Board of Selectmen / Finance Committee
April 18, 2012
Present: Board of Selectmen: Joseph R. Becker, Chairman; Peter Letsky, Clerk; Leroy Clark and Nancy M. Macaruso, Secretary. Sheila H. Dibb arrived at 7 pm.
Finance Committee: Lyndon Nichols, Chairman; Carlisle Bindoo, Matthew Hadley and David Bigelow.
Opening of Meeting:
Mr. Becker opened the Selectmen’s meeting at 6:34 pm; Mr. Nichols opened for the Finance Committee at 6:34 pm.
Mr. Bindoo moved to accept the BOS/FinCom minutes from April 9, 2012. Mr. Hadley seconded. Vote unanimous. The Selectmen tabled their minutes until the next regular meeting.
Mr. Becker asked department heads at the last meeting to draw up two different scenarios in reducing their budgets: 1) Each department was given a number to try to reduce their budgets by and 2) To reduce their budgets by a number they could still survive by and potentially back into a number regarding the school budget.
Police: Reduction of $120,000 – Third phase of MMA salary structure would not be implemented, clerk’s hours further reduced from 32 to 24 hours, two full-time officers and seven part-time officers would be layed off . Many mandates of the collective bargaining contract must be adhered to which makes this extremely difficult. The Chief explained how dangerous one-man shifts are, how our lock up would be useless and we’d have to pay to house prisoners elsewhere, policies would not be able to be followed therefore affecting the police accreditation process, and in-service training cut severely or eliminated which would increase our liability. The Chief is very angry that the school department is unwilling to work with the town to come to an agreeable solution that everyone can live with. His
secondary budget would avoid the two full-time officers being layed off (which would cut $31,954 instead of the $120,000 proposed). Coverage would be close to today’s staffing, with more one-man shifts and vacation & holidays would not be covered. Some discussion on the possibility of a part-time department which the Chief is clearly not in favor of. Event coverage was discussed – the various committees hosting the events would have to pay for some of the pubic safety details.
Fire / Ambulance: Reduction asked for was $136, 225. Acting Chief Knipe was out of town. David Williams presented three budget reduction options. Option #1 would have the acting chief continue through the next fiscal year, fire training eliminated, clerical position cut, forest fire wage account eliminated with all wages for such paid from fire wage account. Ambulance is based on revenues of $365,000 which would maintain current staffing but moving to a 24/7 schedule with one shift per week staffed with per diem staff. Chief would cover vacation & open shifts. Option #2 would have the fire side the same as option #1. Ambulance budget based on revenues of $345,000 maintaining current staffing resulting in no cuts in service. Chief to cover all vacation & open shifts.
Option #3 would have fire side remain the same as #1 & #2. Ambulance cuts based on revenues of $280,000 would eliminate 2 F/T positions, cutting operations to 6 am to 6 pm seven days a week with increasing call coverage from 6 to 12 hours per day. Chief to cover vacations & open shifts. Mr. Becker feels option #2 makes the most sense. Mr. Letsky feels the training brings a level of professionalism to the department; Mr. Nichols agreed. The current training budget is under funded.
DPW: Superintendent Kellaher presented a 15% reduction as well as a 7.5% reduction. With the 15%, every line item is cut 15% and will amount to reduction of three personnel. With 7.5% reduction, every line item reduced by 7.5% and 1 ½ employees will be cut. Water cannot be reduced due to plant coverage. Every town service will be affected; we cannot afford to sub-contract out. Road plowing will not be done in a timely fashion affecting schools and emergency services. Lengthy discussion on reducing street lighting which with the lack of street lighting would bring about more crime. Mr. Becker asked about reducing purchased services to save personnel to which Mr. Kellaher explained his reasoning for not doing so.
Library: $175,787.50 required for certification. With the cuts, it would mean reduced open hours, no story hour, less available meeting room access, limited summer reading, possible decertification which would result in loss of state aid and reciprocal privileges. Mrs. Remington will provide a per capita number for towns of similar size. The Director, Assistant Director and Children’s Librarian would all take personal cuts, but the two staff cannot be reduced. She has a prepared budget, but would like to show it to the Library Board before handing in to Selectmen. Some discussion on the effects of the annual events held there. DPW handles all custodial & grounds work. Some discussion on the Board of Library Commissioners with respect to certification.
Council on Aging: Seniors represent 17% of Rutland’s population. Eliminating the Outreach Worker ($12,508); she is just scraping by presently trying to visit the most vulnerable homebound seniors. Services lost: office hours would be reduced, no bus trips and no social outings. Eliminating the entire COA budget would be devastating for many seniors as well as their families. Most services would be lost including many seniors who would not be able to remain in their homes.
Discussion on using $125,000 in Free Cash. $79.3 million school budget would still be huge burden for Rutland. Conversation on the Senate and House, Ways & Means budgets and various budget reductions. Mr. Becker feels we need to ask the school to reduce the $80.3 million budget by at least $1.5 million.
Mr. Bindoo moved to present the $1.5 million reduction if the House, Ways & Means budget materializes as proposed, if not then a $2 million reduction. Mr. Bigelow seconded. Vote unanimous. Mr. Clark feels we should ask for a $2 million and $2.5 million cut.
Mr. Letsky moved to present the 1.5 million reduction if the House, Ways & Means budget materializes as proposed, if not then a $2 million reduction. Ms. Dibb seconded. Vote 3 to 1 with Mr. Clark opposed. Mr. Becker and Mr. Lyndon will draft a letter to the School Committee stating how devastating their budget request is to Rutland. Mr. Clark moved to authorize the FinCom chair and BOS chair to sign the letter. Mr. Letsky seconded. Vote unanimous.
Mr. Becker feels the Regional Agreement needs to be reviewed (4 out of 5 towns should be 5 out of 5 towns). He further commended all department heads for meeting the challenge set forth in preparing the budget cuts.
Mr. Kellaher informed the Selectmen of a road race being sponsored by the CTMS Cross Country team on May 5th and needs the Selectmen’s approval to give them permission to hold the race. Mr. Letsky moved to grant permission of the 5K road race. Mr. Clark seconded. Vote unanimous.
Mr. Clark moved to jointly adjourn. Mr. Bindoo seconded. Vote unanimous. Meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm.
Nancy M. Macaruso, Secretary
Board of Selectmen