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School officials looking to cut $474 to meet tax cap

LACONIA — School Superintendent Terri Forsten told the City Council this week that the School Board is seeking to trim $474,000 from its 2015-2016 budget to comply with the limits of the city's property tax cap.

Business Administrator Ed Emond explained that revenues from sources other than property taxes are projected to rise by $690,000, which together with the $710,000 additional spending allowed by the tax cap will enable the school district budget to increase by $1.4 million. However, the board foresees "needs and obligations" totaling $1,874,000. These include increases of $662,000 in health insurance costs, $660,000 in payroll expense, $58,000 in debt service, $16,000 in busing costs, $268,000 in retirement contributions and $210,000 in strategic planning initiatives.

The strategic planning initiatives include a full-time law enforcement instructor — replacing two part-timers — and 14-passenger van for the Huot Technical Center, staffing and material expenses at the elementary schools, transportation costs for Project Extra, security cameras at all schools and a pay raise for substitute teachers.

Forsten suggested that some costs would be spared through attrition, anticipating a number of retirements and indicating that the positions would not be filled.

Forsten said that while enrollment has declined in seven of the past eleven years but risen slightly this year, the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, which is a measure of financial hardship, has increased in ten of those same years. In 2004, the 788 students who were eligible for the federal lunch program represented 32 percent of the total enrollment of 2,443, but this year their number grew to 1,270, or 60 percent of the student body of 2,107. Moreover, 90 percent of those eligible qualified for free rather than reduced-price lunch, indicating a higher level of hardship.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 12:38

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2nd-hand stores that buy from the public would be covered by new pawshop regulation ordinance

LACONIA — The Government Operations and Ordinances Sub-Committee of the City Council on Monday unanimously endorsed a proposal by the Licensing Board to tighten the ordinance regulating the operations of pawnshops and secondhand dealers, which will be presented to the council for approval next month.

A secondhand dealer is defined as any person or corporation that buys, sells or exchanges secondhand goods, but the definition would apply only to those who purchase secondhand articles "directly" from the general public.
Both pawnshops and secondhand dealers are regulated by the state. The statute bearing on pawnbrokers (RSA 398) applies only to municipalities with populations of 40,000 or more, but may be adopted by all cities and towns. Although the city enacted an ordinance "to ensure compliance of pawnshops to deal in legally obtained items" in 1975, the state law authorizing the city to license pawnbrokers was not adopted until 2010. The state law authorizes municipalities licensing pawnbrokers to also regulate them. Consequently, at the same time, the ordinance was amended to require pawnbrokers to provide the police a written record of property within 24 hours of receiving it and to hold property for 14 days before selling it.

However, the ordinance applied only to pawnbrokers, and in December 2013 the police recommended it be extended to secondhand dealers under the authority granted to municipalities by state law (RSA 322).
Detective Kevin Butler told the committee that less than 20 businesses in the city would be subject to the ordinance. Although no business owners attended the committee meeting, Butler said that when the terms and purpose of the ordinance were explained, the legitimate businesses understood that it was intended to discourage trade in stolen goods and would protect them against receiving stolen goods.
The proposal prepared by the Licensing Board would apply to both pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers and would require both to be licensed by the city. A pawnbroker is defined as any person or corporation that lends money at interest and takes property as security, which may be sold if not redeemed.

Applications would be submitted to the city and investigated by the police. who would report to Licensing Board. No license would be issued to any firm, whose owners or employees had been convicted of theft, burglary, fraud or receiving stolen property in the prior 10 years. Licenses would be issued for a specific location and could not be transferred to another person or corporation. Licenses would carry an initial fee of $100 and an annual renewal fee of $25.
Pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers would be required to record the date and time of purchases, amount paid or loaned, as well as the interest rate, along with the name and address of the seller or borrower, type of article, brand name, model number, and serial number, color, any identifying marks; and if jewelry, the metal as well as kind, number and, if known, carat of any stones. The transaction record would include a color image of the property. The ordinance would require transaction records be kept for seven years
Sellers and borrowers would be required to produce photographic identification, including their full name, date of birth and street address, which the pawnbroker or secondhand dealer would attach tot he transaction record. Transactions with anyone younger than 18 would be prohibited unless they were accompanied by a parent or guardian, who would be required to sign the transaction record.
Pawnbrokers would required to hold property taken in pawn for four months after acquiring it, unless the item was perishable, in which case it could be disposed of within a month with permission of the police. Pawnbrokers or secondhand dealers purchasing property for money would be required to hold it for 14 days. Pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers would be required to file transaction records electronically on a specified form with the police within 24 hours of the close of the business day when the transaction occurred. Violations of the ordinance would carry a fine of $100 per day or suspension or revocation of license

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 12:16

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LHS graduation date to be firmed up April 7

LACONIA — With seniors at Laconia High School reportedly concerned about the date of graduation, school Superintendent Terri Forsten said yesterday that "we're following the same process we've followed for years. We wait until the the snow stops flying, determine how many days we need to make up, consider our options and set a date."

Students expecting to graduate on Saturday, June 6 fear that to compensate for school days lost to foul weather the ceremony may be held a week later on June 13.

Forsten said that school closed for three days because of snow storms this winter, noting that a state of emergency was declared on one of those days, reducing the number to be made up to two. In addition, she said there were several late starts to be taken into account. She explained that in the past 30 minutes were added to the end of the school day and seniors took classes or performed community services on Saturdays. "We have a number of options," she remarked.

"This year there has been a bit of clutter," Forsten observed. "There are a few processes we need to go through," she continued, stressing that "no decision has been made"

Forsten anticipated that the School Board will weigh the issue when it meets on Tuesday, April 7. "That is within our normal time frame," she insisted.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 12:09

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Hanson will again chair Inter-Lakes School Board

MEREDITH — In a brief reorganization meeting this week, the Inter-lakes School Board unanimously re-elected incumbents Richard Hanson of Center Harbor, who has served on the board since 1998, as chairman, Lisa Merrill of Meredith as vice-chairman and Sally Whalen of Center Harbor as secretary.

The board amended its policy on fundraising by students to prohibit "door-to-door" fundraising. Superintendent Mary Ellen Ormond explained that the safety of students was the uppermost concern prompting the change of policy. Proposals to amend the student dress code and the process of appointing an interim or new principal in the event of either an unforeseen or anticipated vacancy were tabled pending further consideration.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 March 2015 11:50

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