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Minutes of Board of Finance-Joint Meeting with Board of Selectmen and Board of Education, 12/14/2015

AGENDA: Board of Finance Meeting – Joint with Board of Selectmen and Board of Education

RECEIVED 12/16/2015 4:35pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Minutes

REDDING BOARD OF FINANCE
Joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen and the Redding Board of Education

Board of Finance: Alvarez (Chairman), Clark, Mazzucco, O’Donnell, Yonkers
Board of Selectmen: Karvelis, Pemberton, Thompson
Board of Education:  Irwin, Miller, Sobel, Hoffman, Denny
Also present: Finance Director Gniadek, Treasurer Meehan, School Superintendent McMorran, 20 members of the public, a representative of the News Times and the videographers

Chairman Alvarez called the meeting to order on December 14, 2015 at 7:30 pm in the Redding Community Center.

The Board of Selectmen meeting was also called to order at 7:30 pm

The Board of Education meeting was also called to order at 7:30 pm

APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Finance accept the minutes of the November 23, 2015 meeting as amended. Mazzucco, Clark. Approved.  Unanimous.

Amendment:  The auditor was requested to reflect the short term debt as well as the long term debt in the Auditor’s Report.

DISCUSSION OF THE 2016-17 BUDGET
Board of Selectmen: Mrs. Pemberton stated that on the Revenue side, no major increases or decreases are expected. Town services are projected to remain at current estimates.  She noted that there may be reductions to Municipal Aid given the State’s financial difficulties, and any actions on the Federal level to reduce funding to the State may impact local government.

Expenditures for department budgets are showing minor changes from the current year.  Next year will be the final year of the Police Department and Highway Department contracts (both expire June 30, 2017).  Estimates for insurance costs and Pension Plan will be available shortly.  Additional savings will be found in the Gas, Diesel, and Oil accounts because of lower costs.  Building maintenance will include an estimated $40,000 for repairs to the roof and siding of the Annex building, and an estimated $70,000 for the Umpawaug Schoolhouse repairs.

Mr. Alvarez asked about the road reconstruction project. This is the second year of the 4-year plan for roadway improvements.  With about 100 miles of roadway, the goal is to service or repair 10 miles each year.  Mrs. Pemberton will have an update on road conditions in the spring.

The Water Pollution Control Commission is anticipating a budget that is comparable to this year, about $260,000 cost to the Town.

Dr. Yonkers clarified that the union contracts will not be a factor in the next budget, but will impact the following year.  Mrs. Pemberton noted that the “Cadillac Tax” will have an impact as a cost to the town. Currently there is legislation that may delay the implementation of the program for several years.

Mrs. Pemberton provided a report from the Mark Twain Library outlining their services to the residents of Redding. The Board of Selectmen’s operating .budget includes significant funding for the Library.

Mr. Alvarez opened the meeting to Public Comment.

There were no questions or comments.

Board of Education: Chairman Sara Sobel and Superintendent Tom McMorran presented information regarding school budget planning.  Highlights included:

  • 85 of the 103 FTE position (full time equivalent) are in the top salary brackets
  • There are 84 non certificated positions (50 at Redding Elementary and 34 at John Read Middle School
  • Special Services includes students with 504 plans, IEPs, SRBI (Scientific Research Based Intervention), Counseling and Gifted/Talented programs.
  • A list of student disabilities, impairments and conditions was provided and is extensive. Included is visual & hearing impairment, seizures, cardiac conditions, anxiety, diabetes, depression, allergies, asthma, migraines, eating disorders, and others.
  • The student number decline for next year is projected to be 39 (7 at RES and 32 at JRMS.
  • Current classroom size at RES ranges from 18 to 23.5; at JRMS the range is 18-20 (not including the FPA and Special classes).
  • Educational mandates by the State are extensive and include attendance review, anti-bully programs, Common Core alignment, Safe School Climate, SRBI Intervention, Teacher evaluation, transportation, and others.  Dr. McMorran noted that the State mandates are without State funding.

There are no special initiatives planned for next year, the major drivers are the staff salaries, special education costs and insurance costs. The Board of Education goals for the budget include:

  • Fiscal discipline that accounts for appropriate staffing and program size related to student enrollment
  • Transparent, collaborative budget discussions and process
  • Ongoing K-12 vertical curriculum alignment
  • K-5 Spanish program expansion
  • Pre-K expansion, responding to current need
  • Next Generation Science Standards
  • New CT Social Studies Standards
  • Cross-district initiative opportunities
  • Community-wide long-rnage & strategic planning

Questions followed:
Mr. Karvelis requested information on the number of students being homeschooled. Mrs. Sullivan will get that number for him. He also noted during the BoE presentation Q&A that it was misleading to show ER9 as a combined entity for purposes of illustrating comparative per pupil spending with surrounding DRG-A districts and asked for the per pupil spending differential between the Easton and Redding school districts. The response from Dr. McMorran was that disaggregated Redding spending was about $2900 more per pupil than Easton, much of which was represented by higher average compensation for longer tenured Redding teaching staff.

Dr. Yonkers followed by asking whether the spending differential provided superior educational performance outcomes for students. The response by BoE members and Dr. McMorran was that Redding does better in reading scores, but not in middle school math, compared to Easton.

Mr. Mazzucco suggested that a system for the flow of information between the Board of Education and Board of Finance be worked out.  Mrs. Sobel responded she is willing to work on developing a  standard format that will facilitate consistency in the way that data and information is being distributed during the budget process.

James Miller, Middlebrook Pond Road:  Mr. Miller asked how the special education costs for Redding compared with other towns of a similar size.  Dr. McMorran responded that the range is about 9-11%, with Redding slightly on the high side with 11.8%. Mr. Miller asked how many Redding students were being sent to private schools.  Finance Director Peggy Sullivan will get that information for Mr. Miller, but believes it is about 8% of the student population.

Dana Gray, Lamppost Drive:  Mrs. Gray asked about the per pupil cost.  Mrs. Sullivan responded that per the State documentation, the cost K-12 is $20,431.  If the Region 9 cost is removed from that number, the cost is slightly higher.

Mr. Thompson asked about the long range planning being done.  Board of Education member Ed Miller responded that a long range committee met last year, and had several meetings with a committee from the Easton Board of Education.  The committee determined that real savings could only be achieved through dramatic changes, including the closing of a building, the regionalizing of the schools with Easton, etc. These decisions require the town or towns to take definitive action.  Some steps are being taken in the Redding schools; one example is the expansion of the Pre-K program. Mrs. Sobel indicated that a broader based committee, involving the community, will be put in place.

Capital Planning:  Mrs. Sullivan commented that the Facilities Planning Committee had completed work this current year on the paving and curbing of the parking lots at both schools and the design work required for the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air conditioning) at both schools. Costs for the HVAC work is currently being analyzed and will be reported to the Board of Education and Board of Finance in January. Mrs. Sullivan reported the cost estimates range from $4,000,000 to $4,700,000.  She also commented that the work needs to be done, regardless of who occupies the building. She also invited Board of Finance members to tour the facilities and will arrange a date for this.

Mrs. Sobel invited Board of Finance members to attend the Board’s budget workshop sessions in January and February.

Mrs. Pemberton noted that the Board of Selectmen Budget Workshop is scheduled for Friday, January 8, 2016.

ADJOURNMENT
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Finance meeting be adjourned. Mazzucco, Yonkers. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education meeting be adjourned.  Denny, Irwin.  Approved. Unanimous.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 pm

The Board of Selectmen meeting continued.

RESOLUTION FOR PEOPLE’S BANK DUMP TRUCK LEASE
A Lessee Resolution, required to complete the previously budgeted lease purchase of a dump truck for the Highway Department was reviewed and approved.

LESSEE RESOLUTION
RE: Municipal Lease Agreement dated as of December 14, 2015, between People’s United Bank, National Association, (Lessor) and Town of Redding (Lessee) (“Agreement”)

BE IT RESOLVED by the Governing Body (Redding Board of Selectmen) of Lessee as follows:

  1. Determination of Need. The Governing Body of Lessee has determined that a true and very real need exists for the acquisition of the Equipment described on Exhibit A of the Agreement referenced above.
  2. Approval and Authorization. The Governing Body of Lessee has determined that the Agreement, substantially in the form presented to this meeting, is in the best interests of the Lessee for the acquisition of such Equipment, and the Governing Body hereby approves the entering into of the Agreement by the Lessee and hereby designates and authorizes Stephen Gniadek, Finance Director for the Town of Redding, to execute and deliver the Agreement on Lessee’s behalf with such changes thereto as such person deems appropriate, and any related documents, including any escrow agreement, necessary to the consummation of the transaction contemplated by the Agreement.
  3. Adoption of Resolution. The signatures below from the designated individuals from the Governing Body of the Lessee evidence the adoption by the Governing Body of this Resolution.

                Dated at Redding, Connecticut this 14th day of Deceeber, 2015.

BOARD OF SELECTMEN
Julia Pemberton, First Selectman
Leon Karvelis, Selectman
Michael Thompson, Selectman

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Selectmen approve the Lessee Resolution as discussed.  Thompson, Karvelis. Approved. Unanimous.

APPOINTMENTS
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Selectmen appoint Steve Gagnon to the Zoning commission as an Alternate member.  Karvelis, Thompson. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Selectmen appoint Joan DeSalvo to the Board of Ethics.  Karvelis, Thompson. Approved. Unanimous.

EXECUTIVE SESSION
This was cancelled.

ADJOURNMENT
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting.  Karvelis, Thompson. Approved. Unanimous.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 pm.

Submitted by Mary Maday, Recording Secretary

 

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