Finance Committee Meeting
March 23,2000
Lyman Building

Members present: Donahue, Morey, Nash, Rourke, Roberts, Vogt
Also present, Mike Reggio, Mike McCallum, BOS
Town Administrator, Linda Sanders

Called to order at 6:30 by Chair Morey

1. Mr. Morey stated that the meeting with the selectmen would be structured as follows:
Go through each line item where there was a difference between BOS and FinCom and then proceed to the warrant articles, unless there was discussion of issues where there were very large differences between FinCom and BOS.

2. Minutes of Mar. 20 read and accepted, subject to further review, with the following changes. STM was changed to read TM and the words 2/3 vote was added.

3. Line 24- Tax Title
Discussion regarding this line is automatically funded with $12K each year. Funding comes from the recap sheet. It can no longer be funded from recap and has to moved to line item.
Mr. Morey asked how aggressively does the town actually pursue property? The pursuit costs the town in legal fees and even after legal decisions have gone through the court system the property owner has the right to pay back taxes for up to 1 year before the town assumes the property.
Mr. McCallum noted that to date, 9 months into the current FY only $3500 has been spent.
A motion was made and seconded to move this fund from the recap sheet and put it into line 24. 4 yes and 2 no votes. Motion accepted.

4. Police
A letter from legal counsel was read concerning the police wage increase of 5%. It was suggested by legal counsel that the negotiator for the police union would use it as a leverage tool for the settlement agreement. It was stated that although it could be used for budget purposes it may not be paid until settlement agreements were made. Mr. Rourke suggested that FinCom leave it as it was with 5%. He did not want the FinCom to become involved with any games regarding either side of negotiations. FinCom voted to support the line as it stands at the 5% increase.
 

5. Mr. McCallum stated that the overall premise for the last 6 years is that the FinCom and BOS have gone to town meeting in agreement on budget issues. He wanted to go into town meeting this year again with agreement from both committees. He noted there were 5 basic differences of opinions.
? Amount for reserve fund
? Funding for sand seal
? Highway truck
? Full time fire chief / EMT position
? Library land
Linda Sanders presented new information to both committees that she had just received regarding the Full time fire chief/EMT position. According to labor counsel, we have what is known as a “strong” fire chief, which cannot be required to also serve as EMT.  The town would have no recourse to enforce the recertification request.
Mr. McCallum made several suggestions:
? Change from “strong chief to “weak” one
? Make the EMT a separate position and have chief do both and pay for each.
Mr. Reggio felt that based on this new information and without more time to purse any other options the BOS should strike article 20 (full time fire chief/EMT position) from the warrant. BOS voted and article removed.

6. Warrant Article 6 for full time police officer should read, “Which includes benefits”

7. Line items discussions:

Line 4- Town office clerical wages. Mr. McCallum stated that this dept is always understaffed and therefore does not always spend the funds. Mr. Reggio said that it is very difficult for Linda to get someone to come in and work the hours on a regular basis.
FinCom voted to bring their total down from $16380 to $15380 to match BOS.

Line 9- FinCom expense
FinCom had dropped line last year to $150. This did not allow any funds for classes offered by DOR. FinCom also needed funds for notebooks as they are keeping better records for the members and the town. BOS agreed to match FinCom. Line remains at $300.

Line 10- Reserve Fund
BOS suggest $27K FinCom $60K
FinCom- If police get 14% increase it would mean additional funds of $10-15K
Legal fees of $6500 were for prior police chief with additional fees of $20K for police negotiations coming. Prior years bills for legal fees stand at $26K.
Mr. McCallum stated that we have put $20K in this fund for several years and it has been sufficient. The $6500K for the police chief was a one-time expense and no further expenses with the chief are expected. He strongly felt that this fund was for unforeseen things and that the FinCom was building it up unnecessarily.
Mr. Morey noted that it is not uncommon for towns to fund this account with 2 ½ to 5% of total budget.
Mr. Rourke stated that FinCom had miscalculated the funding for this account last year, which has resulted in prior years bills of $26K for legal fees not yet paid.  The town needed to be better prepared to handle unexpected events.
Mr. McCallum and Mr. Reggio noted that the police negotiations were nearly complete and that they felt legal fees would not be much more than what has already been expended. Mr. McCallum felt that reserve fund should be for unforeseen things and that the FinCom was actually funding it with plans for using it.
Mr. Donahue emphasized that the negotiations were NOT complete and the BOS cannot and do not know what will happen. A settlement may not come for some time. Legal fees paid so far by the town have gotten way out of control. The police may well get 14% increase and that has to be taken into consideration along with more legal fees.
Ms. Vogt explained to the selectmen the process the FinCom had used to fund this account. The last few years had been reviewed and the committee came to the conclusion that funding this line with 1% of the total budget was not unreasonable considering what has been spent in past years. As a result this line was originally funded with $35K. Mr. Rourke explained that also taken into consideration was line 29, which contains legal counsel fees, legal council expenses and litigation and arbitration. Noting the legal fees for police chief and prior years bills, the committee feels that it is prudent planning to fund this account with the full $60K.
Mr. Morey noted that FinCom is concerned that even though police union issues may soon be resolved there is reason to believe several more legal battles for the town are likely.
Mr. Morey addressed FinCom and asked for a motion to change this line as a result of the arguments presented by the BOS. No motion to change was given and the FinCom amount will stand at $60K.

Line 16-Assessor expense-BOS $3250 FinCom $3000
BOS inquired why the FinCom had decreased the line. FinCom explained that the line had not been spent last year. Ms. Vogt told the BOS the committee had reviewed expense lines for the past 2 years to see what kind of spending patterns were obvious. Some depts. did not spend all their expense money and still requested level funding or increases. Others spent most of their money at the end of the year so as not to lose the money. Taken into consideration were those accounts, which have seasonal spending such as park and cemetery etc. With expenses increased this year by almost 20% the committee made a concentrated effort to see these accounts were funded correctly. To do this the committee met with all depts. and listened to each explain their requests. Everyone was invited to share information as well as ask questions directed at the depts. and at the FinCom.  Much time and effort was spent trying to understand the operations of each dept.
 Mr. McCallum stated that while he agreed with the reasoning, he thought there were some people that were quite honest with budget requests. The assessor, Harald Schied, was one of those. FinCom agreed and a motion to raise the amt from $3000 to #3250 was made, seconded and voted. FinCom adjusted to BOS suggestion.

Line 19- Assessor clerical hours-FinCom $14012 BOS $11209.80
BOS was unaware this increase was for an additional 5 hours per week. The extra time is necessary due to the transition of databases. The dept is currently working with 2 different databases and needs to convert to one. BOS voted to match FinCom. Line remains at $14012

Line 26-Collector expense-BOS $8065 FinCom $7000
Mr. McCallum had a discussion with Lee Mickola about his budget and expenses. He feels Mr. Mickola has accounted for all the money requested. The dept will be mailing bills in house this year, which will save the town from a third party vendor expense but it will cost a little more in his budget for postage. Mr. Rourke moved the FinCom raise the amount. It was seconded and voted. FinCom new line at $8065.

Line 50- Tech & Systems-BOS $6500 FinCom $3500
After getting pricing for new computers and printers Ms. Sanders said she did not need the full $6500. BOS voted to match FinCom at $3500.

Line 65- Fire chief salary- BOS $39000 FinCom $17186.40
BOS originally funded this position with a line item expense. BOS voted to match FinCom at $17186.40 due to information provided by Ms. Sanders regarding the law for strong chief and not being able to enforce EMT certification.
 
Line 68- Waste Oil Coord. BOS $0 FinCom $2100
BOS had taken this out of budget and combined with line 65. They voted to match FinCom and it remains at $2100.

Line 79- EMT wages BOS $8000 FinCom $10,000
Due to shortage of coverage only 26% of last years budget had been spent. BOS feel that for the time being $8000 would cover the wages until a better solution regarding the shortage of manpower could be determined. FinCom voted to match the BOS at $8000.

Line 80-EMT expenses BOS $8600 FinCom $10,600
FinCom explained that Jim Hyatt had requested lines 80 and 81 be combined as that worked better for his accounting. The dollar figure did not reflect any increase of funding. BOS agreed to match FinCom at $10,600.

Line 84-EMS director stipend BOS $3000 FinCom $4000
BOS felt that this stipend was new last year and that $1000 was much too large a percentage increase over last year. Mark Forgues, BOS and EMT by profession as well as an expert in the field (not present) feels this position should be voluntary. Mr. Nash feels there is a possibility that Mr. Hyatt would quit if he didn’t get the raise. He expressed concern that there appears to be no one in the wings ready to step up to the job. It was expressed and agreed by all that these positions are all under funded. FinCom voted 5 yes and 1 no to match BOS at $3000.
 
 

Line 106-Communication expense- BOS $4700 FinCom $4000
It was noted that this line did not get spent last year and actually had quite a bit left over. BOS voted to match FinCom at $4000.

Line 108- Emp Dev Expense BOS $1500 FinCom $1000
FinCom explained to BOS the discussion between Doug Cudmore and committee. Mr. Cudmore had reported to the FinCom that his dept was running very well. All had been trained on 911 system and he was completely staffed. With a fine running dept, FinCom felt that less money would be needed, as training was not an issue. BOS voted and matched FinCom at $1000.

Line 111- Reg. School Assessment
New figures had been received and line changed to $1,454,526.00 All agreed.

Line 129-Highway Road Sand Seal BOS $0 FinCom $20,000
Mr. McCallum explained he had spoken to Bill Davis to get his thoughts on what Mr. Davis could come up with, as he really wants the truck. He was willing to give up the sand seal funds as he still had some left from last year. Mr. Morey noted that the highway dept has spent $23,605.54 on repairs to this truck. It was also noted that the FinCom had suggested to Mr. Davis that he park it and not put more money into a piece of equipment that was no longer useful.
Mr. Donahue reminded the BOS about Mr. Davis’s agreement last year concerning the truck. During the budget process the FinCom had financed his truck. The fire dept then wanted their new truck and FinCom discussed it with both, the Fire Chief and Mr. Davis. FinCom explained to Mr. Davis at that time, that the fire truck was a 2-year commitment and asked if he could wait 2 years for his new truck, as both could not be financed at the same time. He agreed to wait.
Mr. Rourke noted that 2 years ago Mr. Davis, highway superintendent had met with the FinCom to explained how important the sand seal was to the town. The roads were in serious need of repair. At that time Mr. Davis stated he needed another position in order to keep the roads in good order and that the town would benefit greatly. FinCom members were concerned and surprised this year to find Mr. Davis would trade this important road material for a truck. They questioned how the roads would be kept in good condition and felt he was giving away town road repair for a new truck. It is frustrating to the committee to see that each year priorities in the different departments keep changing. The committee feels strongly that each department should keep their word on agreements previously made.
BOS voted and matched FinCom for $20,000. BOS also feel that if an agreement had been reached it should be met.

Line 135-Right to Know- BOS $0 FinCom $300
BOS had combined this with line 65 and now agreed to put it back.
 
 

Line 152 Library books BOS $6900 FinCom $6000
FinCom explained that this line must be funded with at least 20% of library budget. The library’s original budget request included 2 new positions, which were not funded. Therefore this line still remains at 20% of total budget, which is required for application of grant funds.
BOS voted to match FinCom at $6000.

Line 168-Historical Comm Exp-BOS $1034 FinCom $1000
Mr. McCallum asked if a detail of expenses had been given. Mr. Nash read the list Carolyn Damon had given FinCom. $250 was to be used to bring in water and other funds were for electric bills as well as funds for the purchase of a desk and the hiring of a student to do research.  Mr. McCallum noted that the building had been leased to the Historical Society and not the Commission. The agreement was that no town funds go to repairs in the building or maintenance of the building. The Commission should be meeting in the town hall so as not to incur additional electric bills for the town. Ms. Sanders noted that there are desks available from town hall, which the Commission could make use of. FinCom agreed to take out water, electric and furniture expenses. All agreed on new figure of $450.00

Line 178 Stabilization Fund BOS $88,000 FinCom $120,000
Land for library
BOS want to raise and appropriate $35,000 for library land as a stand-alone warrant article and to earmark $88,000 for stabilization. FinCom wants $120,000 in stabilization fund with an understanding that $35,000 (from the fund) will go to purchase the library land if voted at town meeting by the town. This would mean that it comes out of the current stabilization fund balance and not FY2001 appropriations.
All referred to article 8 ATM. “ to allocate the sum of $35000 from stabilization for the purpose of correcting deficiencies in septic and water systems…” FinCom feels strongly that the town should have the right to vote on this property and to take it from stabilization, as this is the purpose of the fund. Mr. Rourke noted that he wants the wording to stay as it is to make it clear what the land will be used for. He is concerned the town will buy property just for the sake of the purchase and have no plans for its use. He still feels the library should go to the town at this town meeting to present the whole idea of the new library including the purchase of several properties and let the town vote on the whole thing at one time. It is unclear that the problems will be solved for the library with the purchase of this land.
Mr. McCallum suggested we could go to the town with a plan to do all the buildings all at once, but after short discussions it was determined this would be too cumbersome a project. Mr. Morey reviewed the septic plans for the land again and noted that the lot is buildable with preliminary perk tests already done.
Mr. Reggio then showed the FinCom a draft of the brochure the library committee had prepared to send to town residents. It includes a note that FinCom was in support of the funding for the land purchase. FinCom supports the land purchase only if it is presented to the town as a vote out of stabilization. This consideration was made when the committee voted on the amount to go to stabilization fund. It was determined that $120,000 would go in with the understanding that $35,000 may come out when voted by the town. Mr. Rourke feels the FinCom really needs to concentrate on building the fund up even more. He would like to see it used for large projects that the town could never afford any other way, rather than small little purchases.

8. FinCom then discussed a safety mechanism for 111F for fire and police department staff. Long term sickness or disability could have a severe impact on the finances of the town.
 

Meeting adjourned 9:35PM  Next meeting Thurs. Mar. 30 to review ATM & STM articles.
 
 

Respectfully submitted
Deb Vogt/Secretary