HARVARD — After two years of mostly level-funded budgets and overrides almost as consistent as the seasons, departments on the Board of Selectmen’s roster are still holding the line.
When police Chief Edward Denmark, fire Chief Robert Mignard, and Department of Public works (DPW) Director Richard Nota presented budget proposals to the Board of Selectmen at its Dec. 11 meeting, most of them were level-funded.
For the most part, the department heads’ requests to up spending were due to salary increases tied to town-approved contracts and cost-of-living raises.
The only substantial request for change came from the Council on Aging (COA). The COA wants to make the part-time director’s job a full-time position.
Citing an aging population and a hefty direct-services caseload, the COA recommended adding 10 hours per week to upgrade the director’s 30-hour-per-week job to 40 hours.
Backing the request with facts and figures, including charts, performance evaluations and other documentation, COA Director Ginger Quarles and members of the board of trustees said the bulk of the director’s time is spent on direct services.
Other categories are outreach and administration. The latter includes management of repair projects over the last couple of years.
The department has two part-time employees: the director and an outreach coordinator.
The 2007 census shows 1,054 residents aged 60 and older and a marked increase in the client base.
“About a third of the population is served,” said Quarles.
Knowing there are more people out there who may need assistance, she said she’d like to do better. Noting projections that take the figures out to 2012, she said there’s no question the situation will get more challenging as more people reach retirement age and beyond.
“You can see the baby boomers are coming in,” she said.
The COA also provides advice and support for families coping with the care and needs of elder relatives. And that demand is growing, too, said Quarles.
To cope with the rising needs and stay within the budget, Quarles said she uses volunteers.
In addition, the town’s share of MART costs has leveled off as the program has become more streamlined, she said.
Asked what would happen if the director’s bid for more hours is denied, Quarles said there’s a risk more people who need COA services will “fall through the cracks.”
There are 60 “active” cases that take a lot of hours and many calls “to keep people safe,” she said. That means outreach lags and some call-backs have to wait.
In some cases, she said the wait may be too long.
“Thanks for the input,” said selectmen Chairman Lucy Wallace. “This is good information.”