WILMINGTON -- Without a full economic recovery, towns across the state are looking to cut budgets.
And Wilmington is no different.
On Dec. 3, the proposed line item for zoning and administration came under scrutiny.
"I think that should be reduced, personally," said Selectboard Chairwoman Meg Streeter.
The proposed budgeted amount for the line item was $40,940. It contained a 3 percent increase from fiscal year 2014.
Other line items for town official salaries contain a 3 percent increase, too. The amount of zoning work that will need to be done in the future was discussed.
The board asked for Town Manager Scott Murphy to discuss any additional input he had on the matter. He had previously given a recommendation that the zoning administrator position be kept as full time.
Murphy also called for the position to be reviewed again during 2014.
"We had some management concerns," he said. "But the rest of the job itself, we saw an increase in the level of permits."
Any decrease in zoning activity was debatable, Murphy added. But "a higher level of enforcement" was needed in the past year and the health officer position was added to zoning administrator duties.
Selectboard member Jake White thought it was safest to keep the amount as it was written in the proposed budget.
"It can go in any which direction," he concluded.
Streeter believed it was a worthwhile discussion to continue to have. She cited the struggling economy and also mentioned the possibility of increasing the hours of the economic development consultant. Currently, the consultant position is not a full time one, but only 60 percent.
"It would make more sense in my mind to devote more resources to that than zoning enforcement," said Streeter. "But that's just my perspective."
She was concerned about the workload of the position. Being a real estate agent herself, Streeter had seen recent trends and changes that caused her to bring up the issue.
There hadn't been as many new buildings going up, which require going through the local permitting process, and the septic issues that municipalities once handled are now done by the state.
"It's not the first year we had this trend," said Cliff Duncan, a member of the citizen review group that sits in on budget discussions. "We don't have the turnover of property that we had going on in the '90s when full-time positions for listers and zoning administrator (were established.)"
He urged the Selectboard to give Murphy clear directions for future reports that justify keeping the position full time.
"I just brought it up as something to think about," said Streeter. "I think Scott (Murphy) is going to be monitoring it in terms of work load. After (Tropical Storm) Irene, the zoning administrator did a whole lot of work that was not ever part of anybody's job description."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.