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SHIRLEY — The Department of Public Works’ (DPW) capital plan for fiscal year 2009 is “not a wish list, and it’s not a demand for money,” said Director Joseph Lynch.

It’s a tool, he said.

Lynch said he was surprised to learn from a Jan. 4 newspaper article that committee members, at a prior meeting, intended to request Lynch’s participation at the committee’s Jan. 7 meeting. Lynch came prepared to discuss the department’s fiscal year 2009 capital-plan request.

The department’s requests haven’t been to grow facilities, said Lynch, but to replace equipment that has reached the end of its useful life.

The town’s capital plan schedules requests for the upcoming fiscal year as well as future fiscal years. Some items are extended out years depending on funding and departmental needs. The requests are for items besides regular operating expenses, usually over $10,000.

Lynch said he develops the plan according to the maintenance of equipment. Snowplows especially take a beating, he said. Maintenance expenses eventually outweigh the cost of replacement, he said.

The replacement of two trucks was pushed out last year, he said. The trucks developed cracks in their frames, which were welded in the past year.

However, the truck frames have sustained new cracks, and he’s not sure if they can be fixed.

Committee Vice Chairman Michael Smith asked Lynch to consider how much money he would need for maintenance if the committee asked the department to cut its request from around $200,000 a year to $150,000 or $100,000.

Certain items, such as lawn-tractor replacements, can be extended from five to seven years — as planned last year — without taking a substantial hit on the trade-in values, said Lynch.

The tractors aren’t “maintenance hogs,” he said. For replacement within five years, he said the manufacturer offers a good trade-in program.

After five years, the trade-in value will begin a steeper decline, but replacement at seven years should still be economical.

Lynch said he believes the department can develop a capital plan request that averages $150,000 a year.

The Recreation Department opened fields last year off Shaker Road, said Chairman Ellen Doiron. The DPW has been maintaining those fields.

The objective of the Recreation Department was to return revenue from field rental to the town, said Lynch.

The committee may be able to present an argument to the town that the fields revenue will help support new equipment for the DPW.

Doiron asked Lynch if he sees any potential growth that would require additional funding.

Lynch said once the new sewer system is complete the town could consider assigning the responsibility for its operation to the department.

Currently, the system operations are handled by a contractor, he said.

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