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Administrative Services Study Committee Minutes 01/11/2012 - DRAFT

JANUARY 11, 2012

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM by Acting Chairman Douglas Evans in the Selectmen’s Chamber, Town Hall Building 1. Members present: Town Manager Brandon Robertson, Superintendent of Schools Gary S. Mala, Acting Chairman and Town Council member Douglas Evans, Board of Finance member Thomas Gugliotti and Board of Education member William Stokesbury. Member absent: Chairman Mark Zacchio. Also in attendance were staff member and Assistant Town Manager Steve Bartha and interim BOE Director of Finance and Operations John Spang, Jr.



VOTE: Mr. Stokesbury motioned, Mr. Gugliotti seconded and all agreed to accept the October 17th minutes as presented. Mr. Stokesbury abstained as he was absent from the meeting.

Mr. Evans asked for report updates from the Town Manager and Superintendent. Mr. Robertson referred to the memo and spreadsheet included in the agenda packet and deferred the discussion to Mr. Bartha, as he’s been working on the implementation of the ADMINS and NOVATIME attendance software. Mr. Bartha noted that both projects have continued to move forward and that every organized and part-time staff person, with the exception of the police, have begun to use the NOVATIME time and attendance system. He continued that the police should have the details worked out by the end of the month as well. Laurie Carlson, of Public Works, has become the de facto expert and has spent a lot of time with the departments to get them up to speed. This Friday, the accounting department will be transferring all the leave time to the new system. All staff will be able to log on and see their real leave time by next Tuesday. Mr. Bartha noted too that the systems will run parallel for a time before the leave time disappears from employee pay stubs. Mr. Robertson concurred that he too has been seeing employee time off requests coming through to him on the NOVATIME system

Mr. Bartha reported that the Phase 1ADMINS upgrade is fully installed with accounting and finance using them. Town wide training has been postponed, but Finance staff person Claudia Peltier developed shortcut sheets that have been useful to enable key staff to fulfill their budget process responsibilities. The plan remains to move forward with the HR and payroll modules in the spring. Mr. Bartha is particularly glad that the purchase orders will be online, as this system has been very paper intensive. He added that Budget 2014 will be sleeker looking, but will retain its former content.

Mr. Stokesbury observed that the town and BOE are doing all sorts of software upgrades but questioned if they are learning new processes or seeing new opportunities to integrate those with the other side. He referred to the Matrix report discussing the purchase order process and asked if going electronic has helped to streamline it. Mr. Bartha referred to the Matrix recommendation establishing the same purchasing policy, noting that the BOE reviewed the Town’s policy, but opted not to adopt it. He agreed that the purchase order system will speed up the procurement process on the town side, as it enables concurrent viewing from each party instead of the old way of passing purchase orders around for approval from each department and checking to see if funds were available in the accounts. Mr. Mala concurred that this is how their new financial software will work. He is currently working to implement the new software on the BOE side and create a bridge to make financial information available to the Town Manager and his staff. Mr. Evans asked Mr. Mala to explain how this will work. Mr. Mala deferred to Mr. John Spang, the new interim Director of Finance and Operations. Mr. Spang stated that currently the town side controls all the cash management and the BOE is required to provide a reconciliation to ensure that every transaction is recorded correctly in the town’s ledger. The “bridge” Mr. Mala referred to will allow the process to be much quicker and easier. Mr. Mala added that having the look-see capability will help speed up the process so there are no unnecessary delays. Mr. Stokesbury summed that it would be much more of an electronic process as opposed to the labor intensive manual system currently used. Mr. Spang added that they’ll be able to see the improvements of less paper in the approval process as well as on the town’s side.

Mr. Mala continued that things were happening behind the scenes with talks with Mr. Robertson around advancing HR functions by looking at staffing redundancy. He is looking for common items that are purchased and ways to do that together and with surrounding communities. Mr. Stokesbury mentioned the reverse auction process. Mr. Mala said there were items where this applied but continued that increasing quantities would drive the price down. Mr. Mala discussed revisiting combining technologies when the library is brought online as opposed to creating new infrastructure. Mr. Mala has asked Mr. Gaski to develop a list of what he sees as opportunities of combining services beyond those that are already established to present to Mr. Robertson for discussion. The other area he asked Mr. Gaski to provide is a list of all their service providers and contracted service vendors. He can present the list to Mr. Robertson to find similarities and find how we can combine with a service provider to leverage a better price by doing it together.

Mr. Mala is also looking at two other areas: 1) opportunities for technology training that could be used by the town and BOE and do the training together and 2) identify areas where they may suggest mandate relief. He added that the opportunity for sharing is significant and that schools don’t stand by themselves but are part of the greater community. Mr. Evans questioned what meeting Mr. Mala attended regarding mandate relief. Mr. Mala said it was comprised of superintendents, representatives of Boards of Education and groups that represent municipal interests as well, headed by a liaison appointed by the Governor. He added that he felt the current administration was very active in looking for ways to streamline and find savings. Mr. Mala summed it as mandate relief in general.

Mr. Evans questioned how the BOE budget will be presented differently this year based on the software. Mr. Mala said the software had no connection to the budget presentation this year but will in the future when it is implemented. He noted that the purchasing module similar to the town’s will be ready to have all the ordering for 2012/2013 year done electronically once we have a budget. Mr. Mala continued that the budget’s format will look different. He said we are now reporting the total cost of each line item in the gross. The next column will show all the anticipated revenue. The third column’s total is what drives the tax rate.

Mr. Evans questioned if the NOVATIME was accessible from home or PD. Mr. Robertson said there would be some employees who will sign in with the hand device. Part time employees will have to sign in at the office but other employees seeking time leave will be able to access that function anywhere. Mr. Evans asked too if there’d be an additional cost to the ADMINS software for transitioning responsibility for inputting personnel status changes from accounting to HR. Mr. Robertson said no that it was part of the software and it only entailed shifting the responsibility from one to the other.

Mr. Evans said the recommendations made at this meeting will be told to the Town Council. Mr. Gugliotti said the committee acted as an oversight to ensure the Matrix report’s recommendations were followed and that it was not put on a shelf. He feels that very much the meat of the report has been done and there reaches a point where the oversight has been done and the report looked at and that now we’re past that. He continued that meetings should be held on an as needed basis and not as a regular one.

Mr. Stokesbury noted that he’s seen lots of change in town affairs since the committee started and has seen successes. He feels though that there’s always room for the three boards to get together with administrators to discuss current topics such as identified by Mr. Mala. Discussions can then be brought back to the individual boards for consideration and implementation. Mr. Stokesbury recommends that the committee be re-appointed or reconstituted as some type of long range overview committee feeding information back to their boards. Mr. Stokesbury continued that we’ve moved beyond the Matrix report and done a great job on the easy stuff and to continue on more of the expensive stuff and implement as well. He noted there are key services to combine such as plowing snow or field maintenance or better common purchasing practices and recommends continuing. Mr. Evans agrees that this is beyond Matrix and recommends reporting back to the Town Council that the committee meets as needed and not less than twice per year. Mr. Gugliotti clarified that there is a benefit to having this type of discussion but we’ve migrated away from the Matrix report and more to a think tank to take back recommendations to our boards. Mr. Mala agrees and the future meetings could report what we have done and to continue the conversation back to each board. Mr. Robertson agrees the charge will have to change but to keep the Matrix charge in mind: the intra-town expanding to inter-town cooperation and mandate relief when we talk about shared services. Mr. Evans asked if Mr. Robertson would be interested in drafting a new charge, sharing with the members and then present it to the Town Council. Mr. Mala is willing to assist Mr. Robertson in crafting the draft charge. Mr. Stokesbury reminded that there will be a BOE meeting next Tuesday and the February meeting will be early due to a vacation bump, and to keep the charge recommendation in mind for presentation to the Board at the February meeting. Mr. Evans said given the pending status of the new charge that we not set a date for a meeting. Mr. Bartha urged the necessity of setting a meeting date, which could always be changed later, in order to satisfy the Town Clerk’s meeting protocol. Mr. Robertson countered that special meetings could be called without the scheduling of regular meetings. Mr. Stokesbury said that the Town Council can provide this function of calling for a special meeting. Mr. Evans feels there is currently no charge in place to warrant setting a meeting. Other members concurred. Mr. Evans asked for a motion to adjourn as there was no other business to discuss.

VOTE: Mr. Gugliotti motioned, Mr. Stokesbury seconded and all agreed to adjourn the meeting at 7:41 PM. None opposed.                                 


                                                                                    Respectfully submitted:


                                                                                    Acting Chairman Douglas Evans


Attest: _____________________
            Susan Gatcomb, Clerk