Hancock Select Board discusses proposed budget
|Published: 01-25-2023 1:01 PM
Hancock’s draft proposed operating budget for 2023-2024 is approximately $3.29 million, a 17.24 percent increase over the current budget.
Not including debt service expenses, long-term bonds and water fund operating expenses, the town has proposed operating expenses totaling approximately $2.73 million, a 12.8 percent increase over last year. Revenues such as licenses, permitting and other sources will contribute to the operating budget in addition to taxpayer dollars. The tax rate will be set in November or December.
At the request of the Budget Advisory Committee, Police Chief Thomas Horne made a presentation at Monday’s Select Board public hearing on the budget, justifying adding a third-full time officer to the department. Horne prepared slides arguing that with three full-time officers and 20 hours of chief patrol coverage, only 28 hours a week would be left uncovered. With two officers and 20 hours of chief patrol coverage, 68 hours a week are left without coverage.
Horne stated that the department cannot find part-time employees to take shifts, and this leaves the officers they have covering shifts at overtime rate. The average overtime rate is $36.13. Including overtime pay, in order to reduce the hours not covered by police to 28 per week, the chief plus two full-time officer salaries would come to $189,935.20. Horne said with three full-time officers needing minimal overtime, he estimates the salaries would total $167,301.60.
“The addition of a third full-time officer allows for an effective solution to the problem of part-time staffing deficiencies, while allowing the town to maintain police staffing commensurate with national averages,” stated one of Horne’s slides.
After hearing comments, the board decided to include funding for Grapevine Community Resource Center, Avenue A and Community Volunteer Transportation Company in the operating budget. Town Administrator Jonathan Coyne said Wednesday that the articles have always passed and it will cut out two warrant articles.
“We are at a bare minimum [of warrant articles], because our operating budget is up quite a bit over last year,” Coyne said.
Increases in the operating budget include inflated costs of fuel and road materials. The town is budgeting in an 8.7 percent COLA increase to keep wages at a competitive rate.
“The board wants to take care of its employees,” Coyne said. “Finding employees is a challenge. What we’re doing keeps our wages competitive. Our intent is not to lose employees to other towns of the state.”