Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Live Reporting: Budget Hearing #1

F. Hearings
F. Hearings  - FY 2019 Budget Hearing - 7:10 PM
motion to open hearing 7:25 PM

budget process is long, starting with department budgets in December
$125M business
Fiscal 2019 starts July 1, and goes through June 30, 2019

reference to prior memos on budget process, potential stabilization funds, was seen coming, is here
budget stabilization account established in 2013
likely to be able to replenish the fund somewhat before tax rate set in December (with use of free cash)

stabilization account separate from the debt stabilization
(we do have more money in the bank than we have ever had)

statewide ballot questions
one to raise (millionaires tax) one to lower (reduce sales tax)
what will happen in November is unknown

no signficant changes to the overall budget
only one of 22 waivers for the library budget
increasing snow budget over time to get us closer to the 5 year rolling average

over the last years, increase in health plan only 4% as employees have been
accepting plan changes to reduce costs

high quality of life with low taxes

provides 9 months to prepare for next year's budget to see if we can live with what we have, or if we need to make some serious decisions

no vote tonight, just discussions

holds called for
Treasurer/Collector - Mercer
ovefrall the budget is down due to Dacey retirement at a higher salary

IT - Mercer
increased budget last year and this year by 25%
implementation of Google Suite platform
this year added more licenses and converted the Police Dept as well as the online processing

Facilities - Earls
how has this been reflected by leaks in the schools and other facilities?
flat roofs do leak, punctures do occur, spend about 25K per year
roofs in general are in good shape

Jones -Remington roof?
will need to do more there, it is on the long term capital plan
really should go in to replace more sections of the rook
the sections we did have been successful

electric cost increased from 8 cents to 10 cents and is reflected here in the increase

Dellorco - raised issue with jobs apparently not completed yet closed out in the system

Mercer - preventive maintenance plan to be presented some time before
will bring forward, we have it

Hellen - we do have the PM program up and being tweaked, we should have something to summary for you later this year

Mercer - we use School Dude for all the buildings, the reporting can be customized, we have asked for copies of maintenance repairs, it has been awhile since we got a report, so we can review the issues we have in our buildings

the cost increase in building amounts was the reflection of the 20% increase (8 to 10 cents) and just spread across the board

can we reduce costs by shutting off flood lights?
all classrooms are motion controled
they all have LEDs
projects are partially funded by NationalGrid as we move to more efficient lighting

300,000 square feet heated for 70,000 in natural gas
did have an energy audit report and there was almost no savings that the audit identified, we have already done anything on their listing

Station 2 roof was replaced in the Fall, new 50 year shingle on it
no leaks through the winter

Police - multiple
dispatcher transition in January with transfer to Regional Dispatch
there are more in the Police than Fire
trying to finalize staffing for post dispatchers at the Police Dept

tentative date in Jan 2019, could go a little either way depending upon the construction

Will be a big transition, do not want to go dark
are looking to staff at the station to figure out what will be there

Nutting on board, Gary Premo formerly of Franklin Police is Executive Director
folks will be offered, will they want to go there? 

study of 9 other communities, 57.6 3.5 civilian
46 and 2, significantly less than the 'average'

dispatchers: 6 full 4 parttimers, 4 full in Fire Dept

ammo budget, 36K not just ammo, tasers included, as well as training
go out to bid for the ammo and buy the least cost we can

safety equipment also includes the original issue for new hires

evidence room redone, reduced from about 6500 items to about 900
had not done a purge in some time

Fire - multiple
72% ambulance vs fire
22% increase in call volume over last year
the community is growing, the prior slow downs were due to the economy with business drop off, but people are coming

2 assisted living facilities were driving some of our call volumes

outlined three options for the lift calls
  1. don't accept the patient
  2. get lift assistance tools or hire those who can
  3. pay me $900+ when I come in the door
would need to hire about 16 people, about $1.5M for a 3rd ambulance

60% of our call volume are multiple calls at the same time

we have asked for a training officer, 35% of the personnel are less than 3 years on the job, try to do inhouse but they are mostly out on the calls, then fall to overtime, both an increase in cost and less effective training
we need more people to keep the folks fresher

Reg Dispatch - Mercer
formula for the four communities, represents six months of expense, eligible for a $500K grant once open

Inspection - Kelly
office closed Thu/Fri for renovations

Schools - multiple
Town Council votes the bottom line, then the Schools work the details of their budget, it is important to get an overview of the issues

digging into the reserves to provide level service, what will this do next year?
used $6M last year, planning to use $4.5M of revolving
will find ourselves in similar circumstances next year

special education is always a big unknown, can you fill us in where are 
it is a moving target and we try to communicate across the offices on the students that we need to serve. by law they need to receive a free and public education, they may stay within our district if possible, in some cases they need to be served out of district and that is an additional cost, always discussed as part of the plan; move in can also affect our forecast if new folks come in with special requirements
new program to be housed at Parmenter for autistic students, partnered with specialist, a strategic development for next year
increase in mental health concerns, stats showing 1 in 5 and how do we deal with them, increases needs in classroom support requirements

enrollment update?
high school currently 1800, about 450/grade likely to remain the same for next 3-4 years; decreases seen in K-8, more like 310-320 at elmentary levels
keeping in mind the building projects underway and what population they will bring to us

high school was built for 1650, and is clearly exceeding that currently

how much money comes in from the State for the Charter School reimbursement?
they take out 4.1 M and give us 450,000 (projected)

transportation services? increase where from?
funded in large part by revolving account, but not as much this year

49% of the Town total operating
FY 17 - 14,011 per pupil and state is higher and we have never met it
13-14% below

really enjoying the year, a delightful year, it is a really good fit for me as a leader; working on a strategy for improvement to be laid out for the coming years, 

Jones (rephrased the Zollo deficit), add stats later

$89M last year total for education last year

State doesn't fund the state mandates

chart of accounts changed at the state level
instructional coaches, job embedded development for teachers
math specialist, department heads would be counted in this in addition to stipend positions for support
actively new state frameworks for Math, ELA and Science
content area folks are critical for the classroom development
14.2 FTE for this

what is the per pupil cost for the students at the Charter School?
no one knows

DPW - Dellorco
disclosure of Casey's brother has a summer job with DPW

Grounds expenses?
high school had been off the budget due to the construction the last two years but now they are back on, did add more personnel to do the work and need the materials to do the work

Lights -Dellorco
LED conversion? where are we, what will that do to the budget
just complete the pilot project, no phone calls to complain 
Pond and Peck Sts
awaiting confirmation of the number required to go out to bid soon, looking to wrap up by end of year
electrical repair contract costs have increased, changed to a per diem
should have 5-10 year warranty, 10-15 year life expectancy

Health - Mercer
lost part-time health inspector, difficult to find someone trained to hit ground running; choosing to use a civil engineering firm to consult for those times we need it; should be able to cover it with the fees we generate
loosing admin help but will be provided in future by consolidated department

Library - Mercer
have come from about 60% to the current 90% and would need to make gradual increases each year. We have made a good faith effort to show our progress. At some point we'll need to take a bit and throw some money at it

Recreation - Mercer
expenses are up 10% but most programs are self supporting
over 100 programs, lean staff, just opened the new gym on Beaver St

Gus and Mike were instrumental in getting the building done (also the DPW) 

Cultural Council - Padula
increased by 5K to help with events like ArtWeek which have economic development

OPEB - Earls
increasing 50K based upon town policy

Health/Life - Earls
health insurance - town pays for all active and retired Town employees and all school retirees; all determined by life changes during the year too

a safety team has lead to a reduction in rate from 1 to .85

question on Debt Stabilization/budget stabilization
can save to avoid an override
would be using $1.4 to balance the budget

beyond taking the funds out would there be any other way?
only general options to eliminate positions
can put about 5-600,000 back into the account later this year

recalculated the cost of service for the fees in 2016 and changed the fees as well as eliminating some; comprehensive overview

budget total does not include the Tri-County put aside as a separate vote due to Councilor Jones employment there

"the day of reckoning means an override at some point"

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