Town Council Increases
Proposed Budget by $30,000

The Town Council added $30,000 to its proposed FY 15 budget on an amendment by Councilor Tom Dolan and another amendment by Councilor Tom Freda at their Monday night meeting.

Article 4, the town operating budget, was amended on a recommendation by Dolan that $40,000 be added for “likely legal costs anticipated in the next fiscal year,” changing it from $27,919,988 to $27,959,988.

Freda further amended the article to remove $10,000 from IT (Information Technology), a sum that would have been used to replace the Town Council’s computers. That reduced the amended proposed budget by $10,000 and created a new proposed budget amount of $27,949,988 and a tax rate impact of $4.83 in FY 15, based upon projected assessed values.

During the budget public discussion, resident Maria Newman asked if the budget included money to resolve the fire department staffing issue that has aired in recent weeks. She was told that negotiations with the fire department are ongoing.

A discussion ensued, with Dolan saying that they were getting close to having public negotiations, and Chairman John Farrell ended the discussion.

Article 4 seeks voter approval of the town raising and appropriating as an operating budget, not including appropriations by special warrant articles and other appropriations voted separately, $27,949,988, as amended. According to Town Controller Doug Smith, should this article be defeated, the default budget shall be $28,086,186, the same as last year, with adjustments required by previous action of the Town or by law; or the governing body may hold one special meeting, in accordance with RSA 40: 13, X and XVI, to take up the issue of a revised operating budget only.

If passed, this article will require the town to raise $16,978,896 in property taxes, resulting in a tax rate impact of $4.83 in FY 15 based upon projected assessed values. The increase in the budget adds 1 cent to the tax rate.

The Council unanimously approved the new figure and moved it to the warrant with a recommendation for voter approval.

Also Monday night, the Town Council unanimously accepted the following articles for the warrant for Deliberative Session:

• Article 2, Town Clerk /Tax Collector Position. This asks whether voters wish to change the elected Town Clerk/Tax Collector to two separate positions and to have the Town Clerk be elected for a three-year term. If approved, an article would be placed on the ballot at the next annual meeting to elect a Town Clerk. The Tax Collector would then be appointed annually before April 1 by the governing body in writing and would include the amount of pay. If approved, the newly elected Town Clerk/Tax Collector would serve until the next annual meeting, at which time a Tax Collector would be appointed.

The separation of the positions is expected to save the Town approximately $110,000 annually, as the elected Town Clerk would not be eligible for retirement and medical benefits and would be a part-time employee.

If passed, this article will save. the town approximately $110,000 in property taxes, resulting in a tax rate decrease of ($0.03) in FY15 based upon projected assessed values.

The Council recommended a yes vote.

• Article 3, Expendable Maintenance Trust Fund. This asks the Town to raise and appropriate $100,000 to be placed in the Town’s Maintenance Trust Fund for the purpose of repairing and maintaining town facilities.

If passed, this article will require the town to raise $100,000 in property taxes, resulting in a tax rate impact of $0.03 in FY15 based upon projected assessed values.

The Council recommended a yes vote.

• Article 5, Fund Special Revenue Account. This asks voters to raise and appropriate $490,322 from the Police Outside Detail Fund for the purpose of covering Police Outside Details. It would be funded from users of Police Outside Detail Services. Any surplus in the fund shall not be deemed part of the General Fund accumulated surplus and shall be expended only after a vote by the legislative body to appropriate a specific amount from said fund for a specific purpose related to the purpose of the fund or source of revenue.

These services are funded through user fees and require no property tax support.

The Council recommended a yes vote.

• Article 6, Fund Sewer Fund. This asks voters to raise and appropriate $2,629,815 to defray the cost of construction, payment of the interest on debt incurred, management, maintenance, operation and repair of newly constructed sewer systems. This fund shall be allowed to accumulate from year to year, shall not be commingled with town tax revenues, and shall not be deemed part of the municipality’s general fund accumulated surplus, all in accordance with RSA 149-1. These services are funded through user fees and require no property tax support.

The Council recommended a yes vote.

• Article 7, Public Works Department Garage Improvements. This article asks voters to raise and appropriate $180,000 for upgrading the 40-year-old Highway Garage. The garage is the sole facility for 11 employees and approximately 30 pieces of heavy equipment and vehicles.

If passed, this article will require the town to raise $l80, 000 in property taxes, resulting in a tax rate impact of $0.05 in FY 15 based upon projected assessed values.

The Council recommended a yes vote.

• Article 8, Commercial and Industrial Assessment Update. This article asks voters to raise and appropriate $145,500 to complete a comprehensive review of all commercial, industrial and utility properties for the purpose of the state mandated property assessment update. If passed, this article will require the town to raise $145,500 in property taxes, resulting in a tax rate impact of $0.04 in FY 15 based upon projected assessed values.

The Council recommended a yes vote.

• Article 9, Ratify The Extension Of The Collective Bargaining Agreement Between AFSCME (American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees) 3657 and the Town Of Londonderry. This asks voters to approve the cost items included in the collective bargaining agreement reached between the Town and the AFSCME 3657 Police Department employees, which calls for the following appropriations for salaries and benefits over what was raised under current agreements and policies for the employees of the union: Cost Increase From Previous FY: FY 15 $102,473. Tax Increase From Previous FY: FY 15 $ 0.03. Total Estimated Cumulative Cost: $102,473. Average Pay Rate Increase: 1.80 percent.

This also calls for raising and appropriating $102,473, $0.03 on the tax rate for the FY 15 expenses, representing the additional cost attributable to the increase in salaries and benefits over those of the appropriation at the current staffing levels paid under any existing agreements.

AFSCME 3657 represents 56 full-time officer position and 13 telecommunication and staff support positions in the Police Department.

If passed, this article will require the Town to raise $102,473 in property taxes, resulting in a tax rate increase of $0.03 in FY 15 based upon projected assessed values.

The Council unanimously ratified the agreement, as did the Budget Committee. The Council recommended a yes vote.

• Article 10, Authorization For Special Meeting On Cost Items. This asks, if Article 9 is defeated, to authorize the Town Council to call one special meeting, at its option, to address Article 9 cost items only. This article, if passed will have no tax impact.

The Council recommended a yes vote.

• Article 11, Roadway Maintenance Trust Fund. This asks voters to raise and appropriate $275,000 to be placed in the Town’s Roadway Maintenance Trust Fund for purpose of maintenance, replacement, removal or improvement of the Town’s roadways. If passed, this article will require the town to raise $275,000 in property taxes, resulting in a tax rate impact of $0.08in FY 15 based upon projected assessed values.

The council recommended a yes vote.

• Article 12, Transfer of Town Forest Tax Map 6-97-1J. This is a citizen petition to ask voters to authorize the transfer of all supervision, management duties and responsibilities of the “Town Forest,” Tax Map 6-97-1, from the Conservation Commission to the Town Manager with the advice and recommendations from the Historic District/Heritage Commission, Conservation Commission and Town Council, thus allowing for the clean-up and public use of this parcel. If passed, this article will require the town to raise no money in property taxes, resulting in a tax rate impact of $0.00 in FY15 based upon projected assessed values.

The Conservation Commission has not officially stated its position on the article.

The Council recommended a no vote.

• Article 13, Town Resolution Relative To Political Contributions And Instructing State And Federal Representatives. This is a citizen petition that resolves that Londonderry “stands with communities across the country to defend democracy from the corrupting effects of undue corporate power by amending the United States Constitution to establish that: 1. Only human beings, not corporations, are endowed with constitutional rights, and 2. Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

The article also would instruct state and federal representatives to enact resolutions and legislation to advance this effort.

If passed, this article will require the Town to raise no money in property taxes, resulting in a tax rate impact of zero in FY 15 based upon projected assessed values.

The Council on a 4-1 vote recommended a no vote.

The Budget Committee was present at Monday’s meeting but Chairman Chris Melcher said the committee wanted to look at both the town and school district budgets at the same time at a meeting of their committee on Thursday, Jan. 23.

The Council’s public hearing on the warrant articles will continue on Thursday, Jan. 23, at 8 p.m. in the Moose Hill Council Chambers, following the Budget Committee’s 6 p.m. meeting. The Budget Committee will enter a joint session with the Town Council at 8 p.m. Any unfinished warrant article votes will take place at the conclusion of this joint meeting.

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