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Finance Committee Sept 2017 Minutes

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Minutes Finance Committee Monday Sept 11, 2017

The Finance Committee participated in a joint meeting with the Education, Land Use and L&R Committees in the Cone Room at 8 PM on Sept 11, 2017 to discuss Item 8. All districts were represented except Districts 4 and 8. Peter Berg (Land Use) chaired the joint meeting.

Roberts Simms, a resident of downtown Greenwich, presented the motion for Item 8, but then argued that the Town should reconsider the appropriateness of granting MI approval to the Bruce, given his concerns about traffic. (By way of explanation, the Moderator had crafted Item 8 to be formatted as a “Yes/No” vote on MI to indicate “Approve/Disapprove” granting of MI by the RTM, even though the Item was proposed by someone against granting MI.)

There were several speakers (to include Peter Sutton, director of the Bruce, and Bruce Cohen, lawyer for the Bruce Museum’s efforts) each of whom took questions from the audience. Tom Byrne asked whether the Bruce intended to have the Town raise capital or guarantee debt raised by the Bruce and received a “no” answer. Peg Freiberg (D7) asked whether the Town would in any way be on the hook for financial commitments made by the Bruce, and was told “no”.

After about 45 minutes of Q&A, the Finance Committee adjourned to the cafeteria where further discussion took place. Bob Lawrence, a trustee and board member of the Bruce, joined us and offered his thoughts on the benefit of an expanded Bruce Museum.

While a majority of Finance Committee members supported the notion of an expansion of the Bruce (and therefore the MI), there were some concerns about whether the Bruce would be able to raise the estimated $60mm, and whether projections about the Town’s contribution to the Bruce operating budget were sound. There were also some concerns expressed about the extent of any traffic study, the condition of the art market, and the wisdom of supporting a project for the arts, given the issues with State funding and the potential of rising taxes.

In the end the Committee took two votes:

ITEM 8: Motion to postpone until Dec: 3-7-0 (with D4, 8 absent)

Rob Perelli-Minetti proposed a motion that the Finance Committee needed more time and possibly more information to perform a more through review before granting MI. Districts 5, 10 and 12 supported that motion. Some “nay” voters expressed a view that there already was plenty of information and that the fundamental MI decision (i.e. the potential tradeoff between the benefits of an expanded Bruce versus the potential negatives) would not be impacted by further analysis.

ITEM 8: Motion as in the Call: 7-1-2 (with D4, 8 absent)

After the first vote a motion was made on the Item as presented. District 5 voted against (and reiterated his views that more information was needed) while Districts 10 and 12 abstained (consistent with their preference to postpone).

The meeting adjourned at 9:30 PM.