Oxford selectmen discuss budget, cable, animal control dept.
Present: Jennie Caissie, Chairman; Dennis Lamarche; Michael Voas; and John Saad. Absent: Henry LaMountain. Also present: Karen Crandell, Selectmen's Clerk, and Joseph Zeneski, Town Manager.
Prior to the meeting’s commencement, a moment of silence was observed for Mr. Howard A. Peterson who served as a Town Election Worker since the 1960s and was very involved with the Boy Scouts for many years.
Town Manager Joseph Zeneski began the agenda with his annual budget presentation noting that this procedure was to begin 90 days before the annual town meeting per charter, and that today was the 91st day. He read from a prepared statement reviewing that “this year the Governor has proposed a budget that will increase State funding for education and level-fund general government aid (what was once Lottery Distribution but is now Unrestricted General Government Aid, or “UGGA”) for a net increase. The problem is that the Dept of Education (“DOE”) has determined that Oxford must increase its contribution to education by over 4% which is well in excess of the 2½% increase in local revenues allowed by Proposition 2½. “
Mr. Zeneski further indicated that the Governor’s proposal and DOE’s calculation is all the town currently has to work with as of the date of his presentation. The Town has yet to receive the regional school assessment, health insurance premium increases, or school budget request. Therefore, based on current data, today’s numbers are only one possible outcome and these numbers may all change when they finally meet to vote a budget for Fiscal Year 2013. He noted that this year department requests exceed the currently estimated $32,439,830 available for appropriation by $5,543,863, and the Town has not yet received the public education requests. Mr. Zeneski concluded his statement by expressing his appreciation to all Town officials, boards, committees, commissions, employees, and residents for their cooperation in building a financially sound government and asked for continued support.
Donna Foglio, Town Finance Director, presented Fiscal Year 2013 preliminary budget figures, reviewing each revenue and expenditure line item. All items were read aloud with recommendations for budget cutting including closing Town Hall on Friday as well as the notation that there may be employee budget decreases except for those who were unionized or on contract. Selectman Lamarche spoke in support of Town employees expressing his concerns that they have already borne cutbacks and are working with small staffs. Selectman Voas’ comments centered on how most of the Town’s budget dollars (approx. 75 percent) were directed to the school budget. Selectman Saad then stated that “Oxford has handled its finances most economically" and he didn’t want the clerical staff, maintenance staff, etc. to bear the brunt of the budget cuts. Town Manager Zeneski added that all budget numbers are not yet finalized, and that this was just one of the preliminary scenarios.
The next agenda item was for a public hearing on Oxford’s cable television service provided by Charter Communications. Mr. Zeneski noted that Charter had been notified of tonight’s hearing but that no representative had shown up. A need to request a proposal for renewal terms was then discussed including a Public Hearing Notice that had been published in one of the local newspapers, a renewal process timetable, and minutes from the last ascertainment hearing held on 3/8/11. Chairman Caissie then asked for public comments either written or oral.
Local citizen, Caroline Pizzotti, came forward and spoke about her disappointment in cable tv rates and how senior citizen discounts were eliminated if additional services were requested. Ms. Pizzotti also mentioned the poor customer service provided by Charter. She compared Direct TV rates of $19.95/month vs. Charter rates of approx. $69/month and how there were restrictions on satellite dish TV usage for seniors living at the Wheelock Apts as well as Liberty Lane. Larry Ackley, local resident, also spoke about his usage of satellite TV and the savings accrued through this type of alternate signal. Federal and state senators and representatives would be contacted regarding the restrictive service agreements for the senior housing complexes. A selectmen’s vote was taken, and it was unanimous to contact Charter regarding its services to the Town.
Norma Jean Hanks and Robert Lawless then presented their request to not regionalize the Animal Control Dept. Much discussion ensued regarding the hard work done by local volunteers and tradespeople to get the Animal Shelter up and running. Selectmen unanimously approved a motion to reserve a spot for this request for an article regarding not to regionalize the animal control department services. The continued public hearing on the residential tax factor selection was then continued to the next Selectmen'’ Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, February 28. The town manager’s report and selectmen requests were also reviewed including the expected sign-off on the animal shelter’s occupancy permit and sending a letter to a local daycare facility’s clothing drop-off area requesting that they clean up the drop-off area.
- Monday, 13 February 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Selectmen