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Minutes of Board of Finance Public Hearing, 03/18/2021

AGENDA: Board of Finance Public Hearing

RECEIVED 03/30/2021 12:31pm
Kathleen R. Miserendino - Redding Deputy Town Clerk

Town of Redding
Board of Finance Minutes
Public Hearing Thursday, 3/18/2021
7:30PM Zoom

Filed subject to approval.

Present:  Dr. Kimberly Yonkers, Chair; Ward Mazzucco, Vice Chair; Jamie Barickman; Rob Dean; Ed Miller; Jenifer Wyss

Also Present:  First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton; Chris Parkin, Redding Board of Education; Dr. Rydell Harrison, Superintendent of Schools; Clarence Zachery, ER9 Finance Director; Steve Gniadek, Finance Director; Todd Johnston, Region 9 Board of Education; Members of the Public

1.      Call to Order.
Chair Yonkers called the meeting to order at 7:30PM.

2.      To Approve the Minutes of the BOF Meeting held on Monday, 2/22/2021.
Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to approve the minutes of the BOF meeting held on Monday, 2/22/2021. Mr. Dean seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.

3.      Budget Presentations

Board of Selectman
First Selectwoman Pemberton presented to the BOF.

Chair Yonkers asked FS Pemberton if any of the Capital Projects would be eligible for Covid Reimbursements. FS Pemberton said none of the presented Capital Projects are eligible for Covid Reimbursement. Any eligible projects would be reimbursed.

Mr. Barickman asked FS Pemberton how the Town of Redding will handle the Covid Relief Funds. FS Pemberton said this is a work-in-progress and that the BOF would be involved when the funds arrive.

Mr. Barickman asked FS Pemberton about tax revenues and why the proposed increase is so large. FS Pemberton said she will double-check this number.

Mr. Barickman asked FS Pemberton what the net increase in salaries for the Town is. FS Pemberton said the detail for these increases is found in the object summary.

Mr. Barickman asked FS Pemberton how this budget addresses the effects that Covid-19 has brought to the Town of Redding. FS Pemberton said in this budget, departments are requesting items that were tabled in the last budget. The Park & Rec Summer Camp is being restored in this budget. Discussion followed concerning other changes in the budget and Covid relief.

Ms. Wyss asked FS Pemberton to share the presentation with the BOF.

Mr. Dean asked FS Pemberton about the Park & Rec portion of the budget. FS Pemberton clarified how the Park & Rec budget functions.

Chair Yonkers asked FS Pemberton for clarification on the leased equipment. FS Pemberton said every lease is for a new vehicle. Discussion followed concerning buying the vehicles outright versus leasing them.

Mr. Miller made a motion to alter the agenda and allow Public Comment after each of the budget presentations. Mr. Mazzucco seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.

Public Comment
Chair Yonkers opened the floor to Public Comment.

Stuart Green, 180 Umpawaug Road, stated the Conservation Commission is pleased to see the Lonetown Marsh Boardwalk project included in the Capital Projects section of the BOS budget. Discussion followed concerning the trail name and the condition of the boardwalk.

Mike D’Agostino, 18 Glen Hill Road, asked if residents will be able to view the entire BOS budget like the BOE budgets are available. He also asked how Capital Projects would be presented to the public. FS Pemberton said the budget would be available to view and that the Capital Items would be presented individually at a referendum.

Board of Education
Chris Parkin and Dr. Rydell Harrison presented to the BOF.

Chair Yonkers asked Mr. Parkin about the savings from teacher retirements and how they play into this budget. Mr. Parkin said the budget that was presented was finalized before these teacher retirements were announced.

Chair Yonkers asked Mr. Parkin about Covid Funding and how much the schools received. Discussion followed concerning how what funding has been received, how it was used, and how additional/future funding could be utilized.

Chair Yonkers asked Mr. Parkin about the new Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) teachers. Mr. Parkin explained the 5 new positions.

Mr. Miller asked Mr. Parkin and Dr. Harrison how the budget will address the challenges Covid presents. Dr. Harrison said adjustments in curriculum are happening real-time to respond to student needs as well as plans to use future funds to address any continuing problems.

Mr. Barickman stated that this budget looks like prior year budgets and doesn’t seem to have any items that broadly address Covid and its impacts on student well-being.

Ms. Wyss asked Mr. Parkin and Dr. Harrison about special education costs and how personage increases compare to other districts across the state. Dr. Harrison stated the increases seen in Redding are comparable to other districts both in the state and nationally. He said the schools are building capacity to perform more special education functions in-house to reduce outplacement. Discussion followed concerning outplacement costs and meeting student’s needs.

Mr. Dean asked Mr. Parkin and Dr. Harrison about health insurance and their consideration of aggregate stop-loss as a policy. Mr. Parkin discussed New Canaan’s approach to dealing with claim volatility.

Public Comment
Chair Yonkers opened the floor to Public Comment.

Angela Caes, Deer Hill Road, asked if there are any Capital Improvements included in this budget. Mr. Parkin said the Facilities Committee hasn’t presented to the BOE yet about possible projects.

Danielle Garavito asked Mr. Zachery about Covid Funding. Mr. Zachery stated that $81,149 of expenses have been reimbursed. Ms. Garavito asked about the USDA grant for free food for students. Mr. Zachery said the USDA grant subsidized free food and this will continue.

Region 9
Todd Johnston presented to the BOF.

Public Comment
Chair Yonkers opened the floor to Public Comment.

Mr. Barickman asked Chair Yonkers to explain the budget process moving forward. Chair Yonkers explained the next steps in the budget process. Discussion followed concerning the specifics of the budget process.

Jeff Fligelman, Pocahantas Road, stated the BOE budget is responsive, respectful, and responsible. He said the BOF should support the BOE budget. He continued to read a letter from Reid and Joanne Grey stating their support for the BOE budget.

Jackie Dyar, 60 High Ridge Road, asked the BOF to support the schools and pass the BOE budget.

Mike Lyons asked the BOF to adopt the BOE budget as is.

Candice Solis, 4 Kimberly Drive, asked what in the RES budget addresses the world language requirement. Mr. Parkin said there is a world language graduation requirement beginning with the class of 2023. There is no specific requirement for language at the elementary and middle school. Discussion followed concerning how languages are handled at the elementary school.

4.      Other Business.

There was no other business that needed to be discussed.

Mr. Mazzucco made a motion to adjourn. Mr. Barickman seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous, and the motion carried.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:08PM.

Submitted by,
Zachary Smith

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