Friday, February 16, 2007
Shorts from the FinCom, Feb. 12
• Gleason may lose summer Saturdays. Gleason Library Director Angela Mollet noted that staying within the guideline budget would mean the loss of summer Saturday hours. An additional $5,000 would be needed to keep the hours open. If the summer hours are retained and the funds could be found, the library would also like to add summer library pages at $1,400 to deal with increased circulation.
Last summer during Saturdays circulation averaged 290 per day. It was noted the state requires that at least 20% of the budget be expended on collections and that fees collected by the library (such as for lost books) add revenue to the town budget, not the library's.
• Recreation Commission sent back to the drawing board. The state some time ago informed the Recreation Commission (RecCom) that "it is not appropriate to be paying an on-going employee" from its 53D revolving fund, said member Peter Chelton. He would like to correct the problem and presented a budget which would require an addition to the RecCom's levy limit budget to pay that employee properly. Currently, a recreation director position totaling 24 hours is paid out of the RecCom budget and another position totaling 19 1/2 hours is paid from the revolving account which holds accumulated fees for recreational programs. Legally, the fund can only be used to pay seasonal employees, according to Chelton.
To avoid accumulating funds they can't disburse, the RecCom would lower fees. It was also suggested they could pay for a van out of accumulated funds, but Dave Model noted he would prefer they "not short cut the capital process" which requires a review by the Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee.
Chair Thornton Ash expressed reluctance to ask for an override for this purpose. "Try to fit it into the levy limit budget and find other things to charge to the revolving account," he advised. It was also suggested the RecCom return to the February 26 FinCom meeting with a copy of their proposed budget that breaks out this impact from other salary increases which were not adequately explained.
• Council on Aging may get emergency treatment. Jim Elgin of the Council on Aging, joined by five other members and Friends, presented his defense of additional hours for two employees. A director being paid for 19 1/2 hours is currently working 30, and another employee working 24 hours is being paid for 16. Said Elgin, "It's not a question of what's not getting done, but what's getting done but not paid for." Because of state mandates, more needy residents requiring services and a growing senior population, it's not possible to control the hours worked, according to Elgin. Arranging van service, helping seniors figure out Medicare Plan D and providing Meals on Wheels to housebound residents are some of the critical services provided. In a presentation in December, it was noted the additional wages would require $28,800.
He said COA services mean "keeping seniors in town and in their own homes instead of assisted living." Ash said the FinCom might consider the additional COA hours "as a critical fire and EMT-type of service." He also suggested that in future years, the FinCom could consider adjusting the guideline beforehand to give more funding to committees dealing with growing needs, instead of "a flat guideline to everyone." He summarized, "You make a compelling case. It strikes me as at the critical end of the spectrum."
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