Department budgets presented to Selectboard

By Heather McKim

A special meeting of the Selectboard was held Jan. 9 to address the budget for the coming fiscal year. Board members discussed the budgets of the Recreation, Fire, and Police Departments.

Parks and Recreation Director Betsy Cieplicki gave a presentation on the department’s budget. Expenditures for the 2014-15 fiscal year are slated to be $262,847, which is a 1.8 percent decrease from last year’s budget. Parks and Rec intends to purchase software that will allow for online credit card processing, making program registration more convenient.

Cieplicki addressed the issue of the potential addition of an ADA lift to Shelburne Beach. One concern was whether the lift could withstand variable weather conditions. The company’s lifts have been used in outdoor settings but not in a setting comparable to Shelburne Beach.

Chief Jerry Ouimet presented the budget for the Fire Department, which shows a 96.7 percent increase over the 2013-14 budget. The department has equipment from 1984 which needs to be replaced. The building is also starting to deteriorate, and the department needs to upgrade the existing space (specifically the heating system and generator).

“In an emergency, we are considered a place of refuge,” Ouimet said. “There have even been times when [the generator] has failed.”

To help cover some of the cost, the Fire Department will be seeking some funding in the form of grants.

Chief James Warden presented the Police Department budget, which is $1,170,291. The budget has increased 3.1 percent from the previous year.

“[The] panel for alarm calls is very old; we need to do something about it,” Town Manager Paul Bohne said. While the service is available to businesses and residences, the town does not promoted it, as to be sensitive to private companies which provide this same service. A new panel has been quoted at $35,000. The town is looking to see if a smaller panel can be obtained. Another option, which member Al Gobeille supports, is to get out of the business.

Member Toni Supple questioned the amount of overtime ($110,037) in the budget. Warden explained that this is due to being short on full-time employees. However, some of the expenses are funded by grants.

“Our call level is going up drastically,” Warden said, much which is due to follow-ups on thefts, drugs, and domestic violence.

The Board revisited the issue of providing policing to the neighboring town of Charlotte. There is an arrangement in which Shelburne Police Department provides Charlotte eight hours of service each week at a cost of $50 per hour, plus court time and mileage.

This arrangement has proven somewhat controversial. While covering Charlotte does not increase policing costs, there is a question of whether the town is paying enough.

“Unless they step up to the plate, it’s time to end it,” Member Gary von Stange said. “They need to pay for the 24 hours.”

It was decided that Chair Tim Pudvar will address the Charlotte Selectboard at a meeting.

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