Finance board eyes cheaper fall pickup program
Those leaves scattered on lawns across town aren’t going anywhere any time soon — in fact, they’re all but guaranteed to grow in abundance as the pesky and brisk fall air starts to move through New England in the coming weeks.
That’s exactly why Trumbull maintains a leaf pickup program for its residents, who might enjoy the benefits of a cheaper system by this time next years thanks to a thorough analysis that was presented to the Board of Finance at its Sept. 10 meeting.
Therese Keegan, the financial and acccounting controls analyst for the Town of Trumbull, gave an overview report to the board titled Leaf Management Alternatives, which covered not only Trumbull’s program and costs, but also detailed comparisons to programs by other Fairfield County towns.
While the current leaf pickup program will continue this fall as it has in past years, the report demonstrated that towns such as Fairfield, which has roughly the same number of miles of roads and more residents, pays only about 10% of what Trumbull pays.
Keegan said that differences in terms of service, such as bag pickup as opposed to curb vacuuming, are the primary reasons for the cost differences.
The consensus of the board was that further research, including public discussion of the alternatives to change Trumbull’s service to potentially realize substantial cost savings, is warranted in the next budget cycle.
The almost three-hour meeting included a package of more than 150 pages of documents that reflected the need to approve supplemental appropriations and departmental transfers, and to effectively close the books on the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2015.
The adjustments totaled slightly over $800,000 on a total budget of $156.8 million.
Two of the largest supplemental appropriations were $491,783 for snow removal and leaf pickup.
It was stated that in February 2015 alone, snow removal operations occurred in Trumbull on 21 of the 28 days in the month, and the very difficult winter caused expenditures to significantly exceed budget expectations.
Also, $207,288 was appropriated from the general fund for salaries and payouts for the retired police chief and other retirements.
Low interest rates
John Ponzio, the town’s treasurer, reported that two new debt issues were successful in attracting low interest rates, $7.5 million in bonds were sold at a rate of 2.834% and $9.5 million in one-year notes were sold at a rate of 0.333%.
He stated that these low rates were a reflection of Trumbull’s improved credit rating to AA+, only one level below the top rating of AAA.
Mr. Ponzio also noted that the higher interest rates Trumbull has negotiated with its banks on its cash balances led to interest income for Trumbull to increase in August by over $9,000 versus August 2014, and more than $5,300 versus July 2015.
The town made its annual required contribution to the pension plan, which now stands at a 37% funding level, up from 27% a few years ago.
A final major item discussed at the meeting was the Hillcrest HVAC project, which has replaced 48-year old boilers and made other improvements in lighting, controls, pumps, and water storage.
Operational savings from the project are expected to exceed $1.5 million, while incurring lease costs of the equipment slightly above $1 million, allowing the project to be self-funding without the need for capital from the town.