TOWNSEND -- Under a proposed bylaw, the Police Department might soon be fingerprinting and doing background checks on people applying for licenses to sell door-to-door or to sell used goods.
The article, based on Massachusetts General Law, is intended to affect hawkers and peddlers from out of town, Police Chief Erving Marshall said during the Finance Committee meeting on April 4. Fingerprinting will allow the department to check the criminal backgrounds of salespeople who go into homes.
The bylaw also affects existing business. Stores, such as antiques stores, could be grandfathered in, Marshall said. "I'm just talking about the ones that come into town."
"I was trying to decide if this was a money article," committee member Andrea Wood said. The Finance Committee normally takes a stand on articles that affect revenue.
"There are fees to it," Marshall said. The article is on the warrant for the May 5 Town Meeting.
Salary and wages will increase in the department in fiscal 2014. Marshall's contract increased from $99,619 to $101,406. David Profit's position as lieutenant was reclassified to deputy chief effective July 1. The salary increased from $75,000 to $78,000.
"I was quoted as saying at last Town Meeting that I didn't support (the deputy chief) position. That's not true. I didn't disagree, but I didn't agree. I would defer any questions on how that came to be to the selectmen. I'm not saying David doesn't deserve it," Marshall said.
Union negotiations have not been completed. Marshall and Town Administrator Andy Sheehan did not know when they would be done.
The Police Department operating budget showed little increase. Committee member Colin McNabb gathered questions from the committee and spoke with Marshall about the questions before the meeting.
Communication expenses rose from 2,960 to $6,000 because the department needs to pay for mobile data terminals in the vehicles. Previously, the cost had been covered by a grant, Marshall said.
Office supplies increase from $500 to $1,000 because postage and fire extinguishers are needed. Dues and memberships increased $4,100. This is offset by a reduction of $4,500 in the training line item.
The department will also trade in two old cruisers and purchase two new cars. The amount budgeted is $60,000 for fiscal 2014. In 2013, $52,500 was budgeted for the two cruisers purchased each year.
Two parts of the Highway Department budgets were addressed: the fuel refilling system and the snow and ice removal.
Highway Superintendent Ed Kukkula would prefer that municipal departments consolidate vehicle fuel usage because of the administrative overhead, committee member Gini King said. Kukkula did not attend the meeting.
"When someone runs low on gas, he has to call the Fire Department, the Police Department and say you're down so much. It would be easier for his job to have it all in one," King said.
"We discussed this three years ago," committee member Carolyn Smart said. The police chief was not in favor of consolidating because only so many gallons are given to each officer. Marshall was no longer at the meeting when the topic came up.
An alternative to dispensing fuel at the Highway Department would be to purchase from a town gas station, but none in town had the needed generators. It would take a station between 20 and 30 years to recoup the cost of such a generator, Sheehan said.
The municipal fuel goes out to bid and the town gets a good price, Sheehan said. As with all fuel, the cost fluctuates.
The snow and ice budget under the Highway Department is scheduled to be increased by $25,000, raising it to $150,000. The amount spent each year usually exceeds the budgeted amount and the account goes into deficit spending.
"We underfund snow and ice," Sheehan said, "It is very nebulous. If we could predict it, we could budget it."
The item is notoriously underfunded but it should not be over funded, he said. The budgeted amount should be "somewhere around $200,000. I think that would be a fair place to be," the town administrator said.