Survey suggests support for higher parks budget

LACONIA — To date, the 120 responses to the "Budget Survey," which invites residents to register their opinions on how their property tax dollars are spent, indicate that while a minority believes the city is spending too much, most consider current levels of funding about right or too low.

The survey asks residents to rank 11 city departments — administration, planning, city clerk, parks and recreation, library, public works, police, fire and water and sewer — in order of priority and indicate whether they think the funding for each should decrease, increase or stay the same.

The Parks and Recreation Department attracted the strongest support from respondents. While a minority of 53 or 46 percent of all respondents, deemed the budget sufficient, a majority of 60 or 52 percent called for it to be increased and only 3 respondents wanted it cut.

Similarly 56 respondents or 48 percent favored maintaining current spending at the Department of Public Works, but another 58 or 50 percent favored increased spending on maintaining and improving infrastructure. Only 3 respondents found the department's budget excessive.

Likewise, the current budget of the Fire Department found support from 56 or 48 percent of respondents, but another 50 or 43 percent opted for increased expenditures for emergency services and just 11 or 9-percent .

The results were much the same for the Police Department. Only 14 respondents or 12 percent favored reduced spending while 63 or 54 percent considered the budget sufficient and 39 or 34 percent though it should be increased.

Administration, which includes the city manager, assessing department, legal expenses, finance office and welfare department, drew the highest number of responses in favor of reducing expenditures — 47 or 40 percent — and the fewest in favor of raising expenditures — 8 or 7 percent.

Only 21 respondents, or 18 percent, called for cutting spending by the Planning Department, which includes code enforcement, while 69, or 59 percent, found current funding sufficient and 27, or 23 percent, though it should increase.

Three-quarters of respondents found the budget of the City Clerk's office appropriate while only 13, or 11 percent, considered it excessive.

A majority of 55 percent favored maintaining the library budget at its current level while the 20 percent of respondents wishing to reduce it were outnumbered by the 26 percent preferring to raise it.

The City Council will resume its discussion of the 2014-2015 city budget recommended by City Manager Scott Myers when it meets on Monday, April 28 at 6 p.m.