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Joyce Endee

Wakefield selectmen review expenses against budget

by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
August 09, 2012
WAKEFIELD — At the second of their new afternoon meetings on Aug. 1, Wakefield selectmen reviewed town expenses booked through July against the 2012 budget approved by voters.

Town Administrator Teresa Williams was not present, but Secretary Toni Bodah was there to take the minutes and field questions.

Overall the bottom line indicates that 63 percent of the budget had been expended 58.3 percent of the way through the year, leaving 37 percent for the remaining five months.

Among the areas of concern that came up during the review:

- postage in Administration was over by $2,000. This may reflect postage purchased but not yet used, though it was noted that no postage has been used by the Building Inspection/Code Enforcement department. Bodah will investigate.

- telephone expenses were much higher than budget: the Police Department had only six percent left for the year. The town had negotiated a new deal with Time Warner that was supposed to reduce telephone costs. The concern was that the new terms were not being reflected in the bills. Bodah and Williams will look into this.

- holiday pay was not showing up in the budget report. Chairman Ken Paul noted that holiday pay is done separately from payroll two or three times a year. The concern was that at least one payment has been made but not booked to the holiday pay line, since some departments are running ahead on payroll.

- Heritage Commission is 4.8 percent over in utilities. Selectman Peter Kasprzyk pointed out that the commission used to meet at Town Hall and it now meeting at Union Station. Another factor is that there was a late oil delivery last December and the bill did not come in until January. Paul noted each department has a bottom line budget, so expenses that run over in one category can be offset but underspending elsewhere. He suggested that Commission Chair Pam Judge should touch based with Williams on utilities.

- The public access channel has not spent anything against its budget: it was allocated funds for 100 hours of help at $10 an hour. Paul was hoping that some 17-year-old could be trained to videotape some meetings and perhaps get school credit.

- The budget for land use consultant had only expended $600 of the $10,000 budgeted. Selectman Charlie Edwards reported that the consultant has more limited time available due to serving as chairman of the planning board in his own town, but he isn't needed much either. "There not a lot going on," Edwards said. Kasprzyk said that volunteers were doing much of the work on the Master Plan and for the Heritage Commission but that "a wordsmith was still needed to pull it together." It was agreed the consultant should be asked to clarify how much time he can devote to Wakefield matters.

Otherwise it was noted that auditing expense was $1,600 over due to the need to audit the Tax Collector's accounts before they were turned over to new Tax Collector Angie Casperonis. Also vehicle maintenance was over $7,600 in the Fire Department due to a tanker problem.

Chairman Paul said he would like to see expense reports generated for department heads on a regular basis rather than by request. Bodah reported that Fire Chief Todd Nason always asks for his budget expense report.

Bodah cautioned that the particular report selectmen were using included expenses but not income for capital reserves. Distributions from capital reserves could throw off the total spent to date of 63 percent since those funds are lump-sum payments.

Selectmen will hold their next meeting as a regular evening meeting at 7 p.m. on Aug. 8 at the Town Hall meeting room.

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