Only minor mishaps reported in big storm (240)

02 09 Church snowblower DS

Chuck Laurent, sexton at Laconia Congregational Church, clears the walkway between the church and parish house on Thursday morning, when much of the region was holed up during a cold, windy snowstorm that left the better part of a foot in Laconia. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

 

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A major snowstorm brought more than 8 inches of snow to the city by late afternoon Thursday, forcing the closing of schools and resulted in many cancellations. But, despite poor traveling conditions, only minor accidents were reported.
Police said that Meredith Center Road was closed for about an hour Thursday morning when a tractor-trailer became stuck when it was unable to make its way up a hill. Other than that there were only few minor skidding accidents and traffic was very light due to the storm.
Laconia Public Works Director Wes Anderson said that the storm brought more snow than was expected and that crews were out in full force starting at 9 a.m. Thursday.
“The forecast Wednesday night was for 3 to 6 inches, which wasn’t enough to call a snow emergency, which would have meant no parking on roads. Thursday morning we had to call on police to help us get vehicles off the road by contacting the owners so we could plow some streets.” said Anderson.
Salt trucks were out at 7 a.m. and by 9 a.m. six large trucks, two mid-size trucks and several pickup trucks, which are used to keep the police and fire stations clear, were in action according to Anderson.
“There really wasn’t much traffic. People stayed off the roads if they could and we didn’t have a lot of people out there who had problems,” said Anderson.

School budget half-mil short for next year

Prior to salary talks, Laconia schools expect $1 million in new expenses

By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — In 2017-2018, local schools can expect $590,000 in new revenues based on the city's property tax cap and state aid, while new expenses could exceed $1 million, members of the Laconia School Board learned Tuesday.

Business Administrator Christine Blouin, speaking to members of the district's budget and personnel committee, said over $1 million in increased expenses will primarily stem from New Hampshire Retirement System costs for teachers, which are expected to rise 11 percent; and health insurance costs, which are expected to increase about 7.7 percent.

The tax cap, which limits the annual increase in spending funded by property taxes, is based on the rate of inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index — Urban (CPI-U), for the prior calendar year; and the value of new construction, which is calculated by multiplying the value of building permits minus the value of demolition permits issued between April 1 and March 31 by the prior year's property tax rate.

Last year, for the first time since the tax cap was first applied in 2006, the CPI-U was projected to be at or near zero — the CPI-U ultimately used to calculate the 2016-2017 budget was 0.1 percent.

For 2017-2018, Blouin said the CPI-U has been calculated to be 1.3 percent. With $19 million in building permits, she said the school district can anticipate $590,000 in revenues. The tax cap calculation estimates call for $532,389 derived by building permits and CPI and roughly $62,000 from miscellaneous revenues such as adequacy and vocational funds, totaling $594,389, she reported. The figures are estimates only, she added.

State adequacy aid partly stems from enrollment estimates so this year the forecasts are for a minor increase.

"Our enrollment seems about flat, roughly," Superintendent Brendan Minnihan said Tuesday.

But the retirement system and health insurance cost spikes again will put pressure on the district, said Mike Persson of the Laconia School Board, chairman of the budget and personnel committee.

And Persson said new salary costs from pending teacher negotiations are not included in the $1 million in additional expenses.

Persson, when asked how much teacher raises could add to the budget, said that won't be known until the school board negotiates with the teachers union.

"Our teachers are so far behind at this point in time compared with other districts," he said. "Many of our teachers, actually over 100 of our teachers, are over four years behind on their steps. There are a lot of moving parts that we have to consider before we come to that."

In March 2016, the budget and personnel committee distributed a schedule of proposed cuts amounting to $1,641,995. These were cuts from a proposed budget in order to reach the tax cap threshold.

For fiscal year 2016, the total amount of property taxes collected in support of schools — a number controlled by the city's property tax cap — was $22,784,384, according to the current school budget (2016-2017). For fiscal year 2017 and the 2016-2017 school year, that property tax figure was $23,195,328, an increase of $410,944.

This year, as requested by School Board members, an adjustment sheet with the proposed budget will reflect district needs vs. tax cap mandates, Blouin said.

Persson said this comparison will help illustrate the district's financial challenges.

"Maybe it's just a matter of having the tax cap-based budget with the needs-based add-ons to it so we understand the trade-offs that we're making in coming to that budget number," he said.

Blouin said the district's leadership — much of it new due to a turnover in top positions — will focus on developing budget documents.

"We've met with the administrators. We're looking at coming up with a plan to make sure we can meet the tax cap constraints," she said.

Saturday, March 18 is "Super Saturday," the daylong review of the school district budget.

Fishing derby organizers unfazed by storm

By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — Anyone looking to buy tickets online for the 38th annual Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby this weekend needs to do so by noon Thursday, Feb. 9. Based on weather forecasts, today's a good day to stay inside and register via the Internet, anyway.
The National Weather Service predicts a winter storm dumping snow from southwest to northeast Thursday morning "and becoming heavy at times over southern New Hampshire and coastal Maine around mid-day."
For Tim Bergquist, chairman of the fishing derby, the storm is a non-factor.
"It won't stop us. We've had snowstorms come on derby weekend, and the derby has gone on," he said.
The 38th annual Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby will benefit from a recent cold snap, which provided more than a foot of ice on Meredith Bay, Bergquist said.
The forecast for Saturday and Sunday calls for mostly cloudy conditions, with a chance of snow showers both days. Highs are expected to hover near the mid-20s on Saturday and in the mid-30s on Sunday.
Bergquist said online registrations are running ahead of last year. Online ticket sales account for a little more than a third of registrations, he said. Registrations cost $30.
"We're hoping for somewhere over 5,000," Bergquist said of total registrations.
Once the online store for derby ticket purchases closes at noon on Thursday, Feb. 9, tickets will only be available at vendor sites, and at the derby trailer at Town Docks, where the weigh-in station will be located, beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, Feb. 10. Ticket buyers are automatically entered into the cash drawings.
This year, derby organizers are offering 14 derby ticket stub cash prize drawings on Saturday for $100 each and 32 derby ticket stub cash prize drawings on Sunday for $100 each. Drawings will start on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 8 a.m. and will be held about every 15 minutes.
Top prize for the derby is $15,000; second prize is $5,000; and third prize is $3,000. The three top prizes will be awarded to the angler with a valid derby ticket whose name is drawn on Sunday during the Grand Prize Drawing from anglers who are eligible, determined by those who had the largest fish (as defined in the derby rules) in each category throughout the derby weekend.
Derby organizers will be selling raffle tickets at the headquarter trailer for a portable bob house donated by Northern Fabrication Solutions in Tamworth. The bob house is valued at approximately $3,400. Tickets will be $5 per ticket or a book of five tickets for $20.
Bergquist said interest has been high in the bob house.
Also, on Saturday, in conjunction with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, derby will host the "Let's Go Fishing" program. This free hands-on clinic for kids and their parents on the basics of ice fishing will be presented by the Fish and Game Department. The clinic is geared toward kids but is open to anyone; those 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult. All equipment will be provided, and participants do not need to have a fishing license to participate. Goody bags will be given to each participant, on a first-come, first-serve basis until they run out. Sessions will run hourly at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. at in the roped-off area on Meredith Bay near the Meredith Rotary headquarter trailer on Lake Winnipesaukee.
For more information about the derby, visit www.meredithrotary.com/the-fishing-derby.html.

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