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Wakefield city council workshop addresses new budget

 

May 2, 2018

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

ADDRESSING issues of Wakefield's next fiscal year budget at a Monday workshop are, from left, city council members Kay Wiita and Pat Mann.

By P.J. GLISSON

news@yourdailyglobe.com

Wakefield - A Monday workshop by the Wakefield city council addressed preliminary concerns regarding the city's 2018-19 fiscal year budget, which will kick in on July 1.

"This is just the opener right now," said mayor John Granato at the start of the session, which included no voting.

Council members welcomed the city's major department heads to share their concerns for the new year.

They included public works foreman Mike Sibley, electric department lead man Dave Semenak and volunteer fire chief Mike Yon. Treasurer Sherri Ravelli also was available for questioning.

"I did my homework," said council member Pat Mann, who said she'd spent several hours going over budget numbers with Ravelli.

Semanak, who also works as a lineman in the city's electric department, said his plans include adding a couple hydrants and extending some electric lines.

He said he will submit firmer budget numbers after considering his department's needs in more detail.

Yon's biggest proposal was an addition of about 24 feet either to the south or west of the fire department on the upper side of Sunday Lake Street.

He said the extra space is needed in part for one new garage with a higher door. "The rest would be storage," he said.

Yon also proposed increasing his department's training funds from $1,000 to $3,000 per year for the next couple years, so as to accommodate quality instruction for his firefighters.

He said he will try to split his overall maintenance needs over the next several years, so that no single year is overloaded with expense.

Speaking for public works, Sibley said he needs a new loader, as his existing one would require $20,000 just to address existing repair needs.

"That's our main piece of equipment. That machine runs all year," he said of the machine used to dig sand, aid snow removal and pack salt into the salt shed.

"It's a money pit," said Mann of the existing loader. "I totally trust your judgment. We can afford the (new) loader."

She and city manager Richard Brackney said the city's equipment committee will make a related recommendation to the council.

Sibley also noted that Eddy Park's shower building in the campground needs significant work and suggested that an epoxy coating on the interior might be a good alternative to "repeated painting" and the "constant maintenance" it requires.

Council members also discussed the possibility of using large tile instead of epoxy, but conceded the latter likely would need less follow-up care. Granato concluded that "fresh bids" should be secured for any possible work.

Brackney said $20,000 is already in the budget to address the building's needs.

In addition, Sibley mentioned several thousand dollars of sidewalk needs, and Brackney said those priorities will be considered as the snow melts.

Regarding sewer needs, Brackney said a sewer camera is needed. Within the next couple months, he said the city will use smoke testing to see where water is entering the lines.

"If we can reduce that infiltration, it will help everything significantly," he said.

All council members agreed that the modern trend toward cremation results in a revenue loss from the city's cemetery.

As a result, Mann agreed with Brackney that cemetery expenses probably should be moved to the city's general fund.

Mann commended Sibley for city workers' maintenance of the cemetery. "It's beautiful," she said of what Sibley described as "a very labor-intensive job."

Brackney concluded that council members also will need to consider how higher pension and retiree health care costs will factor into the budget.

He told the Globe he expects another budget workshop, perhaps later in May, so as to address firmer proposed expenses, as well as input regarding Wakefield Public Library needs.

 
 

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