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Budget cut as Selectmen okay $5,149,272 spending package


KENT—First Selectman Marty Lindenmayer withdrew his bid to expand his administrative assistant’s position during a selectmen’s meeting held March 6. He had earlier pressed his board to act on his desire to expand the role during a special meeting held March 1.

The move was just one of several moves made Wednesday afternoon before the selectmen put their imprimatur on a $5,149,272, municipal budget that is 5.84 percent higher than the 2023-24 budget.

Among the other cost-saving moves was denial of the Park and Recreation Commission’s bid for a full-time recreational leader to lessen pressure on the program director and a $7,500 reduction in the Emergency Management Department’s budget bringing it to $5,000. The officials have $10,000 left in the current year’s budget they plan to spend before June 30.  

Swift House, on the other hand, got a boost with a $5,000 increase in its maintenance line to $10,000.

The school budgets for Region 1 and local education have yet to be completed. 

The budget now moves on to a Board of Finance review March 20 and will be combined with the education budgets and face a public hearing and town meeting vote in May.

The selectmen have already approved 3 percent raises for all town hall personnel in the 2024-25 budget proposal, with a plan to evaluate jobs during the first quarter of the new fiscal year. A $12,500 fund is slated to cover additional raises following the evaluations.

“Why now?” asked Selectman Lynn Mellis Worthington, referring to Lindenmayer’s desire to change the title to Director of Administrative Services and increase the administrative assistant’s salary by $500 right away. “Why do you want to do this position before the others?”

The job is currently filled by Administrative Assistant Joyce Kearns.

Lindenmayer’s response was twofold: to reward the level of work currently being done and to expand the position to relieve him of day-to-day administrative duties. 

“I’ve been asking her to take on more leadership,” he said. “I’ve been watching her daily routine—there’s a lot she does, and it should be recognized. I took her job description and changed to what she’s actually doing.”

But he wanted even more from his assistant. “There are more things I need her to take on,” he said. “I spend a lot of time on the phone trying to organize bigger things, but the details are also important. I need to off-load this. I can’t deal with this and need someone to run the day-to-day administrative things.”

He mentioned grant writing and attending meetings he can’t get to as possible extensions of duties. “I’m going into the end of my first 100 days,” he said. “I want this position to step up as we go into the summer season.”

Lindenmayer said there was the possibility of expanding the salaried position’s hours to more than the current 30 hours, which is considered full-time. 

Selectman Glenn Sanchez said he was aware of how well Kearns works but wondered about the job title. He surveyed surrounding communities to seek how they defined similar positions. “I’m not opposed to it at all if it helps you and Joyce to do the job better,” he said. “I just want to make sure the title is different.”

But Sanchez worried about adding more money in a year when a cemetery committee and sexton have been added to the budget and larger raises are being contemplated for all employees. “We’re considering some really big things here,” he observed. “It concerns me a little.”

Worthington questioned Lindenmayer’s vision of the changed position as a “department of administrative services.” He said he sees the first selectman as the town’s CEO with others heading different departments.

“You see her as a department head?” Worthington asked. “I don’t see how she could be a department head.” She added that as a non-elected employee, Kearns could not replace the first selectman. “I think it might be better to have one of us go if there was a decision-making thing,” she said.

Lindenmayer said he did not see it as a “deputy selectman” role, but rather as a representative who could gather information report back to the selectmen. 

Kathryn Boughton
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