TOWN OF REDDING
BOARD OF FINANCE MEETING
TOWN HALL HEARING ROOM
Filed subject to approval.
Dr. Kimberly Yonkers, Chair; Ward Mazzucco, Vice Chair; Jenifer Wyss; Jamie Barickman; Rob Dean; Ed Miller
Steve Gniadek, Finance Director; Pat Moisio, Tax Collector; Wes Higgins, Treasurer; First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton; Selectwoman Peg O’Donnell; Katherine Stauffer, WPCC Administrator; Members of the Public
Chair Yonkers called the meeting to order at 7:30PM.
1. TO APPROVE MINUTES OF BOF MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 12/18/2019
Vice Chair Mazzucco made a motion to approve the minutes of the BOF meeting held on Wednesday, 12/18/2019. Mr. Miller seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
2. PUBLIC COMMENT
Chair Yonkers opened the floor to public comment. There was no public comment.
3. TAX COLLECTOR’S REPORT
Ms. Moisio addressed the BOF.
As of December 31st, 63% of FY 2020 taxes have been collected. As of Monday, 2/3/2020, 96.6% of FY 2020 taxes have been collected.
There are 340 households that haven’t paid FY 2020 taxes. Payments are still arriving in the mail.
The tax sale process has begun. 11 parcels owe taxes back to the 2015 grand list (due July 2016). The process takes 12-16 weeks.
The Georgetown project has $2.5m in outstanding taxes, $2.8m in interest, and $28k in liens. The delta payment to the WPCC is $3,137,000.
Chair Yonkers asked about the litigation concerning Georgetown. First Selectwoman Pemberton said the case is going to the CT Supreme Court and could take a year to be resolved.
Mr. Mazzucco made a suggestion to the BOF about the Tax Collector’s Report. He suggested that Ms. Moisio shows up at two meetings a year, and the rest of the meetings can have written reports. Mr. Dean said two meetings a year are too little, but quarterly could work. Discussion followed.
Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to have the Tax Collector present at four BOF meetings a year. These dates would be agreed upon by the Tax Collector and the BOF Chair. A written report will be provided for every BOF meeting. Mr. Dean seconded the motion. Chair Yonkers said documents would need to be provided at least a week in advance of the meetings. Mr. Barickman suggested to defer to the tax collector. Discussion followed concerning how this should be organized.
Mr. Dean made an amendment to the motion to have the Tax Collector present at BOF meetings quarterly as determined by the Tax Collector and the BOF Chair. Mr. Miller seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
4. FINANCE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. Gniadek addressed the BOF.
Bond Length vs. Useful Life:
There are no statutory regulations requiring the bond length to be linked to the useful life of the equipment or capital improvements the bond is paying for.
The Town has historically used a 20-year bond, but a shorter bond length, 10 or 15 years, results in savings concerning interest.
There was a conference call with Mr. Gniadek, Chair Yonkers, Ms. Wyss, and the Finance Directors of Weston and Westport. The discussion centered on how those Towns created and administer their OPEB Trust.
CCM is hosting this on Thursday, 2/13/2020. 30 People have signed up and spots are still available for Town employees.
The Selectman’s Budget is $15,248,997, which is an increase of $258,533 or 1.72%.
Fuel Oil Consortium:
Town has locked in fuel oil prices for FY 2021. The price per gallon will be $2.03 per gallon versus this year’s $2.105 per gallon. This is a 3.5% reduction in price.
The State is holding these payments as a bargaining tool for Transportation funding. These should be released after the Transportation issue is worked out.
Ms. Wyss asked Mr. Gniadek about the new GASB standard on leases and how this will be implemented. Mr. Gniadek said he has discussed this with Scott Reiss. The schools have many operating leases as compared to the town, which has less than five. The Town will work closely with RSM to implement this new standard.
5. TREASURER’S REPORT
Mr. Higgins addressed the BOF.
The Town is $13,000 ahead on interest and $1.3m ahead on cash balances as of December 31st, 2019.
Mr. Higgins began his discussion on Forward Looking Mill Rate Projections.
There has been a gradual increase in taxes over the past 10 years. The increase averages to under 1.5% per year. This is due to declining school enrollment, low inflation, and low interest rates.
Chair Yonkers suggested that the BOF move to item 6 and come back to the Forward Looking Mill Rate Projections later.
6. SELECTMEN’S BUDGET WORKSHOP COMMENTS
Chair Yonkers asked First Selectwoman Pemberton about the Facilities Manager position. FS Pemberton said that it is a full-time position. This would be a six-figure salary position.
FS Pemberton said there could be a consolidation of personnel instead of hiring a new full-time employee. This would require a reduction in on-call positions, increase in salary and responsibilities for an existing full-time position, and a new permanent part-time position.
Mr. Mazzucco asked if this position is created, isn’t there a possible risk of increased maintenance costs in future budgets. FS Pemberton said that there could be an increase in maintenance costs, but these would reduce or eliminate equipment and building replacement costs.
Discussion followed concerning employee responsibilities and how to distribute these most efficiently.
Mr. Mazzucco asked when this may happen. FS Pemberton said the Town would start with this process and have the schools come in the following year.
Chair Yonkers asked FS Pemberton about increasing the social work staff at the Senior Center. FS Pemberton said a former intern was retained and became an hourly position. This staff member is looking for other work. Moving forward, there needs to be another staff member.
Mr. Barickman asked about Long-Term Budgeting/Capital Planning. FS Pemberton said there is a five-year capital plan. She said salaries are easy to predict and represent the largest amount of growth in the budget.
Ms. Wyss asked about the Park and Recreation Departments capital items. FS Pemberton said the Pavilion has been on the Capital Plan and the grant money available for it has expired.
FS Pemberton suggested that the Pavilion be put on the referendum budget as a separate line item vote.
Mr. Mazzucco asked about the School Resource Officers (SROs) and how they are budgeted. FS Pemberton said Region 9 reimburses the Town for their SRO. RES and JRMS do not reimburse the town for their SROs. Discussion followed on how to account and administer the SROs.
Ms. Wyss asked FS Pemberton about a possible lease agreement concerning a cell tower for the communications upgrade. FS Pemberton said the PD had a memorandum of understanding with the State of CT to use a rack on the Old Redding Road tower without paying. This changed, and the Town has to pay for a rack. The proposed monthly cost would be $2,000 a month ($24,000 a year) for 10 years.
7. FORWARD LOOKING MILL RATE PROJECTIONS
Mr. Higgins addressed the BOF.
Spending levels and taxes have been fairly stable over the last 10 years.
The last 10 years have seen declining school enrollment, low inflation, and low cost debt, resulting in moderate increases in spending.
Looking at the next 10 years, the school population is stabilizing, employee costs are rising, and fees/grants have declined.
Discussion followed concerning taxes and tax burden.
8. DEBT POLICY REVISION
Mr. Higgins shared the BOF policy, the GFOA recommendations, and the debt policy plan from a city in the Midwest. He said the BOF needs to direct the Treasurer as to what the debt policy should be.
9. OPEB TRUST STUDY
Ms. Wyss updated the BOF on the research done by Mr. Gniadek, Chair Yonkers, and herself. There was a conference call including the Westport and Weston Finance Directors. Many towns have OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) trusts to pay for their OPEB liabilities.
The Town of Redding’s OPEB liability is $3.3m.
Discussion followed concerning if the trust should be established and how it should be managed.
Chair Yonkers asked to table this discussion till the next meeting. Mr. Gniadek and Ms. Wyss will continue to research possible OPEB options.
10. BOE INSURANCE RESERVE UPDATE
Mr. Barickman asked Mr. Gniadek what the BOE is doing to keep their Health Insurance Reserve Fund well-funded. Mr. Gniadek said the target for healthcare reserve funds should be two to three months of claims. He said that there are three separate funds (Redding, Easton, and Region 9). In the past, the reserve funds have covered each other when one fund is in the red.
Mr. Barickman asked what the process is if one of the funds has been depleted. Discussion followed about claims averages.
11. RESTRUCTURING AND COOPERATION WITH OTHER BOARDS
Mr. Mazzucco said the Health Insurance Reserve Fund update is a great example of increased communication amongst the boards.
Chair Yonkers asked for the BOF to table this topic until the next meeting.
12. REPORTS FROM INDIVIDUAL BOARD MEMBERS AS ASSIGNED
Chair Yonkers said there will be a report on the Debt Policy in the future.
13. CORRESPONDENCE AND ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
There was no correspondence and administrative matters discussed.
14. PUBLIC COMMENT
Mr. Miller made a motion to move the public comment before the executive session of this meeting. Mr. Mazzucco seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
Chair Yonkers opened the floor to public comment.
Selectwoman Peg O’Donnell asked the BOF if they will be making a decision following the executive session. Chair Yonkers said they will not be making a decision.
15. EXECUTIVE SESSION – DISCUSSION OF REDUCTION IN TIME DEDICATED TO JOB POSITION
Chair Yonkers convened the Executive Session at 9:49PM.
The executive session and general meeting was adjourned at 10:35PM.