Town of Redding
Board of Finance Regular Meeting MINUTES
Filed Subject to Approval.
Present: Dr. Kimberly Yonkers, Chair; Ward Mazzucco, Vice Chair; Rob Dean; Jamie Barickman; Ed Miller; Jenifer Wyss
Also Present: Steve Gniadek, Finance Director; Pat Moisio, Tax Collector; Wes Higgins, Treasurer; First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton; John Ford, Tax Assessor; Chris Parkin, BOE; Members of the Public
Chair Yonkers called the meeting to order at 7:33PM.
1. To Approve the Minutes of the BOF Meeting held on January 25, 2021.
MOTION: Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to approve the minutes of the BOF meeting held on Monday, 1/25/2021. Mr. Dean seconded the motion.
Jenifer Wyss asked about a sentence in item 3, Tax Collector’s Report. The sentence was, “The Town of Redding is in good shape compared to the rest of the US currently”. Ms. Wyss asked if this was an accurate statement. Mr. Smith confirmed that this was stated in the meeting.
The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.
2. Public Comment Chair Yonkers opened the floor to Public Comment.
Mike D’Agostino, Glen Hill Road, discussed the snowstorm that occurred on Monday, 2/1/2021 and how this affected tax payments. He asked if the Tax Collector will address this issue. Discussion followed tax collection and the statutes that govern it.
John Reilly, Drummer Hill Lane, asked the BOF to carefully consider the Enhancing Redding Group Report. Discussion followed concerning what can be added to an agenda, advocacy groups, and Public Comment.
3. Tax Collector’s Report Pat Moisio addressed the BOF.
Due to Covid-19, the Town predicted a collection rate of 98% for FY 2020-2021 as opposed to the usual 99% collection rate. This 98% collection has been met and exceeded by $200k.
4. Finance Director’s Report Steve Gniadek addressed the BOF.
OPEB Advisory Agreement
The consulting contract with DiMeo Schneider & Associates, L.L.C. has been reviewed by Town Counsel, and the recommended changes have been incorporated. The document has been circulated to the BOF, BOS, and Treasurer. The OPEB Trust Board was set up and approved via ordinance on Thursday, 2/18/2021. Accordingly, they now have the authority to approve this agreement.
Fiduciary Liability Insurance
Mr. Gniadek has received a quote to cover the BOF members acting as the OPEB trust board and any Town employee who acts as a fiduciary (such as the Finance Director for the 457 Pension Plan). The proposal has been forwarded to Town Counsel for review and comment.
2020-2021 Revenue Actual Update
All items are currently budgeted for next year at the same level as this year (excluding Covid-related, which are a pass through from the Federal Government). In addition, there is a new grant of $61,638 for Federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief).
2020-2021 Expense Actual
There are three accounts which have already exceeded their budget for the year by $20k or more:
Police Department Overtime $25k
Unemployment Compensation $20k
Ms. Wyss asked Mr. Gniadek if there was an estimate for legal expenses for the rest of FY 2020-2021. First Selectwoman Pemberton said the bulk of this year’s legal budget has been applied to tax appeals and the Meadow Ridge litigation. This should continue for the rest of the FY.
5. Treasurer’s Report
This item was not addressed.
6. Grand List October 1st, 2020 John Ford addressed the BOF.
For 2020, the Grand List increased by 0.1678%, which is an increase of approximately $2 million.
Ms. Wyss asked how the changes and estimates were established for the Net Grand List Estimated Changes Worksheet. Mr. Ford says he uses a running average amongst the various areas of the Grand List. These are reasonable estimates.
Ms. Wyss asked if any of the actual changes were higher or lower than expected. Mr. Ford said the changes were as expected.
Chair Yonkers asked Mr. Ford about home prices and if the trend for increasing prices should continue. Mr. Ford said if this trend continues, this should increase the 2022 revaluation. The median home sale increased by 15% in the past year.
Chair Yonkers asked Mr. Ford about the State of CT and automobile taxes. Mr. Ford said there was legislation proposed where the State would receive more money from property taxes. Ms. Moisio said there was a proposal where the DMV would collect motor vehicle taxes and pocket a percentage.
7. 2021-2022 Budget Updates – BOE and BOS
Chris Parkin addressed the BOF and presented an update on the BOE budget process.
Mr. Barickman asked about the Health Insurance increase and how the BOE is rethinking their health plan. Mr. Parkin said the Town would not save money if all employees were covered by the self-insurance plan. The stop-loss limit could be lowered to reduce cost. A public option could supplement the current plan if passed through the state legislature. Discussion followed.
Ms. Wyss asked if there are any capital requests coming soon. Mr. Parkin said any capital requests would be small.
Ms. Wyss asked Mr. Parkin if shifting costs from the BOE budget to the BOS budget would create an inaccurate representation of the total cost to run the schools. Mr. Parkin said the accounting accuracy has been maintained in other school districts that have shifted costs.
Chair Yonkers asked Mr. Parkin if any non-certified staff will be receiving a raise. Mr. Parkin said the only non-certified staff that would be receiving a pay increase would be the Finance Director.
First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton addressed the BOF and presented an update on the BOS budget.
Mr. Mazzucco asked First Selectwoman Pemberton if the Town needs a Phase 1 Environmental Study for the Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill site. First Selectwoman Pemberton said since the late 1990’s, there have been multiple environmental studies that go up to Phase 3. A Phase 1 study would analyze these prior reports.
Chair Yonkers asked First Selectwoman Pemberton about prior grant applications and the chances of approval. First Selectwoman Pemberton said this grant is a Brownfield grant that has a higher chance of success than other grants the Town of Redding engages in.
8. OPEB Trust Advisory Agreement
Mr. Gniadek said the OPEB Trust Board has been set up by ordinance and discussion can move forward on hiring advisors and the initial investment amount.
Mr. Mazzucco asked the BOF if the OPEB Trust Advisory Agreement should be a separate meeting with a separate agenda. Various members of the BOF discussed next steps.
Chair Yonkers stated that the BOF will have a separate meeting to address the OPEB Trust Advisory Agreement.
9. Enhancing Redding Group Report
Claudio Rodrigo, Umpawaug Road, addressed the BOF. He gave an explainer of what the Enhancing Redding Group is and its purpose.
Chris Hesketh-Tutton presented the Enhancing Redding Future (ERF) Group Report to the BOF.
Mr. Dean asked Mr. Hesketh-Tutton about the tax component of the data. Mr. Hesketh-Tutton said this data was sourced from Zillow and other publicly available sources.
Mr. Barickman asked Mr. Hesketh-Tutton if this report was shared with the BOE and Region 9. Mr. Hesketh-Tutton said this was shared with the BOE, Region 9, the principal of Joel Barlow, and the superintendent. Mr. Barickman followed up by asking if Mr. Hesketh-Tutton will attend the budget workshops. Mr. Hesketh-Tutton said he will converse with his group about this.
10. Other Business
There was no other business discussed.
11. Public Comment Chair Yonkers opened the floor to Public Comment.
Sarah O’Dell, 214 Black Rock Turnpike, suggested that the ERF should reach out to the educators about current issues in education. Mr. Dean stated that the BOF is not endorsing a group by allowing a presentation at a meeting.
Chris Parkin, Indian Hill Road, said the ERF has not communicated with the BOE. Discussion followed concerning the data highlighted in the presentation.
Carolyn Baker, 15 Indian Hill Road, said data manipulation is creating polarization and extreme caution should be taken when private citizens present data in a public forum. Chair Yonkers said it is important for the BOF to provide a forum for discussion and dissemination of useful data.
Chair Yonkers adjourned the meeting at 9:49PM.