Harrison Selectmen switch meetings to Thursdays

By Gail Geraghty
Staff Writer

HARRISON — Selectmen have switched their meeting day from Tuesdays to Thursdays in hopes of offering live coverage to residents by Lake Region Television.

The change to the first and third Thursdays of each month also works better for Town Manager George “Bud” Finch, who said it will give him more time to gather and prepare all the paperwork he needs for meetings.

Some equipment details still need to be worked out, so the live coverage may not be ready by the board’s next meeting on May 5, when selectmen are expected to approve and sign the warrant for the Fiscal Year 2012 budget.

The total budget for Harrison is projected to be just over $6 million, a 4.9% increase. The budget committee has met around five times, and Finch said that the goal of holding the mil rate flat, at $9.75 per $1,000 of valuation, is “still within reach, barring any unexpected increases in education costs or decreases in state revenues.”

The town is bracing for as much as a $100,000 decrease in state revenue sharing, Finch said. “They (the state) want to use that to balance the state budget, but they’ve passed it on to us.”

The committee has done its best to compensate for a school budget assessment from SAD 17 that is up 7.7% over last year, from $3,173,563 to $3,419,151. “I can’t imagine asking for that kind of an increase,” Finch said.

When combined, education and county assessments account for 62% of the budget, leaving only 38% for all other local municipal services, “thus, the difficulty in holding the mil rate flat,” Finch said.

Funding from the capital and reserve account will be used to upgrade the computer system at the town office, replace both a 1993 and 1998 truck at Public Works and buy new self-contained breathing apparatus and cascade refilling bottles for the fire department. It will also pay for the new communications equipment for the fire department, emergency management and Public Works that is needed to meet new federal guidelines.

This year’s budget also includes a $32,000 increase in the roads account, to $300,000, which will pay for drainage, shoulder work and repaving of the entire 3½-mile length of Cape Monday Road. Work will also be done on Tolman Road and the far end of Summit Hill Road that got washed out in a recent rainstorm, Finch said. There will be culvert work done on Carlsley Road, as well.

Voters at the June 15 town meeting, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Harrison Elementary School, will see a budget that has been restructured to show the actual operating costs of each department. Finch said he plans to explain the new budget process by doing a show on Lake Region Television that will be aired beginning in mid-May.

“I’ve got an excellent budget committee this year. It’s a very diverse group of people,” he said. Selectmen have been working concurrently on the budget as the budget committee has been holding their meetings.

Finch said the budget contains around $15,000 more than last year in salaries for the town’s 14 employees, and that he hopes to have negotiations completed by town meeting with the new union that a majority of the employees voted to join. He said he is in the process of formulating job descriptions and a pay grade system. There are no changes in health insurance in the current budget.

Please follow and like us: