The weekly meeting of the Board of Selectmen was held on Monday evening, March 1, 2004 at 7:35 p.m.
Present: James M. Hardy, Chairman; Eric W. Greene, Clerk; David L. Walsh
George Samia, Interim Executive Secretary
Karen Grabau, Adm. Assistant
John Stuebing, Town Counsel
Robert Kerwin, Town Counsel
Finance Committee members: Peter Hamilton, Albert Mondeau, John Coulter, Anthony Costello, John Margie, Eric Glaas, Sally Feeney
School Committee members:
Jane Curley, Theresa McNulty, Scott Hastings, Lisa Forbes, Beth Hayes
Supt. Of Schools, Margaret Strojny
School Business Administrator, Ralph Dumas
Asst. Supt. John Trovato
Central School Principal, George Frye
Middle School Principal Allan Duarte
High School Principal George Kelly
Mr. Hardy explained the Budget Policy that the Board had voted at the beginning of the year and noted that it was done to make the process easier for all by having a schedule for budgets.
Supt. of Schools, Margaret Strojny presented the School Department level funded budget and explained the impact of this budget to her department. Noted that at this time the recommended reductions are 7 f/t teachers, 4 f/t specialists, 12 f/t teaching assistants, 5 f/t support staff, student advisors and cuts to professional development and transportation.
Supt. Strojny explained administration’s concerns with accreditation, funding of mandates; also explained the grants received by school and various fees that have been instituted, i.e. bus user fee, sport user fees, etc.
Ralph Dumas, School Business Administrator presented information on the department’s fixed costs increases, i.e. Salary accounts, regular transportation, SPED out-of district transportation, Aggies out-of-district transportation, Heat & Utilities, other expenses, which total $16,003,232. Noted that all contracts are in the third year of 3-year contracts with increases of teachers 4%, custodians 4 ½ %, Secretaries 2 ½ %. Explained that the school had go out last year for bids on school transportation and that they realized a savings with new contract. Explained other fixed expenses.
Mr. Dumas explained the possible options relative to transportation by changes in school times to allow for cutting runs; increasing mileage allowance, etc.
Mr. Hardy thanked all who were present for the presentation.
Mr. Hamilton stated that the School and Finance Committee has had many meetings; process is good, all departments are in financial crunch, work between school and finance committee has bee outstanding.
Several residents were allowed to speak and asked questions of the Board of Selectmen and were answered by board members and Mr. Samia.
Board of Selectmen -2- March 1, 2004
John Keefe, Board of Health, presented their budget for the upcoming year. Explained that there were able to level fund without significant impact as the Administrative Assistant was retiring and it is expected that whoever is hired, will come in at a lower step.
Mr. Keefe noted that his Board is still negotiating VNA services. Noted that the new quote for services is a 14% increase. Explained that last year they had to cut services, due to the increases for services.
Mr. Keefe also noted that the department has applied for grants under Homeland Security; if grant received will work on where this will be used.
Mr. Keefe updated Board on the Title 5 Loan Program.
No one present
M/Greene, s/Walsh, a unanimous vote, move to approve the minutes of the February 23, 2004 meeting.
SE Regional – Chapter 70 Seminar – March 10, 7 p.m.
Municipal Finance Seminar, March 12, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Executive Secretary Report
Packet re: 106/18 intersection sent to MA Highway
Packet sent to Rep. Lynch – department’s projects
Letter received re: request to use portion of Leland Farm for farming; will put on next
E-mail from Howard Wilbur – Mr. Samia was requested to set up a meeting
Mr. Samia left meeting at 9:50 p.m.
A discussion was held relative to the Town Administrator Search. Mr. Hardy reported that a 2 ½ hour meeting was held with the Committee. Committee walked them through the process they had used in selecting the finalists. Noted that Committee stated they “sent the most successful candidates”.
Mr. Hardy stated that he felt a disservice was done to a loyal 10year veteran employee of the town; Mr. Samia felt that the Board would not favor his candidacy and that was his reason for withdrawing. Felt Board was at a crossroad as to where they proceed.
Mr. Walsh stated that the process had been a fair one; Mr. Samia was a 10 year employee of the town; has talked to department heads and residents and they have reiterated that Mr. Samia has been there; everyone could not say enough in his favor.
M/Walsh, s/Greene, move to open discussion with George Samia to find out if he is willing to come back into the Town Administrator Search process.
Board of Selectmen -3- March 1, 2004
Mr. Greene stated that he had been disappointed by Mr. Samia’s withdrawal as a candidate. Felt that Mr. Samia should be brought back into the process; spoke with Mr. Hardy after his meeting with the committee and felt that process was fair.
Mr. Hardy stated that he felt that the Board had not communicated in the best way with Mr. Samia.
Mr. Walsh stated that he felt that Mr. Hardy should contact Mr. Samia and discuss whether he is willing to return to the process.
VOTE: YES – Walsh, Greene, Hardy; a unanimous vote in favor.
Atty. Robert Kerwin informed the Board that as Town Counsel there was a need for Executive Session to discuss several issues.
M/Greene, s/Walsh, move to close Open Session and go into Executive Session for the purpose of discussing pending litigation and personnel issues and will not be returning to Open Session.
VOTE: Yes – Walsh, Greene, Hardy; a unanimous vote in favor.
Open Session adjourned at 10:03 p.m.
Board of Selectmen