Gilford school spending proposal trimmed by Budget Committee

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — Budget Committee members have decided they will not support the proposed School District budget for next year, nor will they support the proposed three-year teachers contract that will add $300,000 to the 2017-18 budget and $1.6 million in salary and compensation over the contract's three years.

The committee recommends that this year's School District's budget contain $25,725,629 for operations, plus an additional $178,065 representing the 2017-18 bond payment on the renovations to the Elementary School.

In a 6 to 3 vote, the Budget Committee approved the total of $25,903,624, which is $115,702 less that the School Board-approved budget and is also slightly less that the default budget of $25,872,000.

The rationale given by the members of the Budget Committee, led by Chairman Norman Silber, was the majority of the school budget is personnel issues and he cannot support a budget that has 10 of 12 administrators making more than $100,000 and 34 of 146 teachers earning a total compensation package of greater than that same $100,000 annually.

Arguing for his entire budget request and the approval of the proposed teachers contract, Superintendent Kirk Beitler said that only teachers with master's degrees and 10 years or more of service to the Gilford School District are earning that level of compensation. He said further that keeping senior teachers, who often mentor younger teachers, is the best way to continue to make Gilford schools successful.

In a separate action, the Budget Committee voted 5 to 4 to against the proposed teacher contract, repeating their contention that members would have liked the teachers to pay 20 percent of their health insurance costs, as opposed to the 10 percent to which they agreed during negotiations.

This year, the School District is operating under a default budget because the recommended budget was voted down at the March 2016 School District Meeting.

At the previous evening's School Board meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Business Scott Isabelle told the School Board that at the middle of the fiscal year the school budget was on track to finish in the positive. He said that the district so far was $450,000 to the plus on its insurance line, as the dental costs came in lower.

Isabelle added that the special education budget is ahead right now because one outplacement to a private school left the district and two other planned outplacements were able to be served within the district, which saved about $125,000 total in costs. He said there was a little deficit in the middle school summer program.

He said the building maintenance budget is tight largely because of the drainage problem discovered at the elementary school during the renovations. He also said two circulation pumps failed and need to be fixed. Ideally, said Isabelle, they should be replaced.

A Budget Committee public hearing will be held tonight (Thursday) at the Gilford High School Auditorium at 7 p.m. for both the Gilford Town Budget and the Gilford School Budget. The School Board will meet briefly after the public hearings have ended.

Bill would slow sale of State School property

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

CONCORD — Legislation has been introduced that would change the process for selling the former Laconia State School on North Main Street by requiring that any transaction be reviewed and approved by the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee, whose voting members include four senators, four state representatives and an appointee of the governor.

Rep. Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett), a former Speaker of the House who remains in the leadership of the House as chairman of the Public Works and Highways Committee and has long served on the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee, sponsored the bill — House Bill 340. He has opposed the sale of the property since it was originally proposed in 2010.

The bill has been referred to the Public Works and Highways Committee, but a public hearing has yet to be scheduled.

The 20i6-2017 state budget directed the Department of Administrative Services to sell the property. The directive stipulated that the transaction would be subject to the requirements of RSA 4:40, the statute governing the sale or lease of state property, but exempted it from review and approval by the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee. The committee would determine whether, as the statute reads, "the property is no longer needed by the state" and commission an appraisal of its value.
The entire property stretches over about 245 acres, divided into five parcels, three of which are leased to the city, and houses 27 buildings and several smaller structures. The main campus straddling Right Way Path consists of approximately 200 acres. The buildings and land are beset with environmental issues and numerous encumbrances, which diminish its value and appeal to prospective purchasers. The property was appraised for $2.16 million in 2012 and the state budget projected $2 million in revenue for its sale. However, the actual value of the property remains in question.
In the past the city has expressed interest in acquiring the property and in 2012 offered to purchase it for its appraised value, but the state declined the offer. If a private party makes an offer to purchase the property, Laconia, as the host municipality, would be given, under state law, an opportunity to match that offer.

Suspects sought in Meredith Village Savings Bank robbery

 

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Police released this security camera image from the Meredith Village Savings Bank to media. (Courtesy image)

By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Police are looking for a man and a woman suspected of robbing the Meredith Village Savings Bank at 379 S. Main St. Wednesday morning.
On Jan. 11 at a minute after 10 a.m., Laconia police responded to the bank for a reported robbery, according to a department press release.
A preliminary investigation conducted by the responding units and the Bureau of Criminal investigations revealed that two subjects entered the bank, police reported. A slender-built white female with a gray hooded sweatshirt approached the counter and handed a note to the teller demanding cash, police said. The other subject was described as a "light-skinned black male subject, approximately 45 years old," police said.
Both subjects fled the area on foot in a southerly direction on South Main Street with an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.
Police are continuing to follow leads from surveillance cameras and tips from the public. Anyone with any information can contact the Laconia Police at 603-524-5252.
Nobody was hurt in the incident, according to bank personnel.

Riley4The woman police are looking for is Kristi Riley, 31, of 102 Province St., Laconia who is white, 5 feet 6 inches, about 170 pounds, with hazel eyes and brown hair.

Chaka1Also sought is Chaka Meredith, 41, of 461 Elm St., Laconia, a black man who is 5 feet inches, about 200 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair. Warrants are out for the arrest of both.
Meredith Village Savings Bank, at 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, reported on Facebook, "Thank you to all of you for your support after today's robbery in our Laconia branch office. We wanted to let the public know that no one was hurt. We are very grateful for the actions of the staff in that office and the immediate and strong support of the local police. Should you feel you have any information, please contact the Laconia Police Department. The Laconia branch has re-opened for drive-up business only. We believe the office will open for regular hours tomorrow."
A sign on the locked door of the bank Wednesday notified customers that the drive-through remained open but that the lobby was closed.

Police have responded to other bank robberies in the area in the past four years.
On Jan. 3, 2014, around 3:25 p.m., police investigated a bank robbery at the Bank of New Hampshire, 62 Pleasant St. An investigation led to an arrest warrant being issued for Johnathan C. Ellinger. Ellinger ultimately was captured and sentenced to a 3- to 6-year sentence for armed robbery.
On Oct. 10, 2013, around 4:34 p.m., the Meredith Village Savings Bank, Alton Branch was robbed. A single suspect entered the bank and brandished a handgun. While holding a bank employee at gunpoint, the suspect jumped over the counter and emptied the teller drawers, fleeing the scene with an unknown amount of cash. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Marvin Eugene Ansteth, Jr., 40, of Somersworth, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Portland to armed bank robbery charges. The charges arise from the armed bank robberies of Peoples United Bank in Exeter on Oct. 7, 2013; of Meredith Village Savings Bank in Alton, on Oct. 10, 2013; and of Kennebunk Savings in Eliot, Maine, on Oct. 19, 2013.

 

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 Police are investigating a Wednesday morning robbery of the Meredith Village Savings Bank at 379 S. Main St., Laconia. Suspects are a man and woman, who fled on foot, police said. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)

 

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