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Budget Committee Minutes 09/22/2009

Meeting Date:   September 22, 2009
Minutes Prepared By:  Bruce Dyke
In Attendance:  Bruce Dyke, Norm Larochelle, Scott Marston, Mike Paveglio, Jason Weir
Location:  Grange Hall
Minutes Approved:  DRAFT

The meeting was called to order at 6:20pm by Bruce Dyke.

Bruce Dyke welcomed all committee members back for the start of the 2009 budget planning process.

The group discussed overall goals for this year’s budget process, keeping in mind the current state of the national and local economy.  With that in mind, the following items were proposed for discussion with the Selectmen:
  • A zero-percent increase to the bottom-line 2009 operating budget.
  • The probability that general cost of living adjustments for town employees may not be feasible this year.  However, it was agreed that an option to provide some sort of COLA would remain a high priority, especially if adequate budget savings could be identified by the end of the budgeting process  to offset some level of COLA.
  • Aside from COLA adjustments, there may still be a need to review specific positions within the Town and recommend targeted “market adjustments” if deemed necessary.
With regard to the logistics of the budget process, the following items were also discussed within the group and identified as items to be reviewed with the Selectmen:
  • The overall schedule for budget meetings should be reviewed and modified from last year’s schedule with particular attention given to spreading-out the Police, Fire and Highway Dept. budgets to be on separate nights in order to keep meeting times within reason and allow more time for more focused discussions with department heads.
  • The need for the Selectmen to better clarify guidelines to department heads concerning salary increase allocations for their own positions.  The intent was to ensure Selectmen solely controlled the budgeted dollar amounts for recommended increases (if any) in the department head positions.
The group discussed the results from the Budget Item Justification form’s use last year (being the first year of use for that form).  Although the intent of the form was seen as valuable (to ensure proper documentation was assembled for budget line items that changed 10% or more from prior year), it was agreed that the resulting volume of paper generated was difficult to manage.  With that in mind, the group agreed that the form should continued to be used, but the guidelines for its use should be changed to require it only when:
  • New positions or programs/services are proposed
  • Proposed changes to existing programs or service levels will impact a department’s budget.
  • Budget line items have changed 10% or more and that change represents at least $1,000 over the prior year’s budget amount for the line item in question.
Bruce and Jason were going to review last year’s budget worksheet to determine how many  line items could potentially generate a Budget Justification form, but the general thought was the number of line items valued at $10k or more was relatively low.

Bruce asked for volunteers to assume the Chair and Vice Chair positions within the group for the coming year.  Norm LaRochelle made a motion that Bruce and Jason remain in their respective Chair/Vice Chair roles.  Bruce reminded the group that  very little is required of those roles as compared to other town groups.  Jason also encouraged other committee members to volunteer for either role if interested.  After a brief discussion, the group voted in favor of the motion for Bruce and Jason to remain in their current roles.

Norm LaRochelle made a motion to adjourn the meeting, which was seconded by Scott Marston.  The vote to adjourn was unanimous and Bruce Dyke closed the meeting at 7:00pm.

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