Facing default budget, board cuts road work

Facing default budget, board cuts road work

MILFORD – Road paving and employee raises will bear much of the brunt of the town’s default budget cuts.

Election Day voters rejected the town’s operating budget, meaning there is $189,000 worth of spending that needs to be shaved.

At a special meeting Monday night, selectmen listened to department heads and talked about the potential cuts for an hour before deciding that $100,000 earmarked for road work will be cut by $83,000 and employees’ 3 percent raises will become 2 percent.

"There is pain in every one of these," board Chairman Mark Fougere said. He and other selectmen agreed roads are in bad shape and that deferring road maintenance will only push the expenses into the future. A proposal to refurbish, rather than replace, a police cruiser got a lot of pushback and was eventually abandoned.

Police Chief Michael Viola and Capt. Craig Frye said such a plan could ultimately cost more than it saved, because cruisers are subject to a lot of hard driving.

"We want performance, because we may need it when you want us to be there," Frye said. Selectmen’s Vice Chairman Gary Daniels was the only one in the room to argue for refurbishment. "We don’t know if it’s going to cost more," he said. "It depends on who drives it and how they drive. There doesn’t seem to be a willingness to do anything but spend $48,000" on a new vehi­cle, Daniels said.

Town Finance Direc­tor Jack Sheehy said it wasn’t a good idea to take a cruiser purchase out of the budget, so it remains as part of the default budget next year.

This was the second year in a row voters gave the town a default bud­get. Along with that, all three public works ar­ticles failed, including what officials say is a badly needed backhoe for the DPW.

Voters also rejected a $5.6 million bond for a new library building and money for preliminary architect fees for a fire station expansion.

The Milford School District’s budget and a bond for school improve­ments were voted down as well.

"We are being sent a message," said Fougere, who added if there is an­other town default bud­get next year, "We’ll be hitting bone."

To meet the default budget amount, there will also be some staff changes at the DPW, for a savings of $42,800.

A handful of smaller expenses, adding up to about $20,000 that in­clude reducing clinical education hours for the ambulance service and reducing mileage, sup­plies and training for the assessor, make up the balance of the $189,000.

At one point in the meeting, there was a move to authorize Town Administrator Mark Bender, who had made the list of items for con­sideration, to make the final decision on the cuts. It was voted down, and the board voted unani­mously on the final num­bers.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.