Cemetery Mower Axed from FY 15 Derry Town Budget

In the spirit of “Use it up, wear it out, make it do,” the Derry Town Council voted to remove $8,000 from the FY 15 budget for an additional lawnmower for Forest Hill Cemetery.

The Council met April 29 to address “flagged” items from its previous budget discussions. One item was the lawnmower, requested by Public Works Director Mike Fowler.

The mower is listed as $7,975. In previous sessions Councilor Al Dimmock said that was too much to pay for even a commercial lawnmower, and questioned its need, as the cemetery already had several working mowers, including one from last year’s appropriations.

“We don’t need another mower,” Dimmock said. “We got one last year.”

Dimmock recommended striking the mower from the budget and having Fowler put it back in last year. “The grass only grows so fast,” Dimmock said.

He made a motion to remove the amount from the budget.

Councilor Michael Fairbanks asked Fowler if the amount would be offset by a transfer from another fund, and Fowler said no.

“Is the mower it’s going to replace operable and safe?” he asked.

Fowler said the oldest mower is operable and safe. He’s had quotes for “possible repairs” of $2,713. He added that the new machine wouldn’t necessarily be a one-for-one replacement for the older one, but would help the department to stay proactive in its acquisition and replacement of equipment.

Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores asked how much acreage the mowers cover.

The cemetery is 35 acres, with 22 of that grass, Fowler said. In the summer, eight mowers are usually in action for 40 hours a week, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. He added that he tries not to use the oldest mower the full 40 hours.

“You’re saying it ‘may’ need repairs?” Dimmock questioned Fowler.

“I’m saying ‘if’ it fails,” Fowler responded.

Dimmock said, “I don’t feel we should allow that kind of money to be spent just because a mower ‘may’ fail. A brand-new one could also fail.”

“Our philosophy,” Fowler said, “is that we want to be ahead of the curve.”

He added, “If you don’t approve this, we’ll go for it again next year. But the current one may need repairs.”

The Council voted 7-0 to remove the funding, with Councilor Joshua Bourdon saying, “We’re taking a calculated risk.”

Fairbanks made a motion to increase the repair line by $2,000, approximately the amount estimated for the older mower’s repairs. The motion failed 2-5, with himself and Katsakiores voting for it.

Since he has a bottom-line budget, Fowler said if the need arose, he could shift some funds from another line such as Buildings and Grounds’ repair line.

“Make do with what you have,” Dimmock told him.