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Finance Committee – TAC, Extending Pensions II, and Budgets

Black text is mostly objective, red text is mostly subjective in nature. These are notes from 2/20.

The minutes were approved.

Article 62 – Ed Starr asked that the previously appropriated money for the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) be “rolled over” into future years, not to exceed $15,000. He described some of the ways the money has been spent in the past. The committee voted to recommend the article.

Article 40, again – Joe Roselli came to speak again on the article after he heard that we voted against the proposal to award certain benefits to posthumously apply to certain pensioners. He said that he was changing the wording to say “widows” rather than “estates.” He repeated they history of this particular benefit and the many steps he and others had gone through to get the benefit. He finished with a plea to approve the benefit “if you feel it in your heart” when you watch veterans march in parades. The presentation was, again, rambling. The last time I asked him a question about how the scope of the change was limited, and he couldn’t answer. In his presentation this time he talked about “people who died since 1995.” So, I rephrased my question to ask him “How does this law treat people who died in 1994 differently from 1995? Where is that spelled out.” He couldn’t answer. He talked quite a bit in response – he went all over the place talking about judges and findings and the people involved in the story. But he was unable to answer this very direct question. This is an easy vote when the scope is unclear. The committee did not change it’s mind, and the original recommendation of “no action” still stands.

We moved on to budgets:

Selectmen: There was good detail on the costs of elections. There was some confusion about reclassifications and hiring and how it affected everything. Recommended at $250,000 (about. I forgot to write it down).

Legal: It was noted that Maher’s retirement buyout is not budgeted. Recommended at $460,000.

Lighting: Recommended at $418,000.

Reserve Fund: This is the fund from which the Finance Committee can transfer money to cover unexpected overruns. In recent years it has been complete drained, with the biggest chunks going to firefighter overtime, retirements, and election costs. The original budget called for a $450,000 fund this year, a $50,000 increase. A motion was made to increase it to $500,000. There was a long and interesting discussion about how to handle retirement buyouts, how to plan for them, and anticipated overruns. Some were concerned that by having a large reserve fund, it might have the effect of department heads spending more, knowing there was a reserve. There was also concern about how the increase would be justified. This was a good discussion. I’m glad we’re talking about these strains in our budget. They’re not the headline grabbers like special education or health care, but they really matter. In the end, the larger increase failed 6-9, and the $450,000 passed unanimously.


Pingback from Dan Dunn’s Podium » Town Meeting Session #7
Time: May 20, 2008, 9:41 am

[…] at a cost of more than $100,000. Al Tosti gave the Finance Committee’s recommendation of no action. He said that it was bad precedent to extend benefits retroactively. The moderator accepted the […]