Finance and Warrant Advisory Committee Meeting
February 9, 2009
Chairman Bob Recore called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Also in attendance were vice-chair David Hall, William Connor, Amy Valletta, Doug Reid, Patti Weagle, Tom Valorie, and Patricia Nedoroscik.
James Smith, Town Administrator, was also in attendance.
On a motion made by Mr. Connor and seconded by Ms. Valletta the minutes of the meeting of January 26, 2009 were approved. The vote was unanimous.
Town Administrator Update:
Town Administrator James Smith provided the committee with information relating to the current and upcoming budgets.
Fiscal 2009 budget: Mr. Smith provided the committee with a copy of the update to the Sutton Board of Selectmen dated February 3, 2009. This update noted that, based on the 9C cuts announced by Governor Patrick, Mr. Smith had identified $ 94,674.00 in reductions that could be made to the 2009 budget. All of the reductions were within the “town” segment of the budget.
An additional update also dated February 3, 2009 listed the areas of reductions for fiscal 2009. A vacant highway position will not be filled, lower than anticipated heating and legal costs, lower than budgeted unemployment funding and property insurance and a recreation position made up the rest of the reductions. Mr. Smith was asked the wisdom of leaving the assessor position, also on the list, unfilled while there is a vacancy on the Board of Assessors and during a time when quarterly tax bills will be instituted; he noted that the position had been vacant since he had arrived in town and that he would fill it if a candidate came forward.
Mr. Hall asked if there were additional areas in the 2009 budget that could have been reduced; Mr. Smith responded that he was freezing spending in many areas, that some department funds were being held, and that he was watching trends in the health insurance as more people seemed to be coming on to the town’s insurance.
2010 Budget issues: Mr. Smith is expecting a reduction of approximately $ 278,000.00 in state aid for the 2010 budget period. He will provide the budget to the Board of Selectmen at their meeting of February 17, 2009 and noted that the Finance Committee budget booklets would be available after that meeting.
Mr. Smith explained that his budget would contain increases in certain fixed costs such as wages and salaries, although he had determined that non-union municipal positions and contractual positions (Mr. Smith and the Police Chief) would not receive a wage increase. Meetings will take place within the next week between Mr. Smith and the unions and between the School Committee and school unions to discuss the potential of those unions forgoing a wage increase as well. Some consideration is being given to any consolidation of services that could aid the budget problem. One time revenues that may be used include an amount of $ 40,000.00 from the overlay reserve fund and $ 524,000.00 in certified free cash. Mr. Smith was asked if anyone had suggested using money from the Stabilization Fund to offset the budget reductions and
a discussion took place about the amount of money that Sutton has built up in that fund and the recurring interest revenue that is used from the Stabilization Fund account towards the budget each fiscal year. It was also noted that the relatively large amount in the fund, especially compared to other communities, enables Sutton to have a favorable bond rating.
Mr. Smith noted that there will be a 5% reduction in the budget on the town side which amounts to approximately $ 233,000.00 and a 1.2% increase in the school budget; that increase is the Blackstone Valley Vocational Technical School budget due to the increase of 22 Sutton students there. The local school system will receive a budget decrease of approximately $ 66,000.00. In answer to a question, Mr. Smith noted that he had been unable to speak directly to Dr. Fitzpatrick at BV Tech about the proposed 2010 budget.
Mr. Smith noted that the May town meeting warrant would contain the annual operating budget, articles relating to the proposed sale of the town gravel pit, and two debt exclusions—the Early Learning Center roof and a fire truck. Town meeting will be held on Monday, May 11th; finance and warrant advisory committee recommendations must be posted no later than May 4th. At the next meeting of February 23rd a schedule of public hearing dates will be developed.
Upcoming meetings: The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Finance and Warrant Advisory Committee is Monday, February 23rd at 7:00 p.m.
On a motion made by Ms. Valletta and seconded by Mr. Connor, the meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.