Minutes of the Finance Committee
September 25, 2000

In attendance: members Nash, Raymond, Roberts, Vogt

Chair Vogt called meeting to order 6:50 pm.

Acceptance of Minutes of September 11

Minutes of Sept 11 meeting had not been completed, so discussion was tabled.

Presentation of Strategic Plan to Department Heads

Members Morey, Nash, and Raymond have planned to attend the Department Head Meeting on September and Ms. Raymond will present the plan. She said she was prepared for the presentation and would also bring newest copies of the impact questionnaire to hand out to attendees.

Guest: Fire Chief Wayne Stacy

Chief Stacy was introduced to committee. Chair Vogt said she had invited the Chief to talk with FinCom about the challenges he had encountered when taking on the job as Fire Chief for the town on July 1.

The Chief said he was particularly concerned with the state of some of the department's equipment and, with Town Administrator, had compiled a list of the fleet, its current condition and expected life span. In particular, he felt the Old Engine 1, which was supposed to house the tanker, once the new Engine 1 was in place, was not in good enough condition to place into service. It needed about $5000 worth of repairs. Chief Stacy said he had researched a used chassis in good condition to hold the tanker for a cost of about $21,000. He stated he felt this solution would serve the town for about 15 years.

Conversation continued about the fleet as set forth in the attached table (part of the draft Capital Improvements Plan). Ms. Vogt asked the chief whether he had considered lease-to-buy arrangements and offered the FinCom's help in researching this idea. She said she knew Townsend has much equipment on a lease-to-buy option.

The Chief also said the department was in need of 15 new helmet liners, some new airpacks, as well as pagers–which are a major priority. When asked to prioritize his small equipment needs, he said pagers, turnout gear and helmet liners were the department's main needs.

In discussing the department's budget, Chair Vogt suggested the chief consider moving the training expense line into the overall departmental expense line, since the chief said training was not usually an expense for the department which trains by volunteers. He felt this would be a good idea, giving him an additional $1000 to spend on other expenses. FinCom will investigate changing this line item.

There was also discussion about the fundraiser the Fire Department held for the new thermal camera. The fundraiser was very successful and there were some funds left over. Mr. Nash suggested that the Firefighters' Association might consider spending some of that extra money on, say, airpacks, or some other critical need for the department in order to get those things before the town would be able to budget for them.

In response to questions about departmental fundraisers, Chief Stacy explained that the Ashby Firefighters Association was created in 1933 through a reorganization of the Fire Department and was an independent organization, separate from the town department. All members of the Fire Department are members of the Association which organizes the training and support of volunteer firefighters. The money raised from various fundraisers by the Association, including the annual Fourth of July event, is applied to the annual departmental party as well as used for donations to special causes or special purchases chosen by a vote of the membership.

The Chief also reported on maintenance work at the Firehouse which included replacement of an overhead door in the main building, and moving the used door to the shed where the door was broken.

Chair Vogt and members thanked the Chief for attending the meeting, and so candidly sharing his concerns for the Fire Department.

FY02 Budget Schedule

Chair Vogt distributed a draft schedule for FY02 budget process, attached. There was discussion about the two scheduled meetings with department heads on January 13 and 20, with Mr. Nash expressing concerns that the meeting would be too intense and that by the end of the day we would be overwhelmed with information. It was generally felt, however, that this would be an improvement, hopefully, over last year, and that we should try it, allowing ourselves enough break time during that day.

Audit Issues

Ms. Vogt attended a working session with BOS and the Tax Collector, working to address the reconciliation issues brought to light by the annual audit. She said it was a positive meeting with staff and BOS working together to find a solution to the communication problems which have been plaguing town departments. She felt hopeful that these issues were being addressed constructively.

New Projects

Scott Leclerc has agreed to update FinCom web site and to add our strategic plan, graphical elements (the charts), etc. There was discussion about whether to keep minutes included on the site, and it was felt they could remain for the time being since Ms. Raymond had noticed other towns using their site as a repository for at least current minutes of town boards.

Next Meeting

After discussion about what other town departments might like to be invited to meet with us, Ms. Roberts said she and Town Administrator would like to present an outline of the work so far on the Capital Improvements Plan at the October 9 meeting.

Next meeting will be Monday, October 9 at 6:45.



Respectfully submitted,

Peggy Roberts,