WILLIAMSTOWN -- Town counsel and a new police cruiser are two areas of increase in the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget of roughly $6.7 million.
At Thursday's meeting of the Finance Committee, Town Manager Peter Fohlin said the proposed budget included $35,000 for the use of town counsel, an additional $10,000 from fiscal year 2013.
"We've had a number of unexpected legal adventures in the last few years," Fohlin explained.
The town had utilized the Boston-based law offices of Kopleman and Paige regarding a proposed housing development on Bee Hill Road, a proposed motorcycle gathering in South Williamstown, a biomass energy proposal in neighboring Pownal, Vt., and for litigation with Morgan Management, the owner of The Spruces Mobile Home Park, Fohlin said.
Following a lull in legal feels, the town saw a spike in 2012, Fohlin said, when the town expended $40,000. He added that he believed the town would even exceed what was budgeted for the current fiscal year.
"This is not a bad place to overappropriate if it turns out that way, as it just turns over to free cash," Fohlin said.
Police Chief Kyle Johnson said with savings in the dispatch budget, it was possible to budget an additional $11,000 for the annual purchase of a new police cruiser.
"We had two full-time dispatchers move on," he said. "One has resigned for other things and another has retired."
The previous year's budget of $23,000 had been the same for years, Johnson said. The two new dispatchers are young enough to stay on their parent's health insurance, he said, making it possible to transfer money back to the cruiser account.
Director of Public Works Tim Kaiser said the biggest change in his department's budget from previous years were staff changes.
When Scott Park retired as highway superintendent this year, Kaiser said, Cemetery and Parks Superintendent Christopher Lemoine took over that position in addition to his own.
In addition, the department now only has one administrative assistant, Kaiser said, instead of separate ones for highway and water and sewer.
"When one of them retired, we decided to take the belt in a notch and get by with one," Kaiser said.
The other position's expenses were redistributed, with 60 percent going to the department's general fund and 40 percent going to water and sewer, he explained.
Kaiser said an uncertainty in the proposed budget is the plow truck that was deemed totaled by the insurance company after sliding on ice and off an embankment earlier this winter.
"We're still working on getting the final payout from insurance company resolved," Kaiser said.
Another is the Latham Street culvert project, he said, which the town had budgeted $207,000 for, but rising construction costs brought in a low bid of just under $300,000.
"Some other project will not get done this year because of that and some other project will not get done in reference to the plow truck," Fohlin said.
The Finance Committee meets again Thursday, March 21, with Mount Greylock Regional School District to discuss the district's budget.
To reach Edward Damon, email