Town of Pittsford
Thomas “Hank” Pelkey opened the meeting at 7:00 P.M. Select Board members present were: Hank Pelkey, Dave Markowski, Allen Hitchcock, Joe Gagnon and Larry Pomainville. Others present were: Mike Balch, Roberta Scarcella, Ruth Wimette, Rob Howland, Steve Hitchcock and Helen McKinlay.
DRAFT FY2006 BUDGET
M. Balch gave an over view of the primary budget changes in the FY2006 draft budget which include:
§ Health insurance increases of 15% on January 1, 2005 and an additional 15% estimated increase for January 1, 2006. The cost increase plus the addition of more employees on family health insurance plans account for the overall increase. VLCT administers our insurance plan. The Town currently has Blue Cross/Blue Shield Plan J, which is best described as being a plan in the low middle range. The family plan coverage cost approximately $11,000. Employees pay 15% of their health plan coverage. Health insurance plans and costs are being worked on by the union contract negotiating team.
§ The Listers budget expenses have increased by $22,500 from the previous year’s budget. This additional $22,500 reflects the actual amount the Listers have spent each year for the past two years due to increased State requirements. Act 68 required additional hours for completion of required State documentation. The Town is preparing to conduct a town wide reappraisal over the next three years and this will also require extra work on the part of the Listers office. There is a reserve fund to cover the reappraisal costs. Plans at this time are to hire an outside firm that will re-inspect and measure all properties over a two-year span. State data requirements apart from the reappraisal make it almost impossible for the Listers to conduct a town wide reappraisal. Other towns are facing these same issues as a result of the new State requirements. There are special appraisal firms available that are trained to conduct commercial reappraisals. Farms are considered to be commercial though in a different category from commercial businesses.
§ Maclure Library submitted a work plan that included additional staffing hours and building maintenance requirements. The work plan gave reasonable justification for their request of an additional $10,000. The library is doing a good job to provide additional projects and services to the Town. The Select Board has not made a final decision on the overall budget at this point.
§ The Recreation Department budget has an $11,000 expense increase. The Recreation Dept. has proposed to increase the Day Camp from 4 weeks to 6 weeks. Employee costs and supplies will need to increase for the additional 2 weeks. Income will offset the majority of the Recreation Dept. increase leaving a net increase of approximately $3,000 to $4,000. Money not expended goes back to the Town through the General Fund.
§ The overall costs at the Transfer Station have been increasing little by little. A new compactor has recently been purchased to replace the old one which was over 20 years old. Though this cost was not anticipated at this time when the old compactor was taken apart for repair it was far worse than originally expected.
§ The Police Department has been more active over the past six months. The addition of Francis Martin allowed more daytime patrols. F. Martin has since been deployed with the Guard resulting in the Town being back looking for daytime help. The daytime shifts have helped slow traffic down near the school and Arch Street.
These are the primary issues that account for the main differences in the FY2006 budget. Other than modest increases and increases beyond our control such as fuel, electricity, paving, and liability insurance the Town has pretty much level funded. The budget reflects no salary increases at this point due to union contract negotiation currently under way. Hopefully these numbers will be known before the January 28th date for posting of the warning. The Town is currently trying to negotiate a 3 to 5 year union contract.
This year the Town budget was prepared in a different format. A capital budget was first prepared by each department. The capital budgets identified items costing over $5,000 that would be needed by the Town over the next 5 years. These items listed on the capital budgets included trucks, fire trucks, compactor, road equipment, and building maintenance projects. These capital budgets help management understand and anticipate in advance the expenses to expect over the next few years. The building maintenance plan showed the need for the replacement of 2 roofs, the Town Office Building and the Town Garage. This allows us to request estimates and to budget for the money needed to take care of these projects in a timely manner. Another new step required each department to do their own budget and work plans. The Newsletter sent out last week describes the high points of the Town work plans and shows what we’re trying to get done in the next year. The Select Board reviews the work plans and can evaluate how good a job we do working on these lists. The work plans are listed on a calendar showing the work plan by quarter.
The tax increase is based on estimated growth in the grand list. Last year the grand list increased by 2%. The budget used 1% to estimate the grand list growth. The Highway Dept. returned $200,000.00 last year to the General Fund. The overall budget shows a 6.5 % increase of expenses and a 3% increase of revenue. The net difference of this shows a budget increase of 3.5%.
R. Wimette commented on the few people in attendance at this informational meeting. The Select Board explained this is a new process with the intent to provide information to as many people as possible. The budget information meeting will be held annually and hopefully we will get a better turn out in the future. There was discussion regarding the few people who turn out for Town Meeting. Last year the total number of people in attendance to vote on the overall Town budget was less than 10% of the checklist. R. Wimette stated she’d like to hear more views of the Select Board during Town Meeting. R. Wimette requested the Town use a defogger on the bulletin boards for ease in reading posted notices.
Rob Howland described how the school budget is put together. Lothrop doesn’t have a school budget yet. Variables that affect the Pittsford budget are the RNESU and OV budgets which have items needed in order to finalize the budget for Pittsford. The school is a $3 million a year business which consists of the principal, superintendent and staff. There are 16 classroom teachers and many support staff. Increases in the school budget are driven by loss of revenue not expense. Virtually all spending has been mandated. The schools decide who is working for them. Pittsford has chosen to keep good teachers and staff with relatively small classes. Pittsford Invested in early education and teachers are seeing the results in reading. This results from the investment in early education and in the kindergarten and preschool programs. Special education costs have seen a $90,000 increase as Lothrop’s share of district wide costs. Health insurance costs, utilities and heat add to the budget increases. Lothrop is considering adding a half time technology support position to assist in the classrooms. RNESU is planning to do the same thing with the addition of a half time technology person to advance the use of computers in the classrooms. RNESU is currently in the process of negotiating 5-year teacher contract. Salary increases are not known at this time. The school is trying to keep cost increases as low as possible, investing in good people, computer technology and still trying to keep the school building up to speed. Act 68 gave some relief to the loss of income at schools. The general benefits provided by Act 68 will help for a few years but are shrinking with time. The Pittsford School Board does welcome public attendance and support at their meetings.
RUTLAND REGIONAL RECREATION COMMITTEE
H. Pelkey noted he had provided the Rutland Regional Recreation materials provided in the Select Board packets. D. Markowski will be the formal representative of the Select Board to attend these meetings. D. Markowski will provide representation during the planning stage only. The Select Board will review further before the Town commits to provide any financial obligation.
With no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:30 P. M.
Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Chair
Larry Pomainville, Vice-Chair
Dave Markowski, Selectman
W. Joseph Gagnon, Selectman
Allen Hitchcock, Selectman
Helen McKinlay, Recording Secretary