Harwich Town Hall
732 Main St., Harwich Center, MA 02645
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Finance Committee Minutes 02/22/2012
TOWN OF HARWICH
FINANCE COMMITTEE MEETING MINUTES
Small Meeting Room, Town Hall
Regular Meeting 6:00 PM
Wednesday February 22, 2012

Present: Skip Patterson, Chairman, Pete Watson, Rich Larios, Noreen Donahue, Bill Greenwood,
Not present: Jon Idman, Dana DeCosta, Pam Groswald, Open Position to Replace Peter Hughes
Also present: James Merriam, David Ryan, Linda Cebula


  • Call to Order
Skip Patterson called the meeting to order at 6:08PM

  • School Budget
Dr. Carolyn Cragin, Superintendent, provided updates:
  • The expense side of the budget is very fluid at this time
  • Benefits are still in negotiation as the benefit packages are very different between Chatham and Harwich
  • The retiree split is also fluid as both Chatham and Harwich have different retirement plans and also could have a rush of retirees at the end of FY12
  • The project manager for the Monomoy Regional School District (MRSD) budget has moved on to another opportunity and this is resulting in Dr. Cragin having to cover that role as well.
David Ryan explained that the hypothetical budget in March of 2010 had over 25 assumptions and it was based on the historical data for 3 years – FY 07, 08 and 09.  In that hypothetical budget, a deficit did show in FY13 and 14 with revenue in FY15.  Those deficits were less than what we are projecting now but were impacted by reduced revenues and the unforeseen expenditure for Special Education of $1.2 million.  

Possible options available at this point are to cut the budget, cut the expenses or to go for an override.  There are still points to consider before a final decision is made.

An important point to note is that the budget is based on foundation enrollment and includes all students in both towns, which includes students in all schools – home, parochial, private, boarding, or public. It also includes all grades from pre-K through to 12.

David Ryan and Jim Merriam will be discussing the budget with the Chamber of Commerce then to the voters.  They will explain the reasons for the shortfall and confirm that we can
  • build a new school, which is needed, for 400 students and the cost will be $57 million over 10+ years to the Town of Harwich OR
  • regionalize and build a new school with a cost of $27 million in 10 years to the Town of Harwich
Dr. Carolyn Cragin explained that they are looking to anticipated changes that will result in savings.  For example:
  • Chatham teacher retiring and the ability to have a Harwich teacher in the same level with a small group, combine their groups with the 1 Harwich teacher.  This would reduce the overall budget by 1 salary.
  • The new position noted in the original presentation with a salary of $57,000 has been removed from the budget.
FinCom asked if we could have a 5 year plan and accountability for the numbers in that 5 year plan.  This would help FinCom support the new budget and gain support from the Town.  Linda Cebula agreed to this and noted that facts are owed to the Town to help them make the decision needed.

David Ryan advised that he does not expect the final numbers until Mid April.  He is meeting with Brian Widegren and Jeffrey Dykens next week.

The Re-Use committee will have a public meeting in April to discuss the potential uses for the current Harwich Middle School building.

FinCom is looking for a sustainable expense budget as they want to be on the same page as the School Committee at the time of the Annual Town Meeting.  A 5 year plan will support concerns and discussion at the time of the ATM.  Credibility is very important!

  • Executive Session
None

  • Updates from Town Administrator/Finance Director
David Ryan advised that there will be no free cash in the FY13 budget.  Local receipts are less than in the past and the snow and ice budget is blocked at this time which is all in line with the plan to run down the budget.

Jim Merriam noted the following updates:
  • The Board of Selectmen removed the Potter Field article from the warrant – ATM 15
  • The Brooks Field article – ATM 14 – has been reduced from $40,000 to $9,000 which will be to make the necessary repairs to the fences and backstop
  • Skip’s private petition has 10 votes and Skip confirmed that he wants to present it to the Board of Selectmen
  • The Special Town Meeting – on March 12th the BOS will vote to open it on March 13th and then close it on March 15th.  There are 4 articles for this:
  • Capital High School Budget – SPA wants authorization to borrow 100% of the funds needed.  Chatham has authorized full debt and we can do the same or borrow under full faith credit of both towns.
  • Cash management issues need internal controls for local receipts – handling of cash.
  • Timing of Solar panels was to be on July 1, 2012.  NSTAR has a snag so concerned with $200,000 if it won’t be built
  • Public employee committee – revised Health Care plan has higher co-pays and deductibles to be paid by the employees – still in negotiation
  • American Re-Investment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds will be applied to Red River
  • Pleasant Bay bathrooms are being rebuilt
  • Meeting with the Disability Rights committee re the ADA access to the Ball Fields
  • Legal opinion regarding the re-use of the Middle School is that as it has been over 20 years since the renovation, the state has no hold on it.  We just can’t request new money for the building going forward.
  • Choice In money – Chatham spends it the same year they get it and Harwich spends it the following year.  This will result in a 1 year lag at the time of regionalization.  The Choice In for FY13 is $800,000.
  • Old business
Skip reminded FinCom that he needed feedback from all members regarding the articles everyone is interested in hearing more about.  He has feedback from only 3 so he is assuming that all other members are OK.  If that assumption is wrong, let Skip know ASAP.

Land Bank – the CPC is presenting to the BOS this week.  Jim Merriam will check with legal to determine our options – refinance the debt or get out of it?


  • New business
FinCom reviewed the calendar set up by Skip.  The meeting scheduled for March 1st will be cancelled.  All other dates were OK.

Skip will send a draft memo to Jim Merriam for the Department Heads regarding FinCom’s meeting on April 21st.  If they want to meeting with FinCom at that time, the memo will confirm the process and who to contact.

Should FinCom invite the Library for 1 hour?  Linda Cebula, liaison to the Library, suggested we have them at a regular meeting.  Skip will contact JoAnn Brown.

  • Adjourn
8:12PM