PEPPERELL -- The Board of Public Works endorsed their support for the budgets that will be submitted to the Town Meeting for the water, sewer, and highway divisions. The budgets were presented to the Finance Committee during the previous week.
Although the sewer budget was endorsed, the board questioned whether there were deferred maintenance projects that contributed to the numbers.
"They went through it and they had no issues with it. It's about a half percent lower than what was approved in 2013," said Water and Sewer Superintendent Laurie Stevens, filling in for DPW Director Kenneth Kalinowski.
"We think we have a tight enough budget. We have identified projects that have been postponed that we're going to start catching up on. And we've identified revenue sources to match those," said Commissioner Greg Rice.
The Water Division is expecting to pull $140,000 out of retained earnings to afford some rate relief next year. The budget is expected to run less than one percent higher than this year.
"It would be nice to be doing this during the third week of June ready to start the next week in the new year and knowing what's happened," said Rice, who noted that revenue projections for the second half of the year are never available at the time of budgeting.
Stevens, following up on previous actions, noted that 13 final readout bills totaling $504 that had never been collected would be written off to close the books on those accounts. Some dated back to 2002. Stevens noted that another 25 accounts totaling $5,500 were being actively pursued for payment.
"We have a new procedure and what that procedure is if you want to do a final, the realtor has to fill out a form," said Stevens.
"We also want to close out some of the old stuff and collect some of the old monies as much as we can," she said.
Stevens also advised the board that indirect costs had been re-evaluated for treasurer, accounting, audit, and so forth.
"We did an analysis for the sewer division, for the water division, and for the transfer station," she said.
In fiscal 2013 the costs were $34,881, $33,309, and $0 respectively. Next year those costs will increase to $42,154 for sewer, $39,979 for water, and $4,665 for transfer.
"This is the first time there has been a thoughtful process," said Commissioner Paul Brinkman.
"And it's also being made clear what that process is," said Rice.
Highway churned through their $180,000 snow removal budget this season with several heavy snowfalls.
"Due to the number of snowstorms this year, some being very large, they have already spent $187,000," said Stevens.
She noted that the $187,000 spent through the last 14-inch storm did not include the extra labor costs and bills in transit. With the need to replenish sand and salt stores, the expectation is that highway will be at $250,000 for the year or about $75,000 over budget.
"Peter (Shattuck) met with the town accountant today, and they're both on the same page as to where they stand with winter operations," said Stevens.
The transfer station has sold more than 730 stickers with an April 1 deadline looming when the new stickers go into effect. That represents about half of the customer base.