HARVARD -- Citing an increased workload, town officials are asking for an assistant town administrator position that could end up on the Town Meeting ballot.

Town Administrator Tim Bragan reasoned with the Finance Committee Jan. 29, saying that his position has accrued a lot more work over 20 years.

"What we used to call down time is gone," Bragan said.

The new position would be mainly focused on human resources, allowing Bragan and Finance Director Lorraine Leonard to finish other work more quickly.

Selectmen generally agree with the recommendation, said Selectman Leo Blair.

"I'm always astonished by the workload that goes through these two people -- it's truly daunting," Blair said. "He (Bragan) never says this, but sometimes he'll have 200 emails in a day, all of which expect some response."

The position, estimated at $51,500, could be a separate warrant article for residents to vote on at Town Meeting.

Selectmen also recommended $40,000 for digitizing paper documents, a request that would also go on the ballot as a separate warrant article.

Other warrant items include maintenance work on a town water and fuel tank at $10,000 each, although the public works director is surveying the cost.

"The water tank, specifically, we'll end up paying a lot more money soon if we don't take care of it," said member Alan Frazer.

Associate member Bruce Nickerson said he understood the cost of the water tank, given its state, but was surprised at the cost for the fuel tank.

"I'm puzzled as to why that would cost $10,000," he said.

The committee also reviewed budget predictions from the Community Access Television Committee, which might seek outside funding by charging for studio time.

"This is new territory for us," said CATC Chairman Bill Johnson. "As a town, we've never had an asset that was attractive for people to use. This is actually a pretty nice place and there's a potential for perhaps charging for studio time."

The cost of maintaining equipment at the Harvard cable TV studio is expected to double from $4,000 to $8,000 because the equipment is old. Johnson said the committee is hoping to get new equipment through donations and grants.

"Now that we have something we can show off, we want to go up and talk with New England Studios and see if we can work a relationship that's mutually beneficial," he said. "Maybe out of that we can get some throwaways."

The town will have to work out a renewed cable contract with the town's provider, Charter, by January 2015.

But Johnson warned that negotiations will be tough, primarily because Charter is the only provider in a town that does not have a growing customer base.

"One of the things we're planning to do is actually get help from a professional negotiator," he said. "These are the people that know what the leverage points are in a negotiation."

The Finance Committee has until Feb. 26 to submit its full budget report before these questions go to vote at the annual Town Meeting in April.

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