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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.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 01:17

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Teen robbed of bicycle on Sunday night

LACONIA – A 15-year-old boy reported to police that at 10:59 p.m. Sunday someone pushed him off his bicycle while he was on Church Street and stole it.

Police said the boy was unharmed, and police recovered the bicycle yesterday morning behind the Post Office near where the boy reported it stolen.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252.

Last Updated on Monday, 24 March 2014 11:49

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City police search for armed robber

LACONIA — Police are searching for a man who allegedly robbed a man at gunpoint Sunday at 4:09 p.m. while the two were in a car on Joliet Street in the city's South End.

Police said the victim and a second passenger were acquainted with Joshua McNeil, 31, whose last known address was 239 Winter St. in Brockton, Mass.

Police said McNeil was sitting in the back seat of the car when he allegedly pulled out a hand gun and told the passenger to get out somewhere on South Main Street. The driver of the car and McNeil continued to Joliet Street where McNeil allegedly demanded money from him.

When the driver emptied his pocket and showed McNeil his wallet was empty, McNeil allegedly hit him in the head with the handgun and took off on foot.

Police, who are familiar with McNeil, said the driver had a lump on his head but wasn't otherwise injured.

There is an active warrant for McNeil's arrest for armed robbery.

McNeil is described as being between 5-feet, 7-inches tall, weighing about 160 to 170 pounds with brown eyes and black hair. He has three tattoos on his neck included a colored flower on the front of his neck.

Police said he should be considered armed and dangerous and asked anyone who may have information leading to his whereabouts to call Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717 where an anonymous tip can be left.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 12:21

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Hosmer to amend casino bill to give revenues directly to municipalities

CONCORD — Senators Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia) and Lou D'Allesandro (D-Manchester) will offer an amendment to legislation authorizing slot machines and table games at two casinos to distribute $22-million of the annual tax revenues from gambling operations to cities and towns throughout the state.

Senate Bill 366, which was tabled in the Senate earlier in the session, will be brought to the floor for a vote on Thursday when D'Allesandro will propose the amendment.

Hosmer said yesterday that the cities and towns of District 7, which he represents, would receive $1.3-million in each year of the biennium. Laconia would receive $646,946, Belmont $77,735 and Gilford $86,370.

Hosmer said that during the past several years the state has reduced funding to cities and towns through the distribution of proceeds from the Rooms and Meals Tax and Highway Fund while increasing the contributions towns are required to make to the New Hampshire Retirement System. "This comes at a good time," he remarked. "Otherwise the pressures on local property taxpayers will only increase."

Tacitly acknowledging the stubborn opposition to the expansion of gambling in the House of Representatives, Hosmer remarked that increased funding to municipalities "should allay concerns about how this money will be spent among House members."

Hosmer said that he and D'Allesandro are seeking to muster support for the amendment from their colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 12:28

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