SANDOWN – Though they had planned to meet individually with each department to create a plan for working under a default budget this year, with help from the finance department the board of selectmen has agreed to just two changes to cover the difference between the default and the proposed budgets.
Voters turned down the proposed budget in March in favor of the default, but the difference between the two is just over $10,000. Finance director Cheryl Eastman has offered savings in her budget of more than $13,000 so that the remaining departments can run as if still under their original proposals.
Many of the departments came in with reduced budgets this year, making the effort of closing the gap fairly simple.
Eastman offered up $8,000 earmarked for new software that she said can wait a year, and when the salary line was written into her budget it included 40 hours, but she more typically works 35 a week.
Averaging 37 hours for budgeting purposes, Eastman found another $3,000.
These were suggestions Eastman had made when she met with the selectmen soon after the vote, but the selectmen at that time turned them down in favor of more equitably spreading the default shortages.
Selectman Steve Brown again referenced this idea Monday night, but town administrator Lynne Blaisdell assured him that Eastman suggested the changes and was comfortable with them.
Selectman chair Hans Nicolaisen also noted that he had spoken with Eastman about the numbers and that she was fine with the reductions.
Nicolaisen noted that for the time being he was amenable to moving finance’s money, but when the end of the year came, all departments may need to pitch in to help cover the large shortages in the highway department. The heavy winter forced the overspending of the highway department’s snowplow lines.
Blaisdell also pointed out that the selectmen may want to look at the projects in the general government buildings budget for further savings, as large amounts of money can be found by postponing projects.
The board consensus was unanimous to take the funds from finance to cover the shortages in the default.
In other business, the board is on schedule to close on the 416 Main St. property that voters agreed to purchase in March for the purposes of a new police station. The tentative closing date is April 15, contingent on all tenants having vacated the apartment building.