TOWNSEND — Corrections and final figures were on the agenda as officials prepare the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Police Chief Erving Marshall spoke to the Finance Committee to address “comments about having quite a bit of money left in my expense budget.”
In fiscal 2012, he used all but $6,646 of a $192,135 operating budget. He did not have $30,000 or $60,000 leftover. “I think you might have added a few zeros,” he said to member Andrea Wood. During the April 7 meeting, she questioned Marshall about some of the amounts not used in the Police Department budget.
“I wasn’t trying to make trouble for you,” she said. She did not have the document prepared by the town account that Marshall brought to the later meeting..
“I wanted to make sure there was no misunderstanding. When comments are made like that in public, sometimes the damage is already done,” he said.
The amount of the police chief’s salary for fiscal 2013 listed in the working budget spreadsheet is also wrong, Marshall said. His salary is $99,418 for the year, not $99,618.
Other salary discrepancies for fiscal 2014 were found by Wood, who went through each salary line to confirm the correct increases for the year.
“I had just an amazing amount of salary differences,” she said. Most were minor, and she said she would send a list to Andy Sheehan, the town administrator, to review.
The list included some amounts Sheehan said he had already flagged. The numbers used in the working budget came directly from the departments.
Some employees’ jobs and hours have changed since the 2013 budget was done. For instance, Townsend and Dunstable will share the services of the town accountant. Townsend will pay her for 20 hours a week and Dunstable for 10. She already receives health insurance through the town; Dunstable will pay for one-sixth of that expense. The town saves about $3,600 a year as a result, Sheehan said.
The conservation agent’s position was also changed this year. It is now one 40-hour position instead of two part-time positions. Her salary is paid primarily by the town. Five hours per week are funded by wetlands protection fines, Sheehan said.
“Is she happy with this and is everybody happy with this and it’s on the matrix?” Wood said.
“Yes,” Sheehan replied.
The current year snow and ice budget was $176,352 as of the meeting. Another storm could raise the amount, Sheehan said.
“Last week it was estimated at $150,000,” Wood said.
There was an additional $12,000 to $15,000 for salt and sand, Sheehan said.
The proposed budget for fiscal 2014 is $737,227 higher than the budget appropriated last spring for 2013, committee member Carolyn Smart said. She asked Sheehan where the additional money would come from.
The property tax will raise 2.5 percent, $340,395. The debt service on the Spaulding School roof will be covered by transferring $203,500 from the capital stabilization account, Sheehan wrote in a follow-up email.
Normally, the comparison between the appropriated budget and the proposed budget is the right comparison but the town was forced to close a deficit of $417,728 when a vote to approve an override for the school budget failed. At the time, cuts were made and more revenues identified. The amended figures, not the budget adopted in the spring, became the baseline for the 2014 budget, he wrote.