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Town of Hingham
January 28, 2009 Meeting Minutes
Hingham Town Hall
Present: Committee Members Lauter, Seelen, Asher, Eldredge, Ellison, Farrell, Friedman, Innis, Johnson, MacCune, Manning, Marwill, Mooradian
1. Call to order
Chair Irma Lauter called the Advisory Committee meeting to order at 7:06 PM and introduced Greg Maccune, who has replaced John Cavoores on the Committee.
2. Approval of minutes for January 20, 2009
The Committee reviewed and approved minutes from the meeting on January 20, 2009.
3. Joint Meeting with Selectmen
Irma welcomed Selectmen Bruce Rabuffo and Laura Burns. They were invited to share with the Committee the Board of Selectmen decisions regarding, position on, or plans to address:
• the Town’s multi-year budget deficit forecast and whether the Board would be recommending deeper FY10 departmental budget cuts
• avoiding large budget deficits in future years
• the significant OPEB liability
• the need to build reserves in order to maintain the Town’s triple-A bond rating
• whether the Board would be recommending an operational override, and if so, for how much and for what services
• new revenue sources
• the timetable for the Board’s FY10 budget recommendations
• the possibility of delaying Annual Town Meeting until some time in May
Selectman Burns signaled that following the Board’s hearings of all departmental budgets, she would then be ready to talk about the larger issues referenced. She acknowledged that the Selectmen’s budget recommendations were later than usual but cited as reasons the absence of a Town Administrator as well as the Board’s directive to all department heads to produce detailed zero-based salary and expense budgets.
Selectman Rabuffo enumerated the significant budget expense items which are causing budget deficit projections. He also described a number of actions already taken by the Board to close the FY10 budget gap, including raising mooring fees and examining other fee-increase candidates. He acknowledged that the latest Five-Year Forecast does not yet address either actions to replenish the General Fund—necessary to preserve the Town’s triple-A rating—or to implement a potential tax cut.
Several Committee members stressed the importance of preserving the Town’s triple-A rating. Ted Alexiades, Town Finance Director/Accountant, indicated that for the long-term debt issue scheduled for this fall, the triple-A rating would annually save between $200K and $250K
4. Budget and Forecast Update
Ted distributed a revised Five-Year Forecast, projecting the effect of his recommended FY10 budget cuts and OPEB modification through FY14. The revised multi-year forecast assumes that the current Town-wide hiring freeze will remain in effect for the next few years.
His $3M of recommended FY10 budget cuts would help to address the Town-budget structural problem in future years if all Town departments limit combined COLA and grade-step increases to 3% annually.
Ted further indicated that spending for FY09 Snow & Ice is now $600K - $750K and growing. That fact together with the State’s FY09 Local Aid reduction of $191K and a projected FY09 $200K fuel deficit will necessitate an approximate 2% ($1.2M) budget cut before the end of this fiscal year.
5. General Business
Andy Mooradian provided a brief update on potential DPW skateboard park issues (graffiti, trash removal, fencing, and surveillance) based on the results of a survey of other local towns with such facilities.
Irma welcomed Kevin Paicos, the new Town Administrator, who will start work full-time on March 1st.
Irma requested Committee members to come to next week’s meeting prepared to apportion responsibility for addressing the 59 potential 2009 Warrant articles now under consideration.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:25 PM.
Jonathan Asher, Secretary