Myers presents tax cap friendly budget of $21.6M to City Council

LACONIA — In his proposed budget for fiscal year 2014, City Manager Scott Myers recommends expenditures of $21.6 million, $489,129, or 2.3 percent, more than the current year and projects the total amount to be raised by property taxes to rise $480,431, or 3.3-percent. The projected tax commitment is $18,231 less than the maximum allowed by the property tax cap.
Myers told City Council last night his budget includes a two-percent cost-of-living adjustment for employees belonging to the three unions — Laconia Patrolman Association, State Employees Association and American Federation of State, County and Municipal — with which the city has entered collective bargaining agreements that expire in June, 2014 as well as non-union employees. Negotiations with the Laconia Professional Firefighters, whose contract expired in June, 2010 remain ongoing.
Health insurance costs are expected to rise by 7 percent, but Myers said that half the increase will be born by employees whose share of premium costs will rise to 15-percent on July 1. Since the state no longer contributes to the municipal employers' contributions to the New Hampshire Retirement System, the city's cost is set to jump by $340,000, which represents almost 70 percent of the increase in the tax commitment permitted by the tax cap.
The budget completes the funding for a new police officer begun in fiscal year 2013 and appropriates 25 percent of the cost of additional officer with the balance to be funded in 2014.
Capital outlays of $1.8 million represent a 7.1-percent increase and 8 percent of the general fund budget, which Myers called "a healthy figure." The lion's share of the appropriation is $1.335 million for street and sidewalk repairs. Among the other scheduled projects are reconstruction of the Opechee Park House, engineering for the restoration of Weirs Beach, replacement of traffic signals at Union Avenue and Gilford Avenue, repairing the deck of the parking garage, funding the comprehensive drainage study and some improvements to the system, and preliminary engineering for repair of the Court Street Bridge.
Myers proposes borrowing $550,000 for construction of the Weirs Community Park and $300,000 for replacement of the Smith Track at Opechee Park. Although the budget includes $1.6 million for the city's share of reconstructing the Main Street Bridge, the council last night voted to defer the project for one year to secure federal funding, which will reduce the city's contribution to $1.06 million.
Meanwhile, revenues from sources other than property are expected to increase by a mere 0.1 percent, or a paltry $8,698.
Estimating the assessed valuation of the city to rise by $17-million, or 0.9 percent, to $1,874,853,703, Myers projects the city tax rate to increase 20 cents, from $8.14 to $8.34. The local school tax is anticipated to rise 23 cents, from $8.81 to 9.04. But, the county tax is expected to drop by a penny and the state school tax by three cents. If these projections are correct, the total municipal tax rate would increase by 39 cents to $21.39. presented his proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 to the City Council last night.