Friday, January 19, 2007
Planning Board, ConsCom budgets fall within FY08 guideline
At the Finance Committee meeting on January 9, Planning Board Administrator George Mansfield reported, "We're surprised to be seeing more activity than we've seen in the last five years." He noted wireless applications and "a large subdivision" are expected to contribute to fees of $31,800 versus $9,615 collected in FY06. The FY07 year is expected to end with 40 new building lots approved.
The proposed FY08 budget of $93,559 was within the guideline and there was no request for additional funds. The FinCom's Dave Model asked that the board look at increasing fees, noting "People aren't going to not build because of a couple hundred dollars increase to fees. . . I'm of the belief we need to be more aggressive in revenue production." Board member David Freedman noted any fee increase has to be pegged to an increase in costs. Mansfield agreed to look at fees again, but said last time the board did a comparison with other towns "we were at the upper level."
As a result of the spike in regulatory work, the Planning Board has had to scale back on other planning functions. Of the Geographic Information System (GIS), for example, Freedman admitted, "To be frank, we haven't looked at it in a year."
The Conservation Commission submitted a budget of $60,125, slightly below the guideline. Chair Tom Schultz explained that of this number, 92% will go to salaries. Although salaries are on the increase, $7,411 of the rise will be applied to revolving funds. The only other area of increase is maintenance, which went from $2,905 to $4,900 due to a request from the new Land Stewardship Committee for mowing and trimming. Schultz praised that committee, saying, "For the first time people are looking at the care and feeding of town land."
Schultz noted the ConsCom keeps two funds: the "intents" for fees associated with enforcing state wetlands laws, and the "53E" for fees associated with town bylaws. Both accounts are "about steady state" compared to last year, with $20,504 in the first and $18,765 in the second. These balances are held until they can be applied to salary costs incurred for regulatory work. In addition, the ConsCom keeps other accounts containing grants and donated funds, including the Conservation Fund with a balance of $126,000. Explaining the health of the ConsCom finances, Sylvia Willard referred to its fundraising organization, noting with a smile that "unlike the Board of Health, we have Friends."
© 2007 The