Selectmen’s Budgets Come in Below FinCom 2.15% Except for Contingency Requests

By Kim Siebert MacPhail

On Monday night, Town Manager Rick Reed presented budgets for “Selectmen’s departments,” which include Public Works, Police, Fire, Recreation, and the Town Manager’s office.

“All together, the submitted Selectmen’s budgets—excluding certain fixed items like insurance and benefits, debt service, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) assessment and water purchase budgets—add up to $15,398,439,” Town Manager Rick Reed reported to the Selectmen on Monday night. “At the moment, this is $50, 045 below the Finance Committee’s guidelines.”

Reed also proposed not filling a current vacancy for an administrative assistant in his office, saving $35,873. Instead, he proposed using that amount—plus a bit more—to hire a part-time Economic Development Coordinator.

Additional savings not otherwise noted include approximately $40,000 in refuse removal due to the new trash collection system and two Step 5 staff being replaced with new hires at Step 1, a lower salary bracket.

Besides the Town Manager’s request for an Economic Development Coordinator, four other departments have filed 17 separate contingency requests, which together total $195,704,not including a yet-to-be-determined amountfor road resurfacing. Capital funds for road resurfacing–over and above state Chapter 90 monies and an earmarked $505,000—were not included in the Capital Expenditures Committee’s recommendations this year.

Reed supported most of the contingencies, with the exception of a $20,000 request from Recreation for The Corner, a middle school afternoon program.

“I think a compelling argument can be made for funding all these items on the contingency list,” Reed said. “I’m interested in having that discussion with the Selectmen [and] I’m not afraid to make the case to the Finance Committee on the need for all of these things.”

The heads of department (other than Recreation) who had contingency requests,were present to answer the Selectmen’s questions. The requests, listed by department,are:

Selectmen---2014-budget

The choice between contracting for aerating services ($5,000 per year) and purchasing the deep-tine machine outright ($10,000) wasweighed, but no decision was reached.

Selectman Bill Moonan questioned the addition of two grounds crew members since it was believed that the synthetic turf field would alleviate pressure in this area. DPW Director Rich Warrington said that these staff would help address the grass athletic field needs identified by the Outdoor Recreation Area Study Committee,plusdeferred grounds maintenance elsewhere in town. Warrington said that that the grounds crew hasn’t been able to trim the weeds along the roadways or deal with right-of-way and invasive species management, and that longer growing seasons add to the workloads.

The benefits of outsourcing were also touched upon with an eye to reining in staff salaries and benefits. Again, no decision was reached.

Reed will present his final budget recommendations to the Selectmen at their meeting next week.


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