January 25, 2010

WARRANT & FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING

                                                                                                                                    APPROVED

JANUARY 25, 2010

                                                           

A.        ROLL CALL6:00 PM

 

            Members present were:            Karl Hodgdon – Vice Chairman                                               

                                                            John Moore

                                                            James Crowley

                                                            Roger Roy

                                                            Elias Thomas

                                                           

            Members absent were:  Debi Rix – Chairman   

 

Also present were Dennis Long, Selectman; Edward Walsh, Fire Chief; Scott Mooney and David Winchell, Road Commissioners; and Cherie Smith, Town Treasurer.

                                                                                                

B.         APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

January 12, 2010 – A Motion was made and seconded to approve the Minutes of the Meeting of January 12, 2010 as submitted.  Thomas/Roy – Unanimous.

 

C.        UNFINSHED BUSINESS

 

Purchase of Fire Truck Update – Edward Walsh, Fire Chief, said with regard to the finances for the fire trucks Acton was going to purchase from the Town of York and the $5,000 anonymous donation he mentioned a the January 12, 2009, Mike Conway presented that idea to the Ambulance Association at their last Meeting.  He advised since he was on that Board, he attended the Meeting and he [Mr. Conway] told the group he wanted to donate $5,000 to the Fire Department for the purchase of the new trucks, but the money was supposed to be for a new ambulance.  He mentioned Mr. Conway stated that was how they would like to spend that money.  He stated at this time he left the room so that the other members could have the opportunity to discuss Mr. Conway’s comments.  He said after a long discussion, the members of the Ambulance Association said they were willing to donate the $5,000 to the Fire Department for the purchase of the new equipment.  He advised the Town has purchased the vehicles and by the end of this week he would like to repay the Ambulance Association’s donation even though the entire Board said they had no problem loaning the money to the Fire Department.  He stated he will go over his budget to find a way to do that as he wasn’t comfortable once he found out it was going to be a loan.  He advised when he was first approached by Mr. Conway, he thought the donation was coming directly from him.  He mentioned that some of the Fire Department members have yet to be paid and have said they would be willing to have that money go toward the loan and he himself is willing to donate $1,000 of his own money. 

 

Mr. Roy said, personally, he didn’t think the Fire Department should have to pay back the $5,000.  He stated it is his feeling that Mr. Conway was planning to do that all along and not donate the money from his personal funds.  He mentioned the cost for a new  ambulance is $150,000 and he expressed a concern that purchase will not occur with the new Ambulance Association Board which is why he thinks the Fire Department should not repay the Ambulance Association.

 

Mr. Long stated he would check the Minutes [of the Ambulance Association] to see if  they mentioned the $5,000 and he agreed with Mr. Roy that the firemen should not feel obligated to repay the money.  He mentioned, recently Mr. Conway told him to forget about the Ambulance Association and the Fire Department merging as they [the Ambulance Association’s Board of Directors] do not want that to occur.  He said Mr. Conway suggested that the Merger Committee be disbanded, but he [Mr. Long] didn’t agree with that suggestion since there is other work that Committee can do.

 

To a comment from Mr. Winchell that if the $50,000 that has been set aside for a new ambulance is spent on other projects and the two safety departments don’t merge, the Ambulance Association will have to pay for a new ambulance itself when one is required, Mr. Roy pointed out that since a new ambulance costs $150,000, the $50,000 was one third of the cost of a new ambulance. 

 

Mr. Walsh stated as a member of the Ambulance Association Board, he will try to keep that money for a new ambulance.  He said he simply wanted this Committee to be aware of what occurred since he believes when someone promises something, they should follow through.

 

The Committee thanked Mr. Walsh for the update and stated that they support him.

 

D.        NEW BUSINESS

 

Mr. Long advised the only budget that hasn’t been submitted at this time is the Conservation Commission budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, but he thought it would be best if he gave the Committee whatever information he has.  He mentioned, in the past the Warrant & Finance Committee didn’t have any information until the school budget was put to a vote, but reviewing what has been submitted at this time will give the Committee an idea as to what the figures might be for each department.  

 

1.         Fire Department – Mr. Walsh stated while he hasn’t done so at this time, he would like to include a line in the Fire Department budget, or if necessary have a separate Warrant Article, for supplemental insurance for the members of the Fire Department.

 

Mr. Long advised they have discussed doing that and it will be discussed further with the insurance representative.  He mentioned it could be budgeted under public safety.  He felt that Mr. Walsh has done a great job with the budget and it is basically the same as the 2009-10 budget.  He stated the Selectmen will

ask the voters to establish a capital improvement account for the Fire Department as a separate Warrant Article.  He said $25,000 would be a good start, but this Committee’s and Mr. Walsh’s input will have an impact on what the figure might be.

 

At this time, there was a brief discussion concerning why the previous capital improvement for the Fire Department was eliminated.

 

To Mr. Hodgdon’s comment he feels $25,000 is a good start and he wouldn’t recommend any more than that, Mr. Crowell explained he has talked to the Chief about a 20-year rotation of the equipment and the cost of replacing what the Town has.  He felt the Town was in a good position at this time since it made a purchase in 2003, therefore, it could be four or five more years before another piece will have to be purchased.  He suggested since the Committee doesn’t have all the information on the Fire Department budget that it be tabled until it is complete. 

 

Mr. Walsh advised there has been no increase in the budget over this year’s.  He stated he has reallocated some of the figures in the vehicle repair line and has eliminated the outside cleaning service for the fire station as he needs the money for other areas of the budget.  He said rather than hiring an outside cleaning service the members will do the work themselves.  He explained there was a captain position eliminated last year, but, in his opinion, that position is necessary and he has been able to cover that cost without increasing the budget for the coming fiscal year.  He stated he added funding for a self-contained breathing apparatus unit since they will have to replace it within the next two years.  He said in the future seven bottles will have to be replaced the funding for which he will include in future budgets.  He referenced the cover sheet of his budget which sets forth where the funding has been added and what he projects the costs will be in the future. 

 

The Committee thanked Mr. Walsh for coming in and explaining his tentative budget.

 

2.         Road Budgets – Mr. Long advised he met with both Road Commissioners and requested they reduce their budgets by 3%.  He stated during their discussion, both Road Commissioners felt a level budget would be more reasonable which is what they have agreed to do.  He mentioned special projects have been discussed and the Selectmen have agreed each Road Commissioner should include one in their budgets.  He mentioned Sam Page Road was submitted by Mr. Winchell and possibly Nason Road was submitted by Mr. Moody.  He said work on those projects will include paving so the entire project will go into the paving budget.  He advised that both projects will be entered on the Warrant as separate Articles.

 

            Mr. Moony advised the budget for his district will be the same as this year.

 

Mr. Winchell explained he has reduced the general maintenance account by 3% and placed it in the sand account, but it is difficult to know how much to place in that account without knowing how much snow there will be.  He stated he has made a list of future projects.  He said his intention is to work on the projects and if he runs out of money, he will just wait until the next budget year.  He said he has reviewed all the roads in District I which appear to be in good condition so he will use the general account, but felt there was a need to return to a paving program.

 

Mr. Long mentioned that the road budgets were restructured this fiscal year and there were some comments about it, but he felt they were moving in a positive direction and reducing the road budgets to support other departments isn’t a good idea.  He stated the Selectmen have discussed creating a capital improvement account for the roads.

 

At this time, there was a brief discussion about what roads require attention sooner than others.

 

The Committee thanked both Road Commissioners for coming in and explaining their budgets.

 

3.         Animal Control – Mr. Long explained there is a $500 increase because the animal control officer has requested the same increase he received from the Town of Shapleigh this year.  It was his feeling that budget will remain as it is for the current fiscal year.  He mentioned there was a request for an increase last year and it wasn’t granted.

 

4.         Code Enforcement Office – Mr. Long stated there has been a reduction in the Code Enforcement Office budget, but it will be slightly increased from what is requested because the Selectmen would like to increase the secretary’s wages since she hasn’t had an increase in three years.  He mentioned that the Code Enforcement Office hasn’t requested any increase in his wages and he has reduced the various board budgets by 3%.

 

5.         Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee – Mr. Long explained that there will be no budget for this committee as they will have fulfilled their charge and will be disbanded by the end of this fiscal year.

 

4.         Agency on Aging – Mr. Long advised $500 is being appropriated for this agency. 

 

5.         Town Clerk/Tax Collector – Mr. Long pointed out there has been a 3% decrease in the Town Clerk/Tax Collector’s budget.  He mentioned that the Town Clerk has not had a raise in three years, therefore, the Selectmen will be adding a raise to this budget.  He advised that this budget was reduced by 3% for this fiscal year as well.

 

6.         Town Treasurer – Mr. Long explained there are some revisions that are not reflected in this budget sheet and while there is over a 3% reduction in the Treasurer’s budget, the Selectmen have suggested a $500 increase in the training line.

 

7.         Library – Mr. Long mentioned in this fiscal year, the Library requested $13,500 which was reduced to $10,000 since there was a good balance in that account.  He explained that the 2010-11 budget was drafted by the Library Treasurer and not the Board of Trustees without the requested 3% reduction, but rather has been increased.  He stated the Selectmen will be reducing $10,000 by 3%.

 

8.         Emery Mills Dam – Mr. Long mentioned that the Towns involved in budgeting for the Emery Mills Dam are Acton, Shapleigh and Sanford with Sanford owning the dam.

 

Mr. Hodgdon gave an overview of what areas are affected by the dam and expressed a concern that Acton properties are in the minority for the area that would be threatened if the dam should fail.  He stated if Acton commits to the $8,500 requested, it will be locked into giving that to Sanford and wondered how much of an increase will be requested in future years.

 

Mr. Long explained there was an agreement in the past between the three towns which said that Acton had to commit to $30,000, but the voters rejected it.  He expressed a concern about what would occur if the dam required repairs.

 

Mr. Thomas suggested the attorney be consulted as to what to do now and in the future.  He felt the Town could put a cap of what percentage over what period of time would be acceptable. 

 

Mr. Long advised he would check with MMA.

 

9.         Recreation Department – Mr. Long stated last year the recreation budget was $13,010 which included the revenue from the programs.  He said this year they are requesting $16,385 and when the revenues are subtracted, the request is actually $12,100 which he thought was a substantial increase.  He mentioned the Recreation Committee will be meeting with the Selectmen so he would like an opinion from this Committee as to what to tell them. 

 

To Mr. Thomas’ question whether the trophies are put out to bid, Mr. Long said he didn’t think so.

 

Mr. Thomas suggested that the Selectmen request that to occur as he knows a small company in Sanford who would like to increase its business and its prices are very competitive.

 

Mr. Long advised he will discuss it with that committee.

 

10.       PEG Access – Mr. Long explained the franchise fees paid by Metrocast funds this department, therefore, this budget is a wash.  He mentioned the Town has hired Scott Dunham as Director.

 

11.       Workers’ Compensation – Mr. Long mentioned this account has increased by $2,000 which includes both the Town and the school personnel.

 

12.       Employee Medical Insurance – Mr. Long gave an overview of who is covered and what is paid for the employee medical insurance which was 100% for single employees and 85% for families.  He mentioned the insurance costs have been reduced from prior years as the Town has changed the plan. 

 

            After a brief discussion about what percentage other area towns pay, Mr. Thomas suggested the insurance be revisited to be more in line with the other area towns.

 

            Ms Smith, the Town Treasurer, pointed out medical insurance is the only benefit given to Town employees.

 

13.       Transfer Station – Mr. Long explained that the transfer station is level funded.  He mentioned there have been some concerns about the #3 to #7 plastics since the Town doesn’t have a compactor for them, therefore, the Selectmen will include an Article on the Warrant to purchase one.  He mentioned one of the new requirements will be the need for a permit from the Code Enforcement Office if someone wishes to bring in shingles which should address the out-of-town debris from being taken to the Acton’s Transfer Station. 

 

            Mr. Hodgdon suggested the Town charge contractors if they use the transfer station.  He concurred with the purchase of a compactor/baler as he felt the Town would recoup the cost within a period of time.

 

            Mr. Long pointed out when there is a charge for the transfer station, people dump their refuse in the woods.  He said since they have stopped charging, there has been a 95% reduction in debris found in the woods.

 

14.       Acton-Shapleigh Conservation – Mr. Long advised this organization is requesting $22,000 again.  He stated he was not happy with the amount of work that they said they did in Town in Acton for the $11,000.  He advised the number of projects that have been submitted for work in the past three years.

 

            Mr. Thomas felt the funding for this organization is well spent given the status of the Moussam River is the only lake in the country that has been recovered from its former polluted state.  He suggested that the Selectmen require a certain number of projects if Acton is going to contribute to the program.

 

            At this time, there was brief discussion regarding past shorefront projects.

 

            Mr. Thomas asked Mr. Long to let the department heads know how grateful this Committee is for their efforts.

 

 

E.         OTHER BUSINESS

 

1.         Foreclosed Properties for February 5, 2010 – Mr. Long gave a brief

overview of the properties on which the Town will be foreclosing within the next few weeks and what steps the Selectmen have taken in an attempt to avoid that action.

 

2.         Current Balance of Town Account – Mr. Long referenced a letter from the

Town Treasurer which advised that as of today, the Town’s bank balance is $600,000.  He stated he is concerned about the small amount in the account because that is the approximate figure the school committee is requesting for the next two months.  He said while he understands there will be more funds coming in, he’s concerned that may not occur before other departments require money.  He mentioned he as asked the Town Treasurer to give him some figures which should represent the funds that should be coming in within the next few months.  He stated the Town needs $300,000 to conduct its business, therefore, with that and the $600,000 $900,000 is necessary until the taxes begin coming in April.  He explained if the school committee had been willing to pay Sanford $300,000 this week with the next payment due on April 15, there would be funds available then or close to that date.  He said the school committee wasn’t in favor of making two payments since they felt doing so would increase the interest.  He stated the Selectmen were told they could pay the $500,000 in October and the balance in April and he suggested December and June.  He was told the superintendent and the school committee spoke with Sanford and it was decided to pay in October and April.  He advised the Selectmen told them that wouldn’t happen.  He suggested the payments be made as they have been in the past, but the superintendent and school committee didn’t agree.  He felt doing so would be beneficial to the Town.  He mentioned that the prior Selectmen ran the account balance very low which is why he wants to build it up again.  He said the Selectmen should have additional information by Friday.

 

To a question of what the status was of the fine the State was imposing because of Acton’s inability to consolidate with another school district, Mr. Long explained that will come from the 2011-12 fiscal year budget.

 

 

F.         NEXT MEETING

 

 It was noted that the next two Meetings will be on Monday, February 8 and 22, 2010,

at 6:00 PM at the Town Hall.

 

 

G.        ADJOURNMENT - The Meeting was adjourned at 8:15 PM.

 

                                                                                    Respectfully submitted,

           

 

                                                                                    ______________________________

                                                                                    ANNA M. WILLIAMS,

                                                                                    Recording Secretary