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Finance Committee – Town Manager and Budgets

Black text is mostly objective, red text is mostly subjective in nature. These are notes from 2/27.

The minutes were approved.

Town Manager Sullivan, Deputy Manager Galkowski, and DPW Director Bean were there. The first item was discussion of plowing the sidewalks. The Manager said that it would cost much more than estimated by Stephen Harrington. Director Bean spoke at great length and answered questions at length on the issue. This was not a fun hour. The DPW director went on and on and ON. He didn’t listen well to questions and then responded at length – without addressing the question. It was very frustrating. Still, the message confirmed my thoughts: don’t do this bylaw without a test run first. Mr. Bean left.

Sullivan talked about outsourcing some cemetery work and using the savings to hire a police officer. The recycling person has been on the job for a few months. This discussion doesn’t give me any more confidence that we know how to measure the effectiveness of this person. We hired them, but we have no meaningful way to see if it’s money well spent. The snow and ice budget was discussed. I asked about the pension budget funding, and whether we were overpaying by keeping it at 4%, higher than required by the actuary. The manager didn’t’ appear to have a strong opinion either way. Asked about the OPEB funds, the manager pointed out that the retirement board can get a better return than the town. This was an excellent point. I’m not thrilled with giving OPEB to the retirement board, but this is a reason to do it anyway. There was discussion of who controls payouts from the fund. He favored the POB enabling legislation; it’s good to be able to do it, but probably never do it.

He talked about union negotiations and arbitration for the patrolmen’s union. He talked about the GIC and answered several questions about it. He thinks that there is a large savings to be found.

We moved on to budgets.

IT: This is the first IT budget separate from the comptroller. I presented the budget (I had corrected a salary mistake, but forgot to note the mistake, so people asked questions, which I finally figured out. In the end I had forgotten overtime, though. Oops). I also spoke about the benefits we’re seeing from this change. Recommended at $526,000.

Comptroller: I presented this budget too. There were fewer questions, and it was approved at $384,000.