By Ben Oleksinski
The Finance Committee is starting to adjust funds within the Public Works budget to brace for inevitable price increases in the coming 2019 Fiscal Year. At their June 28 meeting, the Committee considered two transfers: one from the reserve fund, the other an inter-fund within the DPW budget.
For the reserve fund, the budget was set based on gasoline prices and energy costs projected to be much lower than they have become. The current energy budget pays for electricity for Public Works-specific facilities (sewer pump stations, Shawsheen water treatment facility, etc.) as well as gasoline and diesel for all town vehicles. However, the low likelihood of prices decreasing, coupled with associated costs of keeping pumps going during snow removal activity, exceeds the segregated energy budget. Public Works anticipates these final expenditures to be approximately 12% over the original budget.
The Finance Committee responded to a possible deficit in the energy budget by drawing $60,000 from the current reserve fund. The approved transfer closes the gap within the account, steadying the budget until fall.
The inter-fund transfer is another internal response to external market changes, addressing higher refuse and recycling costs. What occurs after recycling pickup is changing. China no longer accepts some recycling and processors are being less lenient with what they accept. In these circumstances, one would be lucky to break even. So, recycling costs for the Town have increased beyond the 2018 appropriation for the Public Works refuse budget.
The 2019 budget has already anticipated those funds, but because the lines were segregated when the budget was voted, some funds need to be rearranged. By approving an inter-fund transfer of $50,000, the Finance Committee accounted for recycling market changes.
These changes are expected to keep the Public Works accounts on track for the coming year.