Town of Chilmark Finance Advisory Committee February 3, 2010 Meeting Minutes
Committee Members Present: Marshall Carroll, Frank LoRusso, John Maloney, Bill Randol, Sarah Mayhew Shipway, Richard Williams, Frank Yeomans.
Others Present: Melanie Becker, Tim Carroll, Todd Christy, Leslie Clapp, Emily Day, Nan Doty, Warren Doty, Frank Fenner, John Flender, Ebba Hierta, Nina Lombardi, J.B. Riggs Parker, Janet Weidner.
Chairman Marshall Carroll called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living Budget Hearing
Leslie Clapp, Director of the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living (formerly Island Councils on Aging) presented the FY11 budget. Ms. Clapp gave a brief update on the services the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living provides. After much discussion about the significant increase in the budget, Ms. Clapp explained that an employee at the Supportive Day Program increased their health plan to a family plan which added $12,600 to the budget. Ms. Clapp attested that the overall budget was down except for merit salary increases and unavoidable increases in training workshops etc. The total operating budget proposed for FY11 for the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living is $204,948.67, of which Chilmark’s share is 6.67%, or $13,670.08.
Chilmark Library (610) Budget Hearing
Chilmark Library Director, Ebba Hierta, and Trustee Janet Weidner, presented the FY11 budget. Ms. Hierta reported that the Chilmark Library has the highest circulation transaction of any library on the Island with only 2.8 employees. Ms. Hierta indicated that State aid would be cut by more than 50% in FY11; however, the Library in order to be certified is required by the State to maintain or increase funding in certain areas. State requirements for certification include requiring that 20% of the Library’s operating budget is allocated to purchasing new books and audio visual supplies, in addition to having an average increase of 2% in the budget. Therefore, when salaries increase due to step increases, than the budget for books and audio visual materials (5510/5511) must also increase.
Ms. Hierta reported that strict efforts had been made to reduce electricity usage (5210) at the Library, but a budget increase was needed for heating fuels (5211) due to the rising market cost. Ms. Hierta also increased custodial supplies (5450) as this expense was formerly paid for by the Town Hall budget.
Ms. Hierta proudly reported that the Town contributes $268,115 (or 73%) of the total operating budget of $334,447 and an additional $100,000 (approximately) is raised by the Library through grants (13%), Friends of the Library (9%) and private donations (3%). Ms. Hierta requested to amend a typo in the Longevity (5142) budget item to reflect $883. The Library Assistants (5154) budget item was reduced by $578 to reflect the elimination of the seasonal compensation plan
Planning Board (175) Budget Hearing
Administrative Assistant Todd Christy and Planning Board member Janet Weidner presented the FY11 budget. Ms. Weidner reported that the Planning Board budget was down 0.44% due to decreasing certain line items and level funding. Ms. Weidner explained that the Planning Board has formed a sub committee to review the windmill bylaw, resulting in the need to maintain the Legal Counsel (5305) budget item as well as possibly increase the Consultants (5314) budget item. In addition, the Printing (5343) line item is budgeted at $1,000 even though this has not been utilized in recent years, however, will be needed if the wind bylaw is revised and requires reprinting of the Zoning Bylaws. There was discussion about the Water Testing (5317) budget item of $2,000 that has not been spent in the last few years. It was discussed that the water testing could have come from an agreement with the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah to test Squibnocket Pond, but Ms. Weidner said there was no record of
bills being submitted for the water testing. The FINCOM members asked Ms. Weidner and Mr. Christy to research this item and suggested that the money for water testing could be appropriated for additional consulting fees or to another department, such as the Board of Health.
Cemetery (491) Budget Hearing
Cemetery Commissioner John Flender presented the FY11 budget. Mr. Flender explained that the Cemetery budget is increasing by almost 5% this year due to the need to increase the Contractual Labor (5254) line item to include the Cemetery being mowed eleven times throughout the season at $1,200 a mow. This is due to Basil Welch retiring as the Cemetery Superintendant because he used to mow the Cemetery (services paid from a separate account); however, $4,000 was eliminated from Replacement Equipment (5870) since a new ride-on mower did not have to be purchased for Mr. Welch. Mr. Flender said he had tried to cut back on mowing last summer and received numerous complaints from residents. A request was made to amend Mileage Allowance (5711) from $10 to $120 to cover mileage expenses incurred by the
Cemetery Superintendant when on cemetery business, but not for her commute to and from work. Treasurer Melanie Becker stated that the revenue collected from the sale of cemetery lots remains in a trust fund of approximately $100,000 that does not get spent unless land needs to be purchased to expand the cemetery.
Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council
Nan Doty represented the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council to request a warrant article of $1,500 for Chilmark’s contribution to the Council’s FY11 budget. Ms. Doty spoke to the success of the Island-wide programs that have benefited by the Martha’s Vineyard Cultural Council fund, such as the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. The FINCOM complimented Ms. Doty on behalf of the Council for being level funded since 2003.
Employee Benefits (910) Budget Hearing
Mr. Carroll stated that the Town’s share of Medicare (5170) in FY11 is an estimate based on what will be appropriated and approved for salaries; the final amount to be determined once the budget is approved. Workers Compensation Insurance (5171) is also an estimate in which the final number is determined by a percentage of an employee’s salary (not including the police and fire departments) that is based on a range of risk depending on the position. Mr. Carroll explained that Workers Compensation Insurance (5171) fluctuates due to Tri-Town Ambulance employees; however, the Town is only required to contribute one third to Tri-Town’s budget. Mr. Carroll explained that once he submits the final Tri-Town Ambulance budget to the insurance agency he will determine the amount Tri-Town needs to
reimburse the Town, which will level fund the Workers Compensation Insurance (5171) to $18,000 for FY11.
Mr. Carroll explained that the increase in Unemployment Insurance (5172) estimate is attributed to the Town’s contribution rate increasing from 0.1% to 0.6% of the total payroll and that unemployment benefits have been extended. Ms. Becker also stated that summer lifeguards have begun filing for unemployment in addition to seasonal EMT’s. Mr. Carroll made a request to amend Health Insurance from $525,195 to $513,021 due to the anticipated vote of the Selectmen to not offer the Master Medical health plan in FY11. Mr. Carroll explained that Group Life Insurance (5174) is based on the Town’s contribution to the life insurance policy which awards an active employee’s beneficiary $10,000 and $5,000 for a retiree. The County Retirement Charge (5175) is a figure from the County and
is based on unfunded liability and two times a year annualized payroll. Mr. Carroll said that the Post Employment Benefits (5184) was budgeted at $10,000 in FY10 but was not appropriated or spent so it was removed from the budget (language amended and recorded in 2/17/10 minutes).
There was discussion about the largest budget items, which include liability insurance, health insurance and the school budget. It was discussed that the large increase in the insurance coverage was because of accidents involving the Tri-Town Ambulance and lawsuits against the Town. There were questions raised about how to pay for the budget increases and whether to use free cash or raise and appropriate. Mr. Doty stated he wants to avoid an override at the Annual Town Meeting and would consider using free cash to do so. Historically it is preferred to use raise and appropriate for reoccurring expenses and use free cash for unexpected expenses. Ms. Becker said the advice of the former accountant was to not use free cash to pay down the operating budget in any avoidable circumstance. All
present agreed that if the stabilization fund was funded at the normal rate of $35,000 and free cash was used to pay down the tax rate it would reflect poorly on the Town’s bond rating. The recommendation from the Town’s auditors is to contribute 15% of the budget to the stabilization and free cash fund. The three options the FINCOM faces to reduce the almost 15% increase in the budget is to cut funding elsewhere in the budget, pay it down with free cash, or raise taxes.
Town Accountant Emily Day made a request to amend her salary line from $53,440 to $51,600.
A motion was made and seconded to approve the minutes of November 25, December 4, January 6, January 20 and January 27 as amended. SO VOTED: Seven (7) Ayes.
Reserve Fund Transfer Request
The Personnel Board requested a Reserve Fund transfer of $1,000 to cover the increase of administrative support needed in FY10 to complete the revision of the Personnel Bylaw and Procedure Manual. A motion was made and seconded to approve the Reserve Fund transfer request. SO VOTED: Seven (7) Ayes.
A motion was made and seconded to adjourn the meeting.
Respectfully submitted by Nina M. Lombardi.
Approved February 17, 2010.