Members of the Bourne Finance Committee met in a joint session with the Bourne Board of Selectmen Monday night, July 14, to approve more than $206,000 in reserve fund transfers to close out fiscal year 2014. This week’s transfers, coupled with two transfers approved in March and April, brought the total amount of reserve fund transfers made this year to $250,000.
A total of 16 transfers were made to various line items from last year’s budget. Among the bigger transfers made Monday night were $60,297 to cover Bourne Department of Natural Resources expenses, and $46,377 to pay Social Security Medicare costs for some town employees.
Other approved transfers included $7,810 to police department expenses, 5,275 in fire department expenses, 5,674 in overtime pay to the town clerk’s office, and $6,500 in facilities management expenses.
Committee member Judith A. Conron asked for clarification on whether the transfers were paying items that the town owes, or if they were being added to the expense side of next year’s budget. Town administrator Thomas M. Guerino explained that the transfers were only to pay for outstanding costs from last year.
“Nothing will come out of FY ‘15,” he said.
Mr. Guerino said that the majority of the funds transferred to DNR went to pay for gasoline and maintenance for the department’s vehicles at Taylor’s Point. Finance committee chairman Michele W. Ford explained that much of that money would be spent on purchasing gasoline to resell to boaters. The reserve fund transfer is necessary because the town needed to have gasoline ready to sell at the start of the boating season, which comes earlier than the start of the town’s fiscal year, she said. Any money assigned to next year’s budget could not be spent until July 1, she said, adding that “this is actually a good story.”
“If we need more money, then we sold more gas,” she said.
Town finance director Linda A. Marzelli said that DNR director Timothy W. Mullen has secured a pump out boat grant from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries for $20,000, so his department will likely only need $40,000. Ms. Marzelli said that once the grant money is received, any approved excess funds will be returned to the town’s free cash account.
Mr. Guerino said that the $46,377 will pay the overage in the town’s Medicare portion of Social Security. He said that the town does the best it can to estimate what the cost will be, but things like overtime hours worked can factor into the final expense. A heavy winter with a lot of snow, such as this most recent one, can throw that estimate off, he said.
“It is off by some $46,000, which is not really a whole lot,” he said.
The finance committee also approved an overage of $32,213 in Bourne’s obligated payment into the Laborers’ International Union of North America contract. The union contract covers workers at the DPW, ISWM and administrative staff at town hall. The town pays a fixed amount per hour, agreed upon five to six years ago with the concurrence of the Bourne Board of Selectmen, that has not moved since it was negotiated, Mr. Guerino said.
“It goes up as wages go up, but it does not go up with the cost of living,” he said.
Mr. Guerino said that he was “befuddled” by a $24,000 reserve fund transfer for expenses at the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center. He said that amount is for natural gas and electrical cost overages, but he is convinced that utility costs are not the whole story. He pointed out that repair costs in the last six months could have been a contributing factor as well.
“We found a number of things, circulating fans in the gym, pumps, circulators, that should have worked from day one but haven’t either appropriately or at all,” he said.
The repair work is only a contributor, however, and not the entire reason for the overage. He mentioned that the building has not been open for longer hours than normal, and natural gas costs are only up ten to fifteen percent.
“It shouldn’t have had this kind of effect,” he said.
Mr. Guerino said that he and the town’s director of public works facilities Jonathan R. Nelson have had lengthy talks, and Mr. Nelson will be doing an audit of the building and its expenses in the near future.