MIDDLEBURY — The Board of Finance, meeting Tuesday, November 10, reviewed the town’s current financial status and began preparations for budget season.
Robin Stanziale, chief financial officer, reviewed the grants received by the town, “We’re still on schedule.”
She said the Education Cost Sharing Grant matched the budgeted estimate but promised to verify that number following a request by Chair William Stowell.
Ms. Stanziale noted that investment income should be lower than expected but real estate conveyance taxes and building fees are above the estimated budget.
During the meeting, Mr. Stowell confirmed that money owed for special duty is being collected.
Regarding expenses, money had been moved from the Parks and Recreation line items to Building and Grounds for water usage at parks. The account is now over but the majority of charges occur at this point in the calendar.
Ms. Stanziale said the water is shut off in November and recommended a budget adjustment for next year; water costs moved from the estimated $6,000 to more than $9,000, possibly due to dry summer weather.
She also recommended some changes to how Parks and Recreation Department line items are described in the budget.
Mr. Stowell thanked her for gathering input from department heads in order to prepare the finance board for budget season.
The board briefly reviewed the tax collector’s report, which is comparable to last year’s collection rate, within a fraction of a percent.
The assessor is compiling the motor vehicle supplemental list and that will be sent out soon.
In other business, Mr. Stowell said he was not happy to learn that approximately $2,400 had been spent at Fenn Farm despite his order to avoid expenses, characterizing the work as non-emergency.
“I don’t think we have control of Fenn Farm and who is supposed to be doing what.” He expressed a concern that, as the building and property are owned by the town, someone needs to be held accountable.
He had appointed board member Vincent F. Cipriano, Jr. as liaison to the Land Preservation Open Space Acquisition Commission in hopes of changing the situation, recommending the matter be brought to the selectmen.
First Selectman Ed St. John said the recently approved charter revisions have formed a commission and now the town has an opportunity to address the issue and promised to follow up on the matter.
He noted that the septic system is expected to last through the winter and a proper sewer system to be installed in the spring.
Referring to charter revision changes, Ms. Stanziale illustrated the effect of those changes on the budget timeline.
The Boards of Finance and Selectmen will be required to finalize the budget by March 31, 2021 so that the referendum can be held on May 5, 2021.
The updated charter calls for a joint meeting with these two boards where the members would approve the budget.
Mr. Stowell said that, if for some reason, a budget is not produced on March 31, the boards must meet again the following day to come to consensus.
He expressed a concern that a second meeting might not result in a final budget but the budget process would be done by then.
Mr. St. John commented that the selectmen have faithfully attended finance board meetings and said any questions that might prevent an approved budget would be raised long before the end of March.