Published in the February 25, 2016 edition.


WAKEFIELD — The Board of Selectmen this week approved the Fiscal Year 2017 Fire Department budget along with a number of smaller budgets.

With Fire Chief Michael Sullivan alongside, Town Accountant Kevin Gill presented the $4,672,416 Fire Department budget, which he said included an increase of $183,565.

Selectman Phyllis Hull questioned a $33,600 line item for “perfect attendance bonuses.”

Chief Sullivan said that the bonus was part of the firefighters’ union contract.

Hull said that she was surprised to see the money budgeted as a reward for coming to work.

“Who would agree to such a thing?” she asked.

Sullivan said that the perfect attendance bonus was designed as an incentive to decrease sick leave. Selectman Brian Falvey pointed out that if a firefighter is out sick, he gets paid plus someone else has to be paid to replace him. In that sense, he suggested, if the bonus incentive cuts down on sick leave, it could save the town money in the long run.

Hull also questioned a vacant position that was funded in next year’s budget. Sullivan explained that the Fire Department had three retirements this year. Two of the positions have already been filled and the one remaining vacancy is in the process of being filled. He stressed that it was not an added position but a vacancy created by retirement.

The selectmen approved the Fire Department budget.

The board also approved the Emergency Management budget at $31,472, which included a $600 increase.

Gill said that the General Insurance budget included a $22,490 increase due to an increase in the value of assets and a rate increase. The policy covers buildings, vehicles and professional liability. The Selectmen approved the General Insurance budget in the amount of $377,755.

The board approved $574,950 Workers’ Compensation budget, which Gill said was up $98,283. The town’s insurance agent, John Spinello of Charles F. Hartshorne & Sons Insurance Agency, attributed the increase to the growth of the town’s payroll in recent years. The town’s experience and rates remained the same, he said, the only change was the larger payroll. Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio said that a lot of that payroll increase was in the School Department as well as overtime last winter for snow removal.

Gill said that the Information Technology (IT) budget was decreased by $16,810. The Selectmen approved the total budget at $417,534.

The board approved the Medicare budget at $656,155, which included a $19,111 increase.

The Retirement budget was approved at $5,084,062, including an increase of $211,657 over last year.


During public participation, Bronwyn Della-Volpe and Thomas Bergendahl spoke in favor of some kind of public forum prior to any decision by Town meeting on funding efforts to improve the health of Lake Quannapowitt.

Maio said that it was important to let the Lake Quannapowitt Water Quality Committee complete its work and report its findings on the best ways to improve the Lake.

“We are a long way from any decision or funding by Town Meeting,” Maio said.

In other business this week, the Board of Selectmen:

• Set the date of the Annual Town Meeting for May 2, 2016 and opened the warrant. The Board set the closing date for warrant articles as April 1, 2016.

• Voted to approve the issuance of a $181,725 Sewer Bond to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and to take all necessary actions in connection with the bond issuance.

• Referred a zoning bylaw change affecting 592 North Ave. to the Planning Board for a hearing.

• Approved a one-day liquor license request from Mike Hartin for an event at the Crystal Community Club on March 12, 2016.