$90k short: Gilford learns communications center was not properly budgeted for in police station project

GILFORD — Selectmen voted unanimously last night to spend $154,920 to purchase two new dispatch consoles for the police station expansion project — putting the project $90,000 over budget.

Police Chief Anthony Bean Burpee told selectmen that the amount of money in the $169,000 federal grant to build a communications center and pay for two dispatch consoles is about $90,000 less than it will take to complete the project

Bean Burpee said he met with Ossipee Mountain Electric recently and learned that replacing the two old dispatch consoles with two new ones will cost $154,940. The amount of the grant that can be used for the new dispatch center is $64,280.

Saying the architect "grossly underestimated" the cost of the dispatch center, Bean Burpee came to selectmen to learn how he should proceed.

The new police station was passed at the March 2014 annual town meeting at a price tag of $1.2 million that included the $169,000 federal project. There was a delay in the start date of the construction because the initial bids were far greater than the approved amounts but after negotiations with the lowest bidder one was accepted.

Construction began in April but was delayed when the contractors had to remove additional amounts of ledge at an additional cost of $17,511. Because of the terms of the federal grant, obtained through the state from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, funds must be spent by September 30 or the end of the federal fiscal year.

Bean Burpee said the furniture had been pre-ordered but he and representatives from Ossipee Mountain have just finished the bid specifics for the dispatch center. He said the department needs two consoles because of Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook, the Timberman Triathlon, and other events as well as for emergencies. He also said the two existing consoles are outdated and difficult to find parts for. He said the department can't buy one new one and use one old one because the technology can't be integrated.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said the consoles could be leased and paid for from next year's budget or they could try to find the money in this year's town spending plan. He also said they could petition the N.H. Department of Revenue to use money from the existing surplus but warned selectmen that it's very difficult to get the special dispensation for an emergency.

Selectman Chan Eddy said staying with the old equipment is "buying trouble" and supported getting it done this year as did Selectman Richard Grenier, who noted that he felt they were letting down the voters who gave the town permission to spend $1.2 million and not more.

Chair Gus Benavides said he would support getting it done this year but would not support petitioning the state for using the existing surplus.

Aavid donation of $5,000 goes to Child Advocacy Center in Laconia

LACONIA — The Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center (GLCAC) is one of the recipients of a donation made to the city by Aavid Thermalloy LLC and the company's president and CEO, Alan W. Wong.

The GLCAC recently moved to more spacious quarters at 95 Water Street in Laconia and the funds will be used to help renovate that new space. A community open house will be hosted by the center in September.

Aavid and Wong made the donations in honor of the Laconia-based advanced manufacturing company's 50th Anniversary. Mayor Ed Engler was asked to distribute a total of $20,000 in donations to non-profit organizations of his choosing within the Lakes Region and he directed $5,000 to the GLCAC.

The GLCAC coordinates child abuse investigations within a multi-disciplinary team approach. Professionals from law enforcement, child protective services, victim advocacy, the GLCAC, the Belknap County Attorney's Office, and medical/mental health professionals join together at the Child Advocacy Center to investigate child abuse and provide best practice care to children and their families. Children are interviewed by one person in a child-friendly, neutral environment by trained Child Advocacy Center staff. The child and family receive on-site support services and referrals to appropriate community resources.

Hand-prints line the Child Advocacy Center wall of the children that visit the center, celebrating the strength and courage of these amazing children. The GLCAC also provides community outreach and education.

The GLCAC is a non-profit serving Belknap County that relies on grants, fundraising and community support to provide critical services to children.
The new site of the Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center will provide further community collaboration by adding additional space for community trainings/meetings; a teen waiting room, that is age appropriate for adolescent/teen population; and increased accessibility for families and community partners.

For more information, please visit www.cac-nh.org or call 524-5497.

Aavid Thermalloy designs and manufactures a wide range of thermal management products, from the smallest circuitboard-level cooling solution to several thousand kilowatt industrial applications. It's products are used in personal computing systems such as desktops, laptops and video game consoles in addition to non-PC products like servers, network devices, instrumentation, transportation and other consumer electronics. The company has manufacturing facilities in Italy, India and China, in addition to Laconia.


CAPTION: Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center Program Director Meghan Noyes accepts a $5,000 donation from Aavid Thermalloy LLC via Laconia Mayor Engler at the non-profit agency's new quarters at 95 Water Street in Laconia. (Laconia Daily Sun photo)

Zero inlation factor in '15 likely to put severe strain on Laconia budgets in '16

LACONIA — First the city manager and now the School Board have questioned the preliminary decision of the City Council to cut the draft 2015-2016 municipal budget by $200,000, both warning that the reduction could weigh heavily on future budgets.

The $64.1 million 2015-2016 budget proposed by City Manager Scott Myers would raise $41,291,854 in property taxes, which includes the city, school — both local and state — and county taxes. The council has trimmed, thus far, $84,000 from the city budget and, at the council's direction, the School Board has cut $100,000 from the school budget, which together would reduce the amount to be raised by property taxes to $41,091,854.

Myers , along with Scott Vachon, who chairs the School Board, and Ed Emond, business administrator of the school district, suggested this week that the mechanics of the tax cap would prolong the effects of reducing this budget to the next and beyond.

The tax cap limits the annual increase in total expenditures funded by property taxes to the rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index — Urban (CPI), for the prior calendar year, plus an additional amount representing the value of new construction, which is calculated by multiplying the value of building permits less the value of demolition permits issued between April 1 and March 31 by the prior year's property tax rate. That is, the 2015-2016 budget will be the base against which the CPI is applied as a multiplier and to which the taxable value of new construction is added to calculate the increase in the amount that can be raised by property taxes the following year without exceeding the cap.

For 2014, the CPI was 1.6 percent, which enabled property tax revenue to rise by $640,035 without breaching the cap. The value of new construction was $29 million, which represented additional property tax revenue of $649,600. Altogether the tax cap enabled the amount raised by property taxes to increase by $1,289,635

However, in the first five months of 2015 the CPI has been a negative 0.4 percent, which indicates that the CPI would have to rise to 2 percent in each of the seven remaining months of the year to reach an annual rate of one percent. Very likely the CPI applied to calculate the tax cap for the 2016-2017 budget will be less than one percent.

Myers said that while it is too soon to estimate the value of new construction, he expected that the projects either underway or planned for this construction season would ultimately amount to approximately $20 million of additional property value, about a third less than this year.

Despite the near $200,000 difference between the budgets recommended by the city manager and City Council, the effect of the lower rate of inflation and value of construction in calculating the tax cap for the 2016-2017 budget is negligible — a few thousand dollars.

But, the reduction of both multipliers would reduce the amount to be raised by property taxes within the tax cap by about a third. A CPI of one percent would represent about $411,000 of additional property tax revenue while new construction of $20 million would represent another $452,000. Altogether the amount to be raised by property taxes could increase by some $862,000, about $428,000 or a third less than the increase this year.

At the same time, a $200,000 reduction in the 2015-2016 budget would carry forward to future budgets. With the tax cap tightened by low inflation, Myers has cautioned the City Council against shrinking the budget. He noted that contracts negotiated with the four unions representing city employees include annual cost-of-living adjustments of 2.5 percent, which trigger attendant increases Social Security and retirement contributions, while the cost of health insurance premiums also rises annually. Likewise, he expects the Belknap County tax assessment to increase in 2016-2017 with the renovation and reconstruction of the county jail.

Likewise, Emond noted that as all three contracts with the School District's employees expire on June 30, 2016 and any increase in compensation must be funded in the 2016-2017 budget, along with a likely increase in health insurance costs.

The City Council is expected to finish deliberations and adopt the budget when it meets on Monday, July 13, beginning at 7 p.m.