2009-04-02 / Front Page

Council trims budget expenses

By Erin Tiernan

Bill Kelly Bill Kelly The Town Council held a budget work session Monday night to review and discuss possible ways to cut spending on Town Administrator Bruce Keiser's proposed budget for the 2009/2010 fiscal year.

If passed as it stands, next year's combined town and school budget will have a 1.6-percent increase over the 2008/2009 fiscal year. The total budget is proposed at $21,056,990 with $12.6 million going to the school's total budget and just over $8.3 million allotted to town expenditures.

"This is the lowest increase that Jamestown has seen in a number of years," said Keiser.

Due to the difficult economic times, he met several times with department heads and said the meetings were helpful in finding areas to cut spending for the upcoming fiscal year.

Keiser reviewed all expenditures and revenue sources in detail and justified decreases and increas- es in spending in certain areas.

The council spent three hours discussing what areas they could afford to cut spending in while still delivering the same quality of town services.

Councilman William Kelly suggested looking into cutting the harbormaster, animal control officer and Department of Public Works mechanic positions.

"I'm looking to get the best bang for our buck," Kelly said. "Are these costs we can really justify in this economy?"

Councilman Robert Sutton and Town Council President Julio Di- Giando said they did not want to cut positions, especially ones that would affect members of the community. "This idea of intent of firing people is the most negative idea you can introduce into a workforce," Sutton said. "We're a small community and we understand who our individual employees are."

DiGiando explained that the harbormaster position doesn't affect the town's budget because it is paid for out of the harbor fund, which generates all of its own revenue.

Defending the mechanics position, Town Engineer and Deputy Public Works Director Michael Gray said it actually saved the town money because they don't have to outsource to private mechanics and it gets the vehicles back on the road quicker. He also said they were thinking about sending police cars to the DPW mechanic as well.

Council Vice President Michael White added that the town is run by the employees hired by the town council and they need input from employees to assess what resources they need to efficiently do their jobs before they start eliminating positions.

In other business, Recreation Director William Piva was asked submit more information about the $71,000 requested to build a maintenance shed at Fort Getty to store and fix equipment.

Councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski recognized the need for a storage area for the recreation department, but wondered if $71,000 would be sufficient to build the 936-square-foot heated facility Piva wants to build.

The town has two new projects in need of funding: the police station renovations and the landfi ll closure. Currently $400,000 is available for the police station project, but Gray said the amount was insufficient because the bids submitted by contractors last week required about $600,000 to complete the project.

The project includes bringing the current police station up to today's standards as well as a 1,000 -square-foot addition for more lockers and office space. Gray hoped the project would begin this month, but said funding discrepancies would need to be addressed first.

Keiser said the landfill closure project is estimated at $820,000 and the proposed budget doesn't have any funding available for this project. He said he will bring the estimate to the council for discussion at the next meeting on Monday, April 6.

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