Southwick budget talks continue

SOUTHWICK – The Board of Selectmen last night discussed the proposed fiscal year 2014 and spent some time trimming items, including capital expenditures over $25,000.
The nearly $9 million budget included numerous requests for equipment and vehicles in the capital budget. Selectwoman Tracy Cesan proceeded with caution during her first budget cutting session and said she was concerned that approving too many capital items would dwindle the budget for necessities.
“We always have the right to go back and restrict the budget,” said Chairman Arthur Pinell.
Among the items slashed – with the recommendation of the Southwick Finance Committee – included a microwave radio system requested by the fire department, as well as a department safety building heating control and an EMS defibrillator.
“It’s my understanding that this is for paramedic use and we’re not certified to use it yet,” said Pinell of the EMS request.
The board did approve a fire department request for turnout gear at $46,000. It also approved duct work at the library, which all three selectmen agreed was necessary to finally get the library in working order.
The Department of Public Works made several requests, including a new salt shed at its College Highway facility.
The request was deferred, with Selectman Russell Fox noting he knows “we have to do something.”
“We are hoping for some grant money, which is how we got the last shed,” said Fox.
A highway tractor request was also deferred at a cost of $185,000.
“I think it’s cheaper to maintain than buy a new one,” said Pinell.
The board did approve a large body truck to replace the current one, which is 18 years old, and funds to demolish the old DPW garage.
“The Capital Committee did an excellent job with their recommendations,” noted Fox.
Other items approved in the budget last night included new buoys and moorings at the lakes, a security camera at the lakes, and ADA compliant picnic tables and a horseshoe pit at the town beach.
Budget discussions will continue tonight at the Finance Committee meeting at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

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