Back to Advisory Committee Minutes
October 5, 2010 Meeting Minutes
Hingham Town Hall
Present: Committee Members Manning, Asher, MacCune, Eldredge, Ellison, Farrell, Johnson, Marwill, O'Meara, Power, Pyles
1. Call to order
Chair Jack Manning called the Advisory Committee meeting to order at 7:35 PM.
2. Approval of Minutes
The minutes of the following meetings were unanimously approved except as otherwise noted:
June 22, 2010, August 24, 2010, September 7, 2010 (Jon Asher and Mary Jane O'Meara abstained as they were not present for the meeting) and September 28, 2010.
3. Discussion of Budget Guidance to be Given to Departments
The Committee entered into a discussion of what direction should be given to the departments with respect to the development of preliminary budgets for fiscal 2012. The discussion centered around three options: level services, level funding and a 2% reduction from the fiscal 2011 budget.
The Committee discussed the impact of contractual step increases, noting that a level services budget would include the impact of contractual step increases and level funding would inherently reflect a reduction in services.
It was noted that the FY 2010 and 2011 budgets represented reductions from FY 2009 funding, thus level funding for FY 2012 would reflect services well below those delivered by the Town in FY 2009 and prior years.
Concern was expressed that directing the departments to provide a level services budget might create a sense of unwarranted optimism as to the prospects for FY 2012 funding. Ted Alexiades assured the Committee that he would properly manage expectations among the departments and that all concerned would be aware that a level services budget was intended to be a benchmark from which to evaluate the level funded and the 2% reduction budgets and was not a goal for FY 2012
Laura Marwill introduced a matrix that had been prepared by the Benchmarking subcommittee. For the 2012 budget process, the benchmarking will focus on certain departments that have the greatest impact on the process and will continue to use data from the 20 peer municipalities that have historically been used. The Town has made available the services of an intern to assist in the gathering and analysis of the data.
There was a discussion as which data were most relevant, during which Laura noted that the subcommittee wanted to keep the process manageable as this was the first year that benchmarking would be part of the formal budget process. Accordingly, the subcommittee chose to focus on the data that would likely be most readily available. In future years, the process could evolve to include other data.
4. Advisory Committee Handbook
Vice-Chair Jon Asher reported on the ongoing AdCom member handbook project which he indicated was substantially complete. As the financial policy was such a critical component to the handbook, the handbook could not be officially complete until the financial policy was finalized. Jack noted that the financial policy was moving along and close to finalization. The committee expressed the desire to have the handbook available on the Town website, but that hardcopies should be included in the AdCom binders that are provided each year. It was also suggested that the handbook could be the cornerstone of an orientation process for new AdCom members in the future.
5. Resignation of Kevin Paicos
Jack noted for the benefit of the committee that, as expected, Kevin Paicos had resigned and was no longer the Town Administrator.
6. Review of Legal Expenditures
Karen Johnson reported on her review of the Town's practices with respect to legal expenditures and provided a letter she had drafted to the Selectmen sharing her observations and insights on the issue. Karen noted that her review focused on the management and oversight of legal costs and the need by town leaders to ensure that costs were purposeful.
There was a brief discussion on the issue of charging legal fees back to the departments and the pros and cons of such a policy. There was also a discussion on whether or not having an in-house Town Counsel was desirable.
7. Warrant Articles
Jack advised the liaisons to reach out their respective committees and departments to gauge the potential for warrant articles for the April 2011 town meeting. There was a consensus that every effort should be made to avoid late additions to the warrant and that the January deadline should be considered an absolute deadline.
8. Executive Session
At 9:14 PM, by a unanimous roll-call vote of the Committee members present, the Committee entered into executive session to discuss both pending litigation involving the Town and collective bargaining matters. It was noted by the Chair that the committee would adjourn the meeting upon completion of executive session and not reconvene the public session.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:12 PM.
Greg MacCune, Secretary