September 28, 2009

WARRANT & FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING

SEPTEMBER 28, 2009

 

                                                                                                                           APPROVED

 A.        ROLL CALL

            Members present were:            Debi Rix – Chairman               

                                                            Karl Hodgdon – Vice Chairman

                                                            John Moore

                                                            Roger Roy

                                                            Elias Thomas

                                                           

            Members absent were:  James Crowley

 

            Also present was Dennis Long, Selectman and Steve LeDoux.

 

                                                                                               

B.         APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

August 24, 2009 – A Motion was made and seconded to approve the Minutes of the Meeting of August 24, 2009 as submitted.  Hodgdon/Roy  – 4/1 Abstention (Mr. Elias as he was not present for the Meeting).

                       

C.        NEW BUSINESS

1.         Discussion with Transfer Station Manager re Hours of Operation - Mr. Roy mentioned the concerns he has heard from residents regarding the new hours of operation at the Transfer Station.  He explained that the change in hours seems to be creating a hardship for some of the older community members as well as some of the working residents.  He advised that he has asked the Transfer Station Manager to meet with this Committee shortly to discuss the possibility of revising the hours so that they meet the needs of most of the residents while preserving the need to shorten the hours of operation at the Transfer Station.

Mr. Long explained the reason the hours were reduced was because the Transfer Station Manager doesn’t think he has sufficient funding to maintain the existing hours of operation for the entire fiscal year.

 

To Ms Rix’s question whether the funding problem has to do with there being too many employees at the Transfer Station and if so, could the staffing be reduced, Mr. Long advised he really doesn’t wish to do that with Mr. Hodgdon mentioning that all of the staff at the Transfer Station need their job.

 

To Ms Rix’s comment that while she understands what Mr. Hodgdon is saying, the Town shouldn’t provide employment if there is no work for the employees, Mr. Roy stated he spoke with some of the Transfer Station employees and was told that none of the employees want to be laid off for the winter.

 

To Ms Rix’s comment that prior to the Town providing health insurance, there were people working at the Transfer Station who didn’t receive benefits, Steve LeDoux, the Transfer Station Manager, explained that at one time, three employees operated the Transfer Station and that is the number of  people employed at this time.  He explained the job of each employee.

 To Ms Rix’s suggestion that possibly the hours of operation could be on Mondays and Wednesdays, Mr. LeDoux advised he planned on speaking with the Board of Selectmen at their next Meeting about reducing the hours.  He said he and the other employees have discussed the possibility of operating six hours on Monday and Wednesday and eight hours on Saturday which will allow everyone to retain their health insurance.  He felt that number of hours would be sufficient to do the work required at the Transfer Station.  He stating reducing the hours of operation will save approximately $9,000.

 

Ms Rix stated she would like to have the hours that an employee would be eligible for benefits increased to 26 hours or more a week rather than the 20 hours that are required at this time.

 

Mr. LeDoux advised that doing that would certainly reduce the Transfer Station budget because the people who are employed there at this time are working simply to obtain health insurance and not necessarily the wages.  He mentioned that the Transfer Station employees have been eligible for health insurance since he has been employed which is three years.

Mr. Moore suggested that the health insurance be reduced to just cover part of the Medicare Part B rate.

Mr. Long didn’t think there should be a distinction between employees who are older then those that are younger. 

Ms Rix mentioned that when she was working, she often received a higher rate of pay because she didn’t require medical insurance.  She stated she was told by one of the Town’s older employees that she is working because she needs to supplement her Medicare which means that the Town is employing people who are working simply because they require health insurance.

Mr. Roy voiced his agreement with Ms Rix’s comment about providing insurance for part time employees.  He stated that most employers require an employee to work at least 36 hours a week to be eligible for health insurance, but Acton only requires an employee to work 20 hours a week to be eligible for benefits.

 

To Mr. Hodgdon’s question whether the employees receiving health insurance benefits are also insuring their families as well as themselves, Mr. LeDoux answered in the negative and gave a brief explanation of what insurance the Transfer Station employees have.

To Mr. Moore’s question what would occur with the health insurance if the Town laid off an employee and then rehired him, Ms Rix said if that individual worked less hours or became a part time employee, he would not be eligible for health insurance.  Mr. Moore suggested that the Town lay off one of the Transfer Station employees for the winter since it isn’t as busy at that time of the year and rehire him in the summer with part time hours which will make him ineligible for health insurance to which Mr. Roy responded that individual would have to be covered by another health insurance program [which he would have to provide for himself.

 Ms Rix stated she didn’t think that is what should be done, but would rather see  the position that isn’t needed as much be eliminated.  She felt that was something Mr. LeDoux should decide as he is more familiar with what position could be eliminated.  She mentioned that the Transfer Station is for the residents and not necessarily to employ people who need insurance coverage.  She said with regard to the hours of operation, she would like to see the Town develop a survey for the residents’ input as to what hours they would like to see the Transfer Station open.

During a further discussion about the hours of operation it was noted that remaining open after dark would mean lighting would have to be installed and no funds were included for that in this year’s budget and to do it now would reduce the $9,000 that would be saved by reducing the hours of operation . Mr. LeDoux felt that the lighting should be deferred until the next fiscal year.  He stated he will discuss it further with the Board of Selectmen at their next Meeting, but whatever hours of operation they agree to must be finalized this week.

At this time, there was a further brief discussion about the number of hours the Transfer Station should be open.

A Motion was made and seconded that the Warrant & Finance Committee go on record supporting the Transfer Station Manager’s recommendation that the Transfer Station be open six hours for two days of the week and eight hours on another day and that this recommendation be provided to the Board of Selectmen.  Moore/Roy – Unanimous.

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

 To Mr. Crowley’s comment that he spoke with the Transfer Station Manager who thought there was nothing to discuss at that time regarding budgetary matters, 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 allocated 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.

  

 2.         Referendum Warrant Articles – To Ms Rix’s question whether the Board of Selectmen have any Warrant Articles for the referendum vote for the Committee to review, Mr. Long advised that the ballots have already been printed.

 3.         Auditor’s Report – To Ms Rix’s question whether anything more has occurred with the audit since the Committee’s joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen and the School Board, Mr. Long answered in the negative.  He stated the Superintendent of Schools was supposed to call the auditor and schedule a meeting. 

Ms Rix asked what action was the Board of Selectmen taking with regard to what was said about the possibility of the school being $160,000 in the red.  She asked if that should occur where would the money come from and will there be a need for a Warrant Article to approve the overdrafts.  She stated she is aware that nothing can be done until the final auditor’s report has been submitted and asked whether the Board of Selectmen have discussed it to which Mr. Long responded in the negative and explained the error that was made by the Board of Selectmen  affected the school’s funding.

 4.         Update of Required Work – At this time, Mr. Long explained the items that are required to fixed, updated or replaced as follows:

a)         The security and fire alarm must be upgraded at a cost of $2,000 funds for which are in the budget

b)         As per Federal law, push bars must be installed on the exterior doors at a cost of $120 for each of the eight doors in the Town Hall.  Also, the Town Hall door opens in the wrong direction, therefore, a new door will be installed;

c)         The ramp going up to the front door of the Town Offices is too steep and requires replacing;

d)         The exit on the back of the Town Hall isn’t ADA compliant, therefore, the proposal is to take the ramp from the front of the building and put it in the back and install a new one in the front;

e)         The railing on the ramp at the front door of the Town Offices going to the parking lot needs to be extended because it doesn’t follow the path;

  

D.        OLD BUSINESS

 

Winter Road Figures – Mr. Roy advised that he has received the figures for the winter road work and will be contacting other area towns for comparison. 

 

  At this time, there was a brief discussion about past costs for both the sand as well as employee wages.

  

E.         OTHER BUSINESS  

Ms Rix suggested that if any Committee Member would like to include something on the agenda at anytime, they should notify the secretary.

F.         NEXT MEETING

 

It was noted that the next Meeting will be on Monday, October 26, 2009, at 6:00 PM in the Town Hall.

 

G.        ADJOURNMENT

 

The Meeting was adjourned at 7:30 PM.

 

                                                                                    Respectfully submitted,

                                  

 

            ______________________________

                                                                                    ANNA M. WILLIAMS,

                                                                                    Recording Secretary