By Steve Plunkett
The kerfuffle over Town Manager Jamie Titcomb’s budget proposal, which prompted Ocean Ridge commissioners to call an unusual 12-day recess of their final public budget hearing, blew over in about 15 minutes when the meeting resumed.
“When we went back through this, Jamie basically had it right. We had some problems with the capital funds still, in the way that we were reporting that out,” Vice Mayor Richard Lucibella said. But, “most of these things were just transfers.”
Changes Titcomb reviewed included making the revenue and expenditure sides of the $250,000 capital fund match, moving $19,000 for maintaining the detention area from the “other physical environment” category to “public works,” and putting a $22,052 “interfund transfer” item into the contingency fund.
This was the first time Titcomb, who became town manager in October 2015, had prepared Ocean Ridge’s budget. The preceding 25 or so budgets were assembled by Karen Hancsak, who retired as clerk in January.
“I’m going to take partial credit for all these highlights and changes, but the real credit goes to our former town clerk, who spent countless time with me on the phone and caught much of this and … checked my work,” Lucibella said. “I think we need to send flowers to a certain former clerk. She helped us out of a really tight spot on this.”
The night wasn’t all smooth sailing. Titcomb passed out a revised resolution updating and reallocating money in the capital projects fund right before the Oct. 3 meeting started.
Lucibella said he took no responsibility for the document. “I just saw it. I’m taking the town manager at his word that that’s good to go,” Lucibella said.
And Commissioner James Bonfiglio, who moved to adopt the resolution, noted in his motion that it “was handed out to us tonight as opposed to in our book” of backup material.
Commissioners also found fault in Titcomb’s recommendation for an audit selection committee. He wanted to name himself, Town Clerk Tracey Stevens and Gulf Stream Town Manager William Thrasher.
“We tried to keep this simple,” Titcomb said of the panel, which will review his request for bids outlining the scope of the work and rank responses from auditing firms.
Bonfiglio said several commissioners were qualified to do that. “I’m not real thrilled with going outside of town for the third person on this committee,” he said.
And Lucibella urged that a town resident take Stevens’ spot on the panel. Mayor Geoff Pugh asked Bonfiglio to be the commissioner on the committee, and former Mayor Ken Kaleel volunteered to be the member of the public.
In other business, the commission ratified a wage reopener and extension of the town’s contract with its police officers. The agreement calls for merit raises of up to 5 percent on anniversary dates and lengthened the contract one year to September 2018.
Lucibella also asked that commissioners discuss the just-approved budget at their Nov. 7 regular meeting.
“I think the people of the town have a right to hear a dialogue around some of the things that have been asked for, including license plate recognition cameras. We never got a chance to do any of those things,” Lucibella said.
By Steve Plunkett