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Lamoine Budget Committee

Minutes of April 21, 2014 (Draft, subject to correction)

Committee chair Robin Veysey called the meeting to order at 6:30 PM.

Present were: Budget Committee members Kathleen DeFusco, Merle Bragdon, Robin Veysey; Secretary Stu Marckoon, Interim Superintendent of Schools Judith Lucarelli, School Committee members Bob Pulver, Brett Jones, Michael Brann, Gordon Donaldson, and Lamoine Consolidated School Principal Dawn McPhail.

Minutes of January 20, 2014 – Merle moved to approve the minutes as presented. Kathy 2nd . Vote in favor was 3-0.

Members of the budget committee and those in attendance introduced themselves to one another.

Parks/Recreation/Cemetery Budget 2013/14 – Stu said he has proposed that $2,800 be added to this budget from the undesignated fund balance to cover the cemetery maintenance bill submitted by the East Lamoine Cemetery Association. Merle moved to recommend the proposed amount and source. Kathy 2nd . Vote in favor was 3-0.

Roads Budget – Stu said he is hopeful that there will be enough in the roads budget to make it through the fiscal year and is not recommending any additional be appropriated at this time. There was a very brief discussion.

School Budget Review – Robin said she had looked over the budget and figured out most of the acronyms. Dr. Lucarelli said she intended to give a brief overview. Merle said there appear to be a couple of aspects for the budget – one being the current year transition budget and maybe it would be best to tackle that first.

Dr. Lucarelli said previously the town approved of a $25,000 budget. She said the budget is being used a little differently than originally planned. She said the school committee wants to set up a financial database in June, and the first payroll as the Lamoine School Department is the 1 st Friday in July. She said they had not planned this out in December. She said the software license fee depends on how the central office is set up. She said she believed the school department can obtain the Pro-Fund software and license for $8,000. Brett Jones said that would happen in June. Dr. Lucarelli said that cost, if approved, would be removed from the 2014/15 budget.

Merle moved to recommend $8,000 to be funded from the Education Fund for the 2013/14 school transition budget. Kathy 2nd . Kathy asked if this is the only $8,000 charge. Vote in favor was 3-0.

2014/15 School Budget – Dr. Lucarelli presented an overview of the proposed budget. She said the new Lamoine School Department will need to settle its accounts with RSU 24; the new budget keeps the same programming as exists; will provide administrative support to the school staff; and look at ways to collaborate with the Hancock and Ellsworth school departments.

RSU 24 Settlement – Dr. Lucarelli handed out a detailed summary of the various settlement items. She said the most expensive item is “buying back” the Lamoine School, which involves reimbursing RSU 24 for the debt service payments. She said the town owes the RSU 91.88% of those payments, and that is $235,000 which is a one-time expense.

Dr. Lucarelli said the town has to pay 8.12% of the administrative salaries in RSU 24 for the next fiscal year. She said some of that administration has resigned so the town would not have to pay for those positions. A brief discussion followed. She explained the rest of the withdrawal costs. She said the school committee believes that $200,000 will be returned to the town as its share of the RSU fund balance. She said the town is not authorized to spend that in 2014/15, but the money would be received in January 205 and would show as a balance forward for the 2015/16 education budget.

Dr. Lucarelli said there are no major staffing changes proposed. She said one teacher that was shared in the RSU will work in Lamoine full time. She said some elementary school students attend the Lamoine School but live out of town, and Lamoine would receive tuition from the sending town. She said some Lamoine residents attend elementary school out of town, and Lamoine would have to pay tuition for those students. She said the high school enrollment was unusually high for 2014/15, and in 2015/16 there could be a $110,000 reduction in tuition based on the number graduating in June 2015.

Dr. Lucarelli said there are 13 administrators in the RSU office. She said the school committee is committed to having a superintendent and building administrator, but the school principal will not be teaching classes next school year. She said the principal will be in charge of several things and the primary public communication point.

Dr. Lucarelli said work is under way to collaborate with Hancock on sharing a superintendent and special education director. She said there are other collaborations that might be possible with the City of Ellsworth school department. She said she's not sure where a central office would be located. She said Lamoine would be its own community school.

Stu asked about plans for a business manager. Dr. Lucarelli said the business manager, IT director and food service director positions are still under discussion and they'll be talking with the City of Ellsworth about possibly contracting for those services. She said there is money in the budget for those services. Robin asked how that would work. Dr. Lucarelli said there is a bookkeeping position budgeted for both Hancock and Lamoine and presented several staffing scenarios. She said there is a 2-year arrangement that would be put in place for a central office. A discussion followed regarding the superintendent hiring process, and that might take place by next week. Dr. Lucarelli said there would know more about the next steps by then. She reviewed the budgeting strategy for the system administration.

Gordon Donaldson said they're still struggling with a lot of unknowns. He said personnel and collaboration are still up in the air, but they should know more in July. Mr. Jones said Ellsworth is still working on its budget. Robin said that means that Lamoine can't know about some costs until the other school districts have settled their budgets.

Merle said the budget appears to be fairly conservative and wondered if it's too conservative. He said school committee members should be paid. Michael Brann said when the school committee started hearing the numbers; the first thing they acted on was that there was no need for school committee compensation given the potential budget increase. Dr. Lucarelli said she'd never had a school board do that before. Merle restated that he thought the school board should be compensated. Robin said it's not a lot of money and more of a symbolic decision. Stu said the voters approved compensation in the current transition budget.

Dr. Lucarelli outlined each of the proposed warrant articles.

Stu said the extra tuition amount approved this year actually softens the increase in 2014/15. There was a lengthy discussion about how the extra tuition costs at MDI High School are charged.

Mr. Jones said that if the withdrawal cost is removed from the proposed budget, the 2014/15 budget would be about the same as the 2008/09 budget. He said he would have expected higher costs. There was a brief discussion about the tax increase, which will be about 5% above the current year and a discussion about the EPS formula.

Mr. Jones said the 2015/16 budget looks more positive. Stu asked if the 2014/15 budget is the worst case scenario. Dr. Lucarelli said that was correct.

Robin asked if software for the library is included in the budget. Dr. Lucarelli said that is in the technology budget.

Merle said the school committee has done a great job given the tough position they are in. He said he hoped the budget is adequate for the next year. Robin said she would not have expected the budget to be this low. Dr. Donaldson said a great deal of thanks is due to the principal and the teachers for their input.

Merle moved to recommend approval for the school articles as drafted on the May 22, 2014 warrant. Kathy 2nd . Vote in favor was 3-0.

Stu asked if the school committee had any preference on a moderator for the special town meeting. He said he would be willing to do it, and has experience at moderating, and would ask the Selectmen if they had any preference. There was no preference stated.

Robin said she would like to see the school committee meetings on TV. Mr. Jones said the Cable TV / Technology committee has been discussing ways to wire up the school. The school committee said they would like to have their April 30 th meeting at the Lamoine Town Office.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:52 PM

Respectfully submitted,

Stu Marckoon, Secretary