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Volunteers prepare new room at Carey House

LACONIA — With the smell of homemade lasagna wafting up the stairs, volunteers from the Mountainview Church in Sanbornton painted a new room at the Carey House homeless shelter, which will now be able to house an additional family.

According to former deacon Wayne Blackey, church members do volunteer work year long but recently decided to do another program and called it "40 Days of Community."

"Amanda (Lewis) is part of our small group and our service project was to redo this room," Blackey said.

Other "40 Days of Community" projects included cleaning a recent widow's yard in Sanbornton, providing meals for a woman who recently had surgery and hosting a baby shower for a woman with no family.

Lewis is the Carey House director. She works with various local social service programs and provides temporary housing for the homeless. With the additional family room, Lewis said they can now house four families, 14 individual men, and six women.

The new room can house a small family of three and used to be Lewis's office. She said she moved downstairs and the Mountainview Church redid all of the electricity and communications systems with Monday's night's painting and homemade dinner being the final chapter.

She said one of the former tenants donated some bedroom furniture and the house will be working with Ippolito's Furniture of Meredith with getting mattresses.

"They have helped us in the past and we are very grateful to them," Lewis said.

Owned and operation by the Salvation Army, the Carey House is the only year-round homeless shelter for people in the Lakes Region, although the new, seasonal Belknap House is scheduled to open sometime this winter.

Carey House is a sober and drug free home and it's mission is to provide temporary housing for people while they get back on their feet.

"Unless they're coming back to say "hello," we hope they don't ever have to come back," she said.

"Recently, one of our men was able to get his own apartment," Lewis said, noting how proud everyone was of him.

Lewis said that with the cold weather, the demand for Carey House services increases and they have recently had to turn away a lot of people.

"I imagine that this new room will be filled within a few days of us finishing it," Lewis said.

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Police have 'solid' suspect in burglary of Lakeport vapor shop

LACONIA — City police said they have a solid suspect in the Monday into Tuesday burglary of the Great Northern Woods Electronic Cigarette Store at 57 Elm Street that was reported Tuesday morning.

Police said that the person forced his or her way into a wooden bulkhead into the basement of the building and worked his or her way up into the store. They said some smoking flavors and an undisclosed amount of cash were taken. They said he also that the person was able to disarm the alarm and the inside video cameras, but there are other videos police have obtained.

Anyone who may have additional information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.

 

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City manager fears health insurance spike will add significantly to budget building hurdles

LACONIA — When the City Council met this week City Manager Scott Myers suggested that preparing a city budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year that complies with terms of the property tax cap promises to be no less a challenge next year than last.

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.

Myers recalled that last year the rate of inflation was a mere 0.1 percent while the value of new construction was $27.2 million. This year, after 10 months, the values of the two multipliers are reversed as the CPI has risen to 1.1 percent, but the value of new construction has fallen to $13.8 million. From these numbers Myers has calculated that city expenditures can increase by approximately $367,000 without breaching the tax cap.

But, contributions to the New Hampshire Retirement System alone, Myers said, will increase by some $200,000. He said that the city has yet to receive a "not to exceed" projection of the increase in its contribution to the cost of health insurance premiums for its employees. but projections received by other municipalities, he said, were "mostly in double digits," which Myers found "very scary." This fiscal year the city budgeted $2.6 million for health insurance. An increase of 10 percent would represent an additional cost of more than $260,000. "Right now it's ugly," Myers said. He said when asked what keeps him awake at night, "personnel costs we can't control."

Meanwhile, the collective bargaining agreements with the four unions representing city employee— the Laconia Professional Firefighters, Laconia Police Association, State Employees Association and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — expire in June. Myers said that negotiations for new contracts presented an opportunity to address some costs.

Myers noted that he has no reason to anticipate significant increases in municipal revenues from sources other than property taxes to supplement the budget. Instead, he referred to a report issued last summer by the New Hampshire Municipal Association, which tallied the revenues withheld from and the expenses transferred to cities and town by the state during the past six years. He urged the councilors to press local legislators to begin restoring state funding to municipalities, especially municipal revenue sharing and proceeds from the rooms and meals tax, as well as the state's share of the contribution to the New Hampshire Retirement System for municipal employees. "We need to engage our delegation," he said, referring to the 18 members of the House of Representatives from Belknap County and especially the five who represent the city.

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