Saturday, May 30, 2020

Finance Committee Recap - Budget Hearing #1 - May 27, 2020

As with most meetings in this pandemic period, I took my notes via Twitter during the meeting reporting in real-time via the virtual session.

The Twitter hashtag can be found online

Pre-Meeting Tweets

Budget Hearing #1 - May 27, 2020
Budget Hearing #1 - May 27, 2020

Meeting Starts - Jamie Hellen budget message overview

Jamie Hellen budget message overview
Jamie Hellen budget message overview

  • Ready for real time reporting for the first of 4 finance committee budget hearings #fincomm0527
  • Attendance via roll call for the intro including Town Admin and staff #fincomm0527 8 present, 1 member absent to start
  • Approx 30 participating to start #fincomm0527 chair outlines meeting protocol and process to enable discussion and quality recording
  • For FY 20, approx 90% of anticipated revenues through April already in hand. Amount in free cash for Snow/ice set aside ready for reassign as winter was good to us. Chap 70 commitment from State for FY 20 will be met #fincomm0527
  • FY 21 is a different issue. #fincomm0527 some COVID-19 expenses will be covered by federal funds, cares act etc. When to be received is open
  • Some part time staff at senior center furloughed due to shut down and their funding via revolving funds that are not available due to shut down #fincomm0527 no full time affected
  • Balance budget presented, it is fluid. This is round one, there are reductions proposed. Additional may come as State aid reduction develops. Citizens need to be engaged in this discussion. #fincomm0527 FY 22 and 23 will provide additional challenges
  • Legislative delegation anticipated to be at the June 3 Town Council meeting to provide insights (Rausch, Roy, and Spilka) #fincomm0527 no rainy day fund, no revenue anticipated to help cover this
  • Town administrator Jamie Hellen provides the overview found in the budget memo shared earlier (I also recorded it) #fincomm0527 any cuts to local aid is a cut to the first line and dangerous. Will be critical to find new ways to do business in this new world
  • Question raised on override in 2007, link to override collection shared with group. #fincomm0527 (Yes, the 2007 override was BEFORE came on line in Nov 2007)
  • Motion to hold off on individual budget votes, will do the vote after all the department details are reviewed : motion passed 8-0 via roll call #fincomm0527
  • One of the pluses with the virtual meeting is the screen share, all can be on the same page for the discussion of this or that number #fincomm0527
  • 2% cost of living increase part of each department budget lines for personnel, contracts negotiated for some. #fincomm0527 2% is about $400k for the municipal side. Did put this forward until such time as we need to relook at it.
  • Request for a sheet with FTE head count by department; would be helpful for schools also, Jamie will take it back to Superintendent Ahern #fincomm0527 shift of spot retiring to get an additional Assessor, they are the real ones who generate the property tax revenue
  • Cost of handling online bill payments needs to be incentivized. Handling the checks and dollars is so expensive in comparison #fincomm0527 legal funds reduced as collective bargaining is complete for this cycle
  • Town clerk budget not reduced due to multiple elections coming this year, one part time clerk moved to full time so only three full time in group, will need election workers for Sep 1 and Nov 3; #fincomm0527 esp as many of the workers were seniors and would be at risk
  • Absentee ballots and how they are expanded (or not) remains to be resolved. #fincomm0527
  • Facility line item reduction does assume Davis Thayer building would close for FY 21 year (decision to be made by schools - and not likely timewise for short term by my analysis) only accounts for the expense of the building #fincomm0527
  • Line item for iPads to help with mobile inspections. #fincomm0527 thanks to Tri-County for some work their students did (one pavilion at DelCarte - I was scheduled to meet with them to report on their work and school shutdown interrupted that)
  • Mitigation steps, cleaning and PPE, can be reimbursed via the cares act up to an amount. First 10 weeks cost approx 42k #fincomm0527

    Police Chief TJ Lynch
    Police Chief TJ Lynch

  • Moving to Public Safety section, Chief Lynch up. New shift schedule in process, something other depts need to look at to see if something like that is possible. Police at full staff currently (good health!) #fincomm0527
  • Fire chief McLaughlin here almost a year now, #fincomm0527 the coordination and cooperation among the depts for the pandemic has been great. Anticipate adding 4 paramedics in Jan 2021 (mid year) awaiting civil service removal approval by State House
  • Clear line of succession from paramedic through to chief, started new ambulance billing review effective April, each of the 4 battalion chiefs have additional duties #fincomm0527
  • Some nuances of fire head count due to the transition from civil service and the legal requirements before and after. Fire has 52 today, in Jan will be 56 per proposal aligned with battalion chiefs etc. #fincomm0527
  • Q on call volume, can get 5 years ? Check page 54 of the budget memo, it is there with some tables and pie charts #fincomm0527 had been on pace for 4800 runs/year pre covid, down slightly since (15%)
  • Comment on contract when approved by Town Council, had not heard the dept applaud a deal before. (When the fire contract was approved) Karen Bratt catches kudos twice tonight for her work on negotiations #fincomm0527
  • Moving to MECC dispatch operations, one year anniversary already, another merger coming as Mendon and Millville to join in Jan 2021, now eligible for additional grant opportunity, #fincomm0527 for 1 year of assessment getting 3 years of service
  • New stabilization fund coming for MECC full assessment in FY 25 #fincomm0527 the report gives thanks to multiple individuals for helping the MECC over the year
  • Open for final questions, motion to adjourn, vote via roll call passed 8-0. That's all for tonight! Catch you again Thursday for the school budget discussion.

One of the pluses with the virtual meeting is the screen share, all can be on the same page for the discussion of this or that number
One of the pluses with the virtual meeting is the screen share, all can be on the same page for the discussion of this or that number

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