MEREDITH — Despite some misgivings about the magnitude of the projected increase in the property tax rate, the Board of Selectmen this week unanimously approved the 2016 town budget presented by Town Manager Phil Warren.
A public hearing on the 2016 budget will be held during the regularly scheduled meeting of the selectboard on Monday, Feb. 1, beginning at 4:30 p.m.
The selectmen propose total appropriations of $14,265.952, an increase of $216,916, or 1.5 percent. The budget includes includes 2 percent increase in the wages and salaries of town employees, additional personnel in the Town Clerk/Tax Collector's office and the purchase of a tub grinder, which reduces wood and green waste, for the solid waste facility.
The budget projects revenues from sources other than property taxes of $4,734,925, supplemented by $750,000 from the undesignated fund balance. After adjusting for overlay and war service credits, the amount to be raised by property taxes is $9,041,777, an increase of $584,462, or 6.9 percent. The projected tax rate of $5.14 represents an increase of 33 cents, or 6.9 percent.
"That is quite a burden," said selectmen Ray Moritz, who asked Warren to "double your effort to get that increase down to 5 percent. He suggested trimming $158,000 from the budget.
Warren suggested drawing another $200,000 from the undesignated fund balance.
"We have the capacity," he said, explaining that the policy of the board has been to maintain a fund balance of at least 7.25 percent of the budget.
Moritz disagreed. "We have no wiggle in the fund balance," he said while also ruling out any reduction in capital outlays.
"I wish I had something to offer you," Warren replied, "but I don't."
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