Minutes of the Board of Finance meeting held on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall.
Present:~~~~~~~~~~ Regular Members:~ Andrew Russell, BJ Bernblum, Christopher Kerr,
Janet Sturges, David Woolley
Alternate Members:~ Adam Burrows, Bob Jose, David Kelsey
Bonnie A. Reemsnyder, First Selectwoman, ex-officio
Nicole Stajduhar, Finance Director
Mary Jo Nosal, Selectwoman (arrived at 7:30 pm)
Skip Sibley, Selectman
Absent:~~~~~~~~~~~ Regular Members:~ H. P. Garvin, III ~Alternate Members:~~
Guest: No guests present Members of the Public: Judy Read
Mr. Russell called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Mr. Kerr was at the Inland Wetlands meeting elsewhere in the building but will be present for the Board of Finance meeting. Regular member H.P. Garvin is absent. A motion was made by Janet Sturges, seconded by David Woolley, to seat David Kelsey in his absence. Motion carried.
Finance Director: Budget Updates
Finance Director Nicole Stajduhar stated that, as a result of the discussion at last week’s Board of Finance meeting, she is withdrawing her request to increase the Finance Assistant to full-time status. This will reduce the medical insurance line item by $21,600, and the overall insurance budget from $761,000 to $739,400.
A motion to reduce the Insurance budget to $739,400 was made by David Kelsey and seconded by David Woolley. Motion carried.
Mrs. Stajduhar has been advised of 10 additional members of the Old Lyme Volunteer Fire Dept. who qualify for pension. $79,000 had been approved for that budget line; the increase in number of participants will increase the line by $7,000 to $86,000.
A motion to increase the Emergency Services Retirement budget to $86,000 was made by David Woolley and seconded by David Kelsey. Motion carried.
Mrs. Stajduhar said the Mile Creek Road Bridge project has been deferred to the 18-19 capital budget.
This will reduce the 17-18 Capital budget by $550,000 to $1,045,700.
A motion to reduce the Capital budget by $550,000 to $1,045,700 was made by B.J. Bernblum and seconded by David Woolley. Motion carried.
First Selectwoman Reemsnyder explained that she discussed the Mile Creek Road Bridge project with Nathan Jacobson Engineering. A Public Information meeting on the project is scheduled for April 18. After public feedback is received, Jacobson will proceed to permitting, which is often a lengthy process. It is unlikely that construction could begin before June 2018. The Town may be eligible for reimbursement, possibly 40 to 45%, through the State Local Bridge Program. More details on the reimbursement are anticipated in time for the 4/18 meeting.
Chairman Russell asked if sufficient funds have been budgeted for engineering expenses. First Selectwoman Reemsnyder said the $100,000 currently budgeted should be more than enough.
Chairman Russell asked Mrs. Stajduhar if it makes sense to budget for another part-time position in the Finance Department and she said it does not.
Mrs. Sturges asked that the bridge project be referred to as the Mile Creek Road Bridge project going forward.
Mill Rate Calculation (Budget Overview attached)
Finance Director Nicole Stajduhar distributed a 17/18 Budget Overview, illustrating the budget originally presented in January 2017 along with revisions as of 3/21 and 3/28. The Regional District 18 impact to the Town will not be finalized until the April 1 head count is known.
A Mill Rate Calculation sheet uses an estimated tax collection rate of 98.25%, although the lowest collection rate in recent years has actually been 98.57%. If no surplus is applied, the likely mill rate for 17/18 will be 22.26. The Calculation sheet shows the impact on the mill rate if surplus (from $150,000 to $1 million) is applied.
The Town’s surplus at 6/30/16 was $7.8 million. Approximately $500,000 of surplus was approved for use at Town Meetings during the current fiscal year, and Mrs. Stajduhar expects $400,000 to $500,000 to be returned to surplus by the end of this fiscal year.
Board of Finance members discussed the pros and cons of applying funds from surplus to the 17/18 budget.
Chairman Russell said $600,00 from surplus has been applied in each of the last two budget years but has not been needed. Christopher Kerr suggested that applying $800,000 from surplus to the 17/18 budget would still leave the Town’s surplus at 20%.
Selectman Skip Sibley said with at least $400,000 being returned to surplus at the end of the year, the real impact of applying $800,000 will be half that amount. In addition, the District 18 error resulting in a higher than anticipated impact to the Town budget, is an anomaly unlikely to be repeated.
First Selectwoman Reemsnyder suggested designating the use of surplus for a specific use, e.g. road or building projects.
David Kelsey observed that the Town’s share of Regional District 18 expense is based on student number. He believes using number of households would be more equitable. A theoretical discussion of how to fairly determine regional district costs to participating towns followed. Adam Burrows pointed out that that State offers no incentives for regionalization at present. First Selectwoman Reemsnyder noted that Town Treasurer Tim Griswold suggested years ago that the basis should be the Grand List, not the number of students.
A motion to apply $800,000 from surplus to the 17/18 Town Budget was made by Christopher Kerr and seconded by B.J. Bernblum. Chairman Russell noted that loss of state revenue is out of the Town’s control. Selectman Sibley added that the Town has done what it can to mitigate those external factors. Mrs. Sturges questioned the effect of taking more from surplus than in prior years. Motion carried with one opposed (Mrs. Sturges).
First Selectwoman Reemsnyder distributed a list of possible future capital expenditures, derived from discussions she held with Facilities Manager Phil Parcak and Public Works Superintendent Ed Adanti.
The Five Year Plan could include:
- Town Hall Doors; Hardware (17/18)
- Public Safety/EOC Building (Needs Assessment 17/18; possible building 18/19)
(Phil will do a needs assessment with EOC/FD/EMS/PD)
- Senior Center roof (18/19)
- Nutmeg Network expansion to Boughton Road and Cross Lane/PD
- ADA compliance efforts – needs are based on an assessment performed by student intern Bilal, who uses a wheelchair.
- More Police Station work may be required
- Guard Rail at Town Woods (replace wood rails with steel poles & cable) ($12,000 in 18/19)
- Replace 2001 International dump truck with plow ($165,000 in 19/20)
- Asphalt Lyme St Firehouse ($200,000 in 20/21)
- Asphalt Cross Lane Firehouse ($250,000 in 22/23)
- Replace 2004 International dump truck with plow ($180,000 in 23/24)
- Replace Volvo BL-70 Backhoe at transfer station ($130,000 in 25/26)
Parks & Recreation (for discussion):
- Replacement of playground components (location/date tbd)
Rogers Lake (for discussion):
- Watershed study ($65,000 tbd as shared with Lyme)
- Hydro raking of lily pads ($40,000)
Selectman Sibley noted that the Town’s contract with its current sanitation vendor will expire within the next few years. Chairman Russell said review of the current contract can begin as soon as the budget process is completed.
Asked about the current status of the Rogers Lake Weed treatment by Mr. Bernblum, First Selectwoman Reemsnyder said the town has a three year permit from the State. Treatment with Clipper started in July 2016. This was later than the optimal time of May because the permit had not been issued. The same area will be treated in May in 2017 and 2018. She noted that Clipper does not provide a permanent solution. The treatment cost this year is $34,000.
Approval of March 07, 2017 Minutes
The minutes of March 7th were reviewed. Mrs. Sturges submitted a rewritten 1st paragraph to page 1, Tree Commission:
“Mrs. DiCamillo read an email from Mrs. Stajduhar to the Board of Finance dated February 16, 2017 which stated, “On 2/14/17, the Board of Finance reviewed Ed Adanti’s Public Works budget and spent much time discussing his Tree Removal line item. It was agreed that this Public Works account should be budgeted for $5,000 for emergency tree removals only. The Tree Commission – Contracted services line items should include all other tree services including tree trimming and non-emergency tree removal. The Board of Finance increased the Tree Commission budget request for FY2017/18 for this line item from $8,000 to $13,000. Mrs. DiCamillo questioned why this budget change was made. Mr. Russell stated that the main reason this was done was because the Public Works Tree line was
overspent and some of the expenses that could have come from the Tree Commission budget were spent out of the Public Works budget. Mr. Russell further stated that Mr. Adanti was concerned about the overrun of his Public Works Tree Removal line. Mrs. DiCamillo flatly denied that the Tree Commission used Public Works monies for Tree Commission responsibilities, and stated that the Public Works Tree budget is for removal of trees posted at the direction of the Old Lyme Tree Warden and that the Tree Commission budget is for maintenance, pruning, fertilizing and mulching as well as planting and maintaining trees and shrubs. Mrs. DiCamillo quoted the Tree Ordinance which states, “Town and private contractors: Pruning, trimming, shaping, fertilization and/or partial or complete removal of plantings on Town property or other property under control of the Tree Warden, and the placement of new plants may be conducted by the Town Superintendent of
Public Works, qualified private contractors, licensed arborists or private citizens recommended by the Tree Commission and authorized by the Tree Warden or the First Selectman.”
No further corrections were noted. A motion was made by David Kelsey, seconded by Janet Sturges, to approve the minutes, as modified. Motion carried.
Approval of March 21, 2017 Minutes
The minutes of March 21st were reviewed. Mrs. Sturges requested corrections to the 5th sentence in the paragraph on the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library: “She stated that the library continues with various fund drive efforts, however is anticipating a lower pledge amount from the Friends after the Friends’ decision not to host the Bookworm Ball.”
Mr. Bernblum and Mrs. Sturges requested corrections to the last sentences under Capital Expenditures:
“After discussion, the Mile Creek Bridge project was removed until a final amount is secured as there is a possible 48.5% grant reimbursement. There was discussion on whether items should go to Town Meeting or be included as Capital items in the budget.”
Chairman Russell and Mr. Bernblum requested corrections to Revenues: “Revenues are anticipated to be down due to State budget cuts. Discussion included cuts to State funding revenue budget line items. Mrs. Stajduhar recommended reducing revenue assumptions to zero ($0) for the following: LOCIP~ (from $90,489); Pilot State Property (from~$18,627); New Special Ed Grant (from~$266,180); Pilot Colleges (from~$27,539); Mashantucket~Pequot (from $14,374); MRSA sales tax sharing(from~$115,080).
There was also discussion about cutting ECS by 50%, but the Board agreed to keep it at $104,700.”
There were no further corrections. A motion was made by Janet Sturges, seconded by B.J. Bernblum, to approve the minutes, as modified.
Mr. Russell thanked members for their participation in the budget process.
The Board of Finance Budget Hearing is scheduled for Monday, April 17, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Meeting Hall. The Town Meeting to approve the Town Budget is scheduled for May 15.
A motion was made by Janet Sturges, seconded by David Kelsey, to adjourn the meeting at 8:25 p.m. Motion carried.