations, this is the renovation of the plant, reducing phosphorous outflows, we own about 65% of the plant so that is our portion

clarification on who is required for Thursday

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