BOARD OF FINANCE REGULAR MEETING
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2019
7:30PM TOWN HALL HEARING ROOM
Filed subject to approval.
Dr. Kimberly Yonkers, Chair; Ward Mazzucco; Jamie Barickman; Susan Clark; Ed Miller
Wes Higgins, Treasurer; Peg O’Donnell, Selectwoman; Members of the Public
Chair Yonkers called the meeting to order at 7:30PM.
1. TO APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THE BOF MEETING HELD ON MONDAY, AUGUST 26, 2019
Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to approve the minutes of the Monday, August 26, 2019 meeting. Mr. Barickman seconded the motion. There were three yes votes (Yonkers, Mazzucco, and Barickman) and two abstentions (Clark and Miller). The motion carried.
2. PUBLIC COMMENT
Chair Yonkers opened the floor to public comment. No members of the public commented.
3. TAX COLLECTOR’S REPORT
Pat Moisio was not in attendance. She sent the BOF some documents pertaining to tax data.
The collection percentage as of 8/31/2019 is 51%. This equals $25,778,183.00.
Chair Yonkers said that Ms. Moisio is planning a foreclosure sale.
4. FINANCE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Steve Gniadek was not in attendance. He did not produce a finance director’s report for September 2019.
Mr. Mazzucco discussed school enrollment figures. He said Mr. Gniadek usually obtains these figures for the October BOF meeting.
5. TREASURER’S REPORT
Wes Higgins addressed the BOF.
Mr. Higgins said there is a bit less cash compared to this point last year. He said this is due to the $550,000 transfer from the General Fund to Road Reconstruction as well as the schools’ spending. He said the schools’ spending is well ahead of last year.
Ms. Clark asked why the payables for the schools are so high. Mr. Higgins said that there were maintenance projects as well as other items that needed to be paid.
Mr. Higgins said interest income is $35,000 ahead of last year’s budget and $6,000 ahead of this year’s projected budget. He said that deposit opportunities have dropped by 15 to 20 basis points.
6. REPORTS FROM INDIVIDUAL BOARD MEMBERS AS ASSIGNED
Chair Yonkers asked Ms. Clark about the education consultant.
Ms. Clark reached out to the various heads of the boards to inform them about the consultant idea. She said there could be background conversations between the consultant and the boards. This would culminate into two public meetings where the ideas generated from the conversations are elaborated on. The focus of this whole project is the Town’s vision for education and how to achieve that vision.
Chair Yonkers asked Ms. Clark to define the education consultant proposal. Ms. Clark said she was introduced to the company Greenwich Leadership Partners and specifically the principal Stephanie Rogen at a school she was affiliated with. She was impressed with her work and thought the Town of Redding would benefit from her approach. There would be a half dozen background meetings to get the various perspectives and issues, leading up to two public meetings to incorporate all this.
Ms. Clark said the consultant’s rate would be $9,500.00.
Mr. Barickman asked if there was a formal proposal or scope of work. Ms. Clark said she will share this with the BOF.
Mr. Barickman asked what the product of these discussions would be. Ms. Clark said this produce a common vision and understanding to guide the upcoming budget process.
Mr. Miller stated the amount of money being used is below the RFP threshold. He said he is comfortable with this. Ms. Clark said that Ms. Rogen is a specialist in her field.
Ms. Clark said Mr. Gniadek suggested that this consultant could be funded through contingency. She said that the BOF only has one use of contingency funds for the whole year.
Ms. Clark said there is a time limit for the effectiveness of this project and decisions need to be made soon. She said there could be a vote tonight to approve the consultant. She said the BOE should vote on this so that everyone has buy-in.
Selectman O’Donnell said Region 9 wouldn’t be part of this because of Easton. She said that this would be Redding focused and that Region 9 can do their own consulting experience.
Mr. Barickman said that Region 9 should be included in this process, or at the least, Redding members of Region 9 should be included.
Mr. Miller said for now, this project can be limited to the BOF, BOE, and BOS. He said any future discussions can include Region 9.
Mr. Mazzucco asked what action the BOF can do tonight concerning this topic. Chair Yonkers said a motion needs to be made to add this to the agenda
Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to add the consultant topic to the agenda. Mr. Miller seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
Chair Yonkers said the BOF should discuss if they’re supportive of the consultant idea and if using contingency funds to pay for it.
Mr. Mazzucco said he is supportive of the consultant because he wants news ideas and consensus on how to move forward.
Mr. Barickman is supportive of this action because it is an inclusive process and will lead to more fundamental and strategic planning.
Chair Yonkers described the scope of work the consultant would carry out. She said there will be 4-6 targeted interviews with the various boards followed by two long public meetings.
Mr. Barickman said Regionalization will inevitably be discussed in these interviews and meetings. Ms. Clark said this topic can be discussed in a future consultation, but will not be the focus of this project. Chair Yonkers said it is reasonable for members of Region 9 to attend the meetings.
Mr. Mazzucco said budget driver meetings are unhelpful and that this consultation may produce a more useful viewpoint for budgets.
Ms. Clark said that no individual person in the Town of Redding owns the strategic vision for education. She said the boards need to be unified in their vision for the future of education.
Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to make a recommendation to the BOE, BOS, and Redding members of Region 9 to participate in the process with the consultant Greenwich Leadership Partners with funding to be determined by BOS, BOF, and BOE if they agree to move forward. Ms. Clark seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
Mr. Barickman met with Dr. Tom McMorran, Superintendent of Schools, and Scott Reiss, Finance Director for the BOE, about long-term planning. He said that they are supportive about a rolling three-year budgeting process. The workload that both Dr. McMorran and Mr. Reiss have is a challenge to implementing this process so it must be easy and seamless. They will look at their current process and apply it multi-year budgeting.
Mr. Mazzucco said Mr. Centofanti found many inaccuracies in how the schools recorded special services spending. He asked if Mr. Centofanti should be brought in to look at how this has improved. Ms. Clark said the school year just started and the Special Services director needs more time to implement improvements.
7. CORRESPONDENCE AND ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
Mr. Barickman asked if the consultant could analyze the budgeting process currently used. Ms. Clark said the conversation will be higher level and focus on values.
Mr. Mazzucco said that several years prior the BOF suggested a budget the town could afford to the BOE. He said the BOE ignored this suggestion.
Chair Yonkers said the discussions of the “town we want” versus the “town we can afford” are very different.
Selectwoman O’Donnell discussed the current Town Survey. She encouraged residents to participate in this survey and described how to access it.
Chair Yonkers discussed next steps for the consultant. She said she could talk with Mr. Gniadek and First Selectwoman Pemberton about fiscal metrics. There will be longitudinal data included in these metrics. Ms. Clark said that there needs to be three or five thoughts about numbers to drive the discussion. Mr. Barickman said there needs to be a relevant direction to act on.
Chair Yonkers asked Ms. Clark to communicate with the BOE and the BOS about engaging the consultant.
8. PUBLIC COMMENT
Jim Lang, Black Rock Turnpike, said getting the word out about the website survey has been difficult. He suggested using posters and lawn signs to advertise. He also said working with a consultant is a great idea.
Mr. Miller said the timeline to take action on the consultant is tight and communication is key.
Peg O’Donnell, 47 Chestnut Woods Road, said the enrollment question is very important. She mentioned the Danbury News Times coverage on surrounding town’s enrollment. She said Danbury and Bethel had large increases in enrollment versus Ridgefield and Wilton, which had significantly lower enrollment. Ms. Clark suggested that to even out the enrollment in Redding, students from Bethel and Danbury could attend Redding schools.
Chair Yonkers adjourned the meeting at 8:28PM.