Missing Hampstead Department Budgets Cloud Results

HAMPSTEAD – The selectmen and members of the Budget Committee expected the department heads to bring in their budgets to the Wednesday, Oct. 9 meeting. When some department heads failed to comply, the selectmen and committee found it difficult to get a handle on where the bottom line is headed.

The selectmen’s budget is never part of this first budget go round, but the absence of Recreation, Cemetery, Emergency Management, Treasurer, Cable, Animal Control, and Patriotic Purposes gave a less than clear picture of whether the direction issued by the selectmen to level fund will be possible and whether the directive to restrict increases was heeded.
Selectman Rick Hartung said absent department heads might want to show up at the Oct. 14 selectmen’s meeting to provide their budget information.
The big budget drivers, Police, Fire, Highway, and Recycling, were present.
Fire Chief Michael Carrier said his budget is up less than 1 percent and noted the reason is primarily the increased burden of retirement costs.
Lt. John Frazier provided the Police budget and said it was up almost 2 percent. The Budget Committee asked whether buying a new cruiser could be eliminated and was informed that most of the cruisers have either close to or more than 100,000 miles on them and if a new one isn’t bought this year, it will mean the department will have to purchase two next year. Frazier also pointed to increased retirement costs.
Budget Committee member Matt Murphy questioned the cost of cleaning the station and wondered if savings couldn’t be found in that line.
Highway is up because it was decided the new backhoe Road Agent Jon Worthen wants to lease or purchase will be part of his budget, rather than shared with other departments.
The Recycling budget is down slightly. Chairman Pat Bracken said his committee is just starting on the budget but it appears recycling efforts are paying off.
Murphy questioned the large amount for fuel surcharge and after a discussion, it was decided that line could be reduced by a few thousand dollars.
Murphy asked Library Trustee Treasurer Emily Reschberger to provide his committee with the last three years of actual expenditures and questioned whether two part-time custodians are needed. Selectman Sean Murphy said that removing one part-time custodian wouldn’t save anything, as the remaining custodian would have to pick up the additional hours.
Matt Murphy objected to a jump in the Red Cross request from $500 to $3,848. The way the Red Cross calculates its requests has changed and the $3,848 figure is based on a 45-cent per capita request. There was general agreement that more information is needed, and the Red Cross will be asked to come in to support its request with data on how much it provides to Hampstead residents.
The next budget meeting is Oct. 28, when the Selectmen’s budget comes up for discussion.

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