Milford’s proposed budget focuses on repairs in 2014

MILFORD – Voters in Milford will decide on a slew of improvement projects as the town gears up its budget process.

Selectmen were presented with the first draft of the town warrant during a budget and bond hearing.

The proposed 2014 town operating budget is $13,151,231, which is a 5.7 percent increase, or $703,674, compared with the 2013 budget.

The default budget has been calculated at $12,848,633.

Much of the conversation at the hearing centered around the many repairs needed in town.

These include a proposed $330,000 to fund renovations to the 500,000-gallon water storage tank on Dram Cup Hill.

David Boucher, director of the Water Utilities Department, said evidence of crumbling and water leakage was found during an inspection of the concrete tank last year.

The repair work would fix the interior roof flaws and reline the interior surface with a durable poly lining.

Boucher said the town received approval for a 10-year loan with a low interest rate, and he would like to see the work done while rates are low.

His department’s proposed budget also includes repairs to the ultraviolet disinfection process, merit increases and paving at the Water Utilities Department.

The town is looking to establish a capital reserve fund, starting at $125,000, to raise money for highway, road and bridge repair and replacement. Many in attendance expressed concern for the condition of roads in town, saying they should be also be a high priority.

Milford DPW Director Rick Riendeau said there is about $300,000 in the budget for road improvement, which is the same as last year.

He said the roads in town are “falling apart” and need to be addressed.

Funding for work on the South Street railroad crossing has already been approved by voters, but must pass this year to move forward.

The proposed repairs, which will have no tax impact this time around, include drainage, road, sidewalk and curbing.

Selectmen have also proposed raising $183,000 for the Osgood Pond Capital Reserve Fund, which, when combined with the $67,000 already raised, would fund the first phase of dredging the water body.

The board has also put forth a warrant to raise $73,551 to build a new office trailer for the transfer station’s scale house, lunchroom, locker area, changing area and storage. This would replace the current structure, which is in disrepair.

In the proposed operating budget, the increase is largely because of the 8.3 percent increase, or $199,000, in employee benefits and insurance.

There is also a 27.9 increase, or $198,000, in debt service costs, which was approved by voters last year.

The town’s property and liability insurance costs have increased because of recent accidents involving town vehicles.

The operating budget includes partial funding of a school resource officer, human resources director and additional handicapped parking for Wadleigh Memorial Library.

A petition article is requesting $10,000 from voters to fund the bands, musicians and other expenses for the annual Labor Day parade.

This is in addition to $8,000 for police presence and other expenses incurred from all three parades that occur in town during the year.

Representatives from the local VFW post said donations for the parade have declined and that it may not be held this year without the $10,000 in additional funds.

The town deliberative session will take place in the Town Hall auditorium at 9 a.m. Feb. 1.