By Sue Ellen Woodcock
The Town Council approved and accepted a $49,146,338 operating and capital budget for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1 and includes the school department budget that will guarantee no teacher layoffs and maintaining current classroom sizes.
Robert Wynn, chairman of the Finance Commission, said the commission recommended the Town Manager’s budget. He explained that it includes $7,500 in the Inspectional Services Department for office supplies and a stipend for the public health nurse to be involved in inspections. The town ferry, still considered a new venture for the Town, is also being watched. It is dependent on subsidies and Town officials are seeking new ones. For FY17 the ferry ran at a deficit of $25,000.
“I recommend we operate the ferry but do an analysis whether to go forward or halt,” Wynn said.
Wynn added that some capital funds were put into the operating budget for the purchase of a police car and some Department of Public Works equipment.
Town Council President Russ Sanford, who called a meeting for the council and schools to meet, acknowledged the council received many letters and emails regarding the school budget, and he stressed there would be no layoffs and the class sizes will stay the same as last year. Line items in need of funding will be funded with free cash once it is certified in the fall.
“We’ve made a huge commitment to the schools,” said Councilor Nick DelVento.
One area that didn’t get funded was the town’s recovery coaches. The health department, under the Inspectional Services Department, sought $21,000 to make the current recovery coaches full-time town employees.
Instead $25,000 was allocated to study the idea, including looking in to liability and insurance issues. Currently, the two recovery coaches are paid $20 an hour for 35 hours a week with no benefits. They work in cooperation with CASA and the police department.
“I completely hear you,” said Town Manager James McKenna. “I’ve watched the program grow and it’s vitally important. We want to take measured steps and we are working with an attorney and the health department. Over the next two weeks we will determine a conclusion. We’ll determine if its a employee or a contract situation.”
In other council business:
• Sail Boston continues to make the news. Reminder, if you live in the Point or ocean area you must obtain a special sticker for your windshield. Motor vehicle use will be limited. This Sunday, June 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also, rain or shine the ships will be coming by. If it rains there ships will come in but there will be no Parade of Sails. Ships will just make their ways in the berthing area. The last ship is scheduled to be in its berth by 2 p.m. The Town Council approved $24,000 to be used on Sail Boston expenses, specifically police.