Middleton Selectmen and Finance Committee
Joint Hearing on the Budget
Nathan Media Center
Fuller Meadow School
March 22thth, 2012
Call to Order – Chairman Houten called the meeting to order at 7:40. The following individuals were present:
Selectmen: Mr. Cresta, Mr. Houten, Ms. Jones, Ms. Lindberg and Mr. Prentakis
Finance Committee: Co-Chair Mr. Cocciardi, Mr. Dow, Mr. Erickson, Mr. Mahoney and Ms. Mann and Ms. Mertz
Town Administrator Mr. Singer
The audience included Town Moderator Henry Tragert, Deputy Moderator Lynn Murphy, Masco Superintendent Dr. Daryl Lockwood, Middleton Elementary School Committee and Masco School Committee member Teresa Buono, Industrial, Review Committee Member Paul Richardson, Town Accountant Andrew Vanni, Town Treasurer Donald Carter, Town Clerk Sarah George, Assessor Brad Swanson, Library Director Melissa Gaspar, Police Chief James DiGianvittorio, Fire Chief Frank Twiss, Building Inspector Rick Bienvenue, DPW Superintendent Bob LaBossiere, Public Health Director Derek Fullerton and Veteran’s Agent Ted Butler.
Overview Mr. Singer explained that this Public Hearing is required by Middleton’ Town Charter. The purpose is to review the warrant for the Annual Town Meeting and to identify all potential expenses before that meeting. This warrant is the result of meetings that have been going on since last December and have involved the Selectmen, the Finance Committee and both School Committees.
Mr. Singer gave an overview of the Town’s Finances. As the economy recovers, Middleton has the necessary reserves to support this budget. The increase in the budget is 4.5% 1/3 of which is the debt service for the Howe-Manning. Without that, the increase would have been under 3%. The Town is allowed a $500,000 increase under Proposition 2 ½. $300,000 is exempt. This leaves $600,000 to be raised within Proposition 2 ½. Due to the Financial Guidelines developed by the Selectmen and the Finance Committee, the Town has excess levy capacity which is over 2% of the budget. $250,000 of that will be used. $400,000 is capacity within the budget. In addition, $125,000 is growth that has been certified by the
assessor. . Any additional growth will bolster unused levy capacity for next year.
This will result in a tax increase of between 2% and 3% which his pretty good considering the budget is $1.1 million more than last year, with60 to 65 % of that due to the Howe-Manning debt service. The plan is for the bonds for the debt service to be sold in August. Interest rates are expected to be at an all time low.
Reading of the Warrant – Mr. Houten began the reading.
Article 1 Committee Reports
Mr. Houten expects there to be two or three committee reports
Article 2 Borrowing
Article 3 Personnel Plan
Mr. Cresta asked about the transition from an Administrative Secretary to an Assistant Town Administrator. He asked about the hourly wage for the Administrative Secretary. Mr. Singer responded that some secretarial support will be needed as the new person comes on. Mr. Houten added that he had looked at the job description. It will be more professional. This person will be able to run the office and to handle tasks that can be done by someone with less experience than Mr. Singer. Mr. Singer said that he has not as yet figured out the exact structure but feels that ten to fifteen hours of secretarial support will still be needed. Mr. Cresta said that the Assistant could act as Chief Procurement Officer and as the Human Resources
person. Mr. Houten said that 23 towns with populations under 16,000 have been surveyed. Mr. Dow asked if this were the year to make this change. Mr. Houten pointed out that Mr. Singer is only getting closer to retirement and Mr. Cresta added that the vacancy is there. If the Town does not fill this position it will have to fill the position created by Ms. Innis’ retirement. Mr. Prentakis added that it will take time for the new person to build up the institutional knowledge necessary to accomplish tasks that Mr. Singer can now do very quickly.
Ms. Jones picked up the reading at Public Safety/Animal Control
Mr. Cresta asked how the Town Accountant’s salary had been arrived at. Mr. Singer said that it was based on a new survey. Mr. Cocciardi said that he had seen the survey.
Ms. Lindberg asked about the Fire Chief’s salary. Mr. Singer said that the Chief has a contract proposal.
Article 4 -Omnibus Budget
Mr. Singer pointed out that the Computer budget has been shifted from the Selectmen/Administrator (Dept. 122) to the Town Accountant (Dept. 135). Also, the coding for the Finance Committee Reserve Fund is incorrect it should be 5700.
Ms. Lindberg asked if it actuals weren’t show as part of the Omnibus budget. Mr. Singer said that they had not been shown in the past and there was no statutory requirement
Mr. Cresta asked where the Audit is in the budget. Mr. Singer said that it is under Unclassified.
Ms. Lindberg picked up the reading at Town Buildings (Dept. 192).
Mr. Cresta noted that the differential for the salary for the Police Captain’s position was being retained. Mr. Prentakis said that he thought the Board agreed that having a Captain’s position was a good idea. The disagreement was about who not what.
Mr. Cresta made a motion to reduce the Personal Services line item for the Police Department (Dept. 210, item 5200) by $9,334. Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion.
Mr. Dow asked if the overtime budget would be sufficient since someone would now be getting overtime rather than being salaried. Mr. Cresta said that there is already a $5700 increase in the overtime budget. Mr. Erickson asked that the Chief confirm that the overtime budget is sufficient before the Finance Committee votes. They may recommend a higher amount.
The vote was 4-1-0.
Mr. Cresta picked up the reading at Education (Dept. 301)
The Selectmen’s recommendation for the Masconomet budget was marked as “recommendation pending”.
Mr. Cresta made a motion to recommend the amount of $6,708,523 for the Masconomet budget. Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion and all were in favor.
Ms. Lindberg noted that previous disagreements were about producing documents.
Mr. Mahoney picked up the reading at Veteran’s Services (Dept. 543).
In the discussion of Unclassified, Mr. Cresta noted that the increase in health care cost was favorable.
Mr. Cresta also expressed the opinion that the Town’s Auditor should be changed every five years. It was also noted that the cost of the audit is up because this is the year that a separate Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) audit is required (every other year). This audit cannot be done by the same auditor who does the Town’s audit..
Mr. Cresta made a motion to go out to competitive bid for auditing services. Ms. Lindberg seconded the motion.
Mr. Prentakis noted that a competitive bid would not necessarily result in a different auditor.
The vote was 4-1-0.
Mr. Cocciardi picked up the reading at Article 7.
Article 7 – Community Preservation
Mr. Prentakis noted that this is a tentative budget. It is based on a 20% match from the State. It looks like the match will actually be 22%.
Article 8 Housing Authority
Article 9 Flood Plain By-Law
Mr. Cresta asked that the purpose contain a caveat that residents should do the research to determine whether they are in the Floodplain Overlay District. Mr. Singer thinks it is no more than 6 or 7 properties. The Town Moderator added that he hopes for a clear explanation. Mr. Singer said that he would ask the Conservation Agent, Ms. Schmitz to provide some documentation.
Ms. Mertz picked up the reading at Article 10.
Article 10 Zoning By-law Amendment
Article 11-14 Revolving Funds
Mr. Dow picked up the reading at Article 15
Article 15 Assessors computer and software
Article 16 Police Station Renovation
Article 17 Fire Department Equipment
Article 18 Fire Department Rust Repairs
Ms. Mann picked up the reading at Article 19
Article 19 Fire Department Rescue Squad
Article 20 School Committee Math Curriculum
This should be corrected to note that the curriculum was for both Howe-Manning and Fuller Meadow.
Article 21 School Committee Technology
Article 22 Public Works Accept Chapter 90 funds
Article 23 Public Works Supplement Chapter 90
The article specifies “a sum of money” to allow the insertion of a number that is appropriate to be used in conjunction with Chapter 90 fund when their amount is determined.
Article 24 Public Works Soccer field
Article 25 Public Works Transfer Station Compactors
Delete reference to Water Enterprise Fund and substitute available funds.
Article 26 Public Works Equipment update and maintenance
Mr. Erickson picked up the reading at Article 27
Article 27 Public Works DPW Building improvements
Article 28 Town Common and Town Center
Mr. Prentakis read the new language.
“On petition of the Board of Selectmen and the Town Common and Town Center Study Committee to raise and appropriate the sum of $60,000 with $40,000 of that amount to be used to implement Phase 1 of the Town Common Master Plan integrating the Hagan Land into the existing Town Common and $20,00 to complete the integration of the Lois Lane lot with abutting Town owned land …”
The language was changed so as to meet the funding requirements of the Community Preservation Act.
Article 29 Repairs to Old Town Hall and copy machine for Memorial Hall
Mr. Singer explained that $13,000 is for Old Town Hall and $6,000 for the copy machine
Article 30 Purchase of 21 East St.
Since a Purchase and Sale has not been signed, the amount is not included. There will be a covenant that the Town leases the land for agricultural purposes. Walking paths will be allowable. Mr. Prentakis explained that the proposed source of funding is $48,000 from the Conservation Land Fund, $30,000 from CPA funds, and $10,000 that has been pledged by Essex County Greenbelt. In addition the Town will apply for a State grant that could cover 40 – 45% of the cost. There will be a gap that has to come from other sources.
Article 31 Rails to Trails Committee
Article 32-33 Road Acceptances
Articles 34-38 Standard
Adjournment - Ms. Lindberg made a motion to adjourn the meeting. All were in favor and the meeting was adjourned at 9:30.
Mary Jane Morrin, Recording Secretary
Chris Lindberg, Clerk