Friday, February 10, 2006
FinCom study FY07 budgets for ConsCom, Police & DPW
The Finance Committee (FinCom) reviewed a trilogy of budget spreadsheets on Monday night from Carlisle's more visible town departments — Police, Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Conservation Commission (ConsCom). Nearing the home stretch in their hearings, FinCom members used the February 6 meeting to fill in some of the last remaining numbers of their FY07 Sudoku-like budget puzzle.
ConsCom's Thomas Schultz of Carleton Road kicked off the meeting with a guideline budget of $58,431. "The actual budget is $65,910," said Schultz, "but we are using $2,637 from the 53E1/2 account and $4,842 from the Intents account to cover a portion of our salaries." The FY07 number is only 3.4% above the FY06 actual budget of $63,750, which brought smiles of satisfaction from the six FinCom members. Permit fees for construction near wetlands are deposited in a municipal revolving fund established under state law Chapter 44 Sec. 53E1/2. After answering a few cursory questions about the source of the 53E1/2 funds, Schultz was on his way home to an early dinner.
Not so, the Police budget. Newly-appointed Police Chief John Sullivan presented a detailed and extensive FY07 budget for the FinCom to review. Sullivan's Guideline budget came in at $1,099,392, which is an increase of 3.9% over FY06. Salaries and wages were within the 3.5% guideline, rising from $966,806 to above the one million dollar mark ($1,000,644) for the first time. However, it was the growth request of $1,141,692 that captured the attention of FinCom members.
Sullivan broke down the extra $42,400 request into four levels of priority. First on the list is $1,000 for more fuel and $7,000 for in-house training. In-house training includes annual shooting qualifications, department meetings and special officers training. Also top priority is $6,000 to cover the cost of a sergeant's exam. "We need the exam to select a new sergeant from the group of candidates," said Sullivan. Since he was recently promoted to Chief by the Board of Selectmen, the next-in-line officer on the police force can now be tapped for promotion to lieutenant, which opens the ranks for the hiring of a new sergeant. "Can't you just pick the sergeant?" asked one of the FinCom members. Sullivan admitted that it could be done, "but it wouldn't be fair to the others."
Sullivan would like an additional $6,000 to cover the cost of officers testifying in court for traffic tickets. Also, another $5,000 would provide support for the North East Municipal Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) and pay for Carlisle's portion of cost among the 46 communities that are members of the mutual aid organization. "This is also great training when we go to other towns and assist their response teams," said Sullivan. Rounding out the salary items, he would like an additional $2,300 for staff meetings with his supervisors. "Half of this cost is already in the level service budget," said the Chief. "We've already had one meeting and we could have gone on all day." Sullivan cited the problem of communicating with the entire force when it is spread over three shifts seven days a week.
In education, Sullivan wants $10,000 to send someone to three months of Cyber Crime School in Malden. "The full course is six months, but three months gives us a start in fighting Cyber crime — internet related stuff." The final item on Sullivan's wish list is $5,000 for him to spend 10 weeks at the FBI Academy in Virginia, as former Chief Galvin had done. This was a verbal commitment as part of his new promotion, but both FinCom and Sullivan agreed that his immediate need is to get familiar with his new job as Police Chief. "It might be better to send the new lieutenant now, and then you later," suggested FinCom member David Model. Sullivan agreed to wait for at least a year and maybe consider attending in 2008. FinCom Chair Thornton Ash congratulated Sullivan on his recent promotion and thanked him for his knowledgeable presentation.
DPW Superintendent Gary Davis's FY07 Guideline budget of $922,755 is 3.8% over his FY06 level of $888,659. Total salaries and wages at $442,796 were within the 3.5% guideline (FY06 = $427,822). Davis would like an additional $36,534 for more tree work and an extra employee. "With the extra employee, we could service more of the catch basins, plus do added cemetery and pathway work and transfer station maintenance," he explained. Davis told the FinCom members that the town has over 55 miles of roadways and more than 500 catch basins to clean each year. "Tree work is always needed, especially this year with the wind storms." There was no argument from the FinCom's Barbara Bjornson, who recently had a tree fall on her car in the driveway.
FinCom member Susan Wolfe tried to coax a better estimate of the snow removal cost from Davis, which is like trying to predict the weather. Treasurer Larry Barton responded that the overrun is typically covered by a transfer from the reserve fund at the end of each year. "We're $14,000 over already," said Davis, explaining that the snow storms this year, though not severe, seem to all come at rush hour, necessitating immediate removal along with sand and salt application. "It costs us more than a foot of snow on Sunday morning."
One of the jobs of the extra employee, which would bring the total department up to 11 including Davis, would be some painting and repair at the transfer station. While on the subject, Davis told the FinCom members that he hauls 600 loads of trash and recyclables to Westborough and North Andover each year. The cost of dumping has thankfully gone down from $140/ton to $60/ton. "We receive $45/ton for recycled paper, which brings in $1,000/month to the town," said Davis. "Mixed plastic, tin and aluminum bring in enough to cover the cost." Before leaving, Davis warned the FinCom that part of the salt shed roof had blown off during the recent windstorm and, during the repairs, the roof trusses were found to be rotted and in need of replacement. "One big snowstorm and the roof could collapse," concluded Davis, as if the FinCom members needed anything more to worry about.
© 2006 The