Proposed cut is withdrawn

$375K for new fire tanker, $500K for roadwork both approved

  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.
  • Dublin Town Meeting, March 2014.

DUBLIN — An attempt to reduce the proposed operating budget of $1,841,421 by approximately 2.5 percent — the same amount as the across-the-board raises designated for town employees — was withdrawn once it was learned that the 2014 net budget, offset by $250,000 from the town’s unreserved fund balance, would be three to four percent lower than last year’s approved budget even if all the money warrant articles were approved. Voters not all only said yes to the budget, but every other money article on the warrant, too.

Outgoing Select Board member Charlie Champagne, who was recognized at the meeting for his years on the board, told voters the intention was to give all town employees a 2.5 percent raise, except those who were getting an equity adjustment raise this year based on the town’s salary range for each position. The town administrator and archivist positions were both slated for equity adjustments this year, bringing up the budget amounts for their salaries from $48,960 to $56,493 and $5,186 to 6,450, respectively.

Resident Joan Griffin objected to giving equity raises, and said people in the private sector aren’t seeing 3 percent raises. She wasn’t alone in her objection.

Geoff Pinney offered an amendment to restrict the 2014 budget to the 2013 budget, even though the 2013 appropriation was $250 more. “Once it’s in the budget it’s there forever,” he said, noting it would be better to spend $200 more this year than to have the higher pay in the budget from this year going forward. “They have something we don’t have: job security.”

However, Pinney’s amendment was not seconded and the motion dropped.

Griffin offered an amendment to lower the operating budget to an even $1.841 million, approximately 2.5 percent less than proposed. The motion was seconded.

Jean Leventhal spoke against the amendment, saying, “I think nickel and diming loyal employees is a slap in the face.”

Selectman Sterling Abram said there comes a point when it’s cheaper to keep qualified and trained employees, especially police officers, than to see them leave for better pay.

Budget Committee Chair Dale Gabel then pointed out that the $250,000 from the unreserved fund balance intended to offset the $427,000 appropriation in Article 15 for the town’s capital reserve funds would put this year’s net budget at about 96 percent of last year’s. And that’s with all the money articles approved, he added.

Griffin then withdrew her amendment, and voters approved the budget as presented.

In two separate ballot votes, voters also said yes to $500,000 for road construction and sidewalk completion, as well as $375,000 for a new fire truck tanker.

Roadwork is to take place on Upper Jaffrey Road, Old County Road and Granite Circle. The sidewalk project involves completing the work that began at Dublin Consolidated School and continued through the center of town to Monument Road, Highway Department Director Brian Barden explained during an intermission of the meeting. From Monument Road to Old County Road is the next step, he said.

Most people who spoke on Article 11, calling for $375,000 for a new tanker, urged voters to approve it, citing the fact that the old one is 25 years old and failing. But Mike Worcester said he thought the town could get five more years out of the old one.

“I would recommend putting a few dollars in on this one,” Worcester said. “With all the things on the [warrant] you got to go without something.... There’s a point where you’ve got to cut back a little, be frugal, and that truck’s where you can do it.”

Fire Chief Tom Vanderbilt said the truck has been looked at and there’s not much more that can be done. “I’m sure we don’t want to get to the point in Dublin where you’re hauling a leaky bucket,” he said.

Champagne noted the town was able to get a 2.25 percent leasing rate for seven years, which he said is cheap money in terms of financing.

Rich Scheinblum of the Budget Committee said putting off a purchase like this one only works if the cost of equipment is expected to go down, and in this case it’s not.

The new tanker was approved by 118 yes votes to 22 nos.

Also accepted was $427,000 for the town’s capital reserve funds, with $250,000 coming from the town’s unreserved fund balance, for future equipment purchases and facilities maintenance.

Voters were in favor of the petitioned resolution, calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to clarify that people, not corporations, are entitled to the rights afforded by the Constitution, and to affirm the right of the people to safeguard elections through regulation of political spending. (See region-wide story, page 1.)

The only article voted down at Saturday’s Town Meeting, was a petition brought by resident Paul Delphia who proposed suspending any further traffic calming measures, specifically the work slated for the intersection of Main Street and Old Common Road.

Delphia said he’s in favor in traffic calming, but fears that narrowing the intersection there would negatively impact the look of the town without really slowing traffic.

Speaking as a resident, former Dublin police chief Jim Letourneau said he was against the petition. “This is a good plan, which is scheduled to be completed this year.”

In other money warrant articles, the town also OK’d $39,223 for a new police cruiser; $30,000 for a new body for the 2011 Mack highway truck; $8,000 to scrape and repaint the post office; $8,000 for repairs to the cemetery stone wall; $2,481 for a fence and wider entrance to the Transfer Station; $30,000 for a new roof at the library and chimney repairs; $3,200 for the Dublin Advocate publication; $7,215 for area nonprofits; $9,500 for trust funds for revaluation and updating the Master Plan; and $2,500 for developing plans for the Recycling Center.

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