9% tax hike comes with county budget to be presented Monday night

LACONIA — The 2013 Belknap County budget recommended by the county commission projects the total amount to be raised by property taxes to rise by $1,256,491, an increase of 8.9-percent. The plan will be presented to the new Belknap County Convention, which is the appropriating authority, on Monday night.
The commission proposes total appropriations of $26,784,596. Compared to the $30,892,000 appropriated in 2012, at first glance the total appropriation represents a decrease of 13.3-percent. However, 2012 budget included almost $4-million of federal funds distributed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as a supplemental appropriation of $160,000. Discounting these one-time appropriations, the 2012 budget was closer to $27-million.
In 2013, the commissioners project revenues from sources other than property taxes of $9,384,956, about $187,000 more than estimated in 2012. But, in 2012 the commission applied $3,750,000 of the fund balance (rainy day fund) to augment revenues and reduce the amount raised by property taxes. Next year, the commission proposes to draw only $2,100,100 from the fund balance, $1,649,000 less than this year. Consequently, the amount to be raised by property taxes is projected to increase from $14,043,149 in 2012 to $15,299,640 in 2013.
Laconia City Manager Scott Myers, who must tailor the municipal budget to the city's property tax cap, said yesterday that a nine-percent increase in the county tax, which counts against the cap, will add to the challenges of preparing the 2013-2014 budget. Laconia bears approximately a fifth of the total county tax burden. This year the city budgeted $2,775,035 for the county tax. An increase of nine-percent would add about $250,000 to that amount in 2013.