Hopkinton Budget Committee
June 13, 2007
Present: Karen Irwin – Chair; Patricia Gerseny; Barbara Unger; Danny Coen; David Lancaster; Bob Carpenter – CVP Rep.; Tom Congoran – Selectmen Rep.; Tom O’Donnell – HVP Rep.; Joy Bloomfield – School Board Rep.
Absent: Jane Bradstreet
The meeting was called to order at 6:35 pm.
Chair Irwin began the meeting commenting on the subcommittees that have been established. Two subcommittees have members of the public and have already met - Budgeting Goals and Targets, and Major Contract Award Process - that should be reporting possibly the next meeting. The other two have only Budget Committee [BC] members and are looking for members of the public to join.
Proposed Budget Format
Chair Irwin presented the BC with a proposed format for departments to use that would cover all of the information the committee is asking for in monthly expenditure/revenue reports. A discussion followed on how the various town departments and School Board could utilize the report format. Chair Irwin suggested the committee members read through the format and recommend changes. At the next meeting, the committee will vote on whether the town should use the format. She would like the departments to have the format in use for the August meeting. Chair Irwin will work with any and all departments during the implementation process.
School – Joy Bloomfield presented a multi-page detail report from the SAU. It was discovered the report contained more information than asked for. Chair Irwin suggested the report handed out at the monthly School Board meeting was more in line with what the BC was looking for. Ms. Bloomfield agreed to provide the shorter report.
Town – Tom Congoran reviewed the town’s report. He presented the BC a FEMA narrative of Disaster Costs. BC member Coen commented that the labor and vehicles use charges are in line with what appears would be acceptable charges for FEMA. A previous meeting discussion concerning using monies for items not provided for in the budget by the town requires the selectmen need to approach the Budget Committee who in turn will make an official request to the Dept. of Revenue Administration.
Hopkinton Village Precinct – Tom O’Donnell presented the HVP report. He offered to provide the BC with the water budget, but none of the budget is financed through taxes. Mr. O’Donnell also stated he has been considering started up a revolving fund similar to the ones other town departments have.
Contoocook Village Precinct – Bob Carpenter will have a report for the next meeting.
Chair Irwin referred to the HCTA – Hopkinton Contoocook Taxpayers Association - meeting last month featuring Howard Dilworth, Budget Committee Chairman from Hudson. Chair Irwin reviewed the timeline used by the Hopkinton BC in past years and would like to move the two scheduled deliberative sessions from after the Public Hearing to before the Public Hearing and have the final deliberative session after the Public Hearing. This would move the Town Departments and School Board presentations up about a month. BC member O’Donnell reminded the committee members the state statute clearly states the Budget Committee creates and presents all budgets.
The BC discussed exploring having a joint meeting with the Selectmen when the town department heads present their budgets. BC members Coen and Lancaster commented on the data given to the BC in past years had already been adjusted and would like to see the raw data as presented by the department heads.
School Board Rep. Bloomfield stated the School Board get a budget request from the Superintendent for the schools. The members review it then make recommendations to the Superintendent who takes them to the school principals.
Ms. Bloomfield advised she is unable to attend the summer meetings and Kim Fuller will represent the School Board at the summer Budget Committee meetings. Chair Irwin suggested the board representatives on the BC the have another board member come when they are unable.
Previous Meeting Minutes
May 8, 2007 – The minutes were reviewed and changes discussed. BC member Lancaster moved to accept with changes and BC member Coen seconded. The minutes were accepted with changes.
April 19, 2007 – The minutes were reviewed and changes discussed. BC member Coen moved to accept with changes, BC member Lancaster seconded. The minutes were accepted with changes.
February 8, 2007 – The minutes were reviewed, no changes were discussed. BC member Coen moved to accept and BC member Gerseny seconded. The minutes were accepted.
Budget Chair Election
BC member Unger nominated Karen Irwin to remain as chairman. BC member Lancaster seconded. The vote was unanimous.
BC member Lancaster requested the BC been given a copy of audits done for the town and school.
Mr. Lancaster asked Selectmen Congoran if the Slusser Center had a fund that was outside the General Fund. Mr. Congoran responded saying that there is a fund outside the General Fund and estimated the amount to be in excess of $10K. Any amount over $5K needs to be voted on at a Public Hearing for the town to accept the monies. The Slusser Center committee report is on the July agenda.
Mr. Lancaster would like to investigate changing the town fiscal year – January 1 thru December 31 - to go along with the school fiscal year – July 1 thru June 30 - stating, if the town changes, the departments would not be spending money that has not been voted on by the town’s voters. Mr. Congoran agreed to look into it and since the Town of Bow recently changed to the July – June fiscal year he volunteered to accompany Bob Blanchette to a meeting with the town of Bow to see how they did it. BC members believe the transition takes 18 months.
Selectmen Rep. Congoran requested opinions on the town wide re-evaluation which must be completed by 2009. He discussed reasons to do it sooner rather than later due to data errors and errors of omission. Mr. Congoran said he favored doing half this year and the rest in 2008. HVP Rep O’Donnell favors doing all evaluations in the same calendar year for one tax bill. A solution on how to pay for the re-evaluations offered by BC member Coen was to ask departments to tighten their budgets and ask them for the money needed.
Peter Yunich asked if the Board of Selectmen had done a macro analysis on the range of abatements on assessments. He is concerned with a shifting of the tax burden. Selectmen Rep Congoran said the board has not analyzed the abatements and that expenses drive taxes.
Beth Bloomquist agreed with BC member Coen in financing the re-evaluations thru taking the money from current budgets. She reviewed old town reports and discovered that some parts of the budget have tripled since 1999.
Dick West commented on the current budget process and supports the BC in controlling cost.
Ken Locke commented on the discussion on the format for Revenues/Expenditures the BC is considering for monthly reports. He asked if it was because there wasn’t an accounting program or the information was withheld. Chair Irwin held up the school report saying the information in it was asked for but cannot easily be picked out.
Diane LaChance echoed Peter Yunich comments on the abatements. She is concerned about a lack of confidence in the Board of Selectmen. Selectmen Rep Congoran stated the final abatements have been done and can get a report.
The meeting adjourned at 9:20 pm.