The Bourne Board of Selectmen on Thursday night voted approval of a $55.35 million budget for the coming fiscal year.
The budget includes nearly $20.9 million dollars for the school department, a figure that Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino said was more than anticipated, but "well within the scope of what can be done."
The budget also includes $20,000 to pay for keeping a second part-time custodian on staff at the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center. That position was slated to be eliminated along with several other town personnel positions as part of cost cutting measures suggested by Mr. Guerino.
"I do believe this is a reasonable and good budget," Mr. Guerino said.
He noted that overall the budget is up a little more than two and a half percent from last year's budget.
The school committee voted its recommended budget of $20,890,000 Wednesday night, and Mr. Guerino said that the final town budget he was presenting to the board for their approval included that figure.
"It does not hinder our reserve policies whatsoever, and it is a compromise that I know was hard for the school…they are to be commended for working through the process," he said.
The school committee took three hours and three failed votes before arriving at its final figure. A number of layoffs and reductions were necessary for the school department to finalize its budget for next year. The high school will be losing a guidance counselor and two teachers, while reducing a fine arts teacher to part time. A learning coach, a special education teacher, and four full-time classroom aides will be eliminated in the elementary schools. The department will also be hiring a science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) director.
At the outset of the meeting, Mr. Guerino recommended a slightly lower budget -- $55.33 million, which did not include the $20,000 for a part-time janitor.
Selectman Linda M. Zuern moved that the custodial position be added to the budget. Her motion was approved 4-1, with selectman Donald J. Pickard casting the one dissenting vote.
In an email response, Mr. Pickard said that he voted against the position for several reasons. He recalled that Mr. Guerino had originally eliminated the position of building director at the community center, with a plan to have the Bourne Recreation Department and the Bourne Council on Aging handle scheduling at the building. Mr. Pickard also noted that director of public works and facilities Jonathan R. Nelson had come up with a more efficient way of providing custodial supervision to all town-controlled buildings.
"Therefore, I believe we should have let the elimination stand," he said.
He added that the town would get more benefit by filling one of the public safety or public works positions that had been eliminated such as a assistant fire chief, a police lieutenant, a mechanic with the Department of Public Works, and lifeguards at all but two of the town beaches among others.
Salary increases that had been discussed, such as a nearly $16,000 pay hike for town planner Coreen V. Moore, had also been removed from the budget.
Selectman Peter J. Meier acknowledged that the decision by the school committee on its budget was "not made lightly." Mr. Meier, who attended Wednesday night's meeting, said that while school committee members may have haggled for several hours, they were doing their job by "doing what's in the best interest of the students in the town."
"I don't fault them for it, I commend them for it," he said.
Christopher J. Hyldburg, chairman of the Bourne School Committee's budget sub-committee attended the selectmen's meeting along with fellow committee members Laura M. Scena, Catherine D. Walton, Heather A. M. DiPaolo and Jonathan J. (Jay) O’Hara. Mr. Hyldburg thanked both Mr. Guerino and town finance director Linda Marzilli for working closely with the school committee throughout the budget process
"I'm very, very, very proud, not just to be on the school committee, but to be a member of this town, to be a resident of Bourne," he said.