Minutes of the Finance Committee
January 29, 2001
In attendance: members Farley, Nash, Morey, Raymond, Roberts, Vogt.
Meeting opened at 6:55 pm
Acceptance of Minutes
Minutes of December 18, January 8, January 13, and January 20 were unanimously approved, subject to review.
Expenses of $36.25 for budget review refreshments and $115 for dues of Association of Town Finance Committees were unanimously approved for payment. FinCom Expense line has a balance of $103.81.
Review of Current Year FY01 Budget Lines
Ms. Vogt brought committees attention to fully expended or nearly expended lines in the current year budget. Committee noted concern or questions about the following lines in the accountants expense report for 1/31/01
Police Training and Overtime Wages 100%
Cemetery Expenses 96%
Legal Counsel Services 100% (+)
Fire Station Fuel 100%
Pugmill Mix 100%
Town Common Supplies 107% (overspent?)
County Retirement 98%
Workers Comp 92%
Ms. Vogt noted that she knew EMS wages would soon run out and that also the Police Patrolmen had unanimously approved their contract which would cost an additional $10,000 during this fiscal year when approved by the town.
There was general discussion about what to do about the current year shortfall with Reserve Fund soon to be depleted by demands of overspent lines. It was thought there were funds unspent from the last STM, lottery moneys , the EMS research line under spent, and perhaps funds BOS and Town Administrator knew about that FinCom did not. FinCom agreed they would like to ask BOS to call a STM to fund these lines with unused money.
Mr. Farley reiterated his wish to understand more what happens to local receipts of fees, where they are applied in the budget. At Ms. Vogts request, he agreed to research these totals. (???)
Reserve Fund Transfers
Two requests for Reserve Fund Transfers had arrived from BOS. Fire Station Fuel (01-5-220-00-9) for $1500 and Legal Counsel (01-5-151-000) for $4954.00.
After considerable discussion on the $4954.00 bill for October/November legal counsel services from Nicklaus and Phillips, FinCom decided to defer payment on this bill and ask BOS to re-fund the legal services line at a STM as soon as possible. It was felt Nicklaus and Phillips were no longer legal counsel and bill had been late arriving, so there was no particular hurry to pay this particular bill. Ms. Vogt agreed to write a memo to BOS explaining FinComs position.
There was also discussion on Fire Chiefs request for $1500 to heat the fire station through March. Members questioned why he needed money up front before the bills arrived: couldnt he order fuel and request funds to pay the bill? Mr. Morey explained that in order to purchase anything, there could not be a zero balance in an account as this showed intent to deficit-spend. Chief Stacy would need some money in the account in purchase the first installment of oil to finish out the season. He could then request a transfer to pay the balance of the bill.
It was understood that the former chief had under funded the fuel line because the waste oil furnace usually bore the brunt of the heating for the station. The waste oil furnace is broken and is not worth repairing.
After discussion, FinCom voted to transfer $500 to Fire Station Fuel so Chief Stacy can order oil. Additional transfers will be forthcoming after the bill is received.
Review of Department Head Meetings and FY02 Projections
Members discussed their responses to the department head meetings on January 13 and 20. Overall, it was felt the new format was successful and much easier than some members had feared. Points of discussion which emerged from the meetings:
It is worth asking the question whether town can afford the direction weve set for some departments, such as emergency services, 24-hr coverage of police and communications, state-of-the art equipment?
FinCom has a leadership responsibility and opportunity in addition to oversight of the budget: making suggestions for and helping with reorganization of some departments for increased efficiency.
It was clear this year was going to be extremely difficult, particularly with the free cash issues looming, and members were pleased BOS were present through the entire presentation.
Ms. Vogt reported on the work to have free cash certified. There are two years of town accounts out of balance 1989-1992 and work to reconcile those years means going through collectors receipt book and trying to balance with deposits. Theres no guarantee it can be done and it may be that the town agrees to not reconcile and write off the $80,000 discrepancy in order to get at least some of the balance for this year. She reported that Town Administrator Sanders is working to find outside help in the process but so far to no avail. Ms. Vogt is volunteering some time on the project to see whether additional volunteer help would be useful.
Meeting with BOS on FY02
It was felt there were many particular questions FinCom needed to ask BOS, so all agreed to invite BOS to next meeting to discuss FY02 shortfall issues as well as BOS wage worksheet. Ms. Raymond will produce a new spreadsheet with BOS wage requests, no free cash, and no warrant articles, to send to BOS before their meeting Jan 27. Ms. Vogt will also prepare a memo explaining FinCom stance on current Reserve Fund Transfers. That memo will be attached to these notes.
FinCom Meeting Dates
Looking at budget timeline, the following dates were set for FinCom meetings, with time pushed back to 6:30 pm. February 8, 22; March 5, 15. The drop-dead budget date is March 14 at BOS meeting, so March 15 meeting will be final acceptance of budget.
Meeting adjourned at 8:50 pm.
Peggy Roberts, Clerk