Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

Finance Committee, February 05, 2024

Capital Planning Committee Update

Great Meadows Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT)

The committee confirmed that Arlington maintains a PILOT structure with the Town of Lexington for municipal services received at Great Meadows, following an established agreement aimed to keep good relations between the towns.

Enterprise Fund and Insurance

Questions were raised about showing the cost of insurance on the enterprise fund for better transparency and whether there should be some form of pro-rated payment as Kidcare expands.

Police Department Budget Review

Staffing and Salaries

The police department is experiencing a staffing challenge, with six vacancies in police patrol and a pressing need to fill dispatch positions. Annual salary changes were minor, with step increases and a slight reduction in longevity.

Police Union Contracts and Arbitration

The police union contracts for both patrol and ranking officers were in arbitration, with key issues being cost of living adjustments (COLAs) and body-worn cameras.

Vacancies and Staffing Challenges

The difficulty in recruiting new officers was highlighted, with recent trends making it less attractive to pursue careers in law enforcement. The withdrawal from civil service for hiring purposes was discussed as a strategy to recruit non-residents, since Arlington’s request is currently stuck in the state legislature.

Body-Worn Cameras

Key issues surrounding the implementation of body-worn cameras were addressed, including ongoing arbitration with the police unions and potential financial implications for the future.

Fire Department Budget Review

Staffing and Budget Changes

The fire department was fully staffed, with no major budget changes except for contractual increases.

Ambulance Offsets and BLS Billing

The restructuring of ambulance services provision with Armstrong Ambulance and the loss of ALS revenue was discussed. An increased revenue from BLS billing was expected to offset the loss from ALS services.

Inspection Services Budget Review

Budget Overview

Inspection services experienced an 11% decrease in salary, mainly due to a director’s position being vacated. Expenses remained flat, and the new online permitting system was positively received, with some tweaks required.

Permit Revenue Report

A permit revenue report showed a slight decrease in projected revenue for FY24, correlating with a reduction in new construction and the impact of new energy codes.

Health and Human Services Budget Review

Salary Changes and ARPA Funding

The department had a new manager of operations, and the ARPA funding was supporting a health compliance officer position. The overall budget had a 7% increase.

Services and Community Outreach

Services provided by the department, such as rodent control and mosquito control, were discussed, and future plans for community outreach and equity initiatives were highlighted.

Veteran Services Budget Review

Salary Increase and Aid Assistance

The director of veteran services experienced a salary increase, and the veterans aid and assistance line item, which is significantly reimbursed by the state, was discussed.

Military Markers and Signs Maintenance

The budget for maintaining military markers and signs was brought up, with a slight increase noted for the restoration of such memorabilia.

Council on Aging Budget Review

Salary Increase and Cultural Responsiveness

A notable salary jump was mentioned, and the increase in cultural responsiveness initiatives, such as training and programming implementation, was detailed.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Budget Review

Salary Reclassification and ARPA Funding

Adjustments to salaries due to a reclassification were mentioned, and the ARPA offset was noted to be ending in the following year.

Consulting and Equity Dashboard

Funds allocated for consulting services to build an equity dashboard and other equity-related projects were addressed.

Arlington Youth Counselling Center (AYCC) Budget Review

Personnel and Demand for Services

The increasing demand for AYCC’s services led to the addition of staff positions, and the revenue from insurance reimbursements was expected to rise to meet added expenses.

Council on Aging Transportation Enterprise Fund

Budget Sustainability

The sustainability of the Council on Aging Transportation Enterprise Fund was questioned, with suggestions to move it into the general budget for more consistent funding support.

Meeting Conclusion

After reviewing all budgets presented, the committee concluded the meeting and made plans to discuss further topics at upcoming sessions.



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