BOARD OF FINANCE
MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2019
TOWN HALL HEARING ROOM
Filed Subject to Approval
Dr. Kimberly Yonkers, Chair; Ward Mazzucco; Rob Dean; Susan Clark; Jamie Barickman; Ed Miller
Steve Gniadek, Finance Director; Pat Moisio, Tax Collector; First Selectwoman Pemberton; Selectman Michael Thompson; Selectwoman Peg O’Donnell; Dr. Melinda Irwin, BOE Chair; Dr. Tom McMorran, Superintendent; Mike D’Agostino, Region 9 Chair; Members of the Public
Chair Yonkers called the meeting to order at 7:32PM.
1. TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE BOF MEETINGS ON FEBRUARY 25, 2019 AND MARCH 14, 2019
Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to approve the minutes of the February 25, 2019 meeting. Ms. Clark seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 14, 2019 meeting. Ms. Clark seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
2. PUBLIC COMMENT
Chair Yonkers opened the floor for public comment.
David Pattee, Pine Mountain Road, asked the BOF why combining the administrations of RES and JRMS is impractical.
Jeff Fligelman, Pocahontas Road, said Redding has one of the highest cost per pupil for public schools in the State of CT. He said cost per pupil is a misleading measurement of how effective budgeting could be.
Stan Rhode, Five Archers Lane, said the proposed budget is not business as usual. He asked the BOE to maintain Redding’s status as a DRG A district.
Chris Racette, Drummer Lane, wants the BOF to support the BOE’s budget.
Linda Myer-Mitchell, 50 Huckleberry Road, said the BOE budget is responsible and that she supports it.
Mike Ritme, Sunset Hill Road, said the Town needs a Facilities Manager to assist with long-term facilities maintenance.
Steven Wittle, Clover Brook Lane, said the BOF should pass the BOE budget onto voters. He said the BOS budget should not include funding for the advertising campaign.
Max Anstett, 60 Whortleberry Road, asked the BOF to support the BOE budget.
Kristen Anstett, 60 Whortleberry Road, said that if Gifted and Talented is lost it will be hard to get back. She asked the BOF to pass and support the BOE budget.
Seana Bedard, Winding Brook Lane, said she is concerned about the Friends of Redding plan.
Tricia Sorrels Doyle, 12 Church Hill Lane, read her son’s (Weston Doyle) statement and asked the BOF to increase the BOE budget.
Sarah O’Dell, Black Rock Turnpike, said that support for Spanish in the BOE budget is important.
3. TAX COLLECTOR’S REPORT
Ms. Moisio presented her report.
The total budget for FY 2019-2020 of $42,072,658 was collected at the end of February. As of today, 92 Properties have not fully paid their taxes.
The tax sale starts on May 1, 2019. The criteria for the sale is non-payment for either three years or a total of $26,000 or more owed. $307,000 can be collected through this tax sale.
Mr. Barickman asked Ms. Moisio how this year has been different from prior years. Ms. Moisio said some procedures have changed, but overall it has been similar to previous years.
4. FINANCE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. Gniadek presented his report.
The BOE Procedural Audit draft report has been published by Joseph Centofanti of PKFOD. Chair Yonkers asked Mr. Gniadek to invite Mr. Centofanti to address the BOF about the completed audit.
Mr. Mazzucco said that record-keeping in Special Education, as of the review period two years ago, could be improved based on Mr. Centofanti’s findings. He suggested the BOE staff should be trained to improve record-keeping. Discussion followed.
Chair Irwin said any additional funds the BOE uses to support better procedure is supported by her.
Mr. Gniadek said the Audit was funded through contingency in a prior year, so no funds remain available to pay for the training. The leftover money has been reallocated to the Unassigned Fund Balance. Mr. Centofanti held to his initial offer price for the audit.
The BOF discussed how to fund this training. They encouraged the Tri-Boards to support this kind of training. Chair Yonkers agreed with this possibility but felt that this year the expenditure may not be needed until we have a sense of whether the new director of special education has greater experience with record keeping. It would be reasonable to check back in a year or two in order to monitor improvement.
Mr. Gniadek reminded the BOF that they have the authority to approve one transfer in excess of $20,000 without a town meeting. He said this must come from the Contingency account
Mr. Gniadek said the Capital Non-Recurring Fund (CNRE) can be used to fund projects in excess of $25,000. He said that the Town’s debt management policy states that only projects greater than $100,000 can be funded through short and long term debt. The current balance is $934k. These expenditures require approval at a town meeting.
Mr. Gniadek said that the Local Capital Improvement Fund (LoCip) can only be used when specifically requested. He said the value of this fund is almost $700k.
Mr. Gniadek reminded the BOF that the budget needs to be approved by Monday, April 1 for publication in the Ridgefield Press. He said that Town Counsel has issued an opinion on which types of newspaper circulations can be used for specific types of notices.
5. TREASURER’S REPORT
Mr. Higgins could not be present for the meeting to present his report.
6. FIRE DISTRICTS RADIO UPGRADE PROJECT
Chair Yonkers invited the Fire Districts to present their project.
Ben Pardee from Redding Fire District #1 addressed the BOF. He said some LoCip funds have been used to support the design phase of the project. Piercon Solutions LLC. is the consultant that did the design work. When the equipment is purchased, it will be purchased at the State Bid price.
Chair Yonkers asked Mr. Pardee about the number of radio vendors the State uses. Mr. Pardee said he did not know how many, but assumed that there are half a dozen radio vendors on the market.
Chair Yonkers asked if the design phase was put out to bid. Mr. Pardee said there are few radio consultants who aren’t equipment vendors, and this was important for the Fire Districts. He said they wanted the consultant to design the project without a specific equipment vendor in mind. The BOF discussed the importance of competitive bidding but recognized that in this instance of a design vendor, there were few options and it was therefore appropriate that three bids were not obtained.
Mr. Pardee said the Town uses Northeastern Communications (NORCOM), and the Fire Districts use Utility Communications. He said the State Bid pricing is competitive.
Mr. Pardee said the Fire Districts are asking the Town for approximately $1,000,000 for the infrastructure. He said that the Fire Districts will fund the radios themselves.
Chair Yonkers encouraged the public to read the report about the Radio Upgrade Project.
7. BOS REQUEST FOR TRANSFER FROM CONTINGENCY
First Selectwoman Pemberton asked the BOF to approve a transfer of $50,000 from the Contingency fund to complete maintenance projects for FY 2019-2020.
The BOF addressed the itemized list of maintenance projects.
First Selectwoman Pemberton discussed the importance of proactive maintenance work and clarified that the initial priority items would cost about $50,000.
Mr. Gniadek said the BOF can approve the transfer from the Contingency fund without detail.
Chair Yonkers asked First Selectwoman Pemberton to read requested repairs.
Ms. Clark asked to confirm that this money is for building repairs.
Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to approve the transfer of contingency funding of $50,000 to the building maintenance budget for various maintenance repair projects in FY 2018-2019. Mr. Barickman seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
8. BOS AND BOE BUDGET UPDATE
Chair Irwin updated the BOF about the BOE budget.
The BOE unanimously approved a budget of $22,067,447, which is an increase of 4.4% from the FY 2019-2020. This is a reduction from the previous proposed budget. Spanish is included in this budget. The BOE vote to approve was unanimous.
18 new students are expected to be attending RES next year. She said the average class size will be 18 for Kindergarten, 19.5 for 1st Grade, 18 for 2nd Grade, 19 for 3rd Grade, and 23 for 4th grade.
The primary three increases for the 2019-2020 budget are the pension, special education, and health insurance. There is one restoration of $35,000 for extracurricular programs. Other costs are negative 0.44%.
Dr. McMorran addressed the question about administration in the schools. He said that a secretary position has been cut at both RES and JRMS over the past two years. The reason there are two principals and vice principals is due to the increase in work for administration. Teacher Evaluations and Scientific Research Based Interventions (SRBI) require more administration. Safety concerns require more administration.
Mr. Barickman asked how the BOE arrived at this budget. Chair Irwin said the BOE wanted to maintain programs, and that the $112,000 that was not previously assigned helped support this decision.
Mr. Barickman said that General Education has felt $700,000 of cuts over the past two years.
Dr. McMorran said he takes responsibility for the missing $112,000. He said this was approximately 0.5% of the budget. Better information means better budgeting.
Mr. Miller asked Dr. McMorran about class sizes He said the average elementary school class size for the state of CT is lower than Redding’s class size. Dr. McMorran said elementary school class sizes in the teens benefit students in the long-run.
Chair Yonkers asked Dr. McMorran about Central Office budget increases. Dr. McMorran said an HR clerk was added. Salaries have not increased as much as the salaries in the schools but he could not recall the exact amount of central office increases. Mileage reimbursement has increased.
Mr. Barickman asked how the programs or quality of education have changed for the General Education students. Dr. McMorran said insurance is a wild-card. He discussed teacher salaries. Special Education is 26% of the budget. Arts programs have decreased. Professional Development has decreased.
Chair Yonkers asked what the BOE would do if the State does not go through with the pension changes. Dr. McMorran said that the BOE would be looking to restore some of the cut positions and programs.
Chair Yonkers asked the BOS about their update.
First Selectwoman Pemberton said the BOS did not make any changes to their budget. She said the Registrars asked for an additional 14 hours a week. This adds $20,000 to their budget, increasing it by 36%.
Mr. Mazzucco asked about the Friends of Redding request. First Selectwoman Pemberton discussed how this came into being. She said that she hears about the struggles of selling homes in Redding.
First Selectwoman Pemberton discussed CMERS and regionalization.
Mr. Barickman asked about economic development and non-property tax revenue. First Selectwoman Pemberton said there is limited space for commercial development. She said this is due to zoning, planning, and property holders. The properties available need beautification. Georgetown has the best opportunity for new business in Redding.
Ms. Clark said an economic development commission would find answers to business challenges that haven’t been discovered yet.
Mr. Dean said there is non-residential real estate development potential in Redding, but there are issues that must be solved: zoning, water pollution control, and parking.
Mr. Dean said by cutting planning and legal budgets, the Town is exposing itself to risk and reducing its ability to develop a long-term plan. First Selectwoman Pemberton said the Town is not exposed and that the Planning duties are being handled.
Mr. Miller said the BOS needs to table the Friends of Redding idea for next year’s budget. Mr. Dean said that the Friends of Redding need to show demonstrated competence before they can be given Town aid.
Chair Yonkers asked the BOS and BOE to work together to develop a Facilities Manager position.
Mr. Barickman said that Redding doesn’t have an awareness issue. He said the Friends of Redding disproportionately represent a specific group of residents.
Mr. Dean said maintaining the Planning Commission is important. First Selectwoman Pemberton said that Planning has not been cut, but re-allocated.
Chair D’Agostino said the Region 9 budget has been maintained.
9. 2019-2020 BUDGET DISCUSSION
Mr. Mazzucco said the BOF will wait to hear back from the BOS.
Mr. Dean said the Planning Commission or Legal Budget should have money re-allocated to them.
Mr. Miller said that the Facilities Manager position should be pursued. First Selectwoman Pemberton said the BOS had a long discussion about the Facilities Manager position. Mr. Dean said that this should be an agenda item for the FY 2020-2021 budget.
First Selectwoman Pemberton asked the BOF what their direction is for the BOS. The BOF said
for the BOS to maintain their budget and look over it to see if any spending can be reduced.
10. REPORTS FROM INDIVIDUAL BOARD MEMBERS AS ASSIGNED
Mr. Mazzucco said that Mr. Higgins had good ideas about the Town’s investment policy. Mr. Higgins suggested having a representative of the BOF and a representative of the BOS come to a meeting with him to discuss the Town’s investment policy.
Ms. Clark made a motion to appoint a member of the BOF for the Investment Policy meeting. Mr. Barickman seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
Mr. Mazzucco volunteered to work with Mr. Higgins about the Investment Policy. Mr. Barickman is the backup volunteer in case Mr. Mazzucco is not available.
11. CORRESPONDENCE AND ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
Chair Yonkers said the BOF needs to vote by Monday, April 1st on the BOS, BOE, and total budget.
The BOF decided to vote on the proposed budgets.
The proposed BOS is $14,990,463, which is an increase of $291,702, or a 1.98% increase.
Ms. Clark motioned to approve the proposed BOS budget of $14,990,463. Mr. Mazzucco seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
The BOE proposed budget is $22,067,447.00, which is an increase of $937,768, or a 4.44% increase.
Ms. Clark motioned to approve the proposed BOE budget of $22,067,447. Mr. Dean seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
The total proposed budget for FY 2019-2020
Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to recommend to voters the proposed budget of $37,057,910. Mr. Miller seconded the motion.
Mr. Mazzucco withdrew the previous motion because it did not include Redding’s share of the Region 9 budget.
Mr. Mazzucco motioned to recommend to voters the proposed total budget of $50,960,997. Mr. Miller seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
First Selectwoman Pemberton and Mr. Gniadek discussed the Capital Items that will appear on the referendum.
Mr. Mazzucco made a motion that the BOF recommends a capital expenditure of up to $2,500,000.00 for Police and Fire infrastructure, using short-term borrowing and pending long-term bonding. Mr. Miller seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to approve a capital expenditure not to exceed $400,000 for the Station Road Bridge Project funded through existing state resources. This will be sent to the BOS for a Special Town Meeting. Mr. Miller seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
12. PUBLIC COMMENT
Wayne Jones, Long Meadow Road, asked what the overall increase to the budget will be. The BOF said there is a 3.52% increase on the overall budget.
Dennis Pelz Paget, Redding Ridge, thanked the BOF.
Chris Parkin, Indian Hill Road, thanked the BOF.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:00PM.