Proposed operating budget up 2 percent
Mason Select Board Chair Pete McGinnity and Bernard O'Grady take a look at the first draft of the completed town budget for the upcoming year during a budget meeting Tuesday. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
Mason Select Board members Charlie Moser, left, Chair Pete McGinnity and Bernard O'Grady, discuss the first draft of the completed town budget for the upcoming year with department heads during a budget meeting Tuesday. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
MASON — Residents can expect to see some warrant article requests for new vehicles, for both the police and highway departments this year, after the Select Board met with department heads in the first half of its review of the proposed 2014 budget Tuesday night.
The total proposed budget for 2014 is currently $1,730,957, a 2 percent increase from the 2013 budget. The town is also expecting to request $152,320 in warrant article requests. Including warrant articles, the budget for operating expenses, plus capital expenses, is 4 percent more than last year.
Police Chief Barry Hutchins told the board at a meeting Tuesday that he plans to request a warrant article to purchase and outfit a new cruiser for the department. While he is still pricing vehicles, he said he is looking to purchase an all-wheel drive sedan. The high end of the price spectrum is $38,000, Hutchins told the board. There is a possibility of using grant funds to offset the cost, if the vehicle is outfitted for K9 use, he said.
The proposed police budget is $317,093 this year, up five percent over last year’s budget. The majority of the increase can be attributed to proposed salary increases for the police chief and first sergeant, as well as patrolmen and part-time wages.
The Highway Department will also be seeking new equipment this year: a new backhoe. Both the front and back buckets of the town’s current machine are not in good condition, said Road Agent Fred Greenwood at the meeting. He will be putting forward a warrant article requesting $88,000 for a replacement. Also, the town will seek to continue road repairs and reconstruction with a $50,000 warrant article.
Select Board Chair Pete McGinnity and Select Board member Charlie Moser agreed that the general consensus of the town has been that putting funds into the roads for the last two years has led to a big improvement in road conditions. “We haven’t really seen road restoration like this in 10 years,” said McGinnity.
The Highway Department’s maintenance budget is proposed at $459,741 this year, a two percent increase attributed chiefly to salary increases. The Highway Department expenses section, however, has decreased by $8,000, or six percent, leaving the total proposed highway budget flat for the coming year.
The Fire Department has an anticipated 11 percent increase this year, going from $61,248 in 2013 to a proposed $67,777. Almost the entirety of the increase is attributed to the addition of $5,000 for physicals for firefighters, which is now required by state law, said McGinnity. The Fire Department also anticipates requesting a warrant article for $4,320 to replace expired equipment.
The Select Board will continue to meet with department heads to review the proposed 2014 budget on Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Mann House It will be followed by a public budget hearing in January.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.