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Finance Committee Minutes 03/14/2011
                                FINANCE COMMITTEE

Date: March 14, 2011                                                    Time: 7:00 p.m.

Present: O’Connor, Gauthier, Kupcinskas, Hebert, Girard

Absent: Bartosiewicz

Meeting called to order at 7:00 p.m.

Motioned by Hebert, seconded by Kupcinskas to open the public hearing.  Unanimous.

Brian Turbitt, Finance Director, was in at 7:00 p.m.

Michael O’Connor went over the Town Manager’s Budget message.

Michael O’Connor: The major items are in the proforma. We have the Governor’s numbers, but we do not have the House or Senate numbers yet. There are no pay increases in the budget. There is a deficit of $345,754. The General Government part of the budget has already been cut by $138,000 for Fiscal 2012.

Michael O’Connor went over the proforma for FY2012

Al Nelson: If the Sewer Department is self-sufficient, why is it part of our budget?
Michael O’Connor: Even though it does not affect the Town budget or the resident’s taxes, it is shown to let the taxpayers know what is spent in this budget.
Al Nelson: What is the actual difference in percentage between the School and the Town side of the budget?
Michael O’Connor: The percentage of the budget for FY2012 between the School and the Town is 61.46% and 38.54%.
Al Nelson: Why is the split only 60/40 if they are spending more?
Michael O’Connor: That is what the Town Manager is proposing. It has not yet been voted on by the Board of Selectmen or the School Committee.
Al Nelson: Is the Asa Waters Mansion self-supporting yet? We were told that when the director was hired, that they would be self-supporting in a couple of years.
Michael O’Connor: No, they are not. We are still looking into this.
Resident: Why can’t we use the $525,826 of the free cash to help cover the deficit instead of using it to reduce the tax rate?
Michael O’Connor: It is being used so that we do not go above the levy limit. If we had no free cash, we would need to cut $1.1Million from the budget instead of the $345,000. The Town Manager is saying that we won’t always have the free cash to help maintain the budget. We only used the same amount of free cash this year as we did last year.

Motioned by Gauthier, seconded by Hebert to close the public hearing at 7:35 p.m.  Unanimous.

Reserve Fund Transfer

Brian Turbitt: I am here to request a transfer from the Reserve Fund in the amount of $37,500 for the Veteran’s Agent. The account currently has $16,000 in it. We have been averaging $12,500 per month. This will get us through to the end of the fiscal year.
Michael O’Connor: What else do you think you will be coming to us for before the end of the fiscal year?
Brian Turbitt: I do not foresee anything in the future.

Motioned by Hebert, seconded by Gauthier to transfer $37,500 from the Reserve Fund to account number 01-543-5780-0000-0000-540.  Unanimous.

Motioned by Gauthier, seconded by Kupcinskas to accept the minutes of March 5, 2011.

Donald Gauthier: I would have liked to have had more of the conversation concerning how many police officers we now have compared to before the Mall was put in.
Michael O’Connor: It was not pertinent to the FY2012 budget.

Vote on the motion: Unanimous.

Motioned by Gauthier, seconded by Hebert to authorize payment of $40.00 from the Finance Committee General Expenses account number 01-131-5780-0000 for the Holden Landmark. Unanimous.

Michael O’Connor went over the 5-year analysis of General Government and the School Department with the addition of FY2012, making this a 6-year analysis.

Michael O’Connor: We have the budget before us and it is balanced. What position does the Finance Committee feel they want to take? Is this a realistic budget?

Michael O’Connor: Bob stated that his employees were getting paid more than the surrounding towns. I haven’t done my own analysis, so I am not sure that this is the case.

Much discussion was held concerning the positions of DPW Director and Operations Manager

Michael O’Connor: I want to do an analysis of head count per department over the past six years, which would coincide with the opening of the Mall. We already know that we are down a few police officers. I want to see the difference in the other large departments. We are even down on the number of staff in this building. At what point do we stop cutting personnel? Replacements have not been made even with retirements in many departments.
Donald Gauthier: We are going in the wrong direction with personnel.

Michael O’Connor: I have told the Manager before that no one has stood up at either the Town Meeting or our meetings stating that they cannot live with the budget given to them. The school is on a population decline. I understand that they want to maintain class size, but if the population is going down, class size must be going down also.

Michael O’Connor: I had sent an e-mail to Richard Bedard, Business Manager, a couple of weeks ago concerning some questions that I had. I hadn’t heard back from him so I sent another e-mail to him and cc’d the Superintendent. The Superintendent sent me an e-mail back informing me that any future questions that I have for the School Department, must go through her.

Michael O’Connor: Until we get the House and Senate numbers, there is no sense in voting the budget. I would like to discuss the Finance Committee schedule. It will be a long time before we have the warrant.  The Board of Selectmen must close the warrant 28 days before the Town Meeting, which is May 10, 2011. I do not feel the need to have another meeting until April. Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, April 19, 2011.
Donald Gauthier: I am hoping that Bob Spain’s combined positions will enable the Police Chief to hire a couple of new police officers. It takes a year to train them once they are hired. They have to go through the academy and then ride along with a seasoned police officer before they can go out on their own.

Michael O’Connor: We will need to vote the budget within the first three Mondays in May.

Motioned by Kupcinskas, seconded by Hebert to adjourn at 8:55 p.m.  Unanimous.