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Select Board/Finance Committee Minutes 12/1/11
Members present:        George Fuller, Mark Karlberg, Jeanne Pryor – Select Board; Stephen LaBelle, Ann                         Spadafora, Chuck Andrews, Dan Parnell – Finance Committee

Others Present: Craig Kleman, Colleen O’Connor, Marge Foster, Dr. William Cameron, Mike Falk, John Les

7:02 PM Meeting opened.

Mark asked if anyone from the audience was recording this meeting besides the Select Board.  No one is audio taping the meeting.

Mike Falk introduced Dr. Cameron and Marge Foster to the Select Board and Finance Committee.  He also introduced John Les who, along with Mike, is on the school committee.  The first agenda item is a presentation by Dr. Cameron, Superintendent, Central Berkshire Regional School District.  Dr. Cameron advised that he does not have a presentation; he just wanted to meet the Select Board now because he did not want to meet them for the first time with his hand out asking for funding for the school.  He asked the Select Board and Finance Committee if they had any concerns going into the budget season.  Mike Falk advised that FY12 has been a difficult budget year.  The formulation was not figured out correctly which left the budget short approximately 1 million dollars.  The school committee decided to tap the excess and deficiency account which is like the town’s stabilization fund to cover the deficiency.  Mike advised that the school committee would like each town in the district to pay more but the towns are already strapped.  Mark asked if the school committee knows what the increase will be.  Mike advised that it is too early to know right now because the budget planning has just started.  He also advised that another issue that has been brought up is vocational education.  Currently a student wishing to go to a vocational school can go to any one that offers the program they are interested in.  The cost of vocational education costs significantly more than what it costs a student who is mainstreamed within the school district.  Towns now have the option of having just one vocational school available for voc students.  This would cost less if most of the voc students attended the same school.  If the program that the student wants is not available at the school then the student could attend another school.  Briefly discussed the Pittsfield voc schools.  The future of Becket Washington School was also discussed.  The principal of Becket Washington School has been looking at making the school an innovation school.  An innovation school offers programs that the school district does not offer.  This may bring more students into the Becket Washington School.  Dr. Cameron advised that this is in the planning stage but he is very encouraged about it.  Colleen O’Connor asked about the autism program that was offered to her son.  She asked if it has changed since her son was in elementary school.  She had to take him outside of the CBRSD and the program was very costly.  Dr. Cameron feels that an autism program should be offered by the school district.  Briefly discussed this issue.  John Les advised that he personally feels that CBRSD would be asking for an increase between 1.5% and 3% this year but this could definitely change.  Mike Falk feels the Select Board and Finance Committee should advise the school committee about how much of an increase the town could handle.  Marge Foster advised that until the cherry sheets are available, the school can only estimate what the increase would be.  Marge Foster gave the Select Board an amended operating budget.  She explained that school choice revenues were included in the general revenue but should have been included in the special revenue.  This has been corrected.  She advised that the amended operating budget was adopted on November 17, 2011.  Mike Falk advised that they are still negotiating some of the teachers’ salaries.  Briefly discussed the unions acceptance of the budget.  The Select Board thanked Dr. Cameron for coming to this meeting.

The second half of the meeting addressed the FY2013 Budget Guidelines.  Craig gave the Select Board and Finance Committee a copy of the FY2013 Budget Timetable.  George explained why they met the way they did tonight.  Last year the Select Board met with the Finance Committee but when all three board members come to a meeting it constitutes a quorum.  The Finance Committee is looking for the Select Board to approve budget guidelines for the department heads.  It will help the Finance Committee put together the budget if everyone is on the same page.  Dan Parnell explained that last year Richard Furlong had to chase around department heads and then he had to throw a budget together because he never received one from the department head.  The Select Board needs to discipline the department heads so that the budget can be completed in a more timely manner.  They would like to receive any special article requests by December 31, 2011.  All normal salary and expense budgets need to be received by January 31, 2012.  If the Finance Committee does not receive a budget from a department then it will level fund their salaries and expenses.  Briefly discussed the annual town meeting and how some of the employees got raises while some of them did not.  The Finance Committee would like to give the employees who did not receive raises last year something this year.  Briefly discussed how raises should be given in regards to the CPI.  Jeanne feels all of the wage contracts should be the same.  Currently the highway department contracts have a clause that all new hires start out being paid $2.00 less than the current employees and will receive raises every six months for two years to get up to the other employees but the other town employees do not have this in their contracts.  Stephen LaBelle asked what would happen when an employee reached his or her maximum salary.  Nina advised that the highway department was already at their maximum pay but received 3% raises.  Briefly discussed the finance committee’s role.  Employees should not be going to the finance committee to ask for raises.  The finance committee is just an advisory board; employees should be speaking with the Select Board about raises.  Jeanne asked if employee evaluations are ever done.  The employee handbook states that evaluations should be done but they are not being done.  Briefly discussed special request articles and the operating budget.  Nina would like to have the town meeting warrant finalized as early as possible so she has enough time to get the warrants mailed out to the voters.  Discussed future meetings to go over the budget.

8:50 PM Jeanne motioned to adjourn, George seconded.  All in favor.

Respectfully submitted,                                                         _______________________________
Nina Weiler, Secretary                                                          Mark L. Karlberg, Chairman

Documents discussed at meeting:
Central Berkshire Regional Scholl District Adopted Operating Budget FY2012 November 17, 2011

FY2013 Budget Timetable/Proposed Budget Guidelines (FY2013)