Board of Finance: Alvarez (Chairman), Clark, DeSalvo, Dolan, Mazzucco
Board of Selectmen: First Selectman Pemberton, Selectmen Karvelis & Thompson
Redding Board of Education: Ajavananda, Irwin, Sobel, Gaspar (8:00 pm)
Also present: Finance Director Gniadek, Treasurer O’Donnell, approximately 75 members of the public, representatives of the Redding Pilot & Hello Redding, and the videographers
Chairman Alvarez called the Budget Hearing to order at 7:40 pm in the Redding Community Center.
The Board of Selectmen was called to order.
The Redding Board of Education did not have a quorum at this time. Dr. Gaspar arrived at 8:00 pm, giving the board a quorum and was called to order at that time.
Mr. Alvarez commented that this was the first review of the budgets. The Board of Finance will review the requests and presentations at their March 23, 2015 regular meeting.
BOARD OF SELECTMAN
First Selectman Pemberton presented information on the proposed 2015-16 Budget. The proposed budget is $14,160,418, representing a 2.68% increase over the current year. She highlighted major changes in revenue and expenses.
- RCC Field #2 turf, $700,000
- Public Safety Communication Tower, $123,000
- Shelter at RCC Fields, $47,000
And, previously approved, but not yet funded, Year 2 of Road Reconstruction work, $1,647,000
Mrs. Pemberton explained that the RCC Field #2 turf conversion is based on a real bid for the work. The base bid, $948,750, plus an alternate turf surface, netting, project management and a contingency totals $1,100,000. The STEAP Grant for the project has a balance of $340,000, and there is a commitment by letter for a contribution of $100,000 from the Soccer Club. This brings the total needed to $700,000. Mrs. Pemberton stated that another public meeting would be scheduled to review the proposal for the conversion of RCC #2 to a Turf field.
The Public Safety Communication Tower project has an approved expenditure of $300,000
As a result of Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals action, a temporary tower is required to be built at a cost of an additional $123,000.
RCC Shelter/Pavilion: this would be used to shelter participants on the field and would be used for the summer camp programs.
Mr. Alvarez asked about the status of the Police contract. Mrs. Pemberton responded that the contract is in the 2nd year of the contract (2012-2017). Mr. Alvarez expressed concern about the extra cost of the temporary police communication tower. He also questioned the cost for the turf field. Mrs. Pemberton noted that this cost is based on a real bid number.
Kevin Murray, Parsons Lane: Mr. Murray asked about the need for a temporary communications tower. Mrs. Pemberton reviewed the process and work of the Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals to arrive at the decision that the monopole tower should be located in the same location as the existing tower. The area is a Historic District and neighbors had concerns about the impact on housing values. The decision requires the installation of a temporary tower.
Paul Degener, Portland Avenue: Mr. Degener stated that there is planning for an extensive private fundraising effort to supplement the cost of the conversion of RCC Field #2 to an artificial turf field. Mrs. Pemberton noted that the project could only move forward with a firm allocation of funds.
Farouk Rhymann, Gallows Hill Extension: Mr. Rhymann noted that fundraising efforts for the turf field in the past has not been effective. He expressed his concern that the life of the turf surface and cost for replacement is underestimated.
Joan Beutler, Meadow Ridge: Mrs. Beutler spoke in support of the Mark Twain Library and the value of the Library as the cultural center of Redding.
Bill Stewart, Sport Hill Road: Mr. Stewart spoke in support of the funding for the Mark Twain Library.
Brenda Phelps, Indian Hill Road: Mrs. Phelps spoke in support of the Mark Twain Library and what the library has meant to her family.
Stan Rhodes, Archers Lane: Mr. Rhodes commented on the state of the Redding roads following the harsh winter weather and asked that the boards keep in mind the repairs that are needed.
Karen Gifford, speaking for a resident on Cross Highway: Mrs. Gifford read a statement in support of the Mark Twain Library funding.
Rosalind Kopfstein, Chairman of Commission on Aging: Mrs. Kopfstein asked the Board of Finance to consider the needs of all the Redding residents, including the children and the older residents.
Ellen Williams, Gallows Hill Road: Mrs. Williams asked that the Board of Finance take a conservative approach to the budget.
REDDING BOARD OF EDUCATION
Board of Education chair, Kim Ajavananda, reviewed the Redding Board of Education proposed budget. The total of the budget is $21,569,918, representing a 0.81% increase over the current year budget. She highlighted the major changes in the budget and what is being done to address the declining school enrollment.
Board member, Melinda Irwin, reviewed the items on the Capital List for next year. The list included
- Engineering design work for the HVAC systems at Redding Elementary School and John Read Middle School, $149,700
- New electrical work for the 1048 & 1957 wings of Redding Elementary School, $300,000
- Replacement of walkway & entry door, and west wing steps at Redding Elementary School, $224,112
- Replacement of asphalt on the parking lots and new concrete curbing at both schools, 1,126,259
Total Capital List cost: $1,950,071
Mr. Mazzucco requested additional information on class sizes and student ratio per teacher.
Ms. Clark requested clarification of health care costs for staff.
Mr. Alvarez asked if the costs for consultants were summarized in the budget document. Finance Director Sullivan referred him to the place in the document. He also commented that there is a large increase in the cost per pupil compared with the budget increase.
REGION 9 BOARD OF EDUCATION
Board member, Mike D’Agostino, noted that the Region 9 Board of Education has not yet finalized their budget. The enrollment for next year is decreasing from a current 1050 to 1024 students; noting that Barlow is in the first year of the declining enrollment trend. The proposed budget is currently at a 2.78% increase, which translates to an increase for Redding taxpayers of 1.26% and for Easton 4.57%. The board will be finalizing the budget later in this month.
In addition to the budget, the Region 9 Board of Education will request approval of a Partial Roof Replacement at the school. The cost of the project is $1,040,647. The project will receive State reimbursement for 36.7% of eligible costs.
Mr. Alvarez questioned the large increase in Special Education costs in the Region 9 budget and asked how many students were outplaced. Mrs. Sullivan responded that the budget includes the outplacement of 24 students.
Jeff Fligelman, Pocahontas Road: Mr. Fligelman commented that the Redding education budget was lean, with Special Education being the primary budget driver. He added that the per pupil cost is not a good measure of the education the children are receiving. He believes a budget of 2%, 1% and the proposed 0.81% will easily be approved by the voters. He commented further that he hopes the school budget will reflect what is needed to provide the students of tomorrow with the same level of education as those who went before them.
Nancy (name unclear): This person spoke in support of the schools, the library and her love for Redding.
John Reilly, Drummer Lane: Mr. Reilly stated that the Library should be funded, and noted that both the schools (RES & JRMS) are in need of updating.
Katherine Lair, Portland Avenue: Mrs. Lair commented that the schools are important, and the items on the Capital List represent needs that should be addressed.
Keith Rich, Putnam Park Road: Mr. Rich stated that the special education costs skew the per pupil costs. He also commented that repairs at both schools are being neglected.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Finance meeting be adjourned. Mazzucco, DeSalvo Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move that he Redding Board of Selectmen meeting be adjorned. Karvelis, Thompson. Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education meeting be adjourned. Sobel, Irwin. Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting adjourned at 9:01 pm
Submitted by Mary Maday, Recording Secretary