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TOWNSEND — Layoffs are planned as Townsend officials prepare the fiscal 2010 budget.

“We need to come up with ways to do more with less,” town administer Greg Barnes told members of the Finance Committee.

Barnes said the town currently pays around $30 per hour for personnel to clean buildings. If the cleaning duties for the town hall, the new library, meeting room and senior center building scheduled to open in September are privatized, the cost will be closer to $17 per hour.

The town would create a new position, the Facilities Maintenance Coordinator. This person would oversee the cleaning in these and other town buildings.

“This falls under the selectmen,” Committee member Paul Nicole said.

“It’s safe to say they voted to support this,” Barnes replied.

Paul Concemi asked about the staff reductions.

“We are laying off both current workers,” Barnes said. “Both will have the opportunity to apply for the new position along with everyone else.” The workers are aware of the potential layoff, he added.

Members of the Finance Committee regretted the loss of the jobs, but stated the necessity of reducing spending.

“I just hate to see anyone laid off. I know how devastating loss of cash flow is,” Nicole said.

Jennifer Langton said it was a property management issue. “Anything that saves the town money.”

Selectman David Chenelle was at the Finance Committee meeting. He said with the changes in personnel and the savings on rent and heat from closing the old senior center and the library, the cost to the town of opening the new building donated by Sterilite could be zero.

Both Barnes and Chenelle said the creation of a new position would probably need to go to town meeting for approval by the voters.

In other business, the Finance Committee discussed additional ways for the town to save money:

* Health insurance is one of the fastest-rising cost elements in the budget, Barnes said, and he is attempting to bargain with the unions to decrease the cost to the town. “The simple fact is this has to be collectively bargained. They (the unions) have to agree to change.”

“Even with the alternatives we’re proposing, the health care we are offering is way above the average,” Barnes noted.

* Barnes said the Advanced Life Support ambulance service provided for Groton and other towns is an expense for Townsend. Currently Townsend receives 40 percent of the fees collected for an out-of-town call.

“They did not warm up to the proposal of a 50/50 split,” Barnes said about a discussion with Groton officials. Groton also was not receptive to a $10 cancellation fee if the ambulance is called and not needed.

Chenelle said private contractors ask for only 20 percent of the fees collected and Groton stays with the Townsend option because of the relationship between the two towns.

Even calls within town can cost the municipality money if the fees are not collected, Barnes said.

“Like many other services we have ‘frequent fliers’ and they are the most difficult.” Barnes said substance abusers are a large part of the problem.

“The biggest problem is diabetics,” Nicole said. Sometimes they have eaten before the ambulance arrives and there is no need for the service, so nothing is collected for those calls.

“Is the ALS system worth keeping, if it costs us money?” Chenelle asked, but got no answer.

* The Finance Committee also discussed pay-per-throw for trash.

“I’d like to see a total plan, not a half plan,” Concemi said.

“If you go to a pay-per-throw, you’ll save money,” Nicole said. “This all has to come out of the Board of Health. If the Board of Health doesn’t come to us and say they want to do it, we can’t do it.”

Chenelle suggested a non-binding referendum at the next general election.