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Minutes of Board of Finance, 04/23/2018

AGENDA: Board of Finance

RECEIVED 04/26/2018 5:15pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Board of Finance
Monday, April 23, 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: Julia Pemberton, First Selectwoman; Peg O’Donnell, Selectman; Steve Gniadek, Finance Director; John Ford, Assessor; Pat Moisio, Tax Collector; Wes Higgins, Treasurer; members of the Board of Education; members of the public; reporter; videographers.

The Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

  1. To approve Minutes of Regular Meeting held on March 26, 2018

On the motion of Mr. Mazzucco and the second of Ms. Clark, the Board voted unanimously to approve the March 26, 2018 Meeting Minutes as amended: Page 3, fourth paragraph, delete “Mr. Barickman suggested that Region 9 decrease their budget.”

  1. Public Comment

Selectwoman P. O’Donnell reiterated her concern re: use of unassigned fund balance for budget items.  She requested clarification as to whether the water issue at the schools is coming out of the operating or is now in the capital budget. First Selectwoman Pemberton stated that per Doug Hartline, options are being investigated.

John Ford reviewed the net actual changes in the revaluation report since the net estimated changes were reviewed at the 3/26/18 meeting. The changes were noted in Board of Assessment Appeals and Commercial Appeals. Mr. Ford stated that total tax to be collected is $49 million. A possible Commercial Appeal outcome could potentially reduce the tax amount by $60,000.

Mr. Ford stated that the number of appeals is low as compared to the last revaluation.

  1. Tax Collector’s Report

Pat Moisio reported tax collections at 99.6% of the Grand List, representing 101% of the budget. She stated that there are 354 vehicles that have not paid.  Registration privileges have been suspended.  Mrs. Moisio is preparing for a tax sale.

  1. Finance Director’s Report

 Mr. Gniadek reviewed his monthly report.  The second payment for this year’s Town Aid Road funds is still not confirmed.  Mr. Gniadek added that the full budgeted amount for TAR will be bonded in the budget next year. A draft report from PFK O’Connor Davies re: BOE review project is anticipated at the end of May and the final report is scheduled to be discussed at the 6/25/18 BOF meeting. A special meeting may be scheduled to review the draft report if needed.

Mr. Gniadek stated that he is cautiously optimistic that the revenue budget will be met.  He added that he does not anticipate any excess revenues or expense savings (other than a BOE surplus) contributing to the unassigned fund balance.

Mike D’Agostino submitted an energy program rebate check in the amount of $20,173.80.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Wes Higgins reviewed the Treasurer’s Report as submitted.

  1. Draft Mill Rate Schedule

Dr. Yonkers stated that the BOE budget is up 3.85%; Region 9 is up 6.32% and the total budget is up 3.41%.  First Selectwoman Pemberton clarified that the Region 9 budget increase is due in part to the population shift for Redding and resulting in a higher allocation.

The Senior Tax Benefit yearly amount is not static due to changes in the population and eligibility.

Steve Gniadek noted that 1/10 of a mill rate is equivalent to approximately $150,000. The debt service fund, resulting from bond premium during the major refinancing last year, has a balance of $1,081,000.  Mr. Gniadek noted that there are a number of considerations that can be investigated in determining the possible mill rate. Some members discussed using a higher budget (such as 99.25%) for tax collections and some of the debt service fund to offset the looming tax increase.

Chris Parkin, BOE, was asked if the water issue at the schools is included in the capital budget.  Mr. Parkin indicated that it is not.

Mr. Dean expressed concern about the disparate effects of the recent revaluation on taxpayers throughout the town. First Selectwoman Pemberton noted that the majority of assessments went down.

Mr. Mazzucco stated that it is imprudent to use any more of the debt service fund than is included on Mr. Gniadek’s spreadsheet in order to reduce the budget.  He noted that it compensates the town for a slightly higher nominal interest rate over the life of the bonds, so we should be cautious about using it all in early years. Mr. Dean noted the importance of being proactive with information to the public.  Mr. Barickman clarified that a 25% mill rate increase does not equate to a 25% tax increase.  He stated that “we can’t run the town on the backs of homeowners.” He also indicated that obtaining higher taxes from Eversource could help with revenue generation. First Selectwoman Pemberton responded that areas of development need to be reviewed.  She noted that there is one more mediation session left re: GLDC.

  1. Reports from Individual Board members as assigned

Mr. Barickman has begun investigating variable mill rates and will submit a report after his investigation is complete.

Re: Senior Tax Benefit, First Selectwoman Pemberton stated that the average benefit per elderly household is $2,421.

Mr. Dean indicated that the committee to address changes in federal income tax would defer meeting until after the budget cycle.

  1. Correspondence and Administrative matters

No items.

  1. Public Comment

Mike D’Agostino thanked the Board and stated that he was “leery using funds from long-term debt to buffer the operating budget”.  James Miller asked when the Tax Subcommittee will issue their recommendations.  New information re: NY income tax on CT commuters was received today.  Mr. Miller clarified that he is expecting a report.

First Selectwoman Pemberton stated that the legislative session closes on May 11 re: SB 11.

The Chair adjourned the meeting at 9:10 p.m.

Submitted by:
Kristi C. Reilly

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