The hard work of trying to give the town’s departments all the items on their ‘wish lists’ and coming in at a figure that voters will accept has begun. The Capital Planning Committee, chaired by Chuck McCullough, meets between February and May each year to craft financial requests in excess of $10,000 that will be part of the town meeting warrant. These expenses are then prioritized by the Capital Planning Committee and sent to the Finance Committee for their review. Once the Finance Committee has determined if the request is viable, the voters will then either approve or deny the requested sum during May’s town meeting.
Working from a spreadsheet that spans 2014 through 2023, the committee members met with Police Chief Mary Lyons and Highway Surveyor Barry Denham on February 26. Chief Lyons discussed the need for two new cruisers and a new ambulance. She noted that the trauma unit to which her department transports victims is located in Rhode Island. The plan asks for $32,500 for each cruiser and $200,000 for an ambulance.
Next up was Highway Surveyor Barry Denham. He told the committee that his department has completed a number of road sign upgrades that are part of his five-year plan. Due to Federal regulations, the town is required to replace all street signs before 2018. He said that of the 782 signs in question 374 have been replaced, concentrating on roads that have speed limits greater than 25 miles per hour. The importance of moving the remaining costs associated with this project from departmental budget to capital expenditures was suggested by Town Administrator Mike Gagne, who felt that the new signage was critical for public safety. He said that many roads in town are in very discrete locations, making it difficult to locate streets and intersections if the street sign is of poor quality. This project needs $22,500 for completion. The committee agreed that it should be included in capital planning as a lump sum.
Denham went on to discuss repairs to the town barn and shed structures and what remains to be done. The plan has $40,000 plugged in for 2015. Roads and drains will continue to be funded at $400,000 – a figure that has remained static since 2014 and that is proposed to remain static into the foreseeable future. Although not part of the 2015 capital plan, Denham once again advocated for a three- to five-ton roller and a road grader. He said that his department oversees the maintenance of four miles of town roads and eight miles of private gravel roads.
Gagne told the committee that he is looking for some funding through the Community Preservation Committee for the bath house at town beach that needs repairs and retrofitting for limited mobility access, as well as repairs to town wharves.
When the committee meets again on March 12, they are scheduled to review requests from the Fire, Water/Sewer, and Recreation Departments.
By Marilou Newell