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Falling revenues from sources other than property taxes putting real strain on Belknap budget

LACONIA — After completing their first pass at the 2014 county budget this week the Belknap County Commissioners found themselves with a preliminary plan that would increase appropriations 2.4-percent to $27,013,237 and the amount to be raised by taxes 7.2-percent — to $14,887,599.

Although the commissioners pruned appropriations requested by county departments by $2.1-million, they stressed that their work was not done. The commission will present its recommended budget to the Belknap County Convention next month.

The amount to be raised by property taxes represents the difference between the total appropriation and revenue from sources other than property taxes, which may include monies drawn from the undesignated fund balance.

The projected increase in the tax commitment is less a function of increased expenditures than of eroding revenues.

Although the total appropriation of $27 million represents an increase over the current budget, it is $2.7 million, or 9.1 percent, less than was budgeted in 2008 and $2.0 million, or 6.8 percent less than was budgeted in 2009. (Total appropriations of $30.3 million in 2010, $32.1 million 2011 and $30.8 in 2012, were supplemented by federal funds distributed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.)

The 2013 budget soured relations between the commission and the convention. The commission proposed expenditures of $26.8-million, which were not only much less than the three previous budgets but also $2.9 million, or 9.9 percent, less than in 2008 and $2.2 million, or 7.6 percent, less than in 2009. However, the commission recommended augmenting revenues from sources other than property taxes by $2,100,000 compared to $3,750,000 the year before, which increased the amount to be raised by property taxes 8.9 percent. The convention reduced spending and adjusted revenues, trimming the tax commitment to $13.8 milion, 1.1-percent less than the $14 million raised in 2012.

Since 2008 revenues, exclusive of fund balance, have declined from $13.4 million to $10.1 million, almost 25 percent. Meanwhile, the tax commitment has risen from $14.3 million to a projected $14.9 million, an increase of 4.3 percent. In 2008, $2 million of fund balance was added to revenues and the commission recommends applying an equal amount in 2014.

Earlier this year Moody's Investor Service affirmed its AA2 rating on the county's outstanding debt, dropping its qualified "negative outlook." The report noted that "the county has managed to constrain expenditure growth in recent years, but the growth rate is estimated to continue outpace revenues."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 03:03

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Inter-Lakes students hear from local soldier in Afghanistan during Vet Day program

MEREDITH — Students and guests at the Inter-Lakes Elementary School Veteran's Day program got to hear first hand Friday morning from a soldier from their community who is currently serving in Afghanistan.
Second Lt. Erik Miller, the son of I-LES 4th grade teacher Wanda Miller, took part in a video teleconference in which he answered questions from students about his daily routine in Afghanistan and what the weather is like in that remote, mountainous country.
A 2008 graduate of Inter-Lakes High School, Miller graduated from Texas A&M University in 2012 and told the students he is an intelligence officer and leads a platoon of 21 soldiers who gather information about enemy activities in order to predict where they will attack next.
He said that some of the information which is gathered helps Allied forces know when and where roadside bombs will be placed.
Miller, whose father Robert is a Vietnam veteran, says that he usually works 15 hours a day and is up at 5 a.m. to start his day with an hour-long workout.
''It's really, really hot here or blistering cold and very dry. It's a harsh environment. But the standard of living in the area controlled by American forces has grown a lot in recent years,'' says Miller.
He told the students that he decided to join the Army after an 9th grade Spanish class and that he is happy that he chose the Army because it provided him with leadership opportunities that were not available in other branches of the service.
Also speaking at the program, which featured patriotic songs performed by the elementary school band and chorus, were Griggs-Wyatt Post American Legion Commander Robert Kennelly and Master Sgt. Elliott Finn, both of whom served in the Korean War.
Kennelly talked about World War II and described how the war began for America with the attack on Pearl Harbor and saw Japanese forces in the Pacific rapidly capture American and British bases in the Philippines and Malaya.
Kennelly recounted how President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the famed Doolittle raid on Tokyo in 1942 using B-24 bombers launched from an American aircraft carrier, which led to a decision by the Japanese to try and take Midway Island and push the American fleet even further away from Japan and the islands it was capturing,
He said that the American aircraft carriers were able to launch a strike in early June of 1942 which destroyed three of the four Japanese aircraft carriers in a five minute attack (a fourth was sunk the next day), ending the Japanese attack and forcing their invasion fleet to retreat.
''It took three more years to end the war, but after that battle the Japanese never again were able to take the offensive,'' said Kennelly.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 November 2013 02:19

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Center Harbor tax burden up 1.9%

CENTER HARBOR — The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration has set the 2013 property tax rate at $13.19 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of 22 cents, or 1.7-percent.

The amount to be raised by property taxes increased by $94,151, or 1.9-percent, from $4,913,333 to $5,007,484, while the total assessed valuation rose by $768,882, from $383,053,544 to $383,822,426, or. 0.20-percent.

The town tax increased from $4.81 to $5.16, the state education tax from $2.60 to $2.63 while the local school tax dropped from $4.07 to $3.92 and the county tax from $1.49 to $1.48.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 November 2013 02:15

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Alton tax commitment falls by 0.6%

ALTON — The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration has set the 2013 property tax rate at $13.44 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a decrease of 24 cents, or 1.8-percent.

The amount to be raised by property taxes declined by $126,067, a decrease of 0.6-percent, from $19,422,625 to $19,296,558, while the total assessed valuation grew by $16,422,389, an increase of 1.1-percent, from $1,436,859,553 to $1,453, 281,942.

The town tax remained unchanged at $3.68. The local school tax decreased from $6.02 to $5.86, the state education tax from $2.55 to $2.50 and the county tax from $1.43 to $1.40.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 November 2013 02:09

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