Approved Minutes of the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC)
Temple Municipal Offices
September 10, 2003
Members present Others present
Steve Andersen (Chair) Mary Nutting Vince Mamone
Brian Kullgren (Vice-Chair) Sherry Fiske Connie Kieley
Rae Barnhisel (Minute-Taker) Dave Repak Ted Petro
Chris Nolte John Kieley Tim Fiske
Charlene Eddy Jeannie Whitcomb Debra Harling
Paul Quinn Bruce Kantner
Meeting called to order at 7:01 pm.
July 23, 2003 meeting minutes approved as amended.
B. Ongoing business
1. Road Agent Tim Fiske, by appointment (7:15 pm), discussed various issues including the mower. Fiske reported that the mower had been purchased new 9 yrs ago for about $4800, had to repair it this year ($1400 per Andersen, BAC minutes 7/23/03), taking it out of commission for 3 weeks, and estimated $400 to still be needed to replace the clutch. Members discussed what guidelines to use in determining when it was prudent to replace a piece of equipment rather than continuously repair it. Barnhisel suggested maintenance records could be used to determine the life of equipment. Methods on replacement were discussed. Andersen suggested that a Capital Reserve Fund (CRF) might be used by making funds available but ensuring that funds will not be expended until needed. Quinn suggested that two warrant articles could be presented, one creating a CRF for the mower, another to purchase a mower, and to table whatever article did not pass. Fiske discussed his need for flexibility in purchases (purchasing winter sand when prices are low) and distinguished a department’s need for vehicles needing time for design (e.g., a fire truck) and vehicles that are off-the-shelf (e.g., a mower).
Fiske agreed to submit a draft highway budget to the Select Board by October 7, 2003 (per the BAC-SB draft Budget Timeline) and fine-tune his final budget at a later date.
Fiske reported he received $13,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster relief for a 2002–2003 winter storm. He thought that those funds might be somehow set aside for unforeseen Highway Dept. expenditures. Fiske referred to a suggestion by Silas Little, Temple ZBA member and local lawyer, that a department’s surplus might be routed to a CRF for that department to use at a later date to create incentives [in priority spending].
Fiske reported that the Select Board had approved an expenditure of $3500 to conduct a hydraulic study of the West Road structure. He said the structure on West Road measured 9.5 ft. rather than the 10 ft. required by the state to be classified as a “bridge.” Fiske explained that designating the West Road structure a “bridge” would mean that the bridge on Putnam Road (currently designated as Structurally Deficient) would not be repaired with the current matching funds from the state. There was discussion on why funds for the hydraulic study had come out of the Highway dept. budget rather than out of funds specifically appropriated for bridge work.
2. Select Board member Sherry Fiske, by appointment (8:00 pm), gave her opinion on Capital Reserve Funds (CRFs) and said she preferred utilizing low interest rates to borrow money. Because Trustees of the Trust Funds are state-mandated to oversee CRFs as well as town-funded Trust Funds, she felt this would be an added burden to the volunteer position. Nolte asked whether it would be more economical to set aside reserves and pay cash than borrow money.
S. Fiske provided a handout on CRFs from the NH Attorney General’s office and said that CRFs could only be spent as a result of a vote at town meeting. Debra Harling said that the town could vote to set aside funds for maintenance and vote for an agent (such as a department head) to expend the funds. S. Fiske and Bruce Kantner said they both prefer warrant articles to purchase equipment when needed. It was agreed that both boards should become more familiar with CRFs and how they work.
There was discussion on how a Capital Improvement Plan could address the large spending fluctuations. Currently, Temple has no CIP, only a “10 Year Plan.” There was criticism that the Plan was not followed and that it was always changing. S. Fiske stressed the need for the Select Board to understand and fund any CRFs, citing the Common Fund as an example. Andersen pointed out that there were no capital reserves set aside to support Temple’s 10 Year Plan. He stressed the need for any plan to have reserves to support it and any CRFs to have a plan.
S. Fiske asked the BAC to report on their findings regarding replacing the municipal office photocopier. Quinn will look into the history of the current machine and assess the need for a replacement.
S. Fiske informed the BAC that she is considering submitting a warrant article to prune the trees around the Common and that a company will be giving her a free estimate. Quinn asked whether anyone knew of the effects of road salt on the maples. Barnhisel asked Fiske whether there were funds already appropriated to maintain the Common and to address the question before requesting additional funds. Barnhisel said a pattern seemed to be emerging in which funds were not being used for the purpose they were intended for, such as maintenance. Rather, warrant articles appropriating new and additional funds were being presented.
3. Andersen raised the issue of how to increase revenue to meet rising school costs to the ConCom members present. Vince Mamone reported that the Conservation Fund had between $114,000 to $120,000 and that $150,000 to $300,000 would meet their needs in 2 to 3 years. He felt that problems could arise if the fund became too large. Connie Kieley disagreed that the fund should be capped. She felt that as the fund became larger, funding conservation would become more important. There was discussion regarding the warrant articles that have been proposed each year to rescind the vote that 100% of the 10% Land Use Change Tax be put into the Conservation Fund. John Kieley pointed out that the proceeds average $20,000 to $30,000 a year and would have little effect on the tax rate. Securing open space and restricting residential development would ensure that the tax rate stay low.
S. Fiske raised the issue of the need for the ConCom to have an operating budget. Currently, it has a recording secretary whose salary comes from another account. Barnhisel asked that the Select Board include a ConCom operating budget in the proposed 2004 budget. Quinn felt the ConCom needed to generate revenue.
4. The BAC-SB draft Budget Timeline was discussed. Currently, meetings with dept. heads are not specified by dept. Barnhisel asked that the schedule be kept open for Select Board input. T. Petro asked whether there would be any general recommendation from the BAC on reducing the 2004 budget by a certain percentage. Kullgren proposed that the budget be reduced by 5%. He cited his experience with the budget and the process as a past selectmen and felt that enough padding had been added over the years to justify such a general reduction. Other members expressed their concern that such a recommendation would not be based on specific information and preferred to make line-by-line recommendations. Kullgren suggested that both occur. He suggested that the 5% reduction not apply to fixed expenses such as salaries, insurance, benefits, etc. Andersen pointed out that a 5% reduction on non-fixed items would be such a small amount. Barnhisel asked whether department heads might voluntarily make such a reduction in their budgets. Members agreed to continue the discussion at a later date.
Members approved the Budget Timeline as presented and signed the cover letter to the Select Board. The signed letter and Timeline were given to Petro to give to the Select Board. Petro assured the BAC that the Select Board would present a draft 2004 budget to the BAC by the October 7, 2003 deadline.
5. Andersen reported that the BAC was getting all specified information from the Select Board and Administrative assistant (Actual Expenses [what is spent] monthly; Account Detail [“checkbook”] quarterly. He will report on his estimates of Temple’s operating budget and plans to use information from the first through the 3rd quarter to project 4th quarter spending. Andersen apologized for the BAC being booted from the Town Hall but assured members that the BAC would be given proper notice in the future.
6. Barnhisel reported that all approved minutes up to July 9, 2003 had been emailed to Temple’s website and that she will email minutes as they are approved. She had circulated a draft of the BAC’s activities to be submitted to Temple’s newsletter for their August 20th deadline. The draft had been approved by the Chair and submitted.
7. S. Fiske had sent information on a Budget and Finance Workshop to BAC members by email that was to be held Sept. 16, 2003. Barnhisel and Eddy expressed interest in attending. Barnhisel reported that D. Harling had pre-registered herself, B. Kantner, Barnhisel, and Eddy for the workshop at $35 per person. Members discussed where the funds would come from and whether it was prudent to establish an operating budget for the BAC.
8. Referring to a newspaper account in the Monadnock Ledger (07/31/03 “Temple changing insurance payments”), Barnhisel requested T. Petro to provide additional and specific information on the changes that had been made to the employee insurance benefits in writing for the BAC. Petro reported that there would be a presentation and that he would inform the BAC of the place, date, and time. Barnhisel asked Petro whether the Select Board distinguishes employees (police chief, administrative assistant, etc.) from elected officials (tax collector, town clerk, road agent, etc.). Petro said yes but was not asked for details.
Meeting adjourned at 9:50 pm.
Sept. 24, 2003