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Meredith spending would rise 3.2% in 2014 under plan drafted by town manager

MEREDITH — Town Manager Phil Warren outlined his proposed budget for 2014 to the Board of Selectmen at a workshop yesterday. He recommended increasing municipal expenditures by $430,186, or 3.2 percent, from $13,627,664 to $14,057,850.

Warren began by recalling the parameters set by the selectmen in September when they agreed that current service levels, themselves reduced from prior years, should be maintained without introducing new programs or services. Likewise, no new positions should be created and no job reclassifications should be approved while vacancies would be evaluated as they occur rather than automatically filled. The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) should continue to be funded, with consideration to deferred expenditures for replacing equipment and improving roads as well as to reconstructing the Public Works facility. Finally, the Selectboard agreed to weigh step raises and salary adjustments for employees once the budget is complete in January.

Warren said that he was recommending increases of $218,406 in the town operating budget and $106,000 in the water and sewer operating budget. The CIP budget of $1,792,000 would include $277,312 for new projects, $475,000 for expendable trust funds and the balance in debt service. Expendable trust funds of $200,000 for the Fire Department and $275,000 for the Public Works Department would be applied to purchases of a rescue vehicle and equipment replacement. An appropriation of $177,000 would be applied to exterior renovations at the library.

The town budget includes an appropriation for the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid Association budget, which was stricken from the county budget and will now be billed directly to member municipalities. The budgets of the police, fire and parks and recreation departments were increased to meet the cost of operating facilities and replacing equipment.

Warren said that workers compensation costs are expected to rise 7 percent and health insurance premiums by an equal amount, which he described as "very competitive in this market."

Warren told the selectmen he projects $397,000 will be added to the undesignated fund balance at year, bringing the total to $2.5 million. This year $1,475,000 was drawn from the fund balance of $3.6-million, of which $750,000 was spent on capital projects and $725,000 was added to revenues to offset to reduce the amount raised by property taxes. Warren anticipated that less could be withdrawn to offset property taxes in 2014 than in past years.

The selectmen will hold work sessions on the budget on December 9, 10 and 11, beginning at 4 p.m. in the Town Hall Annex.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 03:12

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2013 Meredith property tax burden up 7.2%

MEREDITH — The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration has set the 2013 property tax rate at $14.41 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an increase of $1.79, or 14 percent, over the 2012 rate.

The amount to be raised by property taxes rose by $1,664,699, from $23,180,421 to $24, 845,120, an increase of 7.2 percent, while the total assessed valuation shrank by $115,283,407, from $1,856,317,320 to $1,741,033,913, a decrease of 6.2 percent.

The town tax increased from $4.20 to $4.55, the local school tax from $4.76 to $5.76, the state education tax from $2.29 to $2.59 and the county from $1.37 to $1.51.

Town Manager Phil Warren told the Board of Selectmen that the increase in the tax rate was primarily a result of the decline in the assessed valuation, itself a reflection of an adjustment to the equalization ratio, which measures the relationship between assessed values and market values. In 2012, the ratio was 106.1 percent, indicating that assessed values exceeded market values by 6.1 percent.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 03:05

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Rail fans were thinking of Ray Burton on Saturday

MEREDITH — The annual Railroad Promotion Marketing Day went off as planned Saturday despite the absence of the man who started it, Executive Councilor Ray Burton, and nearly 200 people headed north from the Meredith Train Station on the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad for a train ride and lunch at the Plymouth Senior Center.
Burton, who has served as Executive Councilor for District 1 for 18 terms and recently announced that he would not run for re-election due to a re-occurrence of kidney cancer, was honored the day before at a ceremony at a scenic overlook in Bretton Woods near the Mount Washington Hotel which drew both of the New Hampshire's U.S. senators, Governor Maggie Hassan, as will as past governors and state officials that Burton has served with in his nearly 40 years in state service.
State Senator Jeane Forrester (R-Meredith) spoke at Railroad Promotion and Marketing Day and praised Burton for his many years of service, in particular to the North Country, and announced that she will introduce legislation to name the overlook with views of Mount Washington in honor of Burton.
''He had a big hand in many important things that have happened in the state and had a strong commitment to the whole district, especially the North Country, '' Forrester.
Mike Cryens of Hanover, who has served 18 years as a Grafton County Commissioner with Burton, said that the county will name the site of the old Grafton County Jail, which was recently torn down from its location on a scenic bluff, will be renamed Ray Burton Park in honor of the long-time North Country political leader.
''He was a dedicated public servant who was always upbeat and positive,'' said Cryens, who drew a big laugh from the crowd with his story about Burton.
''It seems that a young reporter went up to Ray after Bernie Steeter had retired and asked him how it felt to be the dean of the Executive Council. Ray took him over to a map and pointed out how large his Executive Council district was and asked 'why would I want to be known as Dean of the Executive Council when I'm already King of the North Country?' ''.
Lyman Cousens, who worked with Burton to promote railroad safety for many years, said that all passengers on the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad trip would receive a commemorative mug honoring Burton's work.
Ben Clark, president of the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, said that Railroad Promotion and Marketing Day will continue to be a tradition after Burton leaves office and that Burton will forever be remembered for his service to those who live in the North Country.


Rail trip

State Senator Jeane Forrester (R-Meredith) speaks at Railroad Promotion and Marketing Day at the Meredith Railroad station Saturday. The annual event, which was started by Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who recently announced that he will not run for re-election due to a re-occurrence of kidney cancer, drew about 200 people who rode on the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad to Plymouth and back. Forrester announced that she will introduce legislation to name an overlook with views of Mount Washington in honor of Burton. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 02:58

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Laconia votes for city, school & police officials today

LACONIA — Today is Election Day, when voters will choose the mayor and six city councilors who will serve from 2014 to 2016.

The polls open at 8 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.

The polling station in Ward 1 is at the Belknap County Nursing Home, in Ward 2 at the Parish Hall at Sacred Heart, in Ward 3 at Laconia Middle School, in Ward 4 at the Memorial Park House, in Ward 5 and Woodland Heights Elementary School and in Ward 6 at Leavitt Park House.

Voters will be asked to show photographic identification. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver's license, non-driver ID or voter ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, United States armed services ID card, United States passport, and student ID card from a college, high school licensed to operate in the state or recognized by the New Hampshire Department of Education. In addition, the moderator, supervisor of the check list or city clerk may accept any other photo ID or vouch for the identity of the voter. Names on ID cards must substantially conform to the names on the checklist.

There are two candidates for mayor, Kailief Mitchell and Ed Engler. Three of the sitting city councilors are running for re-election without opponents — Ava Doyle in Ward 1, Henry Lipman in Ward 3 and Brenda Baer in Ward 4. The remaining three City Council seats are contested. In Ward 2, the candidates are David Bownes and Richard Beaudoin. In Ward 5, the candidates are Bob Hamel and Tom Tardif. IN Ward 6 the candidates are Tony Felch and Armand Bolduc. Sample ballots for each of the six wards are available on the city website. Under departments, click on City Clerk, then click "Elections."

Voters may also register to vote on election day upon proof of identity, citizenship and residency.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 02:54

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