Minutes of the Finance Committee, April 13, 2000

Chair Morey called meeting to order at 6:30 pm
Present: Committee Members Donahue, Morey, Nash, Roberts, Rourke

Also in attendance: Town Administrator Sanders, Selectman McCallum

1. Minutes
FinCom voted unanimously to accept, as written, minutes of 4/10/00.

2. General Discussion on Various STM and ATM articles
Ms. Sanders reported that  she had already posted the warrant for both meetings, in order to comply with legal deadline, but she would write in FinComís vote on ATM Article 10, only outstanding non-action article, after tonightís meeting.

Article 9, STM
Transfer funds to Reserve Fund. Ms. Sanders pointed out that the final sum on Article 9 of the STM, transfer of moneys to the Reserve Fund, had changed since last meeting and now stood at $9311.73.

Article 8, ATM
$30,000 for study of EMS coverage. Mr. Rourke appealed to Mr. McCallum to consider tabling this article on town meeting floor, pending BOS or other task force coming up with an acceptable plan for EMS coverage. He asked whether selectmen werenít afraid of opening this to a larger discussion, offering opportunity for other town departments to look for extra money. Mr. McCallum said he would far rather FinCom and BOS had come to full agreement on these issues, but he felt the article needed to stand to open discussion with the town on EMS coverage.

Chair Morey indicated he felt the BOS were declaring war on the reserve and Stabilization funds by pushing this article before the town without a full plan behind it.

Considerable discussion ensued about this yearís process for coming to these numbers with Mr. Rourke suggesting a splitting the difference with BOS on reserve fund and Mr. Donahue saying we hadnít put enough thought into these last minute changes. Mr. Donahue felt strongly the FinCom should not continually change its mind at the last minute, as it had last year, and that it was counterproductive to be constantly bringing previous decisions into question.

Mr. Rourke was concerned that FinCom was most impacted if the town votes an unbalanced budget, since we have to come back and make it work. He also said he was not so confident that FinComís thinking had been so much better than BOS thinking on this yearís difficult budget.

Mr. Donahue felt BOS and FinCom were natural adversaries with FinCom wanting to save and BOS wanting to spend. Chair Morey added that Finance Committees were originally formed as watch dogs to protect town from excessive or unwise spending by selectmen and that the conflict we experience is inevitable.

After more agonizing over this issue, discussion finally ended with acceptance that FinCom had already voted to disapprove Article 8 and there was no reason to continue discussing the ramifications at this point.

Article 10, ATM.
$33,000 to finance transfer station. Mr. McCallum reported that he had called the DEP who had told him the  town could not use funds from the landfill escrow account to run a transfer station. In answer to questions from FinCom, he said the town did not have a permit to run the transfer station but that DEP knew about the station and that it was not an issue, there would be no trouble getting the permit and town could continue with station between now and town meeting.

In light of DEP opinion, BOS had reworded Article 10 to raise and appropriate $33,000, rather than transferring from landfill escrow. Mr. McCallum said the BOS proposed to balance budget by taking the missing $16,000 (after $17,000 in estimated local receipts) out of sand seal, as discussed previously. He indicated that Highway Superintendent Bill Davis was not happy with this proposal.

Chair Morey reiterated FinComís complaint that BOH had been illegally using landfill escrow money to run the transfer station and that BOH had never provided FinCom with an accounting of past year or a proposal for future running of transfer station, despite several requests.

Ms. Roberts appealed for considering continuation of the transfer station but with BOS requiring Board of Health to adequately educate townspeople about its availability and usefulness, and also requiring BOH to produce a thorough projection for future waste management for the town.

After more discussion about the article, a motion was made to disapprove Article 10. Disapproval passed 4 in favor, 1 opposed.

3. Other business
FinCom engaged in extensive and heated discussion about ways this yearís budget process had failed with some consideration of how to make it better in the future.

Mr. Rourke agreed to represent FinCom at Pre-town meeting, April 26 or May 3, ??????

FinCom voted unanimously to transfer $232.64 from reserve fund to Highway Barn Fuel for the yearís final oil bill.

Meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted

Peggy Roberts
Acting Clerk