The Warren Select Board has approved a budget to present to voters on Town Meeting Day that is up 5.85 percent from last year at $3,707,211. “The select board feels this budget is rounded and presentable,” town administrator Cindi Jones told The Valley Reporter. “They did their due diligence in putting this budget together.”
At the Warren Select Board meeting on January 21, select board members could be seen leafing through a thick stack of papers and deliberating over budget line items as they prepared to approve the FY20 budget. One of the main components of this discussion centered around the capital budget, where the town holds funds to be allocated to a multitude of diverse projects. The capital budget allocates money to fire department equipment, bridge repairs, library building, town improvements, wastewater management and more. To save money, select board members dropped the capital budget 11 percent, from $871,500 to $776,500. According to Jones, there are no big projects on the horizon for Warren, so the town can afford to reduce capital budget expenses to the benefit of taxpayers.
Initially, Warren had a large capital budget expense on the horizon: total reconstruction of the Warren covered bridge. However, this complete reconstruction would have cost nearly $900,000. Now, the town is planning to do a partial reconstruction of the bridge, which the select board members refer to as “the bridge rehabilitation project” that will be covered by a $300,000 federal grant.
EXPENSIVE AND NECESSARY
Despite employing a series of money-saving tactics, the select board is expecting a budget increase due to a couple of expensive and necessary items. One major addition to this year’s budget is the $100,000 cost of crushing 18,000 yards of gravel for roads.
“This will last us about five years,” said Jones. The select board is also adding a new position, a department of public works (DPW) position which is a managerial position that supervises the road crew and building projects. “It’s a clerk of the works,” said Jones, describing the DPW position. This position, if approved at Town Meeting, will add $35,000 to the budget and $70,000 in subsequent years. “The select board has seen the need for this position,” said Jones. “It’s evident that on-site management is needed. Personnel management will be one of the skills required in this position.”