LYNNFIELD — The Department of Public Works (DPW) is looking for a slight operating budget increase for fiscal year 2025, Director John Tomasz said during the Select Board’s Feb. 14 meeting.

Tomasz has recommended an $8,566,623 operating budget for FY25, which represents a 3 percent increase over FY24’s $8,317,549.60 spending plan. He said employee salaries make up between 80 and 85 percent of the proposed DPW budget for FY25.

“The budget is essentially being driven by four things: Trash and recycling disposal, the contract for the buses, labor, and electric and heating for this town,” said Tomasz.

Tomasz has budgeted $1,239,000 for trash and recycling collection, representing a 3.3 percent over FY24’s $1,199,000 appropriation.

Select Board member Dick Dalton said he recently read in “The Wall Street Journal” that, “The market for recyclables is going back up again because there is such a demand for cardboard.”

“In our contract, can we see the benefit if the market holds?” Dalton asked.

Tomasz said no.

“It’s pretty fixed,” said Tomasz. “We have another three years to go with our contract. Things are going up a lot slower as far as disposal costs.”

Select Board member Phil Crawford asked if the town will be “seeing a much smaller increase” with trash and recycling costs in FY25.

“The next two years are minimal,” said Tomasz.

Tomasz recalled that the energy service company (ESCO) program was approved at Spring Town Meeting in June 2021. The $5.4 million bond allowed the town to work with Trane on a variety of energy savings initiatives that included replacing controls, boilers and air units.

“With the ESCO, the use has been stabilized, but the cost for each unit goes up,” said Tomasz.

Tomasz has budgeted $25,000 for sidewalk construction as well as $120,000 for snow and ice removal.

Select Board Chair Joe Connell said the line item budget for the proposed DPW spending plan is “very transparent.”

“John does a very good job with that,” said Connell.

Capital budget

In addition to discussing the proposed DPW operating budget, Tomasz gave an overview of the $794,240 capital budget he is seeking for FY25.

Tomasz has requested $500,000 for road construction once again.

“This request represents the ongoing program of road construction which was started a few years ago and has been very effective in addressing the condition of the many streets in need of repair,” Tomasz stated on a capital budget form. “Along with the Chapter 90 funding, this money has allowed the town to repair normally 10 streets each year and has also addressed handicap accessibility issues at the sidewalk intersections.”

Tomasz is also seeking $25,000 for the second of five payments for a school bus lease.

“In 2023, the town approved a capital request to replace one of the existing buses,” Tomasz wrote. “This represents payment two of five for this bus. The buses provide a safe and reliable mode of transportation for the students of Lynnfield.”

Tomasz is looking to purchase a new Ford F-550 dump truck, totaling $120,000. He stated that purchasing the new dump truck will “reduce maintenance costs.”

“The department has two Ford F-550 dump trucks purchased during 2010-2011, with mileage in excess of 48,000,” stated Tomasz. “Because they were bought essentially within the same timeframe, all are beginning to have structural and mechanical issues. Since these trucks are used throughout the year, including plowing and salting, they are vital to our operations.”

Tomasz is also requesting $50,000 for septic system repairs at the schools.

“During 2023, approximately $120,000 was spent replacing the seven air lines at Lynnfield High School, which were leaking, along with pumps at all four schools which are vital components of the septic systems,” Tomasz wrote. “This request would provide funding for septic system repairs and equipment replacement, which were apparent this year, and can be expected to continue into the foreseeable future due to the age of the equipment. If the existing septic systems are not properly functioning, the septic will need to be pumped and transported and disposed off-site at a significant cost.”

Tomasz is looking to receive $65,000 for a new Ford F-350 pickup truck.

“At this time, the department has one pickup with over 200,000 miles and which continues to need expensive repairs,” stated Tomasz. “The concern is that over the next 12 months, this vehicle will need to be replaced. A new vehicle would save the approximately $2,000-$2,500 we are spending yearly on these vehicles.”

Tomasz is also requesting two Karcher Chariot 1 Gloss Floor Burnishers, totaling $25,240.

“This request would provide for burnishers at the schools, replacing 20-year-old units,” Tomasz stated. “These burnishers allow the custodians to perform a high-speed floor finish and provide a good shine. These units allow the staff to perform a finish on a more routine manner beyond the extensive summer buff. The existing machine has reached the end of its useful life and costs over $500 to repair when broken.”

Tomasz is also looking to purchase two floor application system units for school custodians, equaling $9,000.

“This request would provide for application system units at the schools, replacing 20- year-old units,” Tomasz stated. “These units allow the custodians the fastest and most economical way to finish, coat and clean floors.”

Dalton expressed his support for purchasing the new equipment for the custodians.

“The custodians do a spectacular job,” said Dalton. “The schools look like brand new buildings. Anything we can do to support them is great. I think a lot of people don’t realize that the DPW really takes care of the maintenance for the school district.”

Tomasz stressed that it is “so important to maintain things.”

“It’s not just the floors, it’s all of the mechanical equipment and things such as that,” said Tomasz. “I think the crew I have does a real great job with that.”

Connell noted that Tomasz provided the Select Board with detailed information about the DPW’s vehicle fleet.

“Every single piece of equipment is listed, when it was purchased, how many miles are on them and what the wear and tear is,” said Connell. “It gives us good ideas so we can forecast five years out and we know what could potentially be coming down the pike so we are prepared for that. I can’t thank you enough for how you do that for us.”