DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

April 17, 2014

Derry councilors sharpen their budget pencils

Councilors reject new carpet for meeting room

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — DERRY — The budget trimming has begun as town councilors look for ways to save money in each of the town’s departments.

Budget workshops are underway, with each department coming before the council to give proposed numbers and spending plans for fiscal year 2015.

Public Works kicked off the workshop season with spending plans for highway, cemetery, parks and recreation, water and sewer, and the transfer station.

Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau said the town has successful services and should be proud of all it offers.

“You get big city services,” he said.

The Public Works division provides quality roads for the town’s citizens, Budreau said, noting the department deals with a lot of issues from snow removal to mowing town fields and taking care of recreational activities.

Public Works currently has 56 full-time employees and six part-time workers.

Director Michael Fowler said staff is often allocated across several different divisions. Some may share tasks through recreation and also work on the highway crew, which helps save the town money.

“This department (Public Works) takes it to heart when we talk about savings and collaboration to save on labor costs,” he said. “We always try to cover for somebody’s absence. They do what it takes to get the job done.”

Fowler also said he hopes the council will support his request to expand the assistant building inspector position to full-time status. That’s the only new Public Works job proposed in next year’s budget.

Some budget cuts did occur. Councilors lowered amounts of proposed overtime hours for recreation and transfer station staff.

The group also nixed a $15,000 request to replace the third-floor carpet in the municipal center, including the council’s own meeting room.

“What’s the matter with the carpet? It looks pretty good,” Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores said.

All councilors got up and took a quick break to look over the carpet before rendering a decision.

The next budget workshop is scheduled for April 17 at 7 p.m. in the third-floor meeting room at the municipal center. A final budget workshop and public hearing, including the capital improvement plan, is April 24.

A final vote on the town’s budget will be either May 6 or May 20, depending on how the workshops move forward.