State School sale in gov’s next budget

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu has included the sale of the former Laconia State School property on North Main Street in his proposed budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Sununu has directed the Commissioner of Administrative Services to sell the property without requiring the transaction to be reviewed and approved by the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee. The budget directs the commissioner of administrative services to present quarterly reports to the Fiscal Committee of the Legislature on the progress of the sale.

Sununu's recommendation mirrors that of his predecessor, Gov. Maggie Hassan, who also proposed selling the selling the property on the same terms during the current biennium ending on June 30, 2017. However, while the current budget projects $2 million in proceeds from the transaction, Sununu has not specified a projected return from the sale.

The governor's budget also includes appropriations of $271,405 in each year of the coming biennium to maintain and secure the property.

Meanwhile, the Senate and the House of Representatives have each endorsed different bills bearing on the sale of the property. Senate Bill 36, sponsored by Senator Chuck Morse (R-Salem, the President of the Senate, would convene a committee to consider the sale and make a recommendation to the governor by April 1. Morse, who first proposed selling the property in 2010, bristles at the annual cost of maintaining it and has repeatedly said he wants it "off the state's books."

On the other hand, Rep. Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett), who has been reluctant to part with the property, sponsored House Bill 340, which would require any sale to be reviewed and approved by the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee, of which he is a longtime member.

Chandler said Monday that he and Morse are scheduled to meet in hopes of reaching agreement over their two bills.

Inter-Lakes School District Meeting to discuss salaries

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — Voters participating in the annual Inter-Lakes School District Meeting Wednesday night will decide whether teachers and support staff get significant pay raises.

"These are negotiated items," district Superintendent Mary Moriarty said Monday.

"We always want to ensure we are able to attract the highest quality professionals to our district. There is also a desire to be competitive within the market."

Teachers would see a 2.5 percent increase in base wages each of the next three years. If approved, the hike would take effect on July 1.

Salaries now range from $39,000 annually for a starting teacher to $69,000 for a teacher holding a master's degree plus 30 graduate credits and 10 years of experience.

Support staff would see a wage increase of 10.57 percent, or $1,855, in the first year, and annual increases of about 6 percent each of the following three years. The average hourly salary of a support staff member would reach about $15 by the end of that period.

The School Board and associations representing 112 people in the teacher category and six full-time and 68 part-time staff members have tentatively agreed to the wage plans.

The school district, which has about 1,000 students, is to increase its budget $377,928, or 1.58 percent, from $23.93 million to $24.31 million under a proposal to be voted on in the meeting.

That increase, combined with a projected revenue decrease of $181,621, will require the district to raise $559,549 in the form of a net assessment increase for the operating budget alone.

An owner of a home assessed at $250,000 in Meredith would see a yearly property tax increase of $167, while the increase would be $40 for a home in Sandwich in the coming year.

A similar home in Center Harbor would actually see a property tax decrease of $115 under a formula that takes into account changes in student attendance counts and equalized property tax assessment from different communities.

Another item on the agenda at the meeting will be a request to add $100,000 to the district's facilities maintenance expendable trust. Money is set aside in the fund to cover expected expenses like painting, building refurbishment and capital improvements, said Assistant Superintendent Trish Temperino.

"We use that as a guide to schedule things that need to be done," she said. "We schedule those out to equalize the financial impact each year."

The Inter-Lakes School District's Annual District Meeting will be held on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Robert F. Pottle Gymnasium at Inter-Lakes High School, 1 Laker Lane, Meredith.

Voting on candidates for School Board will take place Tuesday, March 14, in Sandwich at the Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; in Center Harbor at the Town Hall from 8 a.m. to 7p.m.; and in Meredith at the Community Center from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There are no contested races for School Board.


Millions in spending up for discussion at Meredith Town Meeting

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — Voters participating in the yearly Town Meeting on Wednesday, March 15, will decide a series of measures that would boost recommended yearly municipal spending to $14.72 million, up from $14.02 million expended last year if the town operating budget and all warrant articles pass.

Property tax would go up 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $38 for a $200,000 house.

"The increase is necessary to keep up with inflation and the costs of providing services," said Town Manager Phil Warren.

Money measures include $13.84 million for general municipal operations and an additional $880,000 for Public Works, the Fire Department, the library, waterfront infrastructure, solid waste and recreational facilities.

Also to be considered at the Town Meeting will be expansion of eligibility for a $500 veterans tax credit.

Under the proposal, the credit would be available to any resident, or the spouse or surviving spouse of any resident, who had at least 90 days of active service in the military and was honorably discharged.

Participants in the Town Meeting will also consider the purchase of 200 acres of land adjacent to Page Pond Community Forest for conservation purposes.

No new tax money is to be used for this purpose. Instead, the land is to be purchased from the Winn Mountain Corporation for $1.12 million with grants, private donations and transfers from conservation funds.

Also to be considered is discontinuing Leavitt Mountain Road as a public roadway from its start at Chemung Road to its termination within property owned by Linda R. Lee Revocable Trust 2003.

Warren said this is less than one mile of dirt road that is not maintained by the city.

The ballot will also include measures that would revise definitions of designated wetlands, and of mobile homes. Another article would allow certain types of sheds. Another would establish rights to certain uses, trades and recreational facilities in the business and industry district.

The Meredith Town Meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Inter-Lakes High School, 1 Laker Lane, Meredith.

Also, voters will cast ballots in the Meredith Community Center on Tuesday, March 14, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., in the town election. None of the candidates face opposition.

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