SALISBURY — To help the town solve its fiscal crisis, the Salisbury Harbor Commission recently voted to pass $90,000 from its revolving fund to the town in an effort to balance this year's budget.
Town Manager Neil Harrington told selectmen the meeting between himself and commissioners was "very amicable," with the commissioners making a decision that will benefit the town and its residents.
The idea of the Harbor Commission turning over money to the town did not sit well with Brian Mullen, owner of Cove Marina. Mullen told selectmen money in the Harbor Commission's revolving fund comes from water permit fees, which should be used to manage and operate the harbor.
Mullen contested the money in the fund can't be transferred, adding there shouldn't be excess cash in the Harbor Commission's account.
"This is another step in the wrong direction," Mullen told selectmen. "If there's too much money (in the Harbor Commission's revolving fund), then fees should be reduced so that fees equal (harbor-related) expenditures."
Harrington voiced his disagreement.
According to Harbor Commissioner Reggie Santos, the commission will give $90,000 to town coffers to help the town out during hard times. However, he added, the transfer comes with some strings to accommodate state regulations.
"We agreed to give the money, and the town manager agreed to take over some of the responsibilities of the Harbor Commission in exchange for the money," Santos said. "All the commissioners agreed it was the right thing to do."
The town's employee unions also agreed to concessions to their current contracts in an effort to save the town money, Harrington said. The money saved from the concessions will help fill expected revenue shortfalls in next year's budget, which is projected to be about $235,000.
"I'm pleased to say that most of the unions have agreed to significant financial sacrifices," Harrington said. "Some gave more than others, and I'm hoping some will reconsider and step up to the plate a bit more."
According to Finance Director Andrew Gould, the union concessions amount to more than $50,000.
In past weeks, Harrington said he expected to have to lay off two full-time employees, as well as cut two full-time employees back to part-time, and not fill other town vacancies to close the budget gap created by a shortfall in revenues and state aid, brought on by the recession.