SHIRLEY -- During a discussion about the town's fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2018 capital improvement plan, Shirley Department of Public Works Foreman Paul Farrar told the Shirley Finance Committee that his department was requesting $195,000 in capital funding for fiscal 2014.
Farrar said that his department is in immediate need of a replacement for its 1994 International plow and sander, the cost of which would be about $160,000.
In addition, said Farrar, the DPW's 1999 sander needs maintenance and will likely need to be replaced within a couple of years. He estimated the cost of painting and bodywork for that and two other trucks to be about $20,000.
We are saving a lot of money on snow and ice using these trucks," he stated.
We hire out a lot of retired people, plus there are the three of us," he said of his small department. In all, he said, there are 12 pieces of equipment that are for snow and road maintenance.
Also in the fiscal 2014 DPW capital budget request is $15,500 for a mower upgrade, bringing the proposed DPW capital improvement plan subtotal for fiscal 2014 to $195,000.
The five-year total request, which includes a new backhoe loader, mower and heavy-duty lift for truck repairs, is $610,500.
With regard to the DPW operating budget, Farrar pleaded with the Finance Committee not to cut the hours of part-time administrative assistant Pam Callahan.
With only three full-time staff and the added responsibility of cemetery maintenance, cutting the assistant's hours would create an untenable situation, said Farrar, who, he noted, is still being paid a foreman's salary.
Pam is a great help down there, she knows the numbers, she knows the computers. If Pam's hours are cut back, maybe you should hire someone at $90,000 to do the job," he said. "I have about four and a half years left and I am done. I've been there 34 years and have never seen anything like this."
Because there are fewer staff than there used to be, the DPW needs faster equipment, he said, but since the proposal was made for the DPW to take over the cemetery maintenance, the money from burials that was supposed to go toward the DPW has instead been going into the general fund. The other half, he said, has been going into the machines, and the DPW has received "no extra help."
The fiscal 2014 DPW operating budget request is level funded.
The committee received a reserve fund transfer request of $15,000 for legal expenses from town executive assistant Kathleen Rocco.
Finance Committee Chairman Frank Kolarik explained that the policy of the committee is to approve the transfer of funds already spent for legal services. With the $25,000 line item for legal fees at a deficit of $2,919.03, the committee voted to approve the amount of the deficit to cover the current bills.
Kolarik said next week the committee will be meeting with members of the police, IT Guardian, the Council on Aging and possibly the Fire Department to discuss their fiscal 2014 budget requests.
The committee will also continue meeting with the Ayer-Shirley Regional School Committee, Ayer and Shirley selectmen, and the Ayer Finance Committee to work on resolving the town budget crisis precipitated, in part, by the state's change in the required local contribution formula for municipalities' school district assessments.