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News/Events - Meeting Minutes
Advisory Committee, December 2, 2004
DECEMBER 2, 2004
MEMBERS PRESENT: Wendy Ballinger, Chairman; Al Bangert; Kathy Donahue; Dave Friedman; David Grace; Constantine Constantinides; Tony Vegnani; Scott Roberts. MEMBERS NOT PRESENT: Joe Armstrong. ALSO PRESENT: Rick Agnew, Town Administrator; Joe Norton, Board of Selectmen; Ann Burbine, Planning Board; Laura Harbottle, Town Planner; Neil Duggan, Building Inspector; Mary Gallagher, Town Accountant; Steve Jarzembowski, Director of Assessing; Brendan Lynch, Treasurer/Collector; Vinny Kalishes, Conservation Commission; Kathy Meeker, Library Director; Jody McDonough and Maryellen Higgins, Library Trustees.
1. MEETING CALLED TO ORDER. Chairman Wendy Ballinger called the meeting to order at 7:00 P.M. at Scituate Town Library.
2. ACCEPTANCE OF AGENDA. On a MOTION by Mr. Vegnani, SECONDED by Mr. Armstrong, the agenda was unanimously accepted (8-0).
3. REVIEW OF BUDGETS FOR 2005 ANNUAL TOWN MEETING. Ms. Ballinger said that Mr. Agnew has noted that while the amount assumed from new growth has increased, this amount and most of the 2 ½ percent levy increase will be consumed by increases in shared budget items over which we have no control (principally health insurance and pensions). For this reason, most departments have been told to try to level fund their expenses. Following a question by Mr. Vegnani, Ms. Ballinger confirmed that preliminary figures would be close to the projections although the DPW budget is still in the works; Mr. Norton said that all approvals are conditional.
Dept. 175 PLANNING BOARD. Ms. Ballinger advised committee members that the Planning Board budget is proposed to increase 2 percent over last year and 65.29 percent over the last three years. The increase can be attributed to salaries and the proposed purchase of $500 in filing cabinets, and a similar amount for office equipment. Ms. Burbine and Ms. Harbottle went over various items with the Advisory Committee. On a MOTION by Mr. Roberts, SECONDED by Mr. Friedman, the agenda was unanimously accepted (8-0).
Dept. 122 BOARD OF SELECTMEN. Ms. Ballinger said that the budget has been proposed to be reduced by 36 percent from last year’s budget and increase 5 percent over the amount expended three years ago (FY2003). While the Selectmen expressed concern over the figure for line 5329, litigation, they passed the budget unanimously. Mr. Agnew said that this budget has added $1,200 for line 5120, overtime; he also said that line 5329, litigation, should see a decline in funds needed in the next year, as some of the major lawsuits facing the Town will be settled in FY2005. He said that extra is needed in office supplies as they have gone over budget in the past. Mr. Roberts asked about the litigation budget. Mr. Bangert asked where the additional funds for litigation were obtained; Mr. Agnew responded that real estate, ie, the McDermott property, contributed the necessary funds during a previous year. Ms. Donahue asked if the penalty for the Jenkins suit can come from the Jenkins bond; Mr. Agnew answered that it could. She asked how many law firms are retained by the Town at the moment; Mr. Agnew said that labor law is one attorney; but one law firm (Koppelman and Page) generally takes care of Town Counsel. Others are involved as necessary; three are currently being used. On a question from Mr. Constantinides, Mr. Agnew said that the golf course case is still pending. Ms. Ballinger said that we are carrying over funds to cover the golf course litigation. Mr. Roberts asked to see the specific expenditures for litigation for ‘04, Mr. Agnew said that this will be emailed. On a MOTION by Mr. Friedman, SECONDED by Mr. Grace, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Dept. 123 TOWN ADMINISTRATOR. Mr. Agnew said that salary increase (line 510) is contractual, and that the increase in line 520 reflects the cost of bulk mailing Mail-in Sticker Application form to residents. Mr. Agnew said that Duxbury currently only does stickers by mail-in, stickers cannot be obtained by coming in to the Town Hall. Ms. Ballinger said that this budget is up 4 percent over last year and 11.5 percent over the past three years. Mr. Agnew said that line 5309, technical services, is employee exams and drug testing. Mr. Vegnani questioned the actual expenditure on this item in ‘04, Mr. Agnew said that it was an unusual year. On a MOTION by Mr. Bangert, SECONDED by Ms. Donahue, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Dept. 131 ADVISORY COMMITTEE. Ms. Ballinger said that no increase was requested for FY2006, assuming that two Special Town Meetings will not be needed. She said that should more Specials become necessary, transfers would be requested. She said that this budget shows no increase from last year, and an increase of 10 percent over the last three years. There were no questions on the budget from members. On a MOTION by Mr. Grace, SECONDED by Mr. Roberts, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Dept. 132 RESERVE FUND. Ms. Ballinger noted that there was no change to this budget, this year or over the last three years. On a MOTION by Mr. Grace, SECONDED by Mr. Vegnani, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Dept. 135 TOWN ACCOUNTANT. Ms. Ballinger said that this budget is proposed to increase by 3.9 percent over last year, due to salary increases and longevity adjustments. She said that the budget will have increased almost 21 percent in the last three years. She added that the Board of Selectmen did not consider this budget because Ms. Gallagher was not available at their meeting. Ms. Donahue questioned line 5420, office supplies. Mr. Agnew said that we do collective purchasing with other towns for office supplies and that it is a good deal. Mr. Bangert questioned line 5191, other salaries, and Ms. Gallagher said that a part time employee was made full time. She said that in ‘04 hours were added, and in ‘05 increases were contractual. On a MOTION by Mr. Roberts, SECONDED by Mr. Constantinides, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Dept. 141 ASSESSORS. Ms. Ballinger pointed out that line 5309, technical services, includes a $50,000 appropriation at Special Town Meeting in order to pay the expenses of the required three year reevaluation in FY2005, the sum will be carried over two years. She said that without this $50,000 in the budget, the increase is 2.8 percent over last year and 17 percent over the last three years. Mr. Jarzembowski noted that the budget is tight, and there is no room for the hire of extra help if it is needed, as it was when he had shoulder surgery this summer and could not do field work. He also said the department has added a clerical staff person who is trained in appraisals and can help out if needed. On a MOTION by Mr. Friedman, SECONDED by Mr. Roberts, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Ms. Ballinger asked if the Committee could move on to the requested transfer, and there were no objections.
4. RESERVE FUND. Transfer Request from Assessor. The requested transfer is for $9900, this was to cover additional personnel needed during Mr. Jarzembowski’s absence due to surgery. Mr. Vegnani asked if disability insurance was needed, Mr. Jarzembowski said that he couldn’t do field work but was out for just a few days on sick leave. Ms. Donahue asked about online access of information, Mr. Kalishes said that they have been working on updating the street listings. Mr. Jarzembowski said that security issues are being worked on. A MOTION was made by Mr. Grace, SECONDED by Mr. Constantinides, to transfer $9900 to account number 141-520-5309; with one abstention by Mr. Roberts, the action was approved.
Dept. 145 TREASURER/COLLECTOR. Ms. Ballinger said that this budget is proposed to increase 2.6 percent over last year and 5.9 percent over the last three years. The increase is due to increases in line 5351, support services (payroll processing) and capital outlay (line 5851, equipment etc) to lease a bulk mailing stuffing machine. Mr. Lynch explained. On a MOTION by Mr. Roberts, SECONDED by Mr. Friedman, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Dept. 171 CONSERVATION COMMISSION. Ms. Ballinger said that this budget is proposed to increase 7.4 percent this year and 21.8 percent over the actuals three years ago. She said a main concern is that office space is lacking and that this matter will come up continually regarding offices located in Town Hall. Mr. Agnew discussed possibilities for increasing office space. Mr. Vegnani questioned line 5241, office machine maintenance, and line 5309, technical services. Ms. Ballinger said that the part time salary became a full time salary. Ms. Donahue asked about income; Ms. Gallagher gave the figure of $52,000+; the Conservation Fund is $27,000. Mr. Kalishes answered questions about enforcement, and Ms. Donahue said that this is a matter that the Advisory Committee would like to see on the front burner. Mr. Constantinides asked about an open space plan, and Mr. Kalishes said that the last one was done in 1998. He said that the responsibility for this has moved over to the Planning Board. Mr. Constantinides asked how the CC works with the Planning Board and the CPA, Mr. Kalishes said that there is a liaison. Mr. Constantinides asked if any self help money to purchase land has been applied for; Mr. Kalishes said that there isn’t the time or personnel to make the applications. He said that he wrote the last Open Space plan himself. Mr. Constantinides said that we are missing opportunities to collect available funds, as other towns are doing. Mr. Agnew said that there are always strings attached to self help money. Mr. Roberts asked about the cable technology fund, which Mr. Kalishes says has about $100,000; he said that many requests for funds have not been eligible. He said that an additional $85,000 will go into the account in March. On a MOTION by Mr. Roberts, SECONDED by Mr. Friedman, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Ms. Ballinger asked if there were any objections to moving on to the library budget; there were none.
610 LIBRARY. Ms. Meeker and Ms. McDonough answered questions from the committee. Mr. Constantinides asked about donations; Ms. Meeker said that the Friends of Scituate Library contributes about $10,000 annually. Ms. Donahue asked about OCLN costs, Ms. Meeker said that this has stabilized. Ms. Donahue asked about buildout of the library, Ms. Meeker said that meeting space is an issue with the Foundation but that they have not gotten estimates for what would be necessary. Ms. Meeker went over some of the backup material with committee members. Mr. Bangert asked if it is possible to know if library use is going up; Ms. Meeker said that they estimate that it is going up. Ms. McDonough said that Internet use and meeting room use has increased; Ms. Meeker said that the children’s room is well used, with the current emphasis on literacy. She said that audio books are in great demand, as are large print books. She also said that a lot of communication is now done on line, which reduces costs. She also pointed out that there are no librarians in the elementary schools and that the librarians have to fill in that absence. Mr. Roberts asked about communication between the library and the schools, and Ms. Meeker said that there has been some improvement, she said that Mr. Mason has been supportive, but she said that having librarians in the schools would be a great help. There was a further discussion about meeting space and possible uses of the basement. Ms. Meeker also said that she would like to set up a training program so that people can learn how to use various technologies. Mr. Roberts asked how much the Foundation has raised, Ms. Meeker said that it has been $15-20,000 annually for a few years, and that they have been amassing funds to do a large project within the library. Mr. Friedman questioned line 5851, as $5000 is to come from the cable fund, he asked if we can be certain that will come from the cable fund, and Mr. Agnew said that it will. On a MOTION by Mr. Roberts, SECONDED by Mr. Friedman, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Ms. Ballinger skipped down to 900 Employment Benefits Budget. She commented that there is not much that can be done about any of these.
Dept. 910 NON-CONTRIBUTORY PENSIONS. Ms. Ballinger said that this may be adjusted, and said that it will be held.
Dept. 911 PLYMOUTH COUNTY RETIREMENT. Mr. Agnew said that this budget is up considerably, 23.8 percent over last year’s budgeted amount, but that it should be a one shot deal; Mr. Lynch explained that the Plymouth County plan has not met target return on investments of 8 percent, and that the deficit is being distributed to the towns participating in the plan. Ms. Ballinger said that we will not get a final figure until February but that the deviation should be small and the budget should not have to be opened again. There was a discussion about early retirement incentives. On a question from Mr. Grace, Mr. Agnew said that teacher retirement comes from the state. On a MOTION by Mr. Roberts, SECONDED by Mr. Grace, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Dept. 914 CONTRIBUTORY GROUP INSURANCE. Mr. Agnew said that this group health insurance for Town employees does include all school personnel. Ms. Ballinger said that it is estimated that this budget will increase by 15 percent; it is possible that there will be some savings here later. Mr. Lynch said that premiums may be less in the future. Mr. Agnew gave background on this at Mr. Friedman’s request. On a MOTION by Mr. Roberts, SECONDED by Ms. Donahue, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Dept. 916 FEDERAL TAXES. Ms. Ballinger said that new hires, regular salary raises, and increased Medicare contributions account for the 30 percent increase. On a MOTION by Mr. Friedman, SECONDED by Mr. Grace, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Ms Ballinger returned to 100 General Government Budgets:
Dept. 149 TOWN ADMINISTRATION. Ms. Ballinger said that she would like to see money for the archives in one budget, as it is currently in both this budget and that of the Town Clerk. Mr. Agnew indicated that all funds for the Town Archives would be placed in the Town Clerk’s budget next year. There was a discussion about the part time clerical staff. On a MOTION by Mr. Grace, SECONDED by Mr. Friedman, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Dept. 176 ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS. Mr. Roberts said that he went over the budgets with Mr. Sullivan. On a MOTION by Mr. Roberts, SECONDED by Mr. Bangert, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Dept. 192 INSURANCE/TOWN. Mr. Agnew said that several insurance carriers are involved. On a MOTION by Mr. Grace, SECONDED by Mr. Friedman, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Moving back to 900 Employment Benefits Budgets:
Dept. 912 WORKER’S COMPENSATION. Ms. Ballinger said that this item is being level funded and that this budget represents a reduction of 20 percent over the past three years. Mr. Agnew said that the Town is self insured for the first $400,000. On a MOTION by Mr. Grace, SECONDED by Mr. Vegnani, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Dept. 913 UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. Ms. Ballinger said that this is proposed to increase 10 percent over last year. Mr. Agnew said that again, the Town is self insured. On a MOTION by Mr. Roberts, SECONDED by Mr. Constantinides, the budget was unanimously approved (8-0).
Asking if there is anything else for Mr. Agnew, Ms. Ballinger confirmed with Mr. Agnew that the DPW budget will be available on Monday. Ms. Ballinger said that the Inspections budget will be taken up another time.
5. OLD BUSINESS. Ms. Ballinger said that she and Mr. Roberts attended the Open Meeting Law meeting last week. She said that she has the packet of information from the District Attorney’s office. She said that any time five or more of our committee members attend a particular meeting, it must be posted as an open meeting, as it is a quorum. She also said that all electronically transmitted communication are public documents. Ms. Ballinger said that phone polling can be done but that you cannot tell the person you are calling what the previous persons said. She also said that talking in small groups outside of public meetings constitutes a public meeting. Ms. Ballinger said that she will judiciously make postings but asked that she be kept apprised by members.
Regarding the forecasting meeting, Mr. Roberts said that they have not kicked off budget year 2006 to discuss what should go in. He said that there is not anything of substance to report yet. Regarding St. Frances, Mr. Roberts said that he circulated documentation by Mr. Wood, the interim chairman of the Committee. Mr. Roberts said that the subcommittee walked the property, and that no pricing component has been done yet. He said there is concern that the archdiocese is looking to bundle properties on the South Shore for developers, and that this may affect the pricing. Mr. Bangert asked if there might be issues with former parishioners should the Town subsequently be able to use the property. Mr. Roberts said that the parishioners’ appeal to the Archdiocese has been denied, but that a new appeal has been sent to the Vatican. There was a discussion about possible legal action that could be taken that would negatively impact the Town should the Town obtain the property.
Ms. Ballinger asked for other comments from members. Mr. Constantinides said he has the Capital Planning Committee document but that he would like to hold it until after Tuesday. Mr. Friedman said that the library spaces should be reconfigured to add meeting space for the Town, and that someone needs to take the lead in getting this started. Ms. Donahue said that she recalled that $78,000 was appropriated to look into use of the space, and she wonders what happened to that, she said she was surprised to hear from Ms. Meeker that nothing had been done regarding such planning. Mr. Roberts suggested that he might call the Public Building Commission to see how this might be brought forward to the Board of Selectmen. There was a discussion about Bylaw enforcement. Mr. Bangert said that inspection enforcement is needed.
6. There was no NEW BUSINESS to discuss at this time.
7. ADJOURNMENT. The next Advisory Committee meeting will be held on Thursday, December 9, 2004. On a MOTION by Mr. Bangert, SECONDED by Mr. Grace, the meeting was adjourned at 10:00 P.M.
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