Selectmen Hear Budget Requests

Budget season began for the Board of Selectmen as they heard the first of four nights of budget requests from town government at their meeting on December 12. Town Manager Robert LeLacheur opened the meeting by sharing how the process is different this year from years past. Each department of town government will be sharing their budget request directly to the Selectmen and the voters, without having the requests cut to meet revenue projections prior to being revealed publicly. The hope is that this level of transparency will give the voters a realistic view of what kinds of resources are needed to maintain the current level of services provided to town residents by town government.

The first presentation, which lasted close to two hours, was made by Assistant Town Manager Jean Delios. Delios began by describing all the different areas she oversees in the Public Services Department. This department manages everything from staffing the Community Planning and Development Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals to the Elder and Human Services and Recreation departments. It also includes the Health and Veterans Affairs Departments. Given all the increased building activity in town in the coming year, Delios asked that an additional building inspector be added to the budget. The town issued over 1,000 permits in 2017 and, with sixteen major projects coming in 2018, Delios expects a large increase in that number. “I am proud that seventy-three percent of the permits issued in town were done so immediately or by the next day,” Delios exclaimed. Delios also asked that the Community Services Director position, which was eliminated when John Feudo resigned to become the Executive Director of the Burbank YMCA, be restored and that the Elder and Human Services Director position be brought to full time. Because of cutbacks in recent years there have been reduced hours at the Planning Department counter, fewer staff to prepare for and cover nighttime meetings, reduced collaboration between departments, and the Senior Center closes earlier than it has in the past.

After a brief break, Director of Administrative Services Matt Kraunelis presented the requests for his department. Kraunelis presented the need for an additional clerk at the Town Clerk’s office, a second Human Resources (HR) generalist, and a software training coordinator. The town clerk’s office has been busy with the preservation and scanning of public documents and with additional records keeping. As a result of the new Massachusetts public records law, the increase in public document requests has resulted in increased workload for the small staff in the clerk’s office. The current HR generalist is shared with the school department and needs help due to increased state requirements, increased hiring, and having to run multiple searches for single positions. A software training employee would help centralize training and software service requests providing for greater efficiency.

The final presentation of the evening was made by Finance Director Sharon Angstrom. Her department only has 11.36 FTE but handles all the accounting, assessing, billing and treasury requirements for the town. This includes bi-weekly payroll for between 1,200 and 1,300 hundred employees, over 9,000 quarterly tax bills and over 9,000 quarterly utility bills. In 2017 there were over 34,000 invoices paid as well, each one reviewed by hand. Angstrom asked for an Assistant Town Accountant to help with the workload and to have a person trained to do her required reports if she were somehow incapacitated.

The Library and the Public Safety departments will make their presentations at the December 13 meeting to be held at 7:00pm in the Library community room.

The meeting adjourned at 10:06pm.

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