LACONIA — Belknap County commissioners are holding the line on taxes.
Chairman David DeVoy said that although the total spending proposal for 2016 is up more than 31 percent, the amount to be raised by taxes is the same as this year, $13,387,714.
The proposed 2016 budget of $35,235,571 includes $8,113,359 for a new county jail, to be financed by a borrowing, as well as $350,000 in anticipated grants for the Corrections and Sheriff's departments.
This year's budget was $26,823,695. The 2016 proposal, minus the county jail bond, is $27,122,212.
DeVoy said the commissioners will present their budget proposal to the Belknap County Convention on Dec. 7. At that meeting, the commissioners will also discuss their plans for financing the $8 million bond for the new community corrections facility.
DeVoy said the county must respect Laconia's property tax cap, which will likely prohibit any increase in the amount to be raised by taxes.
Commissioners are looking to structure the bond issue with an eye to keeping payments lower, especially during the early years while the county is still paying off $1.4 million in other debts.
Devoy favors a bond anticipation note which would allow the county to borrow only the amount it needs, when it needs it, not the entire $8 million. He hopes to present that plan to the convention at the Dec. 7 meeting.
After approving the bond issue on Nov. 2, the county convention passed a nonbinding resolution to use the county's unreserved fund balance to pay off the county's current $1.4 million debt obligation over the next three years, saving $1 million in interest charges. The resolution, proposed by Rep. Brian Gallagher (R-Sanbornton) and passed by a 12-3 vote, recommends a 20-year bond issue with level payments of $530,000 per year over the life of the bond.
Convention Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) opposed the nonbinding recommendation, saying he favors a 25-year bond spreading the cost of the new jail over a longer period so taxpayers who would benefit from the new facility would be paying a larger share.
Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton) recently reminded the commission of the convention's overwhelming vote in favor of Gallagher's recommendation.