Hopkinton Budget Committee
January 31, 2007
Present: Karen Irwin, Chair, Jane Bradstreet, Patrice Gerseny, Barbara Unger, Danny Coen, David Lancaster, Bob Carpenter - Contoocook Village Precinct Representative, Tom O’Donnell - Hopkinton Village Precinct Representative, Marshall Rowe - School Board Representative, Peter Russell - Selectmen Representative
Chair Irwin opened the meeting at 6:35 pm with a review of the minutes of the meeting 01-17-07 Patrice Gerseny moved to accept, seconded by Jane Bradstreet. There was no discussion. The minutes were accepted unanimously. The minutes of the meeting January 18 were then reviewed. Peter Russell moved to accept, Patrice Gerseny seconded. There was no discussion. The minutes were unanimously accepted.
SB Rep. Rowe had changes to previous data that had been presented.
1] The school operating budget was reduced by $21,850.
1100 Regular Education Programs [17,850]
2222/2225 Media & Technology [4,000]
2] The facilities warrant article was reduced by $75,000.
HMS window replacement [25,000]
HMS new parking lot [50,000]
The reductions involve the number of teachers retiring; removing student info. Program; a refinement in the quote to replace 48 windows; and a saving in parking lot construction by having the DPW clear the area and prepare it for gravel.
Chair Irwin requested an update on the debt refinancing.
SB member Rowe advised the refinancing will hopefully take place in May. The School Board is hopeful there will be a savings of at least $50,000 the first year. Savings incurred in year 1 will be returned with any surplus to reduce next year’s budget.
Chair Irwin asked for details on HMS HVAC replacement.
SB member Rowe presented the analysis asked for at the Public Hearing. With current oil cost of $2.449/gal., HMS costs $.43 per square foot – HHS costs $.34 per square foot – to heat. The savings cannot be determined. If the price of oil goes up - the savings will be more, if the price of oil goes down – the savings will be less. Mr. Rowe does not believe the cost to heat HMS could equal HHS because of the individual building designs.
Superintendent Blake said the actual cost will be based on the size of the unit and amount of duct work needed.
Mr. Rowe state HMS does not meet state standards for air exchange in school buildings. The new system will bring the school up to air exchange standards.
BC member Coen asked about the bid and where they came up with the $280,000 cost.
MR. Rowe said the engineers, architects and their cost estimators came up with the $280,000.
Chair Irwin requested more information on traffic flow at HMS.
SB member Rowe read a letter from Fire Chief Shafer expressing his concern for safety of the children, parents and staff at HMS and supporting the proposal. Mr. Rowe stated that over the year’s analysis have been done and the School Board feels this is a cost effective and modest resolution.
BC member Carpenter asked the impact on the town and specifically with the DPW budget. And is something being taken out in order to do this work for the school.
Selectmen Rep. Peter Russell noted that Hermie will stump it and dump the stumps in the Rollins Rd. pit the town is trying to reclaim. The SAU will pay for materials and paving will be included in the overlay.
Hermie Blanchette said it would be about 3 days labor and equipment. Cost should be minimal because it is not a large area. He doesn’t think it will have much of an impact on his budget.
Selectmen Rep. Peter Russell passed around photocopies from the City of Dover that explains retirements and how they work in reference to their Police Chief. He then passed around a spread sheet with modifications since the Public Hearing and the residential estimated impact each department would have on houses valued at $200,000, $300,000 and $400,000 and a tax rate of $4.33/thousand. Adjustments made/to be made are:
1] +$1800 to Planning and -$1800 in Zoning
2] Building & Grounds +$5100 moved the contract for snow removal and +$1420 contract for mowing from the library to Building & Grounds.
3] The Selectmen will add another line under Recreation Operations for the Slusser Ctr. for a 4/5 month period.
4] Current wording in the revolving fund for recycling does not allow for withdrawals. Re-write a warrant article to with draw $20,000 to offset the cost of C&D recycling and reduce the Transfer Station budget. BC member Lancaster offered suggested wording to be a maximum of $20k and the remainder to the general fund.
Hopkinton Village Precinct
HVP Rep. Tom O’Donnell handed out warrants and the final budget draft.
Contoocook Village Precinct
CVP Rep. Bob Carpenter noted the only corrections were in the wording to authorize expenditures for articles 13, 14 and 15.
3.8% Budget Presentations
SB Rep. Rowe handed out proposed reductions totally $172,000 asked for by the BC and are not recommended by the School Board. Mr. Rowe reviewed each item and responded to inquiries by BC members.
Chair Irwin asked about a 3.8% target on warrant articles.
SB member Rowe responded that the School Board feels it is not the responsibility of the BC to adjust the amounts in warrants.
BC member Coen read RSA 32.5 and Chair Irwin said she was advised by counsel the BC is responsible for the amounts not the wording in warrants. SB member Saunders took exception to the comment.
BC member Carpenter thanked everyone involved in preparation of the school budget. He asked about the effect trial programs have on the schools and could the board review currents programs to cut instead of the sensitive issues proposed.
SB member Rowe advised of the Civics class mandated by the state to begin next year will be replacing a current class in the same subject area. A lot of the high school electives have become an integral part of the curriculum. Some subjects have been pushed down to the lower grades. Because of mandates the school has a special needs pre-school program in place at HMS required by the state with no state funding. Pre-school students who so not have special needs pay tuition.
BC member Bradstreet observed that other school districts do not have the % increases Hopkinton asks for and would like to see the monies received from state property tax and state adequacy education grants go towards reducing taxes rather than expanding programs. She feels the BC represents all of the tax payers to reduce the tax burden.
SB member Rowe feels the School Board will get a vote of confidence at the annual meeting.
BC member Unger asked which item in the facilities warrant article would/could be removed if they had to eliminate just one of them, like security at the high school.
SB member Rowe responded saying the item is the result of a review of security audits and recommendations. The School Board would be irresponsible if they didn’t take some steps. If the community removes, the so be it.
Ms. Unger asked if there was anything else in the budget that could be reduced besides the sports recommendations.
Mr. Rowe stated that sport programs serve few students and would allow the core curriculum to remain in tact.
BC member Coen reminded the committee that the public was not excited about the parking lot at HMS and asked if maybe it could wait a year or two.
Mr. Rowe said they heard the opinions that were voiced and think of the parking lot as an insurance against accidents.
BC member Russell recommended making them 5 separate warrant articles rather than 1 warrant. He believes that leaving them all together reduces the likelihood the article would pass.
BC member Bradstreet noted the voters vote the bottom line rather than for line items which are be controlled by the school. She quoted the number of students for the past 3 years and the budgeted amounts.
3 yrs ago $13m 1045 students
2 yrs ago $14m 1031 students
1 yr ago $15m 1032 students
She noted the increases are not due to an increasing enrollment, it is curriculums. Ms. Bradstreet compared the School Budget to a run away locomotive and the BC needs to slow down the locomotive.
BC member O’Donnell asked how many students ride the bus daily.
Michelle Clark, SAU Finance Director reported that we have 8 busses and today there were 347 riding the morning busses and 387 riding the afternoon busses.
SB member Rowe advised the committee that information concerning the HVAC and consultants reports can be found by clicking on links on the SAU website.
Selectmen Peter Russell said the Selectmen agreed that if the BC decided to reduce the town budget to a 3.8% increase then they will work the numbers through capital reserve and expendable trusts.
BC member Lancaster requested the Board of Selectmen provide a list of specific cuts amounting to an additional cut of $177, 879.
Selectmen Russell reviewed the capital reserve funds and explained the ups and downs that occur. He then explained about expendable trusts.
BC member Coen mentioned the petition warrant article for the town to plow private roads and associated costs for the DPW. Mr. Coen read a portion from a recent Selectman’s meeting where they promised the private road residents that they would plow their roads before the warrant article was before the voters and they would be sure to include it in their budget for next year. Ms. Janet Kryzaniak voiced her objection to discussion about discontinuing this town service. Mr. Coen then read a law from the Local Government Center publication, page 16, which states a town can plow private roads if the town is reimbursed the cost. The Selectmen estimate the cost to be $4000.
BC member O’Donnell asked the Selectmen for a break down similar to the one provided for Capital Reserve funds, signed by Bonnie Cressy, for all town revolving trust[s] and expendable trusts. He also asked about a line item in the Recreation budget going from $1000 to $5000.
Town Administrator Ed Wojnowski explained that Kimball Lake was not up and running last year so the amount was dropped to $1000. When the lake opened it needed items and this is paying back the amount spent.
Martha McNeil asked about costs associated with the Spirit Skateboard Park.
Selectmen Russell advised a trust was set up by the original planners and have fundraisers each year for the trust.
Karen Robertson, Planning & Zoning asked the BC to review all warrant articles to be sure Tucker Dr. is not included in the private road warrant. Tucker Dr. consists of manufactured housing and part of the approval process is the condition that it remains a private road because the roads are not built to town specs.
Chair Irwin responded the BC will only look at warrants that contain dollar amounts.
BC member Coen then asked Karen if one could build a house on a private road and the response was it is not allowed. Mr. Coen also asked if the houses on private roads were being taxed as such and the response was that they were taxed for private roads.
Martha McNeil expressed disappointment in the legal line item amount of $25k and requested the BC to consider increasing the amount to the amount spent in ’06 – about $85k, rather than continuing with the trend of overspending the budgeted amount.
Selectmen Russell noted that conversations with the town attorney have assured the Selectmen that Bio Energy suit should not be active this year due to legislation.
Cameron Ford explained the process Little Tooky went through to get Little Tooky Rd. a town road and thought other private road residents might like to consider the same process.
Janet Kryzaniak noted the home owners on Loop Rd. do maintain their own road except for plowing.
Chris Wallace cautioned the BC that if nothing changes, the outcry heard on October will be heard again.
BC member Coen noted that the town spending was built on created numbers rather than known numbers.
Scott Flood applauded the efforts of all budget workers, but is concerned about the houses being sold. He would like to see expenses remain the same as last year and use any increase in revenue to reduce the taxes. Failing that he recommends cuts made to the budgets.
Ken Simons asked how the tax rate is set and has it already been set for this year.
Selectmen Russell said they used projections to estimate the tax rate.
Selectmen Russell would like the BC to invite the Merrimack County delegate, JD Colcord from Warner, to participate in the town budget process. Mr. Russell noted that the County portion is going up 20% this year without any explanation or input from the towns
Ken Simons asked if the town was planning on acquiring more land this year.
Selectmen Russell state there are no real conversations with any land owners at this time.
Martha McNeil noted the pay raises for fiscal year Jan – Dec have been given and asked if any additional personnel have been hired.
Selectmen Russell identified the EMT 1 has been hired and the other positions in Recreation and Building & Grounds are seasonal and have not yet been hired.
BC member Coen asked Selectmen Russell if the BC were to cut $40k from the Ambulance budget would the position be cut.
Selectmen Russell agreed the EMT would then be fired.
BC member Lancaster noted the BC can cut a line item to $0 and it cannot be increased, but if $1 were left they could find other funding and keep the line item.
BC member Bradstreet believes the BC should cut the bottom line rather than an individual line item, to allow the department heads determine what they could do without or reduce.
Frank Davis has been a resident for 50+ years doesn’t think the town can depend on state school funding to continue and recommends all budgets stick with a 0% increase in spending.
Tom Congoran asked Selectmen Russell to clarify the Selectmen’s position on the 3.8% budget target requested by the BC.
Selectmen Russell said the Selectmen will the cuts.
Ken Simons asked SB member Rowe about the schools returning $350k and couldn’t the money be used for school renovations.
SB member Rowe identified contractual obligations and expenses require the amount be funded in the budget, then if it is unused it is returned to the town to be used against/towards the next year’s budget.
Frank Davis asked about the town hall maintenance.
Selectmen Russell explained the 2nd floor is an auditorium or one large room and at some time in the future the town will need to use it.
Warrant Article Review
BC member Carpenter asked about Town warrant 7.
Selectmen Russell said it was being changed.
BC member O’Donnell requested the town and school equivalents of his precincts’ MS37 for the next meeting. Both town and school agreed to have them for the BC.
BC member Coen reviewed his suggestions for reductions in both the town and school budgets. The spread sheet is attached.
BC member Lancaster reviewed his suggestions for reductions in both the town and school budgets. The word documents are attached.
Chair Irwin reviewed her list of items previously sent to the SAU for response. These items included: the bid for liability and workers comp; the bus contract with Laidlaw; Special Ed shared transportation; alcohol and drug counseling; preschool salaries and supplies; shared costs with the town for Georges Park; summer guidance hours; instructional and professional services and workshops; school principal salary and debt service transfer.
Chair Irwin would like to see a separate warrant for teacher retirement as well as a warrant putting all special education expenses together.
BC member Carpenter reviewed the Public Hearing information concerning the Police Chief retaining his full salary without benefits while working according to the books 32 hours.
Selectmen Russell agreed with the statement and added that he is grooming his replacement, Lt. Pecora.
BC member Carpenter expressed concern with these rules on the number of hours worked with the salary paid and how it may have an affect on the salary of the next chief.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:40 pm.
David Lancaster Town Cuts
David Lancaster School Cuts
Danny Coen Budget Cuts
DAVID LANCASTER PROPOSED CUTS
2006 Budget $5,118,718
B. C. Requested Target x .038
Requested Increased Allowed $194,511
Selectmen’s ’07 Proposed Increase $372,390
B.C. Requested Increase -$194,511
Amount Exceeding Requested Spending $177,879
LINES TO BE TAKEN FROM: 4311-140 Overtime Wages, or 4312-380 Highways and Streets line for shimming and paving
REASONING: It was reported to the Budget Committee in the town budget book that this amount was saved by adding the town mechanic last year. The only way this saves the taxpayers’ money is if you remove this dollar amount from the budget, not simply spend this money elsewhere in the department’s budget.
LINES TO BE TAKEN FROM: 4520-115: Program Coordinator- $12,480
4520-126 Summer Day Camp Staff - $15,080
4520-127 Adventure Camp Staff - $5,280
4520-341 Telephone- $1,000
REASONING: These lines should be zeroed out. By law if the budget committee zeros out a line no money can be spent on this line. The DRA says that we can in fact pay salaries out of the Recreation Revolving Fund, so there is no longer any need for these line items in the budget. 1) We do not need an assistant in the recreation department. We have been told by the selectmen numerous times the opening of a senior center would not necessitate the addition of personnel in the recreation department. Now we are told because of new programs for the seniors the recreation director needs help.
2) Taxpayers should not be subsidizing summer day care. Parents should be responsible for paying for their child’s summer care. If the recreation department identifies children would have financial need they can work with social services to fund scholarships.
3) The town should not be in the day care business at the taxpayers’ expense. If they can’t run a summer camp at a competitive rate to private programs, as suggested by the recreation director, despite no overhead for facilities, then they should not be in the childcare business.
4) Allowing for $1,500 in this line is nearly double last year’s actual. This year’s requested amount is nearly 3X last year’s actual amount spent. The recreation department explains that this increase is due to having to fund telephone service and internet access for two buildings, we only need one.
LINE TO BE TAKEN FROM: 4215-115 Firefighter/EMT- $1
REASONING: Keeping $1 in this line allows the selectmen to fund this position, however since this position is being necessitated by the addition of a building inspector they should be sure their inspection fees will cover the total cost of the building inspector’s salary, i.e. it should be self funded, not subsidized by the taxpayers. The person building the house is benefiting from the town ensuring their contractor is building the house to the life safety codes so they should pay the entire cost. The selectmen should investigate the cost of a non-firefighter as the building inspector, possibly an on-call contract position, in order to save the town the extra amount that must be budgeted for a firefighter position, over a non-firefighter employee. Also, building permits were down last year making one wonder if a full
time building inspector is even warranted.
BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS- $20,400
LINE TO BE TAKEN FROM: 1) 4521-431 Grounds Management- $3,400
2) 4521-116 Turf Management- $7,000
3) 4521-440 Equipment Lease/Contract- $10,000
REASONING- 1) This cut is to eliminate the use of sod in front of goalmouths at the playing fields. (An equal amount will be removed for the school board’s half of the cost) Whether this area is soded or seeded at the end of the season the goalmouths will be bare ground because of the heavy traffic in this area, as a result it is a waste of money to sod, and should be seeded at the end of the season and let to grow as best it can before the next season. This is a totally unnecessary expense for taxpayers to foot. 2) This year’s request for turf management ($24,705) is more than twice last year’s budgeted ($11,795) and is 3X what 2004 actual was ($7,500) and is out of control. This proposed amount is still a 50% increase over last year’s budgeted amount.
3) This cuts out the approximate cost ($9,931) of the library’s addition of a custodian in their budget. If the custodial costs in this line stays as budgeted ($42,900), and the library spends their expected amount the cost of custodial services will have increased from $29,856 to nearly $53,000 an increase of $23,000.
WARRANT ARTICLE 17: TOWN HALL RENOVATIONS- $20,000
REASONING: this year the selectmen want to budget twice what they spent last year on renovations. With the tax bill we faced last year this is not the year to propose an increase for this purpose.
2006 Budget $270,772
B. C. Requested Increase X.038
Requested Increased Allowed $10,300
Library’s Proposed ’07 Increase $34,768 Less Town Transfer of Expenses - $17,110
B.C. Requested Increase - $10,300
Amount Exceeding Requested Increase $7,358
LIBRARY GENERAL EXPENDABLE TRUST AND CAPITAL RESERVE WARRANT ARTICLE: $3,000
REASONING: This cut keeps this year’s request the same as last year’s. After last year’s tax increase this is not the year to increase
the library’s savings, when taxpayers have had to dip into their savings to pay their increased tax bill.
LINE TO BE TAKEN FROM: 4550-670 Materials $2,800
REASONING: This level funds this line again this year. Even though the library can not force the Library Trustees to give them money for this purpose, this is the year to request of the trustees monies to help pay for the basics rather than the niceties to help out the overburdened taxpayers.
NOTE: These cuts only come to $5,800, and the library still needs to cut $1,600 from their budget to come in at the requested increase. I believe when presenting their budget they proposed some increased hours for some employees. I do not know how much this increases their salary line item, but this is not the year to increase hours of employment.
LINE ITEM TO BE TAKEN FROM: 4220-612 Equipment Replacement
REASONING: Last year this department spent more then twice their budgeted amount on this line item, as they had excess funds, to purchase additional turn out gear. By spending half of the regular budgeted amount in ’07 they will still be ahead in purchasing gear, while saving some tax dollars.
LINE TO BE TAKEN FROM: 4210-635 Oil/Gas
REASONING: Line item request is up 23% from last year, both the Fire/Ambulance and the Highway Department level funded this line item in their budgets, the police should follow suit. This cut keeps this department level funded in this line item, as their actual was $300 under their budgeted amount last year
LINE ITEM TO BE TAKEN FROM: This up to the selectmen.
REASONING: The selectmen have pointed out that a year’s operating expenses for the Slusser Senior Center is budgeted to cost $33,000. We were told by them that conservatively $28,000 would be all that was needed for operating expenses for a full year. This means their estimate was off by $5,000. Since this year we are only funding 1/3 of a full year’s operating budget, this amount to be cut represents a 1/3 cut in the overage.
LINES TO BE TAKEN FROM: 1) 42310-540 Conferences/Training- $1,500
2) 4130-551 Education- $1,000
REASONING: 1) In the past three years there has been less then a $1,000 request in this line. This year’s requested amount is up 150% from $1,00 to $2,500.
2) The amount that would result from this cut ($1,000) is still double what has been spent in this line in 2 of the past 3 years.
LINE TO BE TAKEN FROM: 4140-390 Professional Services
REASONING: This department has not spent more than $7,000 in the past three budget years.
LINE TO BE TAKEN FROM: 4324-116 Part Time Employees
REASONING: There is a 20% increase in this line item over last year
THE SELECTMEN NEEDED TO CUT $177,879 TO GET TO THE BUDGET COMMITTEE’S RECCOMENDED TARGET OF A 3.8% INCREASE OVER LAST YEAR’S BUDGET-THESE CUTS TOTAL $178,540
I BELIEVE THESE CUTS CAN BE MADE TO GET THE TOWN AT THE BUDGET COMMITTEE’S RECCOMENDED 3.8% INCREASE WITHOUT ANY DELETORIOUS EFFECT ON THE TOWNSPEOPLE.
DAVID LANCASTER PROPOSED CUTS
Proposed 2007-8 Budget: $15,818,942 2006-7 Budget: -$14,622,548
Proposed increase: $1,196,394
3.8% Budget Committee Requested Increase: -$462,007 (excluding any 3.8% increase in Special Reserve Funds)
Amount Exceeding Requested Spending: $730,387
SALARIES: 1100- estimated $74,000
Savings are estimated based on the School Board’s proposed cut of another elementary teacher saving $74,000
CUT: FIRST GRADE TEACHER: $74,000
REASONING: There are 52 students in this years’ kindergarten. According to the SAU’ data since the 97-98 school year to the present we have had an average increase of 6 students from kindergarten to first grade, with a maximum of 9 in 98-99/99-00, and again in 03-04/04-05. The SAU’s projections are for 54-58 students in this grade through 2010. Adding an average increase in student would mean 58 students, adding the largest increase in student in recent years would mean 63 students. The Harold Martin School Principal has projected an increase of 14 students that goes against the enrollment trends of the past 9 years. The SAU’s own guidelines put the maximum student class size in this grade at 20. I think the School Board, considering the large increases it the school budgets/tax rates in the past several years, should
make the difficult choice to cut this position. Personnel are by far the largest percentage of the budget, and the school board should try to control this line item as tightly as possible whenever possible, and this is one of those times.
MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY SERVICES: 2222/2225-$52,312
This Years Request: $711,008
Last Years Budgeted: -$596,818
Increase Of: $114,190 or a 16% increase
CUTS: Data Specialist- $27,963
Student Information System-$24,349
REASONING: This is one of the largest increases in the line items in the budget. This line item is discretionary, unlike others that are mandated. This is an area where cost savings can be realized without a direct effect on the students, as they are proposed cuts by the School Board. The proposed amount to be cut is about $5,000 less then ½ the increase in these lines. These two items are two of the School Board’s proposed cuts that they say would have the least impact on the students.
OFFICE OF THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL/SALARIES: 2410/2490-$12,084
CUTS: 7 holidays for office managers, and keep the office manager a partial year position
REASONING: Our increase in “contractual obligations “ is $608,194 is so high we can’t afford to give benefit increases to those we are not required to.
OTHER INSTRUCTION PROGRAMS: 1400-$5,400
CUTS: $3,400-Sod for in front of the sports goals (this is ½ the total cost, as an equal amount is in the town’s budget)
$2,000-Wireless scoreboard repair
REASONING: This portion of the budget is for extracurricular activities, and it is surprising these items did not make the School Board’s lists of cuts that would not affect students!
Total of this line item has increased 24% in 2 years over the ’05-06 expended amount ($233,740-$306,414), again for extracurricular activities
Salaries and Benefits: have increased in this portion of the budget 16% over the 05-06 expended amount ($182,579-$217,481-or $34,902) for extracurricular activities, because in the last contract we tied increases in these positions to teachers’ salaries, instead of level funding them at the previous contract’s pay scale, as I suggested that year at school district meeting. Ironically, if the school board feels the need to cut $25,136 for middle school sports, and $10,829 for assistant coaches amounts to only $1,000 more then would have been saved by level funding these positions.
WARRANT ARTICLE II: $452,000
VOTE: to not to recommend
REASONING: 1) I do not support the parking lot addition at this time. The most cost effective solution for safety of the students is to try a one-year trial of placing a “person of authority” in the problem area to ensure traffic keeps moving. The security card reader at the high school ($10,000), the only emergency safety measure that needs to be addressed promptly could be funded through an amendment to Warrant Article V to take this additional amount out of the School Building Repair and Maintenance Trust Fund.
2) This large of an amount should be presented as a bond issue, which requires a 2/3 vote rather than a simple majority. If the School Board believes this large of an amount needs to be spent, they should get broad support from the community. A bond issue ensures that all that benefit from this construction in present, and in the future pay a portion of the expense, not just those paying taxes in town the year it is built.
3) Although it has been proven that the HVAC and windows need replacing, this is not an emergency, and can wait a year. The School Board needs to present the total cost of proposed construction at all three of the schools at one time, as they did the last time the schools required extensive renovation, rather then in a piecemeal manner. This year’s proposed renovations are only a small portion of the total picture. The minimum costs of proposed renovations presented by the consulting architects, for the smallest square footage of additions/renovations was 11.6 million dollars. What portion of this expense will be proposed by the School Board next year?
TOTAL SAVINGS INCLUDING REJRCTION OF WARRANT ARTICLE II: $595,796, or a 3.8% cut in the proposed budget
SAVINGS IF ONLY OPERATING CUTS ARE MADE: $143,796, or a 1% cut in the proposed budget