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December 15, 2009 Meeting Minutes
Hingham Town Hall
Present: Committee Members Seelen, Manning, Asher, Dwyer, Eldredge, Ellison, Friedman, Innis, Johnson, Lauter, MacCune, Marwill, Mooradian, O’Meara
1. Call to order
Chair Jerry Seelen called the Advisory Committee meeting to order at 7:35 PM.
2. Approval of Minutes for December 5th and December 8th
The Committee reviewed and unanimously approved both the minutes for December 5th, as amended, and the minutes for December 8th.
3. Financial and Budget Update
Town Finance Director Ted Alexiades informed the Committee that Town Administrator Kevin Paicos had submitted a draft budget to the Board of Selectmen for its review.
The Chair signaled that the Committee will begin its budget hearings on January 12th, with a targeted completion of mid-February for Municipal department budgets. The School budget review will likely not occur before March.
The Chair also requested that newly-named Director of Community Planning, Katy Lacy, be kept informed of Committee liaison meetings with her subordinate department heads.
4. Stimulus Use Update
The Committee reviewed the 12/13/09 draft Updated Statement on Use of Potential Federal Stimulus Money. The review engendered a discussion of whether the ~$400K reduction in State circuit-breaker funding should be viewed as a qualifying ‘State aid cut.’
Ted Alexiades informed the Committee that the circuit-breaker is one of several State grants which the School Department receives and is not part of the general government budget. The question was also raised as to whether the circuit-breaker reduction targeted FY10 or FY11.
At the Chair’s request, a straw poll of the Committee was conducted relative to the circuit-breaker reduction ‘qualifying’ for Federal stimulus offset in FY10. A majority supported including the $400K circuit-breaker reduction if it impacted FY10.
5. CPC Preliminary Projects Update
Community Preservation Committee Chair Bill Reardon provided an overview of the 11 applications submitted to date for FY11 CPC funding.
The applications total ~$2.58M against ~$1.27M projected to be available, apportioned across the three CPC categories as follows:
• Historic Preservation $861.2K
• Open Space $1.25M
• Community Housing $465.4K
In response to a question regarding the likelihood of any ‘last-minute’ applications requiring special attention, Bill assured the Committee that the CPC intended to enforce its October 15, 2009 cut-off date for CPC grant requests.
He also emphasized that the CPC did not intend to recommend spending more than the funding projected to be available.
With regard to a question from the public about pre-existing landmark status obviating the need for the Town to purchase the Cushing property, Bill explained that the primary objective of the CPC’s FY10 recommendation was to purchase the four-acre Cushing field for preservation as Open Space; the inclusion of five acres on the north side of Route 3A, a trail access to the field, and various historic preservation easements were enhancements to the primary objective.
6. Zoning Articles
Planning Board liaisons Dick Innis and Greg MacCune presented a summary of 12 prospective amendments to the Zoning By-Law submitted by the Planning Board to the Board of Selectmen.
No hearings have yet been conducted.
7. Health Insurance Study Group
Jon Asher summarized the results of the seven-person ad hoc committee commissioned in September to evaluate the feasibility and options for Hingham withdrawing from the Plymouth County Health Group (PCHG) Joint Purchase Arrangement.
In November, the committee concluded that it did not make sense for Hingham to withdraw from PCHG at this time in favor of a self-funded option.
Discussion of a longer-term strategy targeting FY12 will resume early in the new year.
8. Capital Outlay Committee By-Law
The Chair presented a draft of a modified Article 14 Part 2— the portion of the Town By-Law under which the Capital Outlay Committee functions.
The Committee voted unanimously to propose the draft as an FY11 Warrant article on the recommendation of Capital Outlay Committee liaisons AndyMooradian and Jon Asher.
9. LSA Board of Directors
The Chair relayed a request for Committee guidance from Board of Selectmen Chair Laura Burns regarding modification of Town By-Law Article 39 Hingham Affordable Housing Trust to incorporate Lincoln School Apartments Board of Directors term limits. Specifically, was it the Committee’s understanding that the Board of Selectmen had the authority to add language governing board-member term limits or was such a By-Law modification a ‘material change’ to governance requiring Town Meeting approval?
The general sense of the Committee was that the Board of Selectmen had the authority to make such a modification without Town Meeting approval.
The Town Moderator has since opined that such a By-Law modification should be put before Town Meeting.
10. General Business
The Chair informed the Committee that the Town’s new audit firm would make its first presentation to the Board of Selectmen on December 17th. The question was raised whether the Committee should also receive a copy of the auditor’s Management Letter, particularly in light of the Committee’s relatively recent awareness of the steady decline since 2002 of the General Fund Balance and the derived Balance-to-Expenditure ratio.
The Chair notified the Committee that the new State Ethics test must be completed by April 2, 2010. Human Resources Director David Basler is the contact point.
The Committee meeting adjourned at 10:26 PM.
Jonathan R. Asher, Secretary