Winter means budget season, and the Morristown Select Board took the first steps in crafting its next budget on Monday.
It fielded budget proposals from the town’s three emergency service departments – ambulance, fire and police.
All three draft budgets came in just above or below current spending. The proposed budget for Morristown Emergency Medical Services is $626,931, for Morristown Fire Department $373,706 and for the Morristown Police Department $1,358,726.
“These budgets are relatively flat,” Town Administrator Dan Lindley said. “There are no big-ticket items, no new vehicles; there’s not a lot of change in these budgets.”
Here’s a look at those working budget drafts:
• Morristown Emergency Medical Services
The budget proposal presented by Chief Bill Mapes totals $626,931, up from the current $603,158 But Mapes expects department revenues to increase from $197,000 to $227,500, so taxes needed to support the budget would actually decrease, from $406,158 too $399,431.
Mapes hopes to buy a new piston-driven compression device for just over $14,000, which would help boost the line item for new equipment from $1,000 to $16,252.
Money to cover shifts handled by the department’s part-timers — soon to be five people — is up roughly $18,000, and there’s an extra $7,000 in the building maintenance fund to replace 11 windows at the station.
But the vehicle maintenance line item has dropped $19,000 because the department has bought two new ambulances in the past few years.
• Morristown Fire Department
The draft budget proposed by Chief Denny DiGregorio is $6,375 lower than the current operating budget — down from $380,081 to a proposed $373,706.
There are minor increases for truck and equipment maintenance, up to $140,250 from $134,081, and for building maintenance, up to $47,215 from $44,391. And, the department is budgeting an extra $5,000 to cover the cost of having firefighters get a physical every other year to ensure they’re healthy and able to perform the duties they’re asked to.
One line item with a major decrease is personnel, which includes stipends paid to volunteers and part-timers; it’s down nearly $20,000, to $83,500.
• Morristown Police Department
Chief Keith’s draft budget proposal is $1,358,736, about $40,000 higher than the current of $1,318,669. Combined with a $2,000 dip in projected revenues to $16,000, the department would need $1,342,726 in tax support, up from $1,300,669.
That’s a 3.2 percent increase – “It’s a cost of living increase, basically,” Keith said. The department’s communications budget, which includes dispatch, is increasing roughly $4,500 in large part because of higher maintenance costs, and the personnel line item is up $29,500 to cover scheduled pay and benefit increases for officers.
The department doesn’t need a new vehicle yet, Keith said, but the oldest Chevy Tahoe is approaching 100,000 miles, and will age out soon.
Other board business
Here’s a recap of other business the select board handled Monday night.
• The board accepted Belanger Lane, just off Route 100, as a town highway effective immediately. Residents of the road made several improvements to it during the summer and fall to get it up to town standards, and the town agreed to take it over.
The board will schedule a site visit to Gallery Lane, a road off the Route 100 bypass. The road is home to several large businesses, and when the bypass opened in 2014 the plan was for the town to take over Gallery Lane and nearby Old Creamery Road. A section of Old Creamery Road has already been accepted, Lindley said, and now the board will make sure Gallery Lane is up to town standards before accepting it as well.
• The board approved the bid of Williston-based ECI Construction to repair and repave a section of Stagecoach Road damaged in the storm on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. The company bid $8,330 to rebuild a section of the paved road and resurface it this fall and winter. The same spot will likely need to be resurfaced in the spring, Lindley said.
“It’s only a temporary patch, the weather is not conducive to paving but something needs to be done,” Lindley said. The only other contractor to submit a proposal for the work, J. Hutchins Inc., bid $17,250 for the work.
• Lindley presented a draft policy laying out when and how the town reimburses employees who travel long distances and stay overnight for training or other work-related activities.
“We just want one consistent policy,” Lindley said. The board offered suggestions on the policy, and Lindley plans to offer a revised draft for approval later in the year.