By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA —While keeping within the tight bounds of the tax cap, City Manager Scott Myers, last night recommended a city budget for fiscal year 2017 that would would increase total expenditures by 3.4 percent and infrastructure investment by 10.4 percent.
The manager's proposed city budget of $23,585,193, represents an increase of $779,732, which includes funding a 2.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment for city employees and a 9.71 percent increase in health insurance contributions while increasing spending for capital projects by $177,000, from $1,698,000 this year to $1,875,000 next year.
The rate of inflation was a mere 0.1 percent, representing additional spending of just $41,170, but the $32 million of value in new construction added $710,402. Altogether, the tax cap permits an increase of $751,572 in the amount to be raised by property taxes, of which $292,583 is allotted to the city, $410,983 to the school district and $48,006 to the county.
At the same time, the county assessment dropped by $128,195, increasing the share of the permitted increase in the amount to be raised by property taxes to the city by $176,201, from $16,009,430 to $16,185,630.
Meanwhile, revenues from sources other than property taxes are projected to rise by 4.4 percent, from $7,088,614 to $7,399,525, or by $310,911. Proceeds from motor vehicle registrations are expected to increase by $185,000 while transfers from the state, Rooms and Meals Tax receipts and Highway Block Grants add another $76,000. Charges for city services, up 4.4 percent to $53,244, account for most the balance.
In other words, with the decrease in the county assessment and the increase in revenue from sources other than property taxes, Myers proposes spending more than twice what the tax cap permits while budgeting within the limits it imposes on the amount to be raised by property taxes.
Myers recommended applying $1,500,000 to street repairs, which includes $100,000 appropriated but unexpended for winter maintenance, and suggested drawing on another $600,000 from contingency. In addition, he proposed allocating $75,000 to design the construction of Court Street, $25,000 for sidewalk improvements, $25,000 for replacing fencing and guardrails, $100,000 for drainage upgrades, $20,000 the ongoing study of drainage problems, $30,000 for bridge maintenance and $100,000 toward the total cost of $368,000 to upgrade radio towers for emergency communications.
In addition, Myers proposed borrowing $1 million to fund the reconstruction of 2,200 feet of Lakeside Avenue, a project that will included improvements to the sewer and drainage systems, $300,000 for upgrades to the drainage on Messer Street north of the Winnipesaukee River and $3 million for repairs and enhancements to the downtown parking garage.
With the proposed school district budget of $37,994.497 the grand total appropriation of $64,703,008 represents an increase of 1 percent. Less total revenues of $26,66,672, the total amount to be raised by local property taxes is $38,041,336, and increase of $690,921 or 1.8 percent, which represents a projected tax rate of $19.86 based on a n assessed valuation of $1,915,868,173. Withe state education property tax of $4,462,978, levied at a rate of $2.37, the projected tax rate would be $22.23, an increase of three cents.
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