Budget Season in Full Swing for Sandown Selectmen

SANDOWN- The board of selectmen has been making quick work of numerous small budget proposals this budget season, and their meeting on Sept. 9 was no different.
Most of the budgets that came up Monday were quickly approved, though the conservation commission’s numbers did see some scrutiny, largely by selectman Brenda Copp.

While most of the numbers in the commission’s proposal stayed level, there were increases to the lines for recording secretary and environmental consultant.
Conservation commission chair Paul Carey explained that the recording secretary line sees increases because the individual handling meeting minutes has also taken on the responsibility for administrative duties. Those were duties that were once handled by volunteers, but volunteers no longer have the time, explained Carey.
The environmental consultant line was more closely looked at.
That line as requested showed a $750 increase, and both Copp and selectman Hans Nicolaisen raised flags on the number.
Carey explained that the figure –presented at $3750- used to be over $6,000 in previous years but the commission had been doing its due diligence to bring that cost down.
The current year’s figure for that line totals $3,000.
Carey explained that much of the reason for the number is that the town is providing a service to taxpayers. Instead of forcing homeowners to hire an engineer when they’re undertaking a small project, the commission sends its consultant out to direct the homeowners on how to stay on the right side of the many rules and regulations that govern land use.
Carey added that the extra $750 in the requested sum was to cover an upward trend in the frequency of the commission’s use of that service over the last couple of years.
Though Carey pointed to the last two year’s numbers and explained that there was an upward trend, Copp did not see the same trend.
Copp motioned to reduce the sum to the current year’s $3,000. Carey suggested that it made more sense to raise the figure slightly given actual expenses over the last couple of years.
Copp stated repeatedly that Carey was anticipating additional costs which the numbers didn’t back up.
Carey pointed to how the costs went from under $3000 last year, to $3,000 this year and this suspected that they would climb a little further next year.
Nicolaisen remarked that he understood Carey’s impulse, especially as building is starting to pick up in town.
Eventually Copp’s motion failed and Nicolaisen made a motion to split the difference between level funding and the commission’s request.
Eventually the board agreed to $3,375. All but selectman Jim Devine voted for the compromise.
The commission’s budget was approved at a gross expense of $8,740 and revenue of $240.
Budget proposals also reviewed Monday included the planning board, cemetery trustees, septic, health officer, electrical inspector, treasurer and plumbing accounts.
All sums were sent to the budget committee for further review.

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