SANDOWN – There were 44 budgets to review and 19 warrant articles to make recommendations on during the budget committee’s public hearing, and though most passed muster quickly, the hearing lasted for more than three and a half hours.
By the end of the hearing, held Thursday night, Jan. 16, the committee had approved a final budget figure of $3,455,723 and gave recommendations to all articles.
That final sum is just higher than the default budget of $3,445,641 and shows a 1.12 percent increase over the 2013 budget of $3,417,186.
Budget committee chair Bruce Cleveland commented on the full town hall meeting room for the hearing, saying he was excited to see the interest. Usually the hearings are sparsely attended.
A few budgets saw line item changes, but most passed with a simple rounding up to make sure they showed whole dollar figures.
A few saw more significant changes, however, including the recreation department’s budget.
See: Proposed Pay Increase for Recreation Director
There was a brief discussion on the Benefits account and a motion made by budget member Steve Brown to increase the figure by $6,500, in opposition to a decision earlier in the budget season that saw the committee remove that money, destined by the selectmen for employees’ health insurance reimbursement accounts.
When the selectmen approved a new health insurance plan last year they agreed, all but for then selectman Brenda Copp, to simultaneously increase the amount in the reimbursement accounts from $1,500 to $2,000. With more than $17,000 saved by the town, the board said it was appropriate to pass some of those savings on to employees in light of some co-payment changes to their plans.
The budget committee took that $500 per employee out of the budget when it came up for review.
Last week, the motion to put $500 per employee back into the budget resulted in a tie vote, with Steve Brown, Dan Saltalamacchia and selectman ex-officio Terry Treanor voting in favor and Cleveland, Cathy Gorman and Dawn Nicolaisen opposed.
The committee unanimously agreed to add $25,000 to the highway department’s operations budget, on the strength of a motion by Dawn Nicolaisen. Citing the past couple of years’ overages in the plowing line, she suggested the line be increased.
While selectman liaison to the department Hans Nicolaisen, who is Dawn’s husband and a plow driver for the town, said that director of public works Artie Genualdo struggled with the line, not wanting to increase it, as a selectman he thought the increase was appropriate, given past overages. Hans Nicolaisen explained that other areas covered by the highway department’s budget were being sacrificed because of the winter overages.
With $125,000 budgeted in 2012 and 2013, $140,000 and $197,000 was expended in those years.
The committee unanimously agreed to add $25,000 to the line, bringing it to $150,000.
The assessing account saw a reduction of $30,000 because of a new contract the selectmen recently signed with Municipal Resources Inc., and because they decided against doing a cyclical update of property values this coming year.
Some of the larger budgets’ final figures are listed below.
The Executive budget at a gross expense of $212,552 and revenue of $750; the Town Clerk at a gross of $50,018 and revenue of $967,048; Finance at a gross and net of $62,555; the Tax Collector’s budget at a gross of $60,858 and a revenue of $12,623,152; Benefits at a gross of $409,603; Insurance at a gross of $93,762 and no revenue; Government Buildings at a gross of $97,314 and $1,800 in revenues; Police Department budget at $570,617 and $5,195 of revenue; Rescue account at a gross of $51,040 and $500 in revenue; Fire Department at $133,225 and $100 in revenues; Highway Operating budget of $545,615 and no revenue; Sanitation Operating account at $351,836 and $17,500 in revenue; the Recreation operating budget at $87,281 and $1 in revenue; the Recreation Summer and Special programs budget at a gross of $64,019 and summer program revenue of $49,787 and special programs revenue of $4,140; Recreation Buildings at a gross of $15,746 and revenue of $3,276; Public Library at gross of $278,268 with no revenue; and Debt Expense Principal at $50,000 and Debt Expense Interest at $33,900.