West Tisbury lays plans for FY2008 spending
West Tisbury selectmen approved several lines on the proposed fiscal 2008 town budget on Dec. 20, but held off on the town hall budget pending the executive secretary's attempts to get telephone expenses reduced.
The requests are higher than in years past because of increases in insurance, electricity and even paper, Jennifer Rand, the selectmen's executive secretary, said in presenting the budgets.
"The budget is up percentage wise, but not much based on actual expenses," she said. "Other things just seem to be costing more, plus we're carrying a second building." Ms. Rand meant the town hall annex on Music Street.
Ms. Rand also said she was not sure she has enough in this year's town hall budget of $52,480, mostly because of "incredibly expensive cost of having phones, not because of long distance calls." She said she is trying to get a rebate from the telephone company for this year. She has proposed a town hall budget of $61,600 for next year.
The proposed selectmen's expenses are up 100 percent because of their request to add professional training for town employees at a cost of $1,600. The overall selectmen's budget of $12,200 is down 24.2 percent because selectman Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter defers his $5,000 salary.
Ms. Rand also proposed printing at least 25 more town reports, increasing that budget by $500, to $4,500. The proposed executive secretary's line is up 9.2 percent, based on increased salary and a step increase for a total of $75,296.
Both the public officials' and the town's liability insurance lines would increase 10 percent based on the proposals to $6,050 and $66,550, respectively.
The proposed street light budget is down 16.4 percent, the public restrooms would increase by 6.2 percent, while legal services and the town clock expenses would remain the same under Ms. Rand's proposed budgets.
In another budget matter, Jeremiah Brown, tree warden and insect control officer, asked the selectmen for an increase from $300 to $6,500 in the insect pest control budget for spraying trees for the expected continued infestation of caterpillars. "I'm sure there will be a lot," Mr. Brown said. "I see the moths now. I don't' even know if the $6,000 will cover it."
He said the allotment would be the bare minimum for the spraying, which he will start around May 15. The selectmen approved the increase.
Mr. Brown was asked to attend the meeting to report on his first year on the job, and the selectmen commended him for his efforts. He also asked for a stipend increase next fiscal year from $300 to $2,500 based on an estimated 100 hours on the job. His total proposed tree warden budget is $8,140, which includes expenses.
In another matter, Ms. Rand reported that the town may have to suspend videotaping meetings until she can resolve a problem with liability insurance for the videographers. The town requires all independent contractors to provide certificates of insurance, but insurance doesn't exist through MVTV. Ms. Rand said she learned of the absence of insurance from MVTV executive Steve Warner. If the contractors were added to the town's workers' compensation insurance, it would raise the cost to the town, she said.
"I don't think we can hire someone to videotape meetings until we work this out," she said. The finance committee and the space needs committee have asked to have their meetings taped in addition to the selectmen's meetings, and Ms. Rand expects requests from other committees.
Mr. Manter asked that Dukes County engineer Stephen Berlucchi attend this week's board meeting to answer questions about additional town assessments for the engineer's services. The selectmen have not received a response on the matter from the county board since they began asking in late October. John Early, the selectmen's chairman, said he also would call the county offices to ask for an explanation of the mechanism for the engineer's assessments.
The selectmen also approved a request by the paths by the road committee to seek Conservation Preservation Act funding for a new path along Old County Road pending town meeting approval.