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Minutes of Board of Finance, 10/22/2018

AGENDA: Board of Finance

RECEIVED 10/24/2018 5:02pm
Kathleen R. Miserendino - Redding Deputy Town Clerk


Present:  Dr. Kim Yonkers, Chair; Rob Dean; Susan Clark; Ed Miller; Jamie Barickman; Ward Mazzucco

Also Present: Steve Gniadek, Finance Director; Wes Higgins, Treasurer; Peg O’ Donnell, Selectwoman; Patricia Moisio, Tax Collector; Julia Pemberton, First Selectwoman; Members of the Public

Chair Yonkers called the meeting to order at 7:30PM.

  1. To approve minutes of BOF Meeting held on September 24, 2018

Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to approve the minutes. Mr. Barickman seconded the motion. The vote was 5 yes votes (Yonkers, Mazzucco, Dean, Miller, and Barickman) and one abstention (Clark). The motion carried.

  1. Public Comment

Peter Bonfanti, Umpawaug Road, commented on Mr. Dean’s previous statements on the valuable data present in the Annual Report. He brought in Annual Reports dating back to 1999. He stated that if the annual reports aren’t going to be published, it is possible for the data to be published on the Town’s website. He stated that the data needs to be consistent. He suggested a data directory that is up to date and easy to understand.

Chair Yonkers asked Mr. Gniadek to clarify the difference between the Annual Report and the CAFR report. Mr. Gniadek stated that the majority of the Annual Report is verbiage written by various department heads giving a picture of their departments. The Annual Report included some financial information and statistics like population. The CAFR report now includes some of the statistics that were originally present in the Annual Report, but its overall focus is financial.

Chair Yonkers asked why the Annual Reports are no longer produced.  Mr. Gnaidek stated that Mary Maday was the person who put the Annual Report together in the past, and she has retired. The Annual Report was a large undertaking.

Mr. Dean spoke about the data present in the Annual Report. He said the spreadsheet was a consistent and easy to understand document. He said that the data in the CAFR could be adapted to the format present in Annual Report.

Chair Yonkers stated that this project would be the purview of the BOS and the BOF. Thus, a discussion including the BOS would be warranted.

Mr. Mazzucco stated he has reached out to the BOE as well as the BOS about compiling data.

First Selectwoman Pemberton stated that the State has a program that compiles data for municipalities, but it only has two years of data in it. OpenGov is a different program that displays financial data in a simple, graphic format. The product has left beta and is now being implemented in a variety of municipalities. She said that this would be beneficial for the Town of Redding.

Mr. Dean discussed the impact on inflation on budgets and how this complicates the data that reaches citizens.

Chair Yonkers said that this topic could be explored in a joint sub-committee between the BOS, BOF, and the BOE. First Selectwoman Pemberton responded saying that the Town could adopt this, but the BOE would need to be brought in due to their finances and data being separate from the Town. She said that a committee is not necessary to make this happen. Instead, the BOE needs to be brought in.

First Selectwoman Pemberton stated that she will speak with Mr. Gniadek and the BOS about OpenGov. She also said she’ll explore including the BOE and Region 9.

Mr. Barickman said that including the Region 9 would include Easton in the conversation, allowing for easier implementation and efficiency.

Chair Yonkers said that this topic, an update on OpenGov and financial transparency, should be added to the November BOF meeting.

  1. Tax Collector’s Report

Ms. Moisio stated the Town of Redding is on target for tax collection.  Last year, 54% of taxes were collected. This year, 54.2%, or $25,500,000, have been collected.

The imminent tax sales are causing some residents to pay their taxes.

From July 2018 to today, 19 elderly benefits, or $42,900, have been revoked due to disqualification. The assessor identified 17 more people who should not be receiving benefits.

The GLDC has reached the 50/50 mark. They owe $2.3 million in taxes and $2.3 million in interest.

  1. Finance Director’s Report

Mr. Gniadek was not present at last month’s BOF meeting. He attended the New England GFOA conference during this period. He discussed one of the presentations on Labor Relations and how useful it was. He also discussed WHITEBIRCH Multi-Year Financial Planning Tool.

The audit is moving forward as scheduled. The first draft should be available in the next month, and the final presentation to the BOF should happen in December.

Mr. Gniadek addressed financial data on the Town Website. He asked the board for direction on what type of data should be included.

The likelihood of a budget shortfall for fuel oil due to higher oil prices is present for this year.

A new dump truck and car for the Building department have been leased. The old Building Department car, a 2005 Jeep, sold on GovDeals for $1,970. An old dump truck will also be sold.

The budget calendar was provided to BOF members. Mr. Gniadek stated that now would be a good time to suggest different approaches to how budgeting should be approached.

Ms. Clark asked Mr. Gniadek if he could ask the BOE about a one-day workshop, much as the BOS currently does. Mr. Gniadek said he could do that.

Mr. Barickman discussed the benefits of a multi-year perspective on budgeting. He said that vigorous discussions can occur before the end of a budget cycle, allowing for adaptation.

Mr. Higgins asked First Selectwoman Pemberton about the Town Road Plan. She answered that this year’s Road Plan has been addressed and FY 2019-2020 is being considered. She said a task force will be put together to tackle senior mobility.  She will recommend a new position, a town building manager.

Ms. Clark asked why these ideas are long-term and not immediate. First Selectwoman Pemberton stated that the town building manager position could be implemented next year.

Chair Yonkers stated that she feels constrained by the current budget structure and wants to be able to discuss these larger topics before they become issues.

Mr. Miller said Wilton had an online survey that allowed citizens to give input on their priorities concerning various topics affecting them. He would like to see this implemented in Redding.

Chair Yonkers stated the importance of inclusion when asking the public about their concerns. Smaller groups have a harder time getting their message through, and this needs to be addressed.

Ms. Clark wants to see a consensus on the greater vision for the Town.

Mr. Dean discussed how the planning commission used to survey the public. He warned about the effect of pressure groups on surveys and that a carefully crafted survey is necessary to obtain accurate data. He also discussed multi-year budgeting.

First Selectwoman Pemberton stated that municipalities borrow ideas from each other, and Wilton does a multi-year budget.

Mr. Barickman thinks that a multi-year budget frames the challenges that the Boards collectively need to address.

Chair Yonkers said that Robert’s Rules of Order limit the ability to have meaningful discussion due to the structures present. Mr. Miller said that this could be addressed with a joint meeting with a joint meeting that could facilitate an open structure.

Mr. Mazzucco said that the BOE presents budgets focusing on “budget drivers” requiring new spending and not on past spending. He said that a joint meeting should address all of the spending.

Mr. Dean said that multi-year budgeting is about perceiving trend lines. He continued by stating that everyone has a fixed view directed by current values.

Chair Yonkers said that there currently is not a workshop present on the schedule of meetings and that this would need to change to incorporate these larger ideas.

First Selectwoman Pemberton asked Mr. Gniadek about health-care savings. He answered that on a budget-to-budget comparison, this year’s savings are significant but long-term savings won’t reflect on a budget-to-budget basis.

Mr. Barickman stated that the BOE is resistant to long-term planning because they do not want to lock in to any approach.

Chair Yonkers discussed the feasibility of budget discussions as early as November.

Ms. Clark stated that she has concern about long-term planning due to her experience with it in the corporate world. People overestimate revenues, underestimate expenses, or have limited understanding of trends.

Mr. Barickman discussed the $700k swing in tax burden for the Region 9 budget from Easton to Redding that occurred this past budget season. He said if the Board had more time to approach this change, opposition to it could have been reduced.

First Selectwoman Pemberton stated she can speak with Wilton’s First Selectperson about their multi-year budgeting experience.

Chair Yonkers stated that the beginning of December is the most realistic meeting time for the BOS, BOE, and BOF. The BOS meets November 19th.  Mr. Mazzucco said meeting with the BOE an hour before their meeting could work.

Chair Yonkers asked First Selectwoman Pemberton to contact the Wilton First Selectperson.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

Mr. Higgins sent the Board balances as of September 30, 2018. The Operating Funds are tracking $600,000 ahead of last year.

Interest income is $13,000 under budget. This is due to a large amount of funds placed in treasury bills that don’t pay interest until maturity. That accrued income is $20,000 a month, so interest income is over-all tracking ahead of the budget.

  1. Review October 1, 2018 Enrollment Report

Mr. Mazzucco made a suggestion to defer the discussion until November when more data is present. The BOF received only actual enrollment figures for this year, without the context that the demographers’ report would provide.

Chair Yonkers asked Mr. Gniadek if he could contact Dr. McMorran about this.

Mr. Mazucco stated that he had asked for the enrollment as of October 1, 2018 in the context of projections and that Dr. McMorran thought it would be available in November.

Chair Yonkers said this topic can be added to the agenda for the next meeting.

Mr. Miller informed the board about the timetable of enrollment projections.

  1. BOF Presentation Policy

Chair Yonkers read the statement that Ms. Clark drafted. The statement is below:

The Board of Finance acts only through motions made at public meetings. The comments of individual board members, whether in public or private, represent their personal views and only their personal views. If a board member makes a presentation to any public body or other organization, he or she should (i) inform the chair before making the presentation and (ii) make it clear that the opinions expressed are his or hers alone and do not represent the Board as a whole unless the member was instructed by the Board to make a presentation that represents the board.

Chair Yonkers asked what should happen if someone is announced in a public setting as a member of the BOF and is asked to speak.

Ms. Clark stated that if someone declares that their statement is their own opinion and not the BOF, there is no issue.

Mr. Dean suggested a third bullet point: make it clear to those being presented to that the ideas/opinions expressed in the presentation are not the ideas/opinions of the BOF. Ms. Clark said she’ll edit the statement to reflect the changes presented.

Mr. Barickman spoke about the possibility for misinterpretation and that the importance of this statement in clarifying how to interact with the public.

Chair Yonkers asked the board if they are comfortable with the statement.

Mr. Dean spoke about public statements.

Mr. Miller said the statement is appropriate as a guideline but unenforceable as a policy.

Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to adopt as a guideline the presentation policy statement. The statement is below:

The Board of Finance acts only through motions made at public meetings. The comments of individual board members, whether in public or private, represent their personal views and only their personal views. If a board member makes a presentation to any public body or other organization, he or she should (i) inform the chair before making the presentation and (ii) make it clear that the opinions expressed are his or hers alone and do not represent the Board as a whole unless the member was instructed by the Board to make a presentation that represents the board.

Mr. Barickman seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.

  1. Report from Individual Board Members as assigned

Mr. Mazzucco reported that the BOE accepted to engage with Joe Centofanti as an agent of their board so that the audit could be completed.

  1. Correspondence and Administrative Matters

No members of the board had correspondence or administrative matters to discuss.

  1. Public Comment

Jeannie Wendschuh, Deer Spring Road, thanked the board for their discussion on strategy.

Chair Yonkers adjourned the meeting at 8:52PM.

Submitted by,
Zachary Smith

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