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Select Board/Finance Committee Minutes 4/11/12
Members present:        Mark Karlberg, Jeanne Pryor, George Fuller (arrived at 7:10 p.m.) – Select Board
Stephen LaBelle, Ann Spadafora, Jeremy Dunn, Dan Parnell – Finance Committee

Others Present: Craig Kleman, Marge Foster, Dr. William Cameron, John Les, Karen Karlberg

7:02 PM Meeting opened.

Mark introduced Dr. Cameron and asked him to speak regarding the school budget.  He gave a brief summary of the CBRSD Operating and Capital Budgets FY 2013.  He explained the differences from last year’s budget to this year’s budget.  The main changes are the reduction of two teachers that is driven by enrollment and the reduction of approximately four paraprofessionals.  They have added a full-time student adjustment counselor.  Jeremy Dunn asked about Becket’s change percent.  It is the only town that has a negative change percent.  He asked if this was in part because of a decline in enrollment in Becket Washington School and/or the DOE wealth formula.  Marge Foster advised that it is due to both of those reasons.  Mark asked why the District Wide change was so large.  Marge advised that this is due to school choice.  They had been incorrectly putting the school choice revenue back into the general fund when they should have been putting it into a revolving fund.  Dr. Cameron advised that there is an Innovation School Initiative underway in Becket Washington School and Berkshire Trails.  He also advised that in all the elementary schools in Berkshire County, Becket Washington School was ranked third for having the highest MCAS scores.  (George Fuller entered the meeting at this point.)  Dr. Cameron stated that he was very pleased with the budget and feels it is a sound budget.  Briefly discussed health insurance benefits for employees in the CBRSD.  The Select Board thanked Dr. Cameron, Marge Foster and John Les for attending this meeting and giving their presentation.

The Finance Committee addressed the Board regarding their recommendations for the FY 2013 Budget.  Ann Spadafora advised that the Finance Committee met yesterday to discuss the budget and came up with a list of recommendations.  Jeremy advised that they agree with the town administrator’s budget except for a few items which they will discuss tonight.  He feels it would be in everyone’s best interest if the Select Board and Finance Committee agreed with the budget.  Craig asked the Finance Committee what its recommendations were for the salaries.  The Finance Committee recommends that anyone who received a 3% raise last year would not get anything this year and those who received a 1.5% raise last year would receive a 1.5 % increase this year.  Dan Parnell advised that because of the school budget and the fact that we do not have many special articles, our budget is under last years and this will cause the tax rate to go down which should show people that they are trying to keep the tax rate from increasing every year.  Jeanne asked the Finance Committee about the district payments and how they are distributed to the treasurer, tax collector and assessors.  Craig advised that all these departments’ hourly wages increased to support the district payments so when the town receives the payments it goes into the general fund.  Jeremy advised that the first item that the Finance Committee wants to change is the Reserve Fund budget item.  The Town Administrator recommended $20,000 but the Finance Committee would like to increase it to $30,000.  Briefly discussed the demolition fund.  Bill Girard spoke with the Finance Committee about how many demolition projects there are in town.  He is requesting that they increase this item to $13,000.  Craig advised that he still has $6,000 left from this year’s budget so the Finance Committee is suggesting that they level fund the demolition fund and if he needs more funds for demolition they could take it out of the Reserve Fund.  Craig will check with town counsel about the liability of the town if it does not demolish a dangerous structure.  Jeanne motioned to recommend $30,000 for Reserve Fund and to level fund the demolition fund at $6,000, George seconded.  All in favor.  The next item that was discussed was the building inspector expenses.  The Building Inspector would like to purchase software that would make the whole building permitting process electronic and the cost would amount to approximately $4,100 per year.  The Finance Committee is recommending that to cover the cost of this the Select Board should vote to increase the building fees.  Bill Girard advised that Becket’s fees are very low compared to other towns.  The increase in fees could pay for the yearly cost for the software.  Briefly discussed what it would take to increase the building fees.  This item will be put on hold until Craig finds out what is needed to be done in order to increase the fees.  The next item that was discussed was the Town Accountant Salaries.  The Finance Committee feels this should be changed to town accountant or accounting services since this person is not an employee but a contractor.  They are recommending increasing the town administrator’s recommendation for the accountant to $14,500.  A question came up as to why the accountant is being paid through payroll if she is an independent contractor.  Craig will look into this.  George motioned to put the town accountant salary on hold until the information is found out, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.  The next item discussed was the police department salary.  The Finance Committee did not want to get into whether or not the town should have a full or part time police chief.  They are recommending that if the town votes to have a fulltime police chief then the police department should reduce the hours of a part time police officer to cover the increase and if the town votes to have a part time chief then the hours would remain the same.  The Finance Committee is hoping that this will make this budget item pass quickly if there is a compromise.  Briefly discussed police coverage and possible resignations after Bill Elovirta retires.  Jeanne wants to hold off on this item until she can look at it more closely before she makes a decision.  George motioned to put the Finance Committee’s recommendation for the Police Department Salary on hold, Mark seconded.  All in favor.  The next item discussed was the town report.  This year there was an overrun on this account.  The Finance Committee added $1,000 over last year’s budget.  George motioned to accept the Finance Committee’s recommendation of $3,000 for the town reports, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.  The next item discussed was the Literacy Network.  The Finance Committee does not want to support this unless they know that people from Becket are being served and their request does not state that they are being served.  If the Literacy Network can prove that Becket residents are being served next year then the Finance Committee would recommend funding their request.  George motioned to accept the Finance Committee’s recommendation and not fund the Literacy Network, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.  The next item discussed was the Stabilization Account.  The Finance Committee is recommending that $50,000 be added to this account.  George motioned to accept the Finance Committee’s recommendation to add $50,000 to the Stabilization Account, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.  The next items discussed were the previous debt excluded purchases and the new dump truck for the highway department.  George asked why the highway truck was removed from the budget.  The Finance Committee explained that they are recommending that the truck be purchased as a debt exclusion since it costs very little to borrow the money and it pushes off the cost for a couple of years.  Jeanne motioned to accept item 9 and 10, Mark seconded.  All in favor.  The next item discussed was in-sourcing payroll.  The town has been using an outside firm to complete payroll but the accountant and treasurer would like to bring this in-house.  Discussed the costs for the software that would be needed to bring the payroll in-house and the pros and cons for keeping the payroll outsourced the way it currently is.  The Finance Committee does not recommend that the town do the payroll in-house; they recommend that if the current firm is not working out then they should find another firm to do payroll.  George motioned to put the in-sourcing payroll on hold for a year, Jeanne seconded.  All in favor.  The Finance Committee advised that because the school came in lower in its operating and capital budget, the town has a surplus levy capacity.  The Finance Committee recommends that the town not spend the excess funds which would allow the tax rate to go down.

The Finance Committee had questions regarding Vocational School Tuition, Health Insurance, Vocational Transportation, Electricity, Veterans Benefits and Local Revenues.  Briefly discussed these items.  Jeanne had a few questions about the highway budget and it was explained to her.

9:10 PM George motioned to adjourn, Mark seconded.  All in favor.

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

Documents discussed at meeting:

  • CBRSD Operating and Capital Budgets FY13 Adopted March 8, 2012