Voters asked how to display building costs

Thursday December 20, 2012

DOVER -- The Selectboard took some time out at Tuesday's meeting to ask voters how they'd like to see the costs of running town buildings represented on the town report.

"We could make it easier to look at," one member of the public told the board.

The board wanted public opinion to see if voters would like to keep building costs represented by each department on the town report or if they'd like to see all the building costs in one section of the budget like it had been in the past.

"It should be department by department," said Dover Economic Development Specialist Ken Black from his seat with the public.

The Dover Free Library and Kids in the Country Child Care operate out of what is referred to as the Brick Building at 22 Holland Road in East Dover.

The town gives the two entities that use the building an appropriation in the budget. Selectboard member Randall Terk wanted to see if voters would like to be shown the true costs of running the building by separating it from the costs of the Town Hall and Town Office.

Because the town pays for its building maintenance, heating fuel and electricity, it has previously been displayed in the same section with the town hall and office.

Taking time to make the budget more fine-combed would be an additional cost that voters and the board discussed.

Most voters agreed to wanting to see the cost of each building, but were skeptical on how much more work, particularly maintenance, needed to be recorded and submitted for the town report.

"I thought you want to show the cost of each department," said Adam Levine, an owner of the Valley View Saloon. "How far are you going to go to show the true cost for everything?"

He went on to describe work being done for the town such as plowing and asked how the board planned to record then report each and every employee that works hourly for the town.

Selectboard members Randy Terk and Tom Baltrus expressed that it was important see how much building costs, such as heating and electricity, cost the town.

Portraying the expenses in the town report could help manage future budgets and spending.

The talk centered mostly on making the budget show individual costs for each building. It is difficult to tell the costs for each building and each department when it is all combined in one lump sum.

To see the town's spending in the most clear way was the goal for the board and the public.

It was discussed that the numbers could be presented to voters department by department or building by building. It was also mentioned that there could be a footnote at the bottom of the town report containing additional information.

Some thought that getting the square-footage of each building then looking at the price of maintenance to get a very accurate depiction of the cost could be an option for the town. Others thought that this would be a lot of extra work for maintenance workers as well as the town.

"We're not a corporation," said Selectboard member Buzzy Buswell. "We're a municipal government."

"We are a business," replied Terk.

He went on to explain how important it is to present facts in a manner that people can understand.

Nona Monis, town administrator, told the Reformer on Wednesday that she had sub-categorized the budget so costs for running the Town Office and Town Hall, as well as the Brick Building could be looked at individually. On previous town reports, all three costs were rolled into one lump sum on the town report.

Nothing was decided by the Selectboard about preferences for showing the costs of the town buildings on the town report.

At the next regular meeting on Jan. 8, the budget will be discussed further as well as other funds.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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