Oak Bluffs selectmen and the town finance and advisory committee (FINCOM) met on Tuesday to deliberate year-end transfers to cover department shortfalls for the 2014 fiscal year (FY14). The combined boards unanimously approved $99,868 in transfers, which will be paid from the town general fund, the town reserve fund and by inter-department transfers.
The police department ($14,342), building inspector ($23,624), and highway department ($44,755) carried the largest shortfalls. The police department deficit is due largely to military leave and sick leave and should be substantially reduced in FY15 with the recent hiring of a new full-time officer, according to town officials. The building inspector shortfall reflects a change in budgeting procedures, not a loss in revenue.
The highway department overages were due to snow removal costs from the unusually stormy winter.
“These are routine, year-end cleanup items,” town administrator Robert Whritenour said in an email to The Times. “We’re very pleased that the amounts are far smaller than in previous years, although budgets remain very tight. This shows good stewardship of funds by department heads.”
In other business, the selectmen voted unanimously to hire West Tisbury building inspector Ernest Mendenhall on a part-time basis until a new full-time inspector is hired to replace retiring Oak Bluffs inspector James Dunn. Mr. Whritenour said the search for a new inspector, which began in June, has yielded few qualified candidates and that he has asked state officials to assist with the search.
Mr. Whritenour said the move to the Island has deterred several qualified off-Island candidates. “If anyone out there is a certified building inspector or knows a certified inspector, we have full-time or part-time work available,” Mr. Whritenour said to the MVTV camera. To the agreement of the board, selectman Michael Santoro suggested that the town consider increasing the building inspector’s salary, currently around $68,000, to attract highly qualified candidates.