NAUGATUCK — The Board of Finance agreed Monday night to move ahead with a $4.61 million public works budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
The budget proposal is an increase of $20,545 or 0.44 percent over the current budget.
The largest increase in the spending plan comes under snow removal. The budget for contractors to remove snow is increasing $70,000 to $160,000.
Public Works Director James Stewart said the borough had to raise its rates to be closer to state rates in order to ensure it’s able to find plow drivers who would come to the borough. The borough raised its rates to $160 an hour. The current state rates are $230 an hour, he said.
In addition, the winter overtime line item, which is what the department uses to pay its employees for plowing, went up $25,000 to $150,000.
As of March 19 the department spent $176,000 on overtime pay. That does not include the winter storm that took place on Saturday.
The municipal waste and recycling collection went up $24,186 to $801,704. This is due to the contractual increase with Copes Rubbish Removal.
The budget also includes a number of capital items under $5,000, including a John Deere plow for $3,405, a landscape trailer for $2,800, a flail mower for $4,597, a Vicon fertilizer spreader for the Hop Brook Golf Course for $4,787, and a plate compactor for $2,095.
All capital items over $5,000 are placed under the borough’s capital projects budget.
The department did see savings in some places.
The largest savings came from the regular payroll line item, which decreased almost $103,000 to $1.66 million. The savings comes from the department losing eight positions through attrition and being short four employees.
Stewart requested the borough fill all four of the vacant positions. The board chose to fill one in the coming fiscal year.
Finance Board member Andrew Bottinick said he was concerned the borough might have to go through referendums again this year if the budget is too large. The borough went through two referendums before the current budget was passed.
“In a perfect world I’m all for it. The grass is mowed faster, the fields are lined quicker, potholes are filled faster, but we all remember what we did last year and how we had to come back here and dig deeper and dig deeper. So I don’t know about adding four now,” Bottinick said.
Finance Board member Al Pistarelli recommended adding one employee each year for the next four fiscal years.
Bottinick said having one extra person would still be a help to the department.
“That would give them 40 extra hours a week to do stuff,” Bottinick said.
The Joint Boards Finance and Mayor and Burgesses will vote on a total budget May 4 to send to a public hearing on May 11. Final budget adoption is scheduled for May 14.