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Bethlehem Board of Selectmen
Bethlehem Selectmen Office
January 17, 2014
Present: Chairman Blanchard, Selectman Culver, Selectman Laleme, and Selectman Glavac, Selectman
At 6:00pm Chairman Blanchard opened the Budget Hearing.
Chairman Blanchard reviewed the budget by department. Pat doughty asked about the increase to the Clerical Salary. He was told her work load increased and the assessing salary line was zeroed out. Pat
Doughty also asked about the Police budget and how 11 years ago there were only 4 officers and 1 chief. He said that increased to one more officer when 24 hour coverage was wanted. He said we have the same population now as then so why do we need 7 officers. Chairman Blanchard explained that one officer was deployed and the additional officer is a current employee that is full-time in the deployed officer’s absence and that he will remain full-time instead of going back to part-time status. Selectman Culver said our police department is providing preventive policing instead of reactive policing.
Chairman Blanchard explained that the highway budget was up because of asphalt to fix the roads that are in disrepair.
Rita Farrell asked the Board why health agencies were required to submit their requests by petitioned
warrant article. Mrs. Farrell said she is embarrassed that our town requires this. Selectman Culver said
it shouldn’t be hard to get signatures if they are serving the residents of Bethlehem. Selectman Laleme said the reason the welfare budget was able to be reduced so much is because Dawn rewrote all the guidelines to match the states and we use a verification system. Selectman Laleme also explained that Rhienna was able to reduce the pool salary line from 24,000 to 21,000.00 and to delete the fuel line and add $400.00 from the fuel line to electricity. This will reduce the pool operating budget by $3,200.00.
The Board reviewed the Library budget and it was stated that the additional $30,000.00 was included in a Warrant Article last year as the estimated cost for operating the new library. Julian Czarny asked if
that included increased operating hours. Doug Harman said they will be handing out a detailed budget and they plan on increasing the hours but need to figure out how they can do that with the budget amount. Mr. Harman said they don’t know the cost to run the library yet. He also said they provided an asset to the Town also by opening up the space in the Town building. Chairman Blanchard agreed the space will better serve the Town.
Selectman Laleme said they may need to revisit the Country Club budget because of possibly having to replace a water valve that will cost approximately $4,000.00. Selectman Laleme said the Board needs to see the report and who is ordering it.
Rita Farrell asked what the total debt (principal) is for the Town. Frank Claffey said he will get that number for her.
Pat Doughty asked the Board if they have a plan if the default budget passes. Selectman Laleme said the
pool wouldn’t be able to open and the extra officer will not become full-time.
Rita Farrell asked how much of the $60,000.00 was spent on the pool. She was told about $58,000.00 was spent. Julian Czarny asked how much was anticipated for revenues from the pool. Rhienna discussed some different prices for passes. It was stated that it is too hard to predict at this point because the student population has decreased significantly since the pool was last open.
Brett Jackson explained he reduced his Capital Reserve request amount to offset the increase in his budget for asphalt.
There was discussion about the Warrant Article to make the pool ADA compliant. Rita asked the Board if the Warrant Article fails would the pool be opened. Selectman Culver said it is a gray area and the Board would have to decide whether or not to open it. Selectman Laleme said anyone could call the state to complain that it is not accessible and the Town could get fined and shut down. Selectman Laleme said she wouldn’t vote to open it without ADA compliance. Selectman Culver said he agrees with Selectman Laleme. Rita Farrell asked what would happen to the $60,000.00 in the operating budget if the Warrant Article doesn’t pass and the pool doesn’t open. Selectman Culver said that money would sit there and go back to the general fund. Selectman Fiorentino pointed out that there are adults as well that may have handicaps.
Selectman Laleme said they Board may want to create a Warrant Article to clean up the Cruft building. Jack Anderson got a quote from Spears Brothers for approx. 65,000.00 to 70,000.00.
Rita Farrell asked for a break out from the budget for all salaries, SS/med, insurance and Dental amounts. She was told all those amounts are in the budget materials that she has.
There was discussion about the Cruft building Warrant Article and why the owner wasn’t paying for the
cleanup. It was explained that the Town deeded the property because of back taxes owed. It was also explained that if the Town cleaned it up and the former owner repurchased the property the owner
would have to pay the cost of the cleanup.
At 7:30 pm Selectman Culver moved to close the hearing and adjourn. Selectman Fiorentino seconded. Carried 5-0.