Town scales back 2010 budget

Amherst selectmen recently scaled their proposed fiscal year 2010 budget back to the $9,729,570 default budget mandated by voters at Town Meeting in March.

In all, roughly $134,000 needed to be cut from the proposed $9.86 million budget, which voters rejected by a 1,350-936 vote in the March election. The majority of the cuts came from three areas, said town administrator Gary MacGuire: Reduced raises for town employees, the elimination of a proposed new police position, and putting off some DPW expenses, including road maintenance and repair projects.

Town employees, who would have gotten a 2½ percent cost of living raise had the proposed budget passed, will now get a 1 percent increase, MacGuire said, for a savings of roughly $48,000.

Another $40,000 in savings, MacGuire said, resulted from the decision to hold off on purchasing any new Department of Public Works equipment this year, as well as cutting back on hiring outside firms to do roadwork.

Eliminating the proposed police position saved about $32,000, which would have covered salary and benefits for the new officer for six months, starting on July 1, 2010.

That proposal got a new life, however, thanks to a proposed federal stimulus grant that became available shortly after the election. Residents will vote at a special Town Meeting-style election July 14 whether to accept the stimulus funds, assuming they come through. At the same special meeting, voters will be asked to accept a proposed grant of $425,000 to fund the next phase of ongoing improvements to the Baboosic Lake Community septic system.