TOWNSEND -- Voters at town meeting will see a budget recommended by both the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee with the exception of one item, the town administrator's salary.
The selectmen negotiated a contract with Town Administrator Andy Sheehan, giving him a $15,000 raise for Fiscal 2014.
The Finance Committee recommended a $6,000 raise, a 7.5 percent increase. The current contract includes a salary of $80,000.
The selectmen approved the new contract to bring the compensation up to where it belongs, Selectman Sue Lisio said at the Finance Committee meeting April 18.
"We're making up for what was already a deficit when we started," she said.
When Sheehan was hired three years ago, the salary the town offered was low.
"I remember not being happy. I thought it should be more," she said.
The board did a survey of local towns to see where the salary level fit.
"Including Townsend, the average is $99,900. We're asking for a below average salary," she said. Under the new contract, Sheehan would make $90,000 annually beginning July 1.
When the current administrator was hired, the salary was what Townsend could afford and was appropriate; the compensation was between what Ashby and Pepperell paid their town administrators, committee member Carolyn Smart said.
Sheehan pointed out that Ashby's town administrator is part-time.
Committee member Andrea Wood said statistics could be used to make a point, that the selectmen chose the municipalities to use in the salary survey.
"I have a problem with that. That sounds accusatory to me. Are we being accused of being dishonest?" Lisio said.
Smart replied, "I'm just looking at what Townsend can afford. I'm not accusing you of bad data."
Smart's motion to recommend a 2.5 percent salary increase was amended by FinCom member Colin McNabb to recommend a 7.5 percent increase.
"It's a good compromise," she said.
FinCom members Smart, McNabb and Gini King voted in favor of the amended motion. Chairman Nancy Rapoza and Wood both voted against the motion to recommend raising the salary by $6,000.
Rapoza spoke in favor of supporting the selectmen's contract.
"The data shows we pay at the low end. Period. I haven't heard a good argument why this shouldn't be considered," she said.
"We have different reasons on why we oppose this, but a simple majority carries," Wood said. She said that although she expects Sheehan deserves a raise, she could not support an increase in the budget.
Voters at town meeting will likely hear more about the contract and salary. Townsend voters, including town officials, can speak about articles on the floor on May 7.
"Of course, at town meeting, you can stand up," Smart said to Lisio.
"I will," she replied.
The Capital Planning Committee and the selectmen came to an agreement on capital items to be included in an article at town meeting, Wood said. She is the Finance Committee representative on that committee.
A total of $526,486 was included; $195,000 will come from the capital stabilization fund, according to the plan. Included are:
Highway Department, vehicle exhaust removal system, $30,000.
Police Department, generator, $17,000.
Fire/EMS Department, final payment on air filling station, $17,056.
Fire/EMS Department, console and 22 alarm boxes, $115,000.
West Townsend Reading Room, siding and windows, $15,944. The total project cost is $23,430. The reading room committee will use a revolving account for the difference.
Other items, a total of $331,486, are funded from different accounts:
Board of Selectmen, financial management software, funded by the Assessors overlay account, $60,000;
Police Department, two vehicles funded by the tax levy, $60,000;
Fire/EMS Department, ambulance payment, $48,000, and replace cardiac equipment, $66,000 funded by ambulance receipts;
Water Department, upgrades to pumping station 1, $25,000; clean and inspect Cross Street well, $20,000, and replace a truck, $45,000, funded by the Water Department Enterprise Fund;
West Townsend Reading Room, siding and windows, $7,486 from the West Townsend Reading Room Revolving Account. This is in addition to $15,944 from capital stabilization, noted above.