Lenox Finance Committee Meeting
Date: January 30, 2013
Members Present: Lucy Kennedy (LK), Joe Nejaime (JN), John Hillier (JH), Mark McKenna (MM), Robert Vaughan (RV)
Guests: Greg Federspiel, Town Manager (GF) and Bera Dunau, Berkshire Beacon
Absent: Colby Lewis
Meeting called to order at 6:05 PM
JN commented on the 1/23 meeting with BOS (also attended by LK, RV and CL). He noted that, while there are several large expense items we can’t change, we need to focus on what we can change and begin taking steps to prepare for our next fiscal year. BOS recommended that we draft an alternate FY ’15 budget with a focus on ways to flatten expenses and refine what needs to be put in savings, with one of the goals being to bank $750,000 by FY ’20. Initial thoughts were to confer with other town finance committees, and also look at the potential pro’s and cons of sharing a school superintendant with the Town of Lee.
LK relayed a comment from CL, suggesting we look at the budget and reflect a truer estimate for revenue from rooms and meals tax. [GF noted that the Town’s philosophy has been to intentionally keep this number low so that there are excess funds at the end of the year to put back into the General Fund.] LK also noted that what was not discussed at the 1/23 meeting was the activity of the various reserve funds and the current and historical balances. It would be helpful to spend some time in a future meeting with GF and the Town Treasurer to educate the committee on these funds.
JH suggested a follow-up meeting with DPW and committee to explain the risks of delaying various projects.
RV spoke a bit about the town’s health insurance, and noted that as a collaborative there was a 0% increase last year [and GF informed us that the board just approved a 0% increase again for FY ‘14]. Current town/employee split is 75/25, which is contracted for three (3) years. The FY ’14 budget reflected a $54k increase in health insurance, which can now be reversed.
Final budgets are due for the April 3rd meeting with BOS. There should also be an actuarial review for OPEB coming up soon (occurs every other year) which could provide some guidance for future budgets.
RV stated he wanted to be on record to say he feels the 2% budget increase is reasonable, and that we should not be micro managing the budget line by line. He has a lot of faith in our Town Manager and governance. All agreed that it is not our position to be micro-managing the budget, but that it is our position to ask questions and try to act as a “watch dog” for the tax payers of Lenox.
The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday February 13, 2013 at 6:00 PM [JH will try to schedule DPW to attend]. Following, we will meet 2/27 at 5pm with GF and Charles Brown (Town Treasurer).
Meeting adjourned: 7:15 PM
Mark McKenna, Secretary