NEW MILFORD TOWN COUNCIL
NEW MILFORD BOARD OF FINANCE
JOINT BUDGET HEARINGS
FEBRUARY 17, 2009
Present: Mayor Patricia Murphy
Mary Jane Lundgren
Tammy Reardon, Mayoral Aide
Raymond Jankowski, Director of Finance
Joseph Galanti, Comptroller
Board of Finance:
Sheldon Pruss, Vice Chairman
Joanne Chapin, Alt.
Frank E. Wargo
Absent: Robert F. Sherry, Chairman
Others in Attendance include interested members of the public, the press, and Department Heads, commission members, the Town Attorney, and town employees.
The meeting was brought to order with Mr. Wargo starting the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence.
1. PRESENTATION OF TOWN OF NEW MILFORD BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009-2010 AND MAYOR’SCOMMENTS.
Mayor Patricia Murphy started off with her comments on this year’s budget process. She noted that although budgets are normally challenging, this year would be even more so. The financial world is constantly adjusting as this budget is also doing.
She recommended a wage freeze for all non-union and elected officials on the Town payroll for a savings of $100,000 in this budget year. All departments and employees are working to reduce costs and still provide the services the town needs and expects. She is currently in discussions with the town’s unions which she will talk about during an Executive Session on Thursday evening with the Town Council. These negotiations may offer further savings with regard to personnel and legal expenses. She and her staff have tried to re-negotiate fixed contractual costs wherever possible. They include $100,000 in workman’s compensation insurance costs and the town receiving an award because of its efforts; they’ve initiated in-house printing to save $25,000 per year; they’ve locked in on electrical costs until December 2009 for a savings of $35,000 and with the cooperation of the Board of Education are shopping for rates after that time period.
The town is locked into gas, oil, and diesel fuel for the 09-10 budget and they expect to save between $300,000 and $400,000 for both the town and the Board of Education. A new postage solution for both the town and the Board of Education expects a savings of $15,000 - $20,000 in postage and an additional $12,500 including in-house printing of tax bills.
The town’s prescription drug coverage has been changed from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to Medco with no loss of benefits for an expected savings of $150,000 - $200,000. Bond debt was refinanced for a savings of over $300,000 for the 09-10 budget year.
Adjustments were also made by reducing the revaluation line by $100,000 and another $2,500 from materials and supplies in the Town Council and Mayor’s office accounts.
To help maintain costs and grow the grand list, she recommends an aggressive marketing strategy for town-owned properties. She gave several examples. By selling some properties the town would put the properties back on the tax rolls and satisfy some of the debt the town has on certain properties. She would also like to move the Parks & Recreation Maintenance Department to the old ambulance facility when their new facility is done; the town would not expend such costs as condo fees and utility costs and would be closer to the parks and areas they manage. It would also save on travel time and add to fuel management as well as decrease wear and tear on the vehicles.
As she was asked to look into creative ways to save money, she proposes the town join the Litchfield County Dispatch (as the State is encouraging regionalization). This would save the town over $250,000 per year in personnel costs and the capital costs of upgrading the dispatch center. It would provide state of the art equipment and service to the community. She has met with the LCD to discuss this opportunity and the up to $250,000 reimbursable transition grant funds. The State is also offering LOCIP monies to town that regionalize for a variety of services. They have also discussed employment opportunities for those jobs that would be lost in town.
Her proposed budget does not include monies from the undesignated fund because the town must look at how the usage of those funds would affect its bond ratings and future borrowings. She presented a place to start with a reduction to the town operating budget in excess of $2 million dollars and no increase to the present Board of Education operating budget.
2. UPDATE FROM THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE WITH DISCUSSION OF REVENUE FOR FISCAL YEAR 2009-2010
(Information given to the members is appended to these minutes)
Director of Finance Ray Jankowski gave a brief overview of the forecasts that he compiled for the Town Council and Board of Finance’s review. The first page of the packet submitted to members was an estimated budget review for fiscal year 09-10. It shows the budgeted, forecasted amounts for state grants and other review (Board of Education and town sides) for 2008-2009 as well as the estimated amounts for these items for 2009-2010. He expects a decrease in revenue for the 2009-2010 budget year.
Page 2 of the packet gives a breakdown of the grants that the town receives (broken down by State Grants – Education, Building Grants, and Town Grants). He does not expect to receive the estimated amount for the 2009-2010 M-65 property grant and noted that these monies are pro-rated and it is impossible to budget this item.
Page 3 of the packet broke down the revenue the town and Board of Education receives from fees and services. He does not expect any monies from deferred revenue (monies posted by developers, etc.) and noted that transfers in is also down. He did note that the Ambulance Corps would be bonding for their new facility and would also be paying for the paramedic services. No monies would be used from the internal service fund.
He noted that President Obama has signed the Stimulus Package. This puts $144 billion dollars available for State and local governments. He does not know what the amounts will be but does know that any monies will have strings attached. He could not tell members how those monies will affect this budget.
He summed up by stating that the town would see $2.9 million less in revenues for the upcoming budget year than the last one.
Mr. Szendy moved to recess the joint budget meeting at 7:47 p.m. to be reconvened on February 24, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. in the E. Paul Martin Room of Town Hall. The motion was seconded by Dr. Mullen and carried unanimously.