HARVARD -- Unlike the COA, Public Works Director Rich Nota came alone, as usual, to meet with selectmen Nov. 6.
Also as usual, he came prepared, with spreadsheets, narrative and a cogent sketch of the big picture.
Mostly, it was good news. "There are no strategic changes to affect this year's budget," Nota began. He presented a level-services budget, as requested, but there are "understandable" increases, in part due to line-item trade-offs made in the past that current and future balance sheets "can't absorb any more," he said.
For example, electrical costs went up by $250 and vehicle maintenance on an aging fleet went up about $2,000. Office supplies cost more, too, including replacement of a 20-year-old copier. When it finally died, Nota leased a new one for $876 per year, he said.
The biggest concern is the cost of fuel, which has gone up. Although he's kept the line item constant, doing so this year might mean he'd have to "rob another" line item, such as road materials, to cover the overage.
Fuel is always a variable line item based not only on oil and gas prices but also on the amount of department activity in a given year, Nota said. "It's difficult to figure out (what the cost will be) going forward."
Snow and ice gets level funded every year, with the caveat that if unexpected weather hits, it can spill over into the next year's budget. In fact, Snow and Ice us the only line item in a town budget allowed by the state to carry forward, year-to-year.
Nota's budget, which encompasses several departments under his jurisdiction accounts for a hefty chunk of the town's operating expenses, but by all accounts the DPW is a tight ship, well run and on task. Nota said the crew is largely responsible for that, with several strong, hardworking and enthusiastic new hires on board this year.
This year's budget requests as discussed with selectmen were as follows.
* Highway expenses: $262,250, compared to $255,250 last year.
* Waste (Transfer Station): $184,607 compared to $182,107 last year.
* Snow and ice: $112,000, same as last year.
* Water Department: $17,500, same as last year.