Hancock Advisory Committee Meeting
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Present: Ben Billings, Don Klug, Marsha Kono (Secretary), Rich LeFebvre (Chair), and Pat Payne.
The meeting convened at 6 p.m. at the Town Office, to discuss our thoughts and recommendations on the 2011 budget.
Committee Chair Rich LeFebvre outlined his goals for the meeting:
á For Committee members to share their thoughts on the latest 2011 Budget proposals, in preparation for attending the Select Board's January 10 Budget Information Meeting.
á To see if the Committee is ready to make/finalize its conclusions for the Committee's report to the Town and the Select Board, which is due by the end of the month.
á To decide who will draft this year's Committee Report.
Pat Payne volunteered to draft this year's report.
As part of a free-ranging discussion, various Committee members expressed the following thoughts on the proposed 2011 budget. (Rich LeFebvre will e-mail the Select Board/Barbara Caverly to give them a heads-up on our concerns, in advance of the Jan. 10 Budget information meeting):
1. HAC would like to see greater transparency in the future on the actual uses of Highway Block Grant Funds, i.e. break out expense categories like the rest of the DPW budget.
2. Advisory Committee members feel that we really don't have all the pieces to be able to get an overall picture of the Town's financial situation – for example: 2010 changes in the Town's assessed valuation that have had/will have an impact on tax receipts; actual spending on warrant articles vs. authorized amounts; and how various other sources of revenue (trust funds, association funds) tie in to spending on Town operations and activities.
3. We are concerned about the amount of money projected for the Prospect Hill Road projects (Phase 1 of the Road Reconstruction Plan), while recognizing that there really is no alternative course of action.
4. We have questions as to whether there are future bridge upgrade/replacement projects of which the Committee is unaware.
5. We need to know how the Town plans to fund the required 2011 Reassessment/Statistical Update.
6. We need to know if the Select Board plans to propose Warrant Articles beyond those of which we're already aware: Approximately $25K for the Post Office roof replacement and painting, and $6K as the Town's share of the Library reroofing.
7. We would like to know whether the Select Board has any recourse on the State's decision to discontinue its contribution towards Police Retirement (resulting in a projected $12K increase in Town expense), including contact with our state legislators. Also, whether there additional areas where the state may cut back or ÒdownloadÓ expenses to the Town in 2012.
8. While generally supportive of the DPW Director's 10-Year Road Reconstruction Plan, we would like to see the latest figures and breakdowns before finalizing the Committee's recommendation.
The Committee's consensus is that while the proposed budget is thoughtful, a projected increase of 4+ percent is by no means an austerity budget. And the widening gap between Town revenues and expenses continues to trouble us. We believe the Select Board should do whatever is necessary to avoid a property tax increase.
The Committee decided to hold off making its recommendations until after the January 10 Budget Information meeting. To that end, we have scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, January 18 at 6 p.m. at the Town Office to finalize our recommendations and the Committee's 2010 report.
The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.
Respectfully submitted, Marsha Kono