City Manager’s budget funds new fire station, road works

LACONIA — With one-time revenues of $300,000 along with increased revenues from sources other than property taxes, City Manager Scott Myers last night presented the City Council with a 2014-2105 budget that would increase city expenditures by $973,495, while limiting the amount raised by property taxes to within the bounds of the tax cap.

Myers proposes expenditures of $22.4 million, 4.5-percent more than the $21.4 million appropriated in 2013-2014. However, $300,000 of the increase represents an increase in the outlay for street repairs — from $1.3 million to $1.6 million — funded with a one-time credit from the Concord Regional Solid Waste Resource/Recovery Cooperative. Save for this windfall, Myers projects revenues from sources other than property taxes to rise by 2.9 percent, the largest annual increase since the advent of the recession.

Less the one-time expenditure for street repairs and $130,000 for membership in the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association, which for the first time was billed directly to the city rather than included in the county assessment, the increase in budgeted appropriations would be 2.5 percent.

Myers said that the budget includes funding for wage adjustments anticipated as result of new collective bargaining agreements, which are currently being negotiated with the State Employees Association (SEA) , American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Laconia Professional Firefighers and Laconia Police Association. Likewise, the budget funds the employer contribution to health insurance premiums, the increase of which will not exceed 7.22 percent.

Myers said that budget funds the addition of a third mechanic. The city once employed four mechanics, but now has only two, he explained. The hours of a part-time fire inspector, would be increased to sustain inspections, especially of multifamily buildings. The budget provides for three-quarters of the salary and benefits for the additional police officer hired during the current fiscal year as well as five weeks compensation and benefits for the four firefighters hired in May 2013 for two years with a federal grant that expires at the end of 2015.

Myers proposes appropriating $2,021,000 in the operating budget for capital projects. Apart from street repairs, these include bleachers and tennis courts at Memorial Park, sidewalk and guardrail repair and replacement, traffic signals at Court and Fair streets, repair to the deck of the parking garage and drainage improvements throughout the city. In addition, Myers recommends borrowing $4.1 million to renovate and expand Central Fire Station, $1.2 million to address contamination at the abandoned dump on Frank Bean Road and $800,000 for the city's share of reconstructing the Main Street Bridge.

Myers projects that with an increase in the total assessed valuation of $19-million, the proposed budget would add 18 cents to the city portion of the tax rate, which would rise from $8.55 per $1,000 of assessed value to $8.73. The local school tax rate is projected to increase by 27 cents. Meanwhile, the county tax rate is projected to drop by four cents and the state school tax rate by 10 cents. Consequently, Myers projects a net increase in the municipal tax rate of 31 cents, from $22.08 to $22.39.