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Budget up $26K, with $587K in articles

Public Works requests for new vehicles, equipment raise concerns about costs, payment options

  • Jaffrey held it's town budget meeting at the Jaffrey fire station, Saturday.
  • Jaffrey held it's town budget meeting at the Jaffrey fire station, Saturday.
  • Jaffrey held it's town budget meeting at the Jaffrey fire station, Saturday.
  • Jaffrey held it's town budget meeting at the Jaffrey fire station, Saturday.

JAFFREY — The Jaffrey Budget Committee presented the proposed 2014 operating budget totaling $6,103,813, an increase of $26,225 or 0.4 percent, over last year’s budget, Saturday at the Jaffrey Fire Station. They also weighed in on 11 town warrant articles, which if approved by voters would cost $587,810, $190,185 more in warrant articles than was approved by voters in 2013. Petition articles, eleven in number, request ask for $78,784.

According to Budget Committee Chair Norm Langevin, the committee voted to tentatively recommend all of the warrant articles put forward by the Select Board, but did not recommend a petition calling for $4,963 for Southwest Community Services. He emphasized that the committee’s votes are merely recommendations and that voters at Town Meeting will decide whether or not the articles pass.

Warrant articles

Two collective bargaining agreements, totaling $28,310, could mean a 2 percent across-the-board wage increase for union and non-union town workers; wage increases for non-union workers are included in the budget. The topic drew some discussion, as residents voiced concerns that the article might become more expensive when applied to higher earning employees.

Articles pertaining to the town’s Cemetery Trees Trust Fund, Gravestone Restoration and Meeting House Trust Fund got the Budget Committee’s support with little more than a humorous quip from a voter about using the leftover trimmings from the cemetery trees for maintenance on the Meeting House roof.

An article proposing $100,000 for the acquisition of a new and heavier duty Terrastar truck for the Department of Public Works, to replace the town’s older 2000 model 1-ton, drew concerns that the price seemed high. Bill Raymond of Jaffrey proposed that the town form a committee to look into possible advantages in leasing vehicles.

“It’s not something that should be dismissed out of hand,” said Raymond.

Bill Driscoll said that he’d worked in leasing, and advised against it, arguing that leasing tends to be more expensive in the long-run.

“Purchasing is always better because you eliminate the middle man,” said Driscoll.

Fire Chief David Chamberlain sided with Raymond to support leasing, adding to the debate that the strategy had worked for the Fire Department, which leases its fire engines.

According to Randy Heglin, director of Public Works, the older vehicle would be given to the Recreation Department to replace their current vehicle. He emphasized that the newer Terrastar could also be outfitted with a plow.

Article 17 requests $150,000 to acquire a backhoe for the Highway Department. The article caused some minor confusion as the item appeared earlier in the budget report presentation, listed under the Water Department and Sewer Department reports. The item appeared in each respective section in a line item titled “2014 Contribution to Backhoe Purchase.” A voter requested clarification from Langevin, asking why the Water and Sewer budget proposals included the contribution of $50,000, since the backhoe already had its own warrant article. Langevin clarified, saying that the $150,000 in Article 17 would come from three separate $50,000 contributions from the Water Department, Sewer Department and General Fund.

Article 18, a $143,000 request to purchase a highway dump truck raised questions about whether warrants 16, 17, and 18 could all be reasonably funded in one year.

Heglin said that they were all important, but that if it came down to prioritizing them he would purchase the Terrastar before acquiring the dump truck and lastly the backhoe.

Article 19, which requests $56,000 for a new Fire Department command vehicle, raised some minor discussion since the current vehicle is still in use by the chief. Chamberlain said that the current vehicle has been a lemon since they bought it in 2004 and that despite the best efforts of his firefighters, who take pride in their maintenance and upkeep of equipment, the vehicle has already required heavy maintenance and shows excessive damage from body rust.

The final article, Article 20, asked for $5,000 for the Land Acquisition Capital Reserve Fund, which would reserve money for the future purchase of land.

Petition warrant articles

Petition warrant articles are proposed by voters via a petition and must have 25 registered voter signatures. Jaffrey’s proposed 2014 budget includes eight petition articles, with a total request for $78,784.

The one asking for the most money, a petition for the Jaffrey-Rindge Memorial Ambulance service, requests $30,000, which marks the second annual request they’ve made for an increase of $5,000. Residents asked why the increase had happened two years in a row. Mark Winiecki, director of operations for the ambulance, explained that the cost would help to offset the purchase of a new ambulance several years ago, and allow services to continue. He added that ambulance only receives payment from a service if they transport a patient to the hospital. He said that only three out of 10 emergency calls result in an ambulance ride, and therefore the ambulance is only compensated for a third of calls that are actually responded to. According to Winiecki, the ambulance responded to 893 calls last year, 31 percent resulting in a ride to the hospital.

Raymond added his support for the ambulance, saying it’s a service the community needs. “For $30,000 we’re getting one heck of a deal, said Raymond. To think that $30,000 is being misspent would be a grave miscall.”

Additional petitions submitted asked for support for the following: Monadnock Early Learning Services at $8,000, Monadnock Family Services at $6,821, Home Healthcare, Hospice and Community Service at $17,000 and Community Kitchen at $7,000, but their requests didn’t vary between 2013 and 2014.

A petition from the Southwest Community Services, requesting $1,163 more than last year, did not garner a recommendation from the Budget Committee, while a $1,500 request from The River Center earned positive remarks from Budget Committee member Robert Schaumann.

“There are approximately 232 individuals from Jaffrey that receive services and they range from parenting programs, employment resources, and home visitation for women with infants,” said Schaumann. “Looking at what they’ve presented, the benefits to the Jaffrey citizenry far exceed the $1,500 we’re being asked to give to them.”

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