Friday, January 21, 2005
Selectmen review budgets: "What's really necessary?"
The Selectmen began reviewing budgets on January 11, with Chair Tim Hult noting that, "The FinCom's role is to jam everything into a [guideline] budget, while ours is to ask, 'What's really necessary? What is not happening because there's not enough budget?' "
ConsCom takes a cut
Tricia Smith of the ConsCom reported that her committee is applying more operating expenses against reserve and revolving accounts where appropriate. As a result, the committee will be requesting a budget of $55,600, 4.5% less than the FinCom guideline. She noted the committee has applied for grants and solicited donations to undertake projects where funds are unavailable. It has sent a $100,000 request to repair the Greenough Dam to the Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee. Hult noted the amount of land managed by the ConsCom has risen significantly, and wondered if the committee was ignoring some maintenance in order to stay under budget. Sylvia Willard said a Stewardship Committee has been formed to inventory holdings and come up with a list of needs. A report, "ConsCom takes a cut," should be available next year.
DPW: more personnel needed
Gary Davis of the DPW reported that dumping fees have reduced loads and a new contract starting next year will save the town $112,000. He presented a growth (over guideline) budget that includes two additional DPW workers at an additional cost of $7,000, pointing out "the number [of workers] is where we've always been at, even though the workload's a lot higher."
Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie noted she gets "complaints all year long" about inadequate tree trimming. Davis has waited ten years for tree trimming equipment costing $70,000, which will be requested again this year.
Davis noted he can only attend to emergency road repairs, adding, "We don't do near what we need to." The transfer station with its 610 loads to be transferred per week is a significant burden most DPWs don't have. Stevenson wondered if requests by town committees to clear and maintain pathways and perform other odd jobs "saves the community money but is costing you in other ways." Selectman Deb Belanger noted the difference between a contractor building a pathway versus the DPW is $120,000 per mile versus $20,000. "It's a very good deal."
The General Ledger is projected to be over budget by $3,000, reflecting legal expenses associated with an increase in cases coming before the Board of Appeals. Three 40B affordable housing developments are currently under consideration.
© 2005 The