The Litchfield Budget Committee held a meeting at Town Hall on September 23 at 7pm. The current members are Andrew Cutter (Chair), John David Son (Vice Chair), Keri Douglas, William Hayes, Derek Barka (absent), Scott Taylor, Kate Stevens, Christina Harrison (School Board Representative), and Robert Leary (Selectmen Representative).
Cory Izbicki, School Business Administrator, was also in attendance.
There was no public input at this meeting.
The committee reviewed virtual meeting attendance laws and agreed that at the start of each meeting, a motion should be made to allow remote participation at the start of each meeting as needed. The committee will vote on a case-by-case basis.
The committee discussed handshake agreements versus memorandums of understanding for how unused budget funds are handled. Depending on need, the Board of Selectmen or School Board may encumber unused funds for necessary projects before returning funds to taxpayers. A handshake agreement made 13+ years ago has been called into question by new members and staff of both the School Board and Budget Committee that specifically any leftover funds in the Special Education Transportation budget should be returned directly to taxpayers. Members discussed whether a written agreement will make a difference. Chairman Cutter suggested any agreements be added to the Budget Committee by-laws to be annually reviewed by the committee and school board members.
Updates on town business were provided by Mr. Leary. The Board of Selectmen have completed the town budget except for insurance information which will be updated in the coming weeks. The transfer station has begun chipping yard waste instead of burning it which is friendlier to close neighbors and the environment. The BOS is considering converting the town’s street lights to LED. The return on investment would be less than 3 years.
Mrs. Harrison provided a school business summary including current enrollment numbers, staff shortages, and the completion of Phase-1A of the LMS construction and energy efficiency project. Phase-1B, LMS roof replacement, should begin next week. Phase 2, retrofitting light fixtures and new HVAC systems, will being summer of 2022. This project was identified as Urgent and accepted into the Litchfield Capital Improvement Plan for 2021. An LMS kitchen renovation was identified as Desirable in the CIP and planned for 2022. The district hired a kitchen designer and found that a layout adjustment could be sufficient, and the project likely will not cost the anticipated $300,000.
Mr. Izbicki expects to meet with First Student Bus Company to discuss fuel savings after combining the middle school and high school bus runs, which reduced the daily runs from three to two.
Mr. Son and Mr. Izbicki updated the committee on meetings with the GMS Architect and conversations have begun on costs of renovating vs. a new build. It is unlikely that Litchfield would receive state building aid because there are other districts with more urgent build needs, but would apply regardless. Community forums will be conducted to gather input from all taxpayers and school community members. Impact fees may be visited with the Planning Board to help raise funds.
Town Budget Presentations to the committee begin Thursday, Sept 30, at 7pm, and continue Oct. 7th and Oct. 14th.
Budget Committee voting on Town Budget is Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7pm.
Residents are encouraged to attend Budget Committee meetings in person at Town Hall unless otherwise stated. Public input is also invited before meetings via email to Andrew Cutter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails must include the commenter’s first and last name and address.
As a reminder, Budget Committee responses to posts on social media are limited. Past meetings can be viewed on the LitchfieldTV Youtube channel.