Council Begins Line-by-Line Review of 2017 Budget

The Derry Town Council made its first pass through the proposed 2017 budget, vetting requests from the Town Clerk, two libraries, cable station, and 10 departments under the umbrella of Public Works.

The Council met in a special session Thursday, April 7. This year’s Council has returned to the line-by-line analysis of the budget done in previous years.

Chairman Brian Chirichiello laid out the process: first, brief statements by the department heads; then a glance at the summary sheet; then line-by-line for expenses; then line-by-line for revenues.

“Any questions we can’t get answered tonight will be flagged and revisited in another session,” he said.

The following departments were reviewed:

• Town Clerk. Newly-elected Clerk Daniel Healey said there were several changes this year, due to personnel changes. The line on “permanent positions” reflects an increase from $24,270 to $28,288, to reflect Deputy Town Clerk Ruth Robinson’s increased responsibilities. The “temporary” line, reflecting the department’s one part-time employee, was raised from $13,086 to $15,925. But the “elected officials” line, Healey’s salary line, dropped from $41,860 to $40,040. In addition, the benefits line dropped from $59,271 to $43,000, in part because Healey is taking single coverage.

Healey’s total budget for his office came out at $137,831. For Elections, the budget is up at $64,971, reflecting the primary and general elections to be held this fall.

• Libraries. Taylor Library is requesting $183,446, a decrease of $1,897 over last year’s $185,343, and Derry Public Library is requesting $1,311,414.

Chirichiello explained the complexities of the library budgets, noting that the Council has no control over how the libraries spend their money, only over the bottom line.

This year the Derry Public Library has requested replacement of its 20-year-old rubber roof and skylights, at a projected cost of $71,254, and trustees and Director Cara Barlow also hope to explore the possibility of an additional small parking lot.

• Cable. Cable TV Coordinator Chris Martin said his department is one of three “enterprise funds.” His expenses are funded by Comcast franchise fees, Martin said. His budget is down slightly over last year due to personnel changes, and coming in at a requested $319,143.

• Water. Water is another enterprise fund, paid for by water users. Deputy Director of Public Works Tom Carrier said the department expects to spend $2,591,672 in 2017, and expects revenues of $2,591,672.

Councilor David Fischer asked Carrier about overtime. Carrier said his department is on call 24-7, and if a water main breaks or there’s another emergency, he calls people out.

• Wastewater. Wastewater also pays for itself, with a proposed budget of $2,220,563, to be funded by a projected $2,220,563 in revenues.

• Public Works Director Michael Fowler spoke in reference to his other departments, which include Highway, the Transfer Station, Buildings and Grounds, Cemeteries, Code Enforcement, Vehicle Maintenance, Health, Recreation and Parks.

Recreation Director Eric Bodenrader, Code Enforcement Officer Bob Mackey and Superintendent of Operations Alan Cote were present to speak on their departments’ requests.

Fowler said his staff includes 57 full-time and seven part-time employees. Revenues are anticipated at $2,913,881, and expenses at $9,131,153, for a working budget of $6,281,072 for his non-enterprise departments.

Fowler said, “That is 2.68 percent or $171,347 less than FY 2013 and 3.13 percent or $200,000 less than FY 2006.” However, he said, the CPI is 23.6 percent higher than it was in 2006.

“We have been frugal and resourceful,” Fowler said.

Acting Town Administrator Stephen Daly said all the departments were asked to level-fund their budgets.

Working out the details

At the April 7 meeting, the Council continued to work out its process. Councilor Joshua Bourdon requested that all future presentations be projected on- screen, so that the audience and television audience could see the numbers Councilors were using. Daly agreed to make sure the upcoming departments had slides of their requests.

Fischer pressed for more information. “I want to see the salaries on the screen and broken down,” he said. He asked to have FY 15 and 16 salaries and overtime detailed by individual staff member, and also for the upcoming budget.

“This is important for transparency,” Fischer said. “I want to see this on screen and on paper.”

Fischer also requested a chart detailing longevity pay. “I would like to see a chart that shows us, by department, what is each person’s longevity payment,” he said, noting the information is scattered throughout the budget and could be obtained by digging, “But I want to see it on one screen.”

And Fischer asked that each department unpack its “hospitality” expenses for the public to see.

Daly’s working budget would give a 1 cent reduction on the tax rate and is $43,892,783. It includes a $600,000 appropriation from the fund balance.

Police and Fire budgets were scheduled to be discussed this past Tuesday, April 12, after Nutfield News press time, with the remainder of departments to be reviewed Thursday night, April 14.