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Derry Council trims DPW overtime costs

Union Leader Correspondent

April 24. 2013 11:58PM

DERRY - As the Town Council continued its review of the fiscal year 2014 municipal budget this week, it once again voted to trim overtime costs from a major town department.

This week, it was the Department of Public Works buildings and grounds division overtime budget that saw its overtime request reduced by $6,000, from $21,000 to $15,000, by a 4-2 vote.

Councilors Mark Osborne, Tom Cardon, Al Dimmock, and chair Michael Fairbanks voted for the reduction and councilors Brad Benson and Neil Wetherbee voted against it.

Last week, the council voted 4-2 to cut the police department's proposed overtime budget by $50,000.

Overall, the public works department presented a total budget of $9,385,435. According to public works director Mike Fowler, taking revenues generated by the department into account, the general cost of the proposed budget to the town is $6,629,936.

The public works department includes the highway department, cemetery department, parks and recreation, vehicle maintenance and the transfer station.

The net increase over the current fiscal year's budget was 1.6 percent, including increased costs associated with the town paying more for state retirement system costs, according to Fowler.

"The department continues to benefit from savings and past efforts to consolidate labor, energy efficiency, favorable trash disposal rates and favorable bidding (for fuel and oil costs)," said Fowler.

That consolidation of employees was the major reason for the increased request for the overtime budget in the buildings and grounds division.

In the past, he said, highway division employees who typically have a higher salary or contractors were responsible for snow removal and maintenance at the Derry Municipal Center and other town-owned buildings.

However, due to some turnover in the building and grounds division, he said there were employees who were taking snow disposal at those buildings upon themselves, neccessitating the need for additional overtime.

The current year's budget called for $15,000 of overtime in the division, with a projected actual cost of $19,000 due to that increased workload. In prior years, the building and grounds overtime budget was set at $13,000.

According to Fowler, the $21,000 was requested so that one of the buildings and grounds employees would remain on call during the winter to help during storms.

"You can cut it and just know there will be times when the parking lot will not be cleared," he said. "You can't pretend everything is going to happen and not fund it."

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