1. The general fund budget is up by nearly 4 percent. However, the increase will be substantially higher than that. There are no cost of living (COLA) increases in any of the budgets, in part because the Police and Fire union contracts will be up and those will presumably be in a separate warrant article. The budget is increased by 53 weeks in 2014, a 17 percent medical insurance increase, and a full year without any State contribution to the retirement fund vs. only six months last year.
2. The Police Department budget was tabled until December 9. There is serious discussion about an additional full-time police officer or two part-time officers during the summer to provide a beach patrol shift. The Police Chief wants a full-time officer, the Selectmen appear to prefer one or two part-time summer officers.
3. The Fire Department will not be requesting an added paramedic this year to avoid a conflict with the Police request. Currently there are only three firefighter/paramedics and four shifts to fill. A suggestion that the Town use its leverage in contract negotiations to permit termination of a firefighter and the hiring of a firefighter/ paramedic was opposed by the Fire Chief. Plans for a second ambulance will be presented December 9.
4. The Conservation Commission budget was also tabled until December 9. The Conservation Commission wants to introduce a $3 million warrant article for land acquisition in 2014 to squeeze it in before Town Hall funding. They are aware of four subdivisions being planned in Town, including the former Rand Lumber property and would like to have funds available for these. The appraisal of the former Rand property is expected soon, and the agreement anticipated is that the Town would be given 3-5 years to purchase the property at the appraised value. If that could not be done it could be developed.
5. A third lifeguard for Cable Rd. Ext. is being considered. See the Beach and Cemetery sections for discussion of the heated arguments at the October 9 public hearing.
6. There was discussion of converting the just-filled Assistant Town Clerk position to full-time, but medical insurance costs are a concern. There is also discussion of hiring a second part-time employee for the Building Inspector’s department, with possible sharing of the person with other departments.
7. Cyndi Gillespie summarized all of the debt that will be maturing between now and 2014 or 2015. The Selectmen are pleased that this will permit Town Hall debt to be taken on without increasing debt service. Selectman Musselman acknowledges that the Town Hall square footage will be reduced. However, the ongoing Public Works facility study is to be completed shortly, and possible facility needs are not in the CIP Plan beyond a new salt shed.