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Selectmen call for 2-15 Meredith budget hike of 1%

MEREDITH — The Board of Selectmen have proposed a 2015 town budget of $14,050,368 for 2015, which represents an increase of $145,794, or 1 percent, over the total appropriation approved in 2014.

The board said that the budget maintains the levels of service of 2014, which represent a reduction of those of 2008, the year the board began restraining the amount to be raised by property taxes. No positions have been created or reclassified and vacancies arising from retirements or resignations will not be automatically filled. Likewise, no new programs or services have been introduced.

The budget includes a wage adjustment, or cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) of 3 percent for municipal employees along with merit based step increases for eligible employees. In addition, voters will be asked to approve the cost items totaling $12,270, which represent increased compensation and benefits, included in the three-year collective bargaining agreement negotiated by between the town and the State Employees Association of NH, representing employees of the Department of Public Works (DPW).

The increase in the budget includes expenditures for the purchase of two police cruisers and additions to expendable trust funds for a front loader and dump at the DPW and a utility truck for the Water and Sewer Depaertment. Nevertheless, the $475,000 appropriated for capital projects is $177,859 less than in 2014, a decrease of more than 27-percent.

Less estimated revenues from sources other than property taxes of $5,230,197 and $630,000 drawn from the undesignated fund balance plus overlay and war service credits of $266,750, the amount to be raised by property taxes is $8,456,921, an increase of $117,534, or 1.4-percent. The projected town tax rate of $4.84 represents an increase of seven cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Town Meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11 at Inter-Lakes High School.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 February 2015 01:38

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Meredith man charged with claiming $8k in unemploymet benefits while he was working

MEREDITH — A True Road man is free on personal recognizance bail after being charged with unemployment fraud after an investigation conducted by the New Hampshire Employment Security Fraud Division.

Richard Normandin, 46, of 20 True Road #6 faces one count of felony fraud after allegedly unlawfully accepting $8,182 for himself in unemployment benefits.

According to State Police affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division and drafted by arresting officer N.H. State Police Det. Craig McGinley, Normandin allegedly received checks totaling $14,353.80 from Eagle Machine Company on Hawkins Pond Road in Center Harbor from January 9, 2010 until December 30, 2011 as well as the $8,182 in unemployment benefits.

The company is no longer in Center Harbor and it is not known if it is still operating.

During a telephone conversation between the employment security investigator and Normandin on December 2, 2014, Normandin allegedly said he was working for Eagle Machine at the time and he didn't have any reason to file for unemployment benefits.

Affidavits said his story varied at times and was often inconsistent.

He allegedly told the inspector that he had help filing for unemployment from his father and his daughter and he didn't claim any earnings from Eagle Machine because he thought he was being paid "out of pocket".

Normandin told the investigator that he was the only one who had access to the post office box where the unemployment checks were sent and told the investigator it was his "ultimate responsibility," said affidavits.

After getting a subpoena from a Belknap County grand jury to search his bank accounts, the bank gave him Eagle Machine Company account records in the names of Paul M. Normandin, Sr., Paul Normandin, Jr. and Richard Normandin.

Affidavits said some Normandin's checks were signed as employee and some of them were signed a payee.

Police compared the endorsement signatures on the checks from the company to the endorsements on the checks from the Department of Employment Security and found them to be identical, with three exceptions, in which it appears the signatures were forged.
On February 10, 2015, police learned that Normandin made a phone call to his daughter, who is incarcerated at the state prison for women. All phone calls in and out of jail are taped and police said Normandin told his daughter that the IRS is "coming after him" and she asked if it was "because of that "unemployment (explicative)?"

He told his daughter that when he was in an accident in 2010, his father (now deceased, according to Center Harbor Police) was paying him through personal checks so he could collect unemployment.

Judge Jim Carroll ordered Normandin to be released on $10,000 personal recognizance bail and to sign a waiver of extradition.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 February 2015 01:40

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Bitter cold prevents some school buses from getting on the road

ALTON — Despite all area schools having a two-hour delay because of the sub-zero temperatures Monday morning, Alton Schools had the day off because some of the diesel-engine school buses wouldn't start.

Superintendent Bob Cullison said administrators were just arriving when he got a call from Barnstead Elementary School reporting the Barnstead buses wouldn't start.

He said if either of the elementary schools (Alton or Barnstead) can't get their children to school, then the district policy says the high school must be canceled as well. He said all of the students use the same buses and the only high school students who would be able to attend would be driving their own cars.

Gilford Superintendent Kent Hemingway said his district had a few problems with buses serving the middle and high school levels.

He said he was notified by First Student that two of the buses for those routes wouldn't start and they sent out an alert to notify parents.

Hemingway said eventually one of the buses started however the other didn't and those parents were notified they had to get their own children to school.

He said he was told the affected buses had block heaters, used to keep the diesel fuel from becoming viscous in the cold, however the power for the block heaters came from the battery, which drew down the charge, leading to starting problems.

At low temperatures, diesel fuel can become viscous — hence the use of block heaters and glow plugs to keep the fuel warm. Diesel engines require very high compression to create the heat required for firing and starting can be problematic in cold temperatures.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 February 2015 01:45

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Tilton Police investigating car/pedestrian hit & run

TILTON — Police are actively investigating a hit-and-run accident Sunday night at 6:50 p.m. that occurred in the west-bound lane of Rte. 3 in the Lake Winnisquam area.

Police Chief Bob Cormier said Jeffrey Lorette, 19, of Belmont was walking toward Tilton, near the Anchorage At The Lake cabins when a vehicle headed in the same direction struck him and kept driving.

Cormier said it appears the man was struck by the passenger-side mirror of the car and may have sustained a broken arm.

He said Lorette was knocked down and wasn't able to identify what kind of vehicle struck him. He was able to get up and walk to a nearby home and call for help.

Cormier said the was some evidence from a car recovered at the scene.

Police ask if anyone was on Route 3 near the Anchorage just before 7 p.m. or knows anything about the hit-and-run they are asked to call Tilton Police at 286-4442.

Cormier said that people who are walking and driving along Rte. 3 should take extra care because the road is narrower with the snow banks. He also suggested that people who are walking after dark wear reflective clothing and walk in the opposite direction of traffic.

In his time as chief, Cormier said he had seen quite a few car-pedestrian accidents along Rte. 3, including one fatal one. He encouraged people to pay attention while they are driving and be wary of pedestrians walking along highways.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 February 2015 01:41

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