January 29, 2007
Present: Ed Melanson, Chairman; Harvey Nasuti, Assistant Chairman, Ellen Friedman, Member; Dan Winslow, Member
Absent: Vida Holmes, Member
Ed Melanson called the meeting to order at 7:05 at the Town Hall in Room 124.
Open Public Forum:
With no one from the public in attendance, Mr. Melanson deferred to the next item on the agenda.
Mr. Melanson continued with the Report from the Director of Public Works:
DPW Budget Review: Mr. Vito began by noting that there were two major areas for discussion: one being the creation of an Inspection Supervisor position to be funded by fees, and the other being Solid Waste, particularly on the revenue side as it relates to solid waste fees.
Two concepts were looked at to come up with a 0-based budget, one being today’s services with all the increases, the other if we were able to take one of those positions and use other revenues to fund it. The first concept showed all of the same staffing as today, reflecting $48,000 over last year (2% increase). The second concept broke out fixed costs which are under DPW administration for payment and oversight, but are really not DPW services (i.e. town fuel, traffic lights, landfill [including municipal waste], snow & ice, ROW lights); with these costs broken out, a $1,600 increase is reflected, which includes the Inspector’s position; when the new position is broken out (i.e. assuming salary expense will be offset by revenue fees), a decrease of $40,000 is reflected.
DPW is currently paying the planning board engineer to inspect water; and stormwater, both areas the DPW can take over; engineering inspection on Rte. 115 alone exceeded $25,000. Questions were asked with regard to anticipated salary for this position ($52-53,000.00), and what about winter months, when services are not required very frequently. Mr. Vito responded that the Inspection Supervisor would be administering permits and speaking with engineers regarding current and future projects, working with schools, building department, etc; preparing estimates. Mr. Vito stated that we will still have our engineering consultants and responsibility for signing off on projects would remain with the Director of Public Works. Mr. Vito stated that the hired person would be a qualified Inspector.
Mr. Melanson also expressed concern with regard to public perception that the DPW would be adding a position. Mr. Vito stated that this is a position already funded, but title and responsibilities are being modified: Assistant Foreman would become the Foreman (at title change only), Interim Superintendent would become the Inspection Supervisor. Mr. Melanson requested that a new organizational chart be created, clearly justifying position for other Boards and Town Meeting. Mr. Vito stated that this is in our Master Plan, and has recently been pushed back but has become more critical at this point in time because of stormwater management and other issues.
Mr. Vito then moved on to the DPW Administration budget, showing that the position that is revenue-funded reflects a $58,000 reduction in the administration side bottom line. Administrative salaries (Director, DPW Superintendent and Executive Assistant) were broken down among 6 areas (14.3% each); the increase in Director’s salary is only because the salary was not known last year during the budget process; in the Highway Division, the Assistant Foreman position would disappear, a full-time position was lost last year, the budget is now showing a $3,000 decrease in salary & expenses; on a whole the bottom line is less than last year.
Road Program: In Old Populatic sewer account, town approved borrowing of up to $185,000 and the full amount was borrowed; project was completed at $132K, leaving a balance of $67K+. Funds can only be spent on a capital project with a life similar to sewer project, so DPW proposes using $67K+ to transfer those funds into Road Program, via an article at Town Meeting.
Water Budget: Prepared on numbers projected by Tighe & Bond at the $4.75 base rate with +20%, +30% & +40% blocks, with current connection & inspection fees remaining the same. Mr. Vito mentioned that the budget was prepared with total subcontracted (365 days) costs for water quality, and bringing in a full-time staffer and a part-time staffer over the next few years.
Solid Waste Budget:
Division getting hit hard on debt service due to new vehicles over last 3 years; pickup, container, loader (50%); added 14.3% of DPW Admin salaries. Mr. Vito stated that we might need to increase fees for bag stickers and car decals. Mr. Winslow inquired as to the feasibility of collecting more types of plastic, perhaps all as one “miscellaneous” collection. Mr. Vito will discuss with the Solid Waste Foreman.
Based on fixed costs; Leachate, annual engineering went up.
Mr. Winslow inquired as to the Leachate pumping budget and the Capital Committee’s stance on an article for putting a roof over the ponds. Mr. Vito noted that a with roof, it would be possible to stay within appropriation, as it would not be necessary to request Reserve Fund transfers each year. Estimated cost is currently about $190,000.00 as opposed to about $140,000.00 three years ago, due mainly to cost of material increases. Mr. Vito will review this with Advisory Board on 2/7/07, Board of Selectmen on 2/20/07, and back to Advisory Board on 2/28/07.
Figures with regard to interest from Perpetual Care and Sale of Lots accounts (usually between $15 - 20,000.00 per year) are not yet available from Finance Director; Mr. Vito will update the Board when those figures are received. Grounds Maintenance shows what was requested and what was appropriated in FY’07; the Grounds Maintenance Division was not able to supply all services to other departments; the only increases shown are fixed costs, such as electricity. Mr.
Discussion continued with regard to part-time summer help. Mr. Winslow requested that a line be added to the budget for summer help, at $0 appropriation, and suggested researching if it would be possible to use unexpended funds from unspent monies in Snow & Ice and positions not filled.
Vehicle Maintenance: 208 hours per year are expended on the Water Division, because they service not only vehicles, but wells & equipment also.
Tree Warden/Shade Tree: Minor increases; fixed costs.
Snow & Ice: Remained the same
Right of Way Lights: Fixed costs increased. Turning every other light off at 10:00 P.M. resulted in cost savings, but we are not likely to turn off any more.
Town Fuels: Fixed costs increased. Mr. Winslow inquired with regard to biofuels, and Mr. Melanson responded that the EPA had done a study showing 100% increase in costs using biofuels due to decreased horsepower, maintenance costs, conversion costs.
Mr. Vito stated that the Chairman of the Capital Committee will be sending a list of items to move forward on; Mr. Vito will discuss with Town Administrator. Mr. Vito mentioned two potential borrowing items; one is Leachate roof, one is DPW building. Meter equipment to be proposed is around $480,000; Mr. Vito stated that we may not need all of the equipment we have on hand, so there may be cost savings yet to be realized.
Mr. Melanson inquired with regard to alternative energy sources, such as wind power; Mr. Vito stated that this area is not well-suited for wind power, but solar panels on the landfill is a possibility to operate the DPW and Transfer Station, and Senior Center facilities.
Mr. Nasuti inquired as to the cleaning of Spruce Street Well. Mr. Vito stated that the cleaning was completed, and the well was put back on line (back down for 2 days due to faulty bearing in the motor). Results were good; capacity is as expected.
Water Rate Study:
Mr. Vito stated the Tighe & Bond and done a survey and determined that Norfolk’s connection fees and other fees were in line with surrounding towns. James Lehan arrived at 8:15 to discuss the Water Rate Study. Mr. Melanson stated that the contractor commissioned to do the rate study was mostly complete, and had come up with a recommendation for new rates. Mr. Melanson reviewed the current rate structure, and discussed how the new rate structure was intended to reward conservation. A 4-tier structure is being proposed, which will result in a decrease of about 10% for the average user, a smaller decrease for smaller users, and an increase for above average users. Mr. Lehan expressed concern that families with small children might end up paying more due to higher usage, but was
informed that in-depth analysis had been done, and this would not be the case. Mr. Lehan inquired as to whether the Board was comfortable with these new figures with regard to revenue, and was told that the Board is comfortable with instituting these rates, and maintaining a $200,000 balance in retained earnings. Mr. Melanson informed Mr. Lehan that he would be presented with the FY’08 budget, which is based on these rates. Mr. Winslow also informed Mr. Lehan that in the course of the rate study, we have also purchased an Excel spreadsheet which will enable us to set rates ourselves going forward. Mr. Lehan expressed gratitude for the Board’s efforts in pursuing the rate study. Mr. Winslow made a motion to recommend to the Board of Selectmen, water rates as outlined in scenario #1, consisting of 4 separate rates, together with a one-time rebate (to be determined) based on water usage in 2006. Ms. Friedman seconded, and it was
so voted, with 3 in favor and 1 abstaining.
At 9:00 p.m. being no further business Mr. Winslow made a motion to adjourn the meeting; Mr. Nasuti seconded, and it was so voted.