THESE MINUTES ARE SUBJECT TO APPROVAL BY BOARD OF FINANCE
The Board of Finance held a regular meeting on Monday, December 10, 2012 in the Council Chamber of the Newtown Municipal Center, Newtown, CT. John Kortze called the meeting to order at 7:33 pm.
PRESENT: John Kortze, Joseph Kearney, James Gaston, Jr., Harry Waterbury and Richard Oparowski
ABSENT: Carol Walsh
ALSO PRESENT: First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra, Finance Director Robert Tait, Chairman of the Economic Development Commission Don Sharpe, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Janet Robinson, Chairman of the Board of Education Debbie Leidlein, three members of the public and two members of the press.
VOTER COMMENTS: none.
MINUTES: Mr. Waterbury moved to accept the minutes of November 26, 2012. Mr. Kearney seconded. Motion passed; Gaston Jr. abstained as he was absent from the November 26 meeting.
FIRST SELECTMAN REPORT: First Selectman Llodra shared the winter storm breakdown (Att. A), the winter maintenance information from the budget (Att. B) and the number of snow events in the past five years (Att. C). Mr. Kelsey, Tax Assessor, Ms. Mahoney, Tax Collector and Mr. Tait, Finance Director will begin a discussion with the Board of Selectmen on December 17 relative to senior tax relief. Mr. Tait will discuss the defined contribution vs. defined benefit aspect of our pension program at the January 14 Board of Finance meeting. Documents relative to shared services were shared (Att. D)
FINANCE DIRECTOR REPORT: Mr. Tait went over the Human Resources and Payroll conversion to the Phoenix system (Att. E) and discussed the annual savings. Mr. Tait proposed going to the Phoenix system as a town July 1, in the short term, as opposed to putting an RFP out for a new accounting software system. First Selectman Llodra stated the cost of a new system is beyond what can be managed. One of the benefits of working together is having one database; Phoenix will accomplish that. The town needs a purchasing agent. If the town can manage with the Phoenix system a request for a purchasing agent will be submitted in fiscal 2015.
Discussion and possible action:
- Policy on depositing unexpended funds to the Capital/Non-Recurring fund: item to be carried.
- Board of Education Reserve Fund Statute: item to be carried.
Discussion & possible action:
- State of the Schools presentation: Dr. Robinson presented the State of the School District (Att. F). The computer based testing (Smarter Balanced Assessment 2015) will be done over a three month period. The teacher evaluations produce a rating for every teacher in four categories. Teacher compensation is not impacted by evaluations. Evaluations will have an impact on layoffs. Mr. Kortze asked about teacher development. Dr. Robinson said there is $78,000 in the budget and the amount is connected to the NWEA. Mr. Kortze asked about the scope and scale of the cost of the computerized testing and the need for computers. Dr. Robinson said she would know more after the state conducts an audit. Mr. Kortze noted the progress made in the schools in the past three years
during budget constraints. Dr. Robinson said there has been a laser focus on improving instruction within the classroom. Instruction has been observed, documented and discussed to make it better at no extra cost, with internal resources. Dr. Robinson said the school system is extremely efficient but there is a point in time where the resources can’t be diminished any further. Dr. Robinson confirmed that four buses were removed from the original budget proposal and $100,000 has been transferred from the transportation line item. She said that at this point there is no plan to ask for additional buses this coming year. Bus routes were rerouted to shorten the time students spent on buses. There is a maximum fuel cost in the district contract. When asked about space needs, school closing declining enrollment Dr. Robinson said that the Ad Hoc Facilities group vetted every option. Their recommendation was when elementary enrollment is
projected to be 1500 a study should be commissioned to begin looking at closing a school. Mr. Kearney is concerned with the implementation period. Dr. Robinson noted that buses may need to be increased if a school closes and there is redistricting. First Selectman Llodra reported the Board of Selectmen is meeting with the Board of Education next week to discuss space needs. The facilities report notes that planning should begin when the K-4 enrollment projection is at1500 for the next year. When closing a school it makes a difference if it is a neighborhood school (Elementary) or a collective school (Reed). Numbers will be adjusted to adjust the recent teacher arbitration. Mr. Kearney stated he thinks there will be budget issues surrounding declining enrollment and the unknown state finances. He asked if there has been a Plan B thought of while developing the budget concerning state numbers. Dr. Robinson stated that ESC will be
protected, at the same levels, for this coming year. Unfunded mandates are a problem and help is needed from legislators for relief in terms of implementation. First Selectman Llodra said the Legislative Council can write a letter to the legislators asking that they spear head action to delay implementation. (Also attached: (G) Enrollment, Oct. 2011; (H) Enrollment, Oct. 2012; (I) Superintendent’s Newsletter.)
- Resolution supporting Fairfield Hills Development: Mr. Kearney moved that the Board of Finance supports the process presented by the Economic Development Commission and Fairfield Hills Authority for a joint effort to lease certain commercial industrial properties on the Fairfield Hills campus by issuing one or more request for proposals for developers. Mr. Oparowski seconded. All in favor.
- Transfer: Mr. Kearney moved to transfer $3,182 from Contingency (01570-2000) to Council Expenses (01600-2013). Mr. Waterbury seconded. All in favor.
ADJOURNMENT: Having no further business the regular Board of Finance meeting was adjourned at 9:10 pm.
Susan Marcinek, Clerk
Att. A: Winter Storm Breakdown, 2012-2013
Att. B: Winter Maintenance budget, 2 pages
Att. C: Snow events 2007-2011
Att: D: J. Capeci letter, Feb. 7, 2010 re: Ad Hoc Facilities
Att. E: Blum Shapiro, combined services, 3 pages
Att. F: State of Schools power point, Dec. 10, 2012, 31 pages
Att. G: Enrollment report, Oct. 2011
Att. H: Enrollment report, Oct. 2012
Att. I: Superintendent’s Newsletter, Nov. 2012