Friday, February 12, 2010
Town Hall budgets reviewed
Town Administrator Tim Goddard emerged unscathed from his first encounter with the Carlisle budget process. He presented the Town Hall and General Expense FY11 budget estimates to the Finance Committee (FinCom) on February 8, stating that, “One proposal complies with FinCom’s FY11 guideline budget, while a second proposal reflects my FY11 budget request.”
Budget hearings continue: General expenses
The majority of Goddard’s proposed reductions involved personnel costs, since reduction in hours is one of the few tools available to control overall costs. He expects to realize a $3,000 reduction in legal services with the hope that there may be time to test the marketplace to determine if our current arrangement with legal counsel is competitive and if we are getting reasonable value for their services. “While the $36,000 annual retainer is certain to increase, hopefully it would be more inclusive of legal areas now outside the scope of the current agreement and would also provide more budgetary certainty,” he explained.
Goddard proposed a modest reduction of $3,000 in the small capital (replace computer, add file cabinet, printer, etc.) budget, while level funding the Board of Selectmen, Housing Authority, Historical Commission and Board of Appeals. One adjustment relating to the Selectmen is the elimination of overtime wages currently paid to the administrative assistant for coverage of the biweekly Selectmen’s meetings. Goddard hopes to adjust her schedule during the week to compensate for any evening meetings.
The majority of personnel cost savings are found within his own town administrator budget. “There is a one-time savings of $21,500 in the difference in compensation between the outgoing and incoming town administrators.” Additionally, Goddard hopes to reduce the administrative coordinator’s hours from 35 hours/week to 21, based on reassignment of duties to strictly housing administrative support.
In a potentially more controversial move, he will attempt to fund the restructured position with funds collected under the Community Preservation Act (CPA). A portion of CPA funds are set aside for community housing and according to Goddard, the Community Housing Fund has a current unused balance of $300,914.
Goddard plans to restore $1,000 to the Town Accountant’s budget; $500 for professional services (auditor) and $500 for education and training. “Education and training are important in order to maintain certain professional certifications and we are fortunate to have an excellent Town Accountant [Priscilla Dumka] who is well respected by her peers,” he said. “Priscilla is so well thought of that she was asked to teach the introductory course for new municipal accountants at the annual UMass seminar.”
Excluding CPA funding of the administrative coordinator, Goddard’s final General Expense budget comes in at $32K under the FinCom’s guideline of $493,853. Goddard then proposed a Town Hall budget of $184,893, exceeding the FinCom guideline by over $24K. “Strict adherence to the guideline budget would result in a decrease from 40 to 20 hours/week for the Town Hall custodian,” he said. “This would provide inadequate coverage for this building in my view.” He does, however, hope to reduce the custodian hours from 40 to 35. A minor reduction in utility expense is expected based on energy efficiency capital projects currently proposed by the Energy Task Force.
Summing the increases and decreases, Goddard will realize an overall reduction of over $7,000, which is not bad for a newcomer to the agonizing budget process.
Town Clerk Charlene Hinton was given a guideline FY11 budget of $61,575 by the FinCom, with an additional amount of $8,141 for Elections and Registrations. Hinton agreed with the latter amount, but pleaded that her Town Clerk expenses would require an additional $600 to cover part time wages, training and meetings, and office supplies. FinCom acknowledged her $62,175 request and will decide the eventual amount when the final budget is negotiated.
The guideline FY11 budget for the treasurer’s office was set at $133,439, but Treasurer Larry Barton totaled up his expenses and believes he will need $4,000 more. Items such as training and education ($2,000) and office supplies ($1,000), plus various small items, brings his proposed budget up to $137,439, pending approval in the final budget. ∆
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