Budget cuts to impact town employees

Up until now, the Board of Selectmen have limited their budget cuts for the next fiscal year to capital projects like school repairs and Senior Center improvements. But with a shortfall of $400K(*), the cuts made this week will have a more direct impact on town employees.

“We’re at a point now where we have to start looking at personnel. There’s nothing else to cut,” Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf said. Phaneuf said she wasn’t talking about eliminating positions, but cutting hours.

The board took the first step on Tuesday by implementing a hiring freeze and restricting overtime to emergency situations. Travel and training budgets were cut in half, and the selectmen discussed the possibility of eliminating wage increases for fiscal year 2010.

Chairman Bill Boland said salary freezes, hiring freezes, and reduced hours all reflect what’s going on in the private sector, so it makes sense that the town should consider those options. As someone who works for a company that won’t be handing out raises this year, I have to agree.

Because many town jobs are union positions, a salary freeze presumably would need to be negotiated with the unions.

In addition to the reductions in operations budgets, the selectmen found more capital items to cut. I’ll detail those in a post tomorrow.

(*)You might remember last week I told you the town was dealing with a shortfall of $129K. This week it was up to $400K. Oh, how quickly things change. The increase came from local aid cuts totaling $100K along with a redistribution of water funding.

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