Andover Budget Committee  Minutes – October 20, 2022

Budget Committee Members present:
Andy Guptill, Dana Swenson, Donna Crisp Duclos, Greg Stetson, Jessica Rand, Kayla Chandler, Mark Cowdrey, Toby Locke

Others present:
Alan Hanscom, Recreation Committee
Lisa Meier, Town Clerk

Public present:
Jim Reed, Elita Reed, Beth Page

Donna Duclos opened the meeting at 6:01 PM.

Stetson motioned to accept the previous meeting’s notes, Dana seconded. All were in favor, the motion passed.

The Recreation Committee presented their budget. The requested budget is quite similar to last year. The Ski Program amount is approximately 40% of the invoice from Ragged Mountain. In years past, it was suggested to take a token amount of the budget and a portion out of the revolving fund. Parent registration fees for all sports are put into the revolving fund. Students pay $35 per week, though the cost at the mountain is over $100 per student.

It was asked why the soccer line was higher.  A set of goals was purchased this year for the 3-4 soccer team.

At this time, approximately $20,000 is in the revolving fund.

Duclos asked what the Recreation committee would prioritize first to cut. Thoughts led to limiting ski lift tickets. What is a big ask for the Recreation committee? Volunteers, stipends for volunteers. The six members on the Recreation committee have been on the committee for a decade or more.

Meier presented as Town Clerk for the town. She spoke to an increase in the hours and salary for the Town Clerk. She spoke to her obligations during public access hours, as well as the time required to get the job done outside of the posted hours. She advocated for time to complete work outside of public access hours. Meier also noted that ten years ago, her position was paid much more than it is now.

Another large increase was in postage, as this cost has increased over the past year. The board expects the USPS prices to go up again over the upcoming year, as has been indicated by the US government.

In response to a question about proposed raises for town employees this year, Guptill spoke that increases in salary are being based on bringing salaries in line with comparable positions in our geographic area, particularly with an eye towards recruitment and retention.

The Select Board reviewed the line items that have gone up significantly; general expenses, postage, mileage, office supplies. The major increase is to wages.  The board agrees additional hours are warranted.

Duclos asked what the Town Clerk would prioritize first to cut? Meier is unsure. What is the big ask for the Town Collector? Help. The assistant TC/TC position is unfilled.

The transfer station budget was reviewed by Guptill. Currently the transfer station has four part-time employees; The Select Board is requesting to increase pay rates to $18 per hour. The transfer station does not have a supervisor; it is proposed to hire a transfer station supervisor, and split the position with the highway department. Guptill noted that there’s a missed opportunity on streamlining higher levels of sorting, specifically for metal, though this would not offset major cost burden.

A new trash trailer was purchased outright from funds received last year. A pusher snow plow for the bobcat is on a line which will be a one-time cost and could be used to plow the yard during staff hours. The highway will continue to be responsible for after-hours plowing.

The transfer station has hired a septic designer, and contractors are coming in to set up a project to install a toilet. Funds for this have already been encumbered. This project is already financed.  This will eliminate the need for a port-a-potty in the future.

Will the transfer station consider recycling plastics? There had been a posting in the Beacon to gather interested parties to start a recycling committee; there was no interest. Single stream plastic recycling costs were quite high.

The overflow container rental was discussed; it does not appear to be needed at this time. Snow removal on containers was also discussed. Toby recommended a drag, to be able to self-shovel the containers. Snow can add a considerable weight to the containers, which impacts the overall cost.

The board discussed that the hauler has to come to the transfer station during open station hours because there is no person who allows them into the transfer station when it is closed. This does cause trash buildup in the mornings, due to this scheduling issue. Greasing the trailer is another element of concern. It was noted there is no contract with the hauling company.  Guptill said the Selectboard is working on establishing a contract..

The highway department budget was reviewed by Guptilll. Costs for wages and snow plowing.  The mileage of the four routes have been re-balanced so that each contract is the same dollar amount. Contracts were reviewed. In comparing contracts between last and this year, the difference is relatively close. Last year, the town also paid rental fees above and beyond the contracts. The contracts are a flat fee per six month season, rather than per snowstorm. There is fluctuation due to having to pay hourly employees for some snow storms. Increases to the Plow and Sand line are due to some increases in contract fees, some increases in hourly pay, and some cushion. The rest of the labor lines were reviewed.

The department has a new contract at much less cost for town roadside mowing.

Other lines that have increased include culverts, maintenance of equipment, fuel, small tools, projects (roadside mowing), portable lavatory, street signs, uniforms, salt, and calcium. These all were explained.

Lines that have decreased include grader operator, cold patch, grass/ hay/ mulch, equipment rentals, BW park / beach mowing and maintenance wages, and beaver deceiver maintenance.

Guptill spoke to past boards who wanted work billed to separate lines and essentially categorize the labor (i.e. one line for cemetery repair, one line for BW park field maintenance, etc.). The budget presented has these lines zeroed out, with effort to consolidate the labor lines and not have each of these responsibilities itemized in the overall budget. The total budget proposed is similar to the 2019 highway department budget.

On October 27, the Budget Committee will review the following budgets: Cemeteries, EMS, Forest Fire, Fourth of July, Police, Conservation Commission, Town Buildings, Executive, Financial, Assessing, Legal, Personnel Administration, Welfare, Insurance, IT.

Meeting adjourned at 8 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Beth Page