Present: Alvarez (Chairman), Clark, Dolan, Mazzucco, Yonkers
Also present: First Selectman Pemberton, Selectmen Karvelis & Thompson, Finance Director Gniadek, Treasurer O’Donnell, Tax Collector Moisio, Tax Assessor Ford, 12 members of the public, a representative of the Redding Pilot and the videographers
Chairman Alvarez called the meeting on February 23, 2015 to order at 7:33 pm in the Redding Town Hall.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Finance approve the minutes of the January 21, 2015 meeting as submitted. Yonkers, Mazzucco. Approved. Unanimous.
REPORT FROM TAX COLLECTOR
Ms. Moisio reported that the collection rate, as of today, is 99.5% of budget, slightly higher than it was last year at the same time. There are 137 properties (excluding the GLDC project properties) that are not paid. Delinquent notices will be mailed out in March.
Dr. Yonkers commented that she had received a number of questions from residents regarding the Elderly Tax Benefit letter that was mailed out, and she suggested that some written documentation with explanation be made available to residents and in the local newspapers. Tax Assessor Ford noted that his office is in the process of preparing a list of questions/answers that will address those questions. Mrs. Moisio added that those with questions should call the office, that there is no consequence for not submitting the affidavit regarding the state elderly benefit, and that there have been some residents who found that they are entitled to the state benefit. Rosalind Kopfstein, Commission on Aging Chairman, added that the Commission has requested that Mr. Ford and a Board of Finance representative attend the March 4 commission meeting to discuss the issues.
REPORT ON 2014 GRAND LIST
Tax Assessor Ford stated that the Grand List 2014 shows a 0.19% increase over the previous year. The realistic grand list, which includes potential estimated and corrected changes, will be a 0.24% increase.
REPORT FROM FINANCE DIRECTOR
Mr. Gniadek reported on the following:
- S&P update: Mr. Gniadek participated in a telephone call with Standard & Poors for an update on the state of the Town. S&P verbally confirmed that they are maintaining the Town’s AAA rating.
- CEN Network: the process of connecting the Town Hall to the Police Department and to link to the CEN (Connecticut Education Network) has begun. The fiber cable and switches at both ends will be paid for by a grant from the State of CT totaling $19,900. The internet connection will be faster and a better cost.
- 2015-16 Budget Meeting: the budget meeting is scheduled for March 5, at the Community Center at 7:30 pm.
- WPCC: The WPCC will request another transfer of $60,000 on March 2, 2015. This brings the transfer for FY to $180,000. The available balance for the FY is $57,350. Mr. Alvarez requested information from the WPCC on how they were doing financially.
- Audit Management: The auditor management comments were reviewed. The issues noted in the report have been reviewed and are being addressed.
REPORT FROM TREASURER
Treasurer O’Donnell provided a report on the status of funds. The current total in the General Fund is $21,448,359. She noted that interest rates have not changed substantially. Mr. Dolan requested that she adjust the schedule of CDs to reflect the maturity dates in chronological order. She is working with Selectman Karvelis and Mr. Mazzucco regarding the StoneCastle Partners FICA program. Mrs. O’Donnell provided the BAN pay down amounts for the next five years. She also acknowledged the need to factor into the Selectmen budget an additional $84,850 because the actual required BAN payment is $214,050. Mr. Alvarez asked her to send him the BAN repayment figures so he could help her double check on the amounts and dates for payment.
BOARD MEMBER REPORTS
Mr. Mazzucco reported that, at the request of the chairman, he and Mr. Dolan accompanied the Board of Selectmen to a meeting in Hartford last week concerning the stalled Georgetown project. He and Mr. Dolan will report further in executive session.
Mr. Alvarez allowed comments from the public.
Becky Parkin, Indian Hill: Mrs. Parkin asked where she could obtain copies of the information the Board of Finance was discussing. Mr. Alvarez noted that copies could be obtained from the Town Clerk’s office. Mrs. Parkin also asked what was the purpose of the General Fund. Mr. Alvarez responded that the General Fund is, in essence, the checking account for the town.
Jeff Fligelman, Pocahontas Road: Mr. Fligelman thanked the members of the Board of Finance for their oversight of the town’s finances. He commented further that he hopes the school budget will reflect what is needed to provide the students of tomorrow with the same level of education as those who went before them.
Mr. Alvarez commented that the Board of Finance does not manage the budget of the Board of Education or the Board of Selectmen. The role of the Board of Finance is oversight, and balancing the needs of the Town with what the Town can afford.
Amy Arnold, Werf Drive: Mrs. Arnold commented that it is important for the schools to be good to attract more people to Redding.
Brenda Phelps, Indian Hill: Mrs. Phelps commented on the needs of the physical plant for both schools. She asked if a question could be added to the budget referendum asking the voters why they approved or did not approve the budget. Mr. Alvarez responded that the Board of Finance relies on the Board of Education to determine their needs, including the physical plant, and include these in their budget.
Steve Hunter, Chestnut Woods Road: Mr. Hunter commented that there is work to be done on the schools, to prepare them for the future.
Rosalind Kopfstein, Chairman of Commission on Aging: Mrs. Kopfstein commented that 25% of the residents send children to school. The needs of the all residents need to be considered.
Keith Rich, Putnam Park Road: Mr. Rich stated that he wants the current kids to have just as good an education as the children of the older residents received. He is concerned about the Board of Education’s concentration on reductions to the budgets. He noted that good schools bring new people to town.
Lisa Baran, Dan Beard Lane: Mrs. Baran commented that if the schools are supported, it increases the number of people moving to Redding and improves housing values.
Mr. Alvarez noted that 75% of the budget is for education. He also pointed out that the Town does not have unlimited resources, so the Board of Finance, which is charged with considering all needs of the Town, must set priorities based on what the Town can afford.
Motion: move that the Board of Finance recess to executive session for a discussion of litigation strategy. Mazzucco, Yonkers. Approved. Unanimous.
Mrs. Pemberton, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Karvelis, and Mr. Ford were invited to be present.
The meeting recessed at 8:36 pm.
The Chairman reconvened the meeting at 9:37 pm
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Finance meeting be adjourned. Mazzucco, Yonkers. Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting adjourned at 9:37 pm
Submitted by Mary Maday, Recording Secretary