Board of Finance
Monday, February 26, 2018
7:30 p.m., Town Hall Hearing Room
Present: Dr. Kimberly Yonkers, Chair; Ward Mazzucco; Susan Clark; Robert Dean; James Barickman; Edward Miller.
Also present: Peg O’Donnell, Selectman; Steve Gniadek, Finance Director; Pat Moisio, Tax Collector; John Ford, Assessor; Janice Meehan, Deputy Treasurer; Wes Higgins, Treasurer; Katherine Stauffer, Assistant Tax Clerk/WPCC Asst. Admin.; members of the public; videographers.
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
1. To approve Minutes of Regular Meeting held on January 22, 2018
On the motion of Mr. Mazzucco and the second of Ms. Clark, the Board voted unanimously to approve the January 23, 2018 Minutes as corrected: Page 2, second sentence under “Treasurer’s Report”, change “clarify” to “clarity.”
2. Public Comment
3. Grand List October 1, 2017
John Ford reviewed the net Grand List estimated changes. Estimated changes were reported in assessment value, which is slightly decreased from prior years. Mr. Dean questioned whether the number of appeals will go down in light of the lower assessments. Mr. Ford stated that the number of appeals has decreased by approximately half.
Mr. Miller questioned if the assessment of Aquarion/Eversource land changed since the company classification changed from public use to profit-making. Mr. Dean noted the town adopted the state enabling statute and reviewed other factors considered in determining the classification, including the incentive to preserve land. Mr. Mazzucco stated that the forest land classification remains regardless of who owns the property. Mr. Barickman encouraged the Board to look further at the implications re: new tax law. Mr. Dean cautioned that an increase in the assessment of the tertiary watershed property could well lead to the sale of some parcels and the development of housing since companies would want to recoup the carrying costs of land that could be developed. He pointed out that such development could be aesthetically and financially harmful to the town.
Mr. Miller and Mr. Barickman will investigate and report back at the next meeting.
4. Tax Collector’s Report
Pat Moisio reported that tax collections are at 96.8% down from 97.4% this time last year. The total is at 100% of the budget. There are 239 unpaid parcels, 110 of which are GLDC.
GLDC has a balance of $2 million in taxes and $2 million in interest and litigation is ongoing.
5. Finance Director’s Report
Mr. Gniadek reviewed his monthly report. The meeting schedule for budgets is posted on the website. Mr. Barickman will circulate the Region 9 BOE meeting schedule.
Receipt of Town Aid for Roads (TAR) funds from the State is unlikely. Selectman P. O’Donnell stated that additional funds have not been put in the budget and the Board of Selectmen will discuss with the Board of Finance.
The WPCC project was approved at a Town Meeting. The lease agreement with CalFirst has been signed, however, the amount will need to be adjusted from $147,438 to $149,433 to allow for tax changes. Mr. Gniadek reviewed the two additional quotes received from other lenders.
On the motion of Mr. Mazzucco and the second of Mr. Dean, the Board voted unanimously to retain CalFirst as the lending company and for Mr. Gniadek to request a reduction in the additional charge from CalFirst.
Mr. Gniadek reported positive news on State pension funding and medical insurance budget which will increase 5% as opposed to the estimated 9% increase.
Jim Miller requested information regarding the exact process for paying Veolia’s invoices. He reported that the project has begun and he is “seeking guidance from BOS/BOF regarding the expectation of a payment schedule.” He noted that a payment schedule was not included in the contract but that the contractor is likely to expect progress payments. Mr. E. Miller commented that, if the contract makes no provision for progress payments, the town should not be expected to pay early. All BOF members felt that the invoices would be paid but that further information would be needed about the policies of CalFirst.
Mr. Gniadek will contact CalFirst as the leasing company to inquire about their progress payment policy and determine if they have worked with Veolia before. New information will be forwarded to Mr. Miller.
6. Treasurer’s Report
Treasurer Wes Higgins reviewed the Treasurer’s Report as submitted.
7. Formation of subcommittee to evaluate impact of the new tax law
A subcommittee will be formed with Mr. Dean as Chair and Ms. Clark as co-chair. The scope of the subcommittee will be determined and members of the BOS are encouraged to participate. Meetings will be publicly noticed. Mr. Dean will coordinate a meeting schedule via email.
8. Reports from Individual Board members as assigned
9. Correspondence and Administrative matters
10. Public Comment
On the motion of Ms. Mazzucco and the second of Mr. Miller, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn the meeting at 8:40 p.m.
Kristi C. Reilly