Tuftonboro Budget Committee again debates public safety building options
February 24, 2011TUFTONBORO — In just under three-and-a-half hours Tuftonboro's Budget Committee confirmed that it would be proposing a fiscal year 2011-12 operating budget with a bottom line of $2,654,586 (before warrant articles) for vote at town meeting in March, a figure nearly $200,000 less than last year's adopted budget.
At the Feb. 11 budget committee hearing Chair Lloyd Wood led the committee and attending public through what turned out to be mostly a lengthy volley of debate between those in favor of the $3.2 million dollar warrant article for the purpose of building and equipping a public safety facility for both the Police and Fire Departments, and those in favor of the more conservative $1.5 million dollar article for the purpose of building and equipping a new fire station only.
It seemed everyone voiced their opinion on whether or not Tuftonboro should take on such a project as the Board of Selectmen have recommended or if voting for the less expensive plan would, given the current economy, the be wiser.
In the end it was asked of the Budget Committee if they would reconsider recommending the $3.2-plan, a decision the committee decided not to take.
Only two other items were addressed by the Budget Committee after the public hearing was closed: a request to add funds to line item 4194 General Government Buildings and a request by the Selectmen to recommend a second version of petition warrant article 14 with the correct appropriations.
When reviewing the first portion of the budget a suggestion was made to restore an additional amount of money to line item 4194 for Town House improvements/ maintenance. Tuftonboro had very recently received an energy audit, which included a long list of recommended ways in which the building could be tightened down. Though it seemed like a good idea, the committee decided not to add money to the line item on such short notice and without first having specific plans and paperwork.
Lastly the committee addressed the issue of petition warrant article regarding the future planning of Zadeda Farm Lane. Unable to legally correct a mistake in the appropriations on the petition article, the Board of Selectmen, with the consent of the petitioner, added a revised article with the correct figures, which the budget committee was asked to review for recommendation. Uncomfortable with the language referring to money taken from the "unreserved fund balance," the committee changed the language to read monies "raised from taxes" and agreed to support the article.
All this and other articles will be explained in full at Town Meeting on March 9.
No changes were made to line items and only two items were discussed as having significant increases.
Under Public Safety, emergency management appropriations were raised by $15,500. The additional funding, it was explained, will cover the replacement generator in the town office building, which will turn on automatically and operate the entire building.
Also of note was a estimated 50 percent increase in construction and demolition disposal costs over what was spent in 2010. Asked why, Selectmen's Representative to the budget committee Bill Stockman said that the increase was most likely due to the amount of construction currently going on in town. The line item had been reduced in recent years when building had been slow, but with the potential for construction to pick up the transfer station would want to have enough in its budget to cover this unpredictable expense.
When questioned about the $3,200 budgeted to cover uniform costs, Transfer Station supervisor Clay Gallagher responded that it covers a contract providing nine complete sets of uniforms and laundry service. He added that the amount was competitive to that of other companies.
In addition to the Zadeda Farm article, operating budget, and proposed $1.5 million fire station project article, the Committee is recommending several other articles as well including: appropriating $37,250 to purchase and equip a new police cruiser; $107,663 for the purpose of obtaining and equipping a new fire truck; $185,000 designated for paving; $12,000 to be approved for renovations to the transfer station; $50,000 for the capital reserve fund; $1,500 appropriated to authorize selectmen to enter into an intermunicipal agreement with Moultonborough and Wolfeboro for the participation in the milfoil joint board; and an additional $1,000 to go into establishing an expendable trust fund known as the Milfoil Eradication Expendable Trust Fund.
In regard to these warrant articles not much was discussed other than some confusion surrounding the language of the article to establish an expendable trust fund devoted to milfoil eradication and a concern by one resident that additional funding may be needed for the fire station proposal to incorporate a major access to the property, something that had been overlooked.
Representing the Parks and Rec. Committee Eric Roseen commented that given the limited amount of frontage for the 80 acre-parcel, it appears as though the project did not consider proper curb cut responsibilities. As a professional surveyor Roseen said that the project should incorporate funding for a major access as well as for appropriate signing and lighting specific to the project. He warned that the town approves the proposal recommended by the Budget Committee, it must work closely with the state regarding driveway issues, which could be prevented later on in the development.
The final budget recommended by the Budget Committee, including all warrant articles, totaled $4,594,999, a slight increase from last year's budget. This is a $1,700,000 decrease from what Selectmen recommended for a budget, with the only differences being the Selectmen's recommended $3.2 million public safety facility proposal versus the Committee's $1.5 million proposal for a new fire station.
The town warrant as well as the proposed budget is available on the Tuftonboro Web site, www.tuftonboro.org. Coverage of the meeting can be seen on Tuftonboro's local television Channel 3.
Visit the polls on March 8 and attend town meeting on March 9 to cast your vote.