Selectmen set flat budget guideline for 2011
Repairs to damaged fire truck may take 60 days
July 15, 2010
WOLFEBORO — At its July 7 meeting the Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen accepted the recommendation of Town Manager Dave Owen to adopt a zero growth guideline for 2011 department budgets, which are now being developed.
The only exceptions will be increases required by law or by contract. Department heads may also propose their own exceptions, but any projects or expenses that would make a budget exceed 2010 levels would have to be justified and prioritized, a procedure Owen had adopted last year that allows selectmen to see what is being left out and decide whether it should be included.
Owen cited continuing economic uncertainty for taking this cautious approach. Although revenues have generally held up against forecasts and expenses in all areas except welfare are under control in 2010, the state continues to cut back on aid to towns and to shift more of the cost of pensions over to school districts and towns. In Owen's view, prudence dictates a wait and see attitude at this point.
Deputy Fire Chief Tom Zotti and Public Works Director Dave Ford gave a report on the accident at the Public Safety Building on July 6 when the town's ladder truck hit a column in the equipment bay and partially demolished the bay roof. Ford reported that the truck was safely removed and the building stabilized with temporary shoring timbers. He is working with CCI Construction of Laconia and town engineer HE Bergeron Engineers of North Conway to make repairs, which he expected to begin on Friday, July 9, and could take two to four weeks. Ford said that Primex, the town's insurance carrier, said that the accident would be covered, less the town's deductible.
Zotti reported that Ladder No. 1 sustained damage, which is being analyzed by Lakes Region Fire Apparatus in Tamworth, which has reported that no equipment violations are evident. The initial estimate was that it could take 60 days to repair, so the fire-rescue department has made arrangements with mutual aid towns for coverage. In the meantime three bays in the station are off limits until repairs are completed.
Zotti expressed relief that no one was injured in the accident and said that the police department was investigating the incident, per town policy.
Owen said that the costs of repairs and dealing with the incident are being tracked separately for reimbursement, and that a risk management team from Primex was coming on July 8 to offer suggestions to avoid future accidents.
Capital projects update
Ford reviewed with selectmen the status of 24 major projects approved by voters since 2003 that he is managing, six of which he reported as completed.
On the sewer projects, upgrades to the treatment plant have been completed and the Rapid Infiltration Basin effluent disposal project is "substantially complete." A total of five basins have been installed. Basins 1-3 had developed "unexpected issues," which led to the installation of two more basins. The additional basins are being brought up to speed slowly to check for problems, and the Town of Tuftonboro is being kept informed of progress and periodic test results.
The projects to eliminate water inflow and infiltration of sewer lines are well along. The library and Public Safety Building projects are complete, and in the course of repaving, additional handicapped parking was provided in front of the entrance to the library. A balance of $194,909 will be spent on correcting inflow and infiltration on Lehner and Glendon Streets.
On the water projects, upgrades to the processing system are done and water mains have been replaced on Pleasant, South Main, Union and School Streets. Engineering has been completed for work on Center, Glendon and Lehner Streets. The upgrades voted in 2010 are on hold awaiting receipt of a Safe Routes to School grant of $180,000. The delay in receiving the grant has also put a hold on Center Street drainage and Glendon and Lehner Street projects that include sidewalk upgrades.
Paving projects have been completed on College, Brown, North Line and Pleasant Valley Roads and Clow Street. Work has been scheduled for paving on School, Glendon and Glendon Streets and Varney and Stoddard Roads. Paving of Center Street from Route 109A to the 7/11 store by the state is expected to begin in a few weeks.
The traffic study has been completed for the Route 28 Corridor Study and a public meeting on the issues identified will be held in September.
The ADA upgrade projects have been completed everywhere except the Public Safety Building (starting soon) and the reroofing and painting of the Railroad Station should be complete this year. The restored railing at Dockside is complete except for the lighting and a granite slab near the bridge.
The building evaluations have been completed for the Public Safety Building, Libby Museum and Dockside and inspection of the Solid Waste Facility has begun, leaving only the Public Works garage to be done.
Selectmen approved accepting a conservation easement on the undeveloped land in the Harriman Hill workforce housing project on the recommendation of the Conservation Commission.
The board also allowed the swim team to run a concession stand at Brewster Beach, pending the approval of Brewster Academy, which owns the beach. The concession will help raise funds for new equipment and docks.
Selectmen gave permission for the Parks and Recreation Department to assist in bringing the Walker Brothers Circus to The Nick on Aug. 13 as a joint fundraiser for The Nick and the Friends of Abenaki.
Selectman Marge Webster complained about jaywalking on Main Street and recommended posting signs and imposing fines to control it. The board decided to defer discussion until the Police Commission could address the issue with Police Chief Stuart Chase.
Owen reported that department heads have identified more than enough savings in the operating budget to cover the expected welfare budget overrun and thus has lifted the temporary freeze imposed.
The Employee Appreciation Cruise on the Winnipesaukee Belle has been set for Sept. 8, beginning at 12:30 p.m.
Selectman Sarah Silk reported that unwanted medicine collections are up significantly over last year thanks to newspaper coverage.
Silk also reported that New Hampshire is tied with Vermont for the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the country and that the jobless rate in Wolfeboro was 4.8 percent.
The next meeting of the board of selectmen will be on July 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the library meeting room.