Mendon Departments May Have to Cut Budgets by 12.5%
By Michelle Sanford Staff Reporter/Columnist · April 04, 2011
Based on the latest figures, unless a $966,789 override passes in Mendon, town department heads may be forced to cut as much as 12.5 percent out of their budgets to help close a $428,723 municipal budget gap. The remaining $538,066 of the override monies must go toward the regional schools' budget shortfall.
"It's going to devastate the town if we have to make these cuts," said Town Clerk Margaret Bonderenko.
During a March 22 meeting, the Board of Selectmen requested all department heads review their budgets and recommend which line items could be reduced or cut altogether.
For the Police Department, a 12.5 percent budget decrease means cutting $140,467 out of its $1,118,100. Should the cuts go forward, that could mean losing up to three police officers. The Fire Department's 12.5 percent cut means decreasing its $676,741 budget by $85,019,which may result in the call fire department being cut altogether and reducing ambulance services.
Highway Surveyor Alan Tetreault may have to cut $57,929 out of his $461,111 budget. As a result, $32,000 would come out of his road maintenance budget. "The good roads will become not so good and the bad roads will become really bad," he said. Other cuts recommended included details, building maintenance, hired equipment, and signs.
Tetreault said for the last 12 years, he has been forced to cut his budget making things difficult as costs continue to rise and towns are forced to fund state mandated programs such as storm water regulations. Tetreault hopes his budget cuts do not include personnel. The Highway Department currently has four on staff. "It's almost impossible to maintain 60 miles of road between four people," he said.
The General Government's $790,486 budget would be reduced by $99,300; half that amount would likely impact salaries.
A 12.5 percent cut to the Taft Public Library's budget will decrease its $167,980 budget by $21,103. "It will devastate our programming," said Library Director Carrie Grimshaw. As a result, the very popular children's summer reading program will have to be eliminated. "We might be able to have the free stuff but the performers, such as the magicians and singers, will be gone," said Grimshaw. Last year, 380 children signed up for the summer program. Grimshaw will also be forced to reduce library hours. If the town cuts are not divided proportionately among each department, it will also affect the library's certification.
Parks Commissioner Joe Flaherty's $88,567 budget would be cut $11,127 resulting in less maintenance to the town's baseball and soccer fields as well as the town's cemeteries and the islands that contain the war monuments.
The Senior Center's cuts mean reducing its $66,387 budget by $8,340. According to Director Amy Wilson Kent, the senior van driver's hours would be reduced adding up to three weeks of hours lost annually or 120 rides for seniors in town. Wilson Kent's hours would also be reduced and the Tri-Valley Elder Service Program, which assists seniors with at-home care, would be completely eliminated.
Because the budget has not been finalized, all cuts are tentative. Ultimately, it will be the Board of Selectmen's decision as to how much and what specifically will be cut from town services should the override fail.