China Budget Committee makes final budget recommendations

by Mary Grow

China Budget Committee members and selectmen have made their final recommendations on the warrant for the April 4 town business meeting, agreeing to disagree on two of the 28 articles.

Pay for three town employees was a major discussion topic at several meetings of each board. Town Manager Dennis Heath recommended making Town Clerk Becky Hapgood and Transfer Station Manager Tim Grotton salaried managers rather then hourly employees, with upward pay adjustments.

He also recommended a substantial raise for Public Works Manager Shawn Reed in recognition of his managerial responsibilities. Because Reed incurs so much necessary overtime driving a plow truck, Heath did not recommend putting him on salary.

After discussion of appropriate pay, considering responsibilities and length of service with the town, the two boards agreed on compensation for Hapgood, which is included in the administration budget, and for Reed, in the public works budget.

They disagreed on how much Grotton should earn. Heath said at the Feb. 18 selectmen’s meeting the budget committee recommended a 10 percent increase in total earnings (including benefits) and the selectmen a 6 percent increase. The result is a difference of a little over $2,000 in recommendations on the transfer station budget.

The other question on which the two boards do not agree is Heath’s proposal to hire a full-time town policeman, whose work would supplement the current part-time coverage at an additional cost of more than $113,000. Selectmen recommend the new position on a 2-1 vote; the budget committee recommends against it on a vote of 1 in favor and 5 against.

Most budget committee recommendations were unanimous, with more abstentions to avoid conflict of interest than dissents. The town meeting warrant records votes on each article, so voters will have a chance to ask who disagreed or abstained and why.

China’s 2020 town business meeting opens at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 4, at China Middle School on Lakeview Drive.


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