JULY 21, 2003
Chairman Perkins called the meeting to order 7:02 PM.
Selectman Rogers and Selectman Eayrs were present.
Selectman Wiksten and Selectwoman Brunelle were absent.
DISCUSSION OF BUDGET – FY’04
The Board was given updated information from the Town Clerk & Accountant.
Mr. Healey explained that the Board had given him the charge to come up with a financial recovery plan which would reflect what could be considered for restoration to General Government budgets, which suffered more than $1.2 million cuts over requested budgets.
General Government cuts included elimination of full and part-time positions (some currently vacant) and cuts in hours for others. The effective date of these cuts was delayed by a month in order to consider the establishment of new fees and the increase of some existing fees to save positions. The Board was also updated on Local Receipts and available funds following Town Meeting.
Mr. Healey met with all Department Heads and reviewed minimal needs with them. Mr. Healey offered the following plan:
First, Estimated Local Receipts for 2004 will be increased by $500,000. The Selectmen have determined that this can be done without any adverse effects on next years Free Cash. The Town Accountant reported an increase of about $305,000 in FY’03. Also, the estimates for the Free Cash certification will be higher than the $2,000,000 currently budgeted. Available funds remaining after Town Meeting were $50,420. Mr. Healey also noted that the Board had voted to increase Health Department fees last week.
Based on the above information, some cuts can be restored. However, without significant new revenues, not all positions will be able to be restored. Mr. Healey said he focused on those positions that are currently filled and scheduled for layoff first, to see if these could be restored.
Mr. Healey said he had taken a conservative approach and sought to keep the immediate restoration of funds below $350,000. He said he was comfortable with this figure.
Mr. Healey gave the Board a summary of the budget restorations that he was recommending. This included restoration of positions scheduled for layoffs, but not to fund vacant positions. He felt this could be reviewed prior to the Fall Town Meeting if additional fees, or new revenue sources were implemented, or the Free Cash Certification exceeded two million dollars.
Mr. Healey said the changes will have to be voted at the Fall Town Meeting. He said it made little sense to lay people off only to bring them back a few months later.
The remaining vacancies will be a clerical vacancy in the Assessor’s Office, a clerical vacancy in the Treasurer/Collector’s Office and four (4) truck driver/laborer vacancies in the Highway Departments. There will also be cuts in hours in several other departments.
Mr. Healey said the Highway Department is currently down 7 people. Adequate funds, because of the appropriated budget can replace 3 of the as soon as possible.
Mr. Healey noted that General Government’s remaining cuts will be over $850,000.
The Revenue & Expenditure Summary provided by the Town Accountant was discussed. Mr. Healey said the total net change is $437,899.64. The budget restorations total $327,339.00.
Mr. Healey also explained that $100,000+ has been charged to the Town for school choice and tuition students. This was normally charged against Chapter 70.
Mr. Healey suggested a two-phase plan:
Mr. Healey noted that there will be additional things to be addressed at Town Meeting, such as the Police and Fire overtime. Also, the Town Clerk & Accountant’s position has not been fully budgeted.
Selectman Rogers asked if costs for health care and unemployment benefits had been taken into account with the restoration. Mr. Healey said if there is a need for a supplement, it could be considered at the Fall Town Meeting.
Selectman Rogers asked what the impact to this year’s budget would be if the restorations are made and no trash fees, or additional revenues, are implemented.
Mr. Healey said he is concerned with next year. He said the restoration to this year’s budget would come from the additional Estimated Local Receipts and increased fees.
Selectman Rogers asked how the additional $100,000 for overtime for the Police Department would be addressed.
Mr. Healey said there are several possibilities. He noted that Free Cash Certification will be more than $2 million, anywhere from $100,000 – 300,000 in additional revenue.
Selectman Rogers asked if the Board was "delaying the inevitable by not acting today".
Mr. Healey said no. He said the Board was acting reasonably with respect to what resources are available now. He said no one can predict the future.
Selectman Rogers asked if there was any indication that the Assessors or Treasurer/Collector would ask for their positions to be filled at the Fall Town Meeting.
Mr. Healey said this has not been indicated. He noted that each of those departments had provided the information given to the Board tonight.
Selectman Eayrs congratulated the Town Manager for the plan that he had developed. He said this is the "band-aid solution" that has been needed. This will give the Town more time to consider the next steps. He said action should be initiated to contact Unions to do some "hard bargaining" for next year.
Chairman Perkins said there will still be a problem next year. He said it was obvious that an override was not necessary. He said he wished some of the estimates had been a little clearer, earlier. He said we need to be cognizant of these things when planning budgets.
Upon motion by Selectman Eayrs and seconded by Chairman Perkins, the Board
VOTED: To adopt the restoration plan as presented by the Town Manager, and bring it to the Fall Town Meeting.
Selectman Rogers noted the great support that was given for the Health Aide position. He asked if the Town receives any reimbursement for the care provided.
Jeanne Spalding told the Board that people with insurance are charged. Those not covered by anything are addressed by the Nurses Aide. She said she is looking at how to have some services reimbursed.
Ms. Spalding noted that, in 1997, 37% of the Health Department budget was covered by fees. It is not covered by 72%.
Mr. Healey told the Board that Mike Medeiros will meet here on Thursday at 2:00 PM. He asked if anyone from the Board would be available to meet at that time. Selectman Eayrs said he could.
Early Retirement Incentive Program
Mr. Healey said this is "back on the table".
Chairman Perkins asked Mr. Healey to talk to Department Heads, and get a list of who might be considered for this.
Chairman Perkins said he would rather keep the "young folks with family" employed if an early retirement could do this.
Mr. Healey noted that this time the Board has the opportunity to target departments.
Increasing Building Department Fees
Mr. Healey said proposed increases were presented in February. He said it now makes a lot of sense to increase these fees.
Mr. Healey noted that action taken at Town Meeting last year would allow the Building Commissioner to increase fees without the Board. He asked if the fees should be increased, or whether the Board wished to implement them be a vote.
Chairman Perkins said he would like the Board to address this at their next meeting.
Selectman Rogers reminded the Board that they had previously talked about direct deposit every 2 weeks for employees. He said the Treasurer/Collector had indicated this would save $10,000.
Selectman Rogers said that a "hardship case" could be reviewed. This would be for those employees who might not have any bank accounts.
Upon motion by Selectman Rogers and seconded by Selectman Eayrs, the Board
VOTED: To direct the Treasurer & Collector to adopt, by December 1, 2003, direct deposit every 2 weeks for employees for the Town of Middleborough.
Chairman Perkins noted that the Town of Abington was addressing the same issue tonight. Their savings would be $4,000.
Jane Lopes noted that she had read an article about towns being able to tax local telephone companies for equipment.
The Board asked Mr. Healey to look into this.
Chairman Perkins noted that the Board had received correspondence from a resident regarding cities and towns being allowed to collect fees on some things that they have not previously been able to.
He said a fee could be collected from each attendee of Capeway Rovers.
Selectman Eayrs questioned the fairness of charging this. He said charges should be made for all.
Chairman Perkins asked what other types of events would be applicable.
Selectman Eayrs said he did not know, but said his concern still stands that Capeway Rovers would be singled out.
Upon motion by Selectman Eayrs and seconded by Selectman Rogers, the Board
VOTED: To adjourn at 7:55 PM.
Diane Henault, Secretary
BOARD OF SELECTMEN