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Auburn selectmen eliminate $59k budget shortfall

AUBURN — The Auburn Board of Selectmen has found a way to fulfill $59,000 in unbudgeted financial obligations without cutting any positions or services.

According to Town Administrator Bill Herman, the expenses have been incurred since each department’s 2014 budget was established late last year.

“This was hopefully an aberration,” said Herman. “These things all seemed to hit at once, and we felt now was the best time best time to do this for everybody’s sake, as opposed to later in the year. Whether they’re gaining money or losing money in the budget ... doing this sooner than later truly gives (department heads) an idea what their budgets are so they can manage them accordingly.”

Among the items being financed, Herman said $14,700 is needed to pay for the independent investigation by attorney Craig L. Staples into the illegal dumping at the town’s closed landfill.

In addition, a third full-time police patrolman has been hired. Though the officer is replacing a sergeant who recently retired at a greater rate of pay, selectmen had to find $39,900 for 10 months of projected employment, said Herman.

The police commission has also entered into agreement to pay a stipend of $2,800 to the police department’s office manager upon her successful completion of the state’s part-time police academy.

Herman said concerns of mold at the public safety complex led to the town retaining a Concord firm at a cost of $1,920 to thoroughly check out the building.

Additional unanticipated costs, he said, include $890 for additional election ballots, $800 for a new water permit for the closed landfill, $1,300 for voter guides sent through the mail, and roughly $1,000 for dumpsters to hold solid waste such as tires and televisions at the transfer station.items

To account for those costs, selectmen moved $50,000 from the police department budget, which was allocated for the aforementioned retired sergeant, and another $3,460 in retirement benefits.

Other areas that had money reallocated include $1,537 from police details; $1,000 from the planning board legal account; $1,000 from general welfare assistance; $1,000 from parks and recreation; $750 from the Town Report line; and $500 from the building inspector legal account.

“These were not decisions selectmen made quickly or easily. In fact, they had three separate meetings to figure out the best line items to move budgeted money from,” said Herman.

“At the end of the day, all current employees and operations are still in place, and that was part of decision process.

“Frankly, the board could have made adjustments in other ways that may have resulted in a reduction of services or loss of jobs, but (selectmen) tried to take a balanced approach without impacting any planned operations,” he added.

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