Friday, December 16, 2005
FinCom hears requests from library and Town Hall
The Carlisle Finance Committee (FinCom) opened the FY07 budgetary planning season on December 12 by taking input from the Gleason Library on their needs for staff and new hours, and from Finance Director Larry Barton on upcoming needs and expenses.
Library requests new hours
Angela (Reddin) Mollet,Library Director, defended a request for extended hours. The highest priority is to add Saturday hours during July and August, months in which the library is now closed on weekends, at a budgetary impact of $3,400. "Many people can't use the library during the week at all," said Mollet, so some weekend hours are needed. As a second priority, the library wants to open for four hours Sundays from January through April, not including holidays, at a cost of $7,000. Usage on Sundays would be tracked for a year to determine if the hours should be continued. "Libraries with Sunday hours find it's a very busy day," said Mollet, noting that, "You get a different mix of people," including high school students doing research "which we don't get a lot of now." The preference for summer hours over Sunday was based on a survey administered during the summer and, Mollet admits, may have been skewed by the time of year. FinCom member Dave Trask noted, "I like your effort for planning based on facts" from the survey and suggested continued surveys to "make it a living plan."
Children's programs, staffing needed
The library also wants to continue children's programming by hiring a librarian for four hours per week at a cost of $2,500. "That's a very good investment," said Trask. Requests for a staff librarian at an unknown cost and a library page, possibly a high school student, at $500 may also be put forward if approved by the Personnel Board.
Management, efficiency investments requested
Larry Barton said the growth in town employees, now at 250, is driving a need for better management of human resources. Currently the town has "not much in the way of an employee database" to analyze pay scales, track benefit coverage, and perform other management functions. Payroll is through a service bureau at $9,000 per year. The human resources module to the MUNIS system currently used for accounting would cost $41,690 with $3,500 annual maintenance, but would be fully integrated with the general ledger/ accounts payable, and provide a database of useful information. Barton also noted a forms-handling machine for folding and stuffing tax bills would save many hours of work. It would cost $8,600 with a $1,000 per year service contract.
Benefits for volunteer emergency personnel required
A bill recently passed by the state requires towns to provide death benefits to the surviving spouse and minor children of a volunteer emergency worker who dies in service or as the result of a service injury. The "McNamara bill" resulted from the death of firefighter Martin McNamara whose family was left without coverage until the state stepped in. The bill provides a choice of methods for satisfying the requirement, including an annuity payment insurance policy, a one-time $500,000 payment policy, or a self-funded annuity from the town's general funds. Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie is researching the costs of the alternatives.
Senior tax relief bill
Barton noted a senior tax relief bill recently signed by the governor will have little impact on Carlisle's program for seniors unless we decide to take advantage of a provision that eliminates the requirement to charge 8% interest on deferred property tax payments.
Building permit volume up 25%
Building Inspector Bob Koning said increased volume is overwhelming his office. He noted the building department is open two days from 9 to 1 "but we never get out before 3 or 4." Permit activity is up 25% over last year with 40Bs, the wastewater treatment plant, and cell tower activity requiring many hours. Fees collected are up 16%. The department will need to be open an extra day next year, and fees on 40Bs will be reviewed to make sure they cover the cost of the added work.
© 2005 The