By DIANE R. CHODAN
OBSERVER Staff Writer
ARKWRIGHT - On Monday, Arkwright held its budget hearing. Three members of the public attended.
OBSERVER Photo by Diane R. Chodan
From left to right: Councilman James Shaffer, Supervisor Frederic Norton, Councilman Larry Ball, Councilman Dennis Stephens and Town Clerk TammieAnn Wichlacz. Arkwright held its budget hearing recently.
Ever the teacher, Supervisor Frederic Norton called the meeting to order and explained, "The budget hearing has to be held prior to the Thursday after election. So here we are, and I will explain some of the budget items."
Printed copies of the 2013 proposed Arkwright budget were available. Norton explained each item that had a variance, negative or positive, from last year.
Liability insurance, personnel costs, social security and the workers' compensation are projected to increase. This is the first year that workers' compensation is part of the town budgets.
The town settled a contract with town workers who are represented by the teamsters. These workers received a 2 percent increase. The town also gave Steve Mead, the highway superintendent, a 2 percent raise.
Norton said, "It's been four or five years since he got a raise. We tried to keep him ahead of the troops."
Items that decreased included costs associated with the state retirement system and a decrease in cost for medical insurance. Norton said the state advised him of the reduction in the retirement system. The decrease for medical insurance occurred because Mead opted out of coverage. He will receive half of the cost the town paid while the town saves the other half of the money.
Mead spoke against the budget. Mead has been trying to hire a per diem seasonal worker for snowplowing. He expressed the difficulty of finding someone who will do this at the rate ($13 per hour). He has an unfilled full time item in his department.
"I just want to clearly state that this (not filling the full time item) is putting the town at a big risk," he said.
Norton answered that he understood Mead's position.
Coming in the future is a discussion of how Arkwright is going to handle the fire coverage. The town, which does not have its own department, now has contracts with Forestville and Cassadaga to provide services to the town. Cassadaga is the primary responder in some sections of the town and Forestville is the primary responder in other sections. The area of Center Road to Pomfret has been problematic in the past. Sheridan Fire Department could provide a quicker response to the area, and Norton has explored the cost of this with Sheridan and will present more information to the board in the future.
The town will next meet on Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. At that time, the budget will be up for vote.
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