August 24, 2009

WARRANT & FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING

AUGUST 24, 2009 APPROVED

 

A.        ROLL CALL

 

            Members present were:            Debi Rix – Chairman               

                                                            Karl Hodgdon – Vice Chairman

                                                            John Moore

                                                            James Crowley

                                                            Roger Roy

                                                           

            Members absent were:  Elias Thomas

 

            Also present was Dennis Long, Selectman.

 

                                                                                               

B.         APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

July 27, 2009 – A Motion was made and seconded to approve the Minutes of the Meeting of July 27, 2009 as submitted.  Rix/Hodgdon – 4/1 Abstention (Mr. Crowley as he was not present for the Meeting).

                       

C.        UPDATE OF COMMITTEE MEMBERS’ ACTIVITY SINCE LAST MEETING

Ms Rix mentioned she attempted to obtain copies of the municipal and school

budgets for this fiscal year, but was unsuccessful.  She stated she did attend the last

School Committee Meeting to get a feel of what was happening.

 

The group reviewed the copies of the Teacher Salaries printout and held a brief

discussion regarding the structure of the salaries as well as the salary being paid to the

new kindergarten teacher.

To Mr. Roy’s concern about the potential increase in the school budget, Mr. Long felt that the Town should be concerned about its children’s education with Ms Rix expressing her concern about past discussions regarding eliminating the current sports programs.

 

To Mr. Hodgdon’s question whether the Board of Selectmen and the Warrant & Finance Committee are able to make recommendations on the school budget during its development, Mr. Long answered in the affirmative.

 

Mr. Crowley felt that the Town should go to a five member Board of Selectmen rather than the three there are currently because when one is absent during a vote, their hands are tied and that could possibly hinder any major changes.

Mr. Moore explained that he spoke with the School Committee during the development of the current fiscal year’s budget and he said it was his feeling that they listened to his suggestions and made some revisions.  He stated if there is a request to reduce the school budget, the School Committee will more than likely cut the positions that earn the least.  He mentioned that during the cuts made for this fiscal year, one of the special education techs was eliminated because he/she was the lowest in longevity.   He stated he recommended that some of the sports programs be eliminated since they were paid coaching positions, but that didn’t occur and those individuals are now only earning a stipend.

 

Mr. Long mentioned that in an effort to be more involved with the school budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, the Selectmen have scheduled a meeting with this Committee, the School Committee, the Superintendent of Schools, the auditor and the Board of Selectmen to explore a way in which everyone can work together on that budget.  He stated since there is a new principal and superintendent possibly this could be a new start for everyone to work together. 

 

To a question from Mr. Roy whether the number of teachers employed are really required for the number of students, Mr. Long gave an overview of the State regulations concerning the student to teacher ratio. 

 

Mr. Long gave a brief synopsis of the number of properties that the Town may have to foreclose and some of the procedures associated with that process.

To Ms Rix’s question whether the Board of Selectmen have any Warrant Articles for the upcoming November, 2009 vote since this Committee should review them, Mr. Long gave a brief overview of the zoning ordinance revisions Warrant Article and explained what he anticipates will be included on the referendum ballot.

 

Mr. Moore explained the Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee’s work and how it will impact the zoning.

 

Ms Rix reiterated her previous comments about the possibility of inserting a provision on the Municipal Ordinance that a resident may not seek office or obtain a business license if he/she is delinquent with their real estate taxes.  She mentioned that this topic came up at an MMA program she attended and found that some towns have this provision on their books already. 

 

Mr. Long stated while he agrees with doing that, the other Selectmen were not in favor of doing so. 

 

After a further discussion, the secretary was asked to contact MMA and request an opinion regarding this topic.

 

To Mr. Crowley’s comment that he spoke with the Transfer Station Manager who thought there was nothing to discuss at this time, Mr. Long explained that even though the Selectmen said there would be no raises for Town personnel this fiscal year, the Transfer Station Manager gave all his employees a 3% raise.  He mentioned that the Transfer Station Manager had told the Selectmen there weren’t sufficient funds to make his budget work, but he was told he had to work with what was proposed for that department.  He explained that budget has been overrun in the past, but it shouldn’t be this fiscal year.  He stated that, at this time, there hasn’t been any reduction in hours even though there has been a rumor to that affect.

To Ms Rix’s question whether the Town accepts credit cards in payment of real estate taxes, Mr. Long explained that when the Town’s existing contract expires, it will not be renewed because the Town loses money when it accepts credit card payments. 

 

D.        ROAD COMMITTEE REPORT

 

Mr. Roy advised that the Road Committee met with the Board of Selectmen and the Road Commissioners and as a result of that meeting, the Road Committee checked with other towns regarding their winter maintenance figures, but was told that he would have to wait until September or October, 2009 as the winter contracts have not been approved at this time.  He explained that Acton contracts for sand and salt with Mr. Long advising that the Town spent $17,500 for sand last winter.  

 

Mr. Long gave an overview of the installation of the generator at the school and the Selectmen’s negotiation of the contract for the work.  He felt that the existing generator should be sold along with the other equipment being stored.

 

 

E.         NEXT MEETING

 

It was noted that the next Meeting will be on Monday, September 28, 2009, at in the Town Hall

 

F.         ADJOURNMENT

 

The Meeting was adjourned at .

Respectfully submitted,

Anna Williams, Recording Secretary