City's Public Works employees to get pay raise

By RICK GREEN
The Laconia Daily Sun

LACONIA — The 16 members of a Public Works Department bargaining unit will get an immediate 1 percent pay raise and another 1 percent hike on Jan. 1, the City Council has decided.

The contract confirmed by the council Monday covers equipment operators, truck drivers and laborers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Their salaries range from about $15 an hour for an inexperienced laborer without a commercial license to about $25 for an experienced general equipment operator.

The pay hike under the 12-month contract is the same as given to administrative and technical employees and firefighters. The Laconia Police Officers union and the city are still negotiating on a new contract.

Like the other groups, the Public Works employees are going to a new health plan. The co-pay for a doctor's office visit will increase from $20 to $25. The contract also includes money for experience step increases and hikes for retirement, Social Security and Medicare, a clothing allowance and an educational stipend.

Increases in the contract will cost $20,492.

Gilford sets hearing on highway grant

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — Residents will have an opportunity to weigh in on how the town uses its portion of a $30 million highway grant to New Hampshire communities that was announced on Monday.
The Gilford Board of Selectmen will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 9, as required by law for unanticipated revenue, before it is able to officially accept the $191,047 grant.
The money is part of the state’s year-end surplus. Normally those funds go into the revenue stabilization reserve account, commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund, but legislators agreed to distribute $30 million of this year’s surplus to municipalities as a one-time supplement to the regular annual grants that assist communities with road improvement projects.
Town Administrator Scott Dunn said the selectmen will be asking for suggestions on which roads should be repaired with the money.
The town has a road maintenance plan that identifies road projects that should be done over the next five years, but the plan can be adjusted, based on available funds and a review of the priorities.
The town had already scheduled another public hearing for Aug. 9, which addresses a petition to have the town accept a section of road known as Kimball Road Extension. By accepting the road, it would make it a Class V highway with the town having responsibility for its maintenance. The town would have to make sure it is in suitable condition for public travel, but it also would gain regulatory control over the road.
Both hearings will take place at the beginning of the regular selectmen’s meeting.
Selectmen are still looking to fill positions on the sign review committee. They have two more openings for members of the public and are looking to appoint someone with a real estate background, as well as a representative of a nonprofit organization.
The sign review committee will make a recommendation on how to address a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found content-based regulation of speech violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and that towns must treat all signs equally.

Belknap County commissioners trim down spending requests

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — When the Belknap County Delegation meets on Aug. 8 at 7 p.m, at the Belknap County complex to take up supplemental appropriation requests from the Belknap County Commissioners, delegation members will find that the dollar amounts for two of the requests are lower than they were when first brought before the delegation in May.
Belknap County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that the Corrections Department's request for $136,500 will drop to around $100,000 while the Sheriffs Department's request for $93,000 will be reduced to $26,000.
The delegation will also be considering for the first time a request for a $135,000 supplemental appropriation to make up for an increase in the $6.2 million health and human services budget line that pays for private nursing home care for county residents.
Belknap County Commissioners voted unanimously last week to allow Corrections Superintendent Keith Gray to hire four new officers even though the delegation has yet to approve a supplemental appropriation. He said that they are needed in order to open the new 18,000-square-foot, 72-bed Belknap County Community Corrections Center.
Commissioners have maintained that the budget approved by the delegation lacked sufficient funds to hire the new officers and asked the delegation to approve a $136,500 supplemental appropriation for the new officers.
The delegation considered the request at its May 22 meeting and it failed on a 7-7 tie vote after Delegation Chairman Herb Vadney (R-Meredith) ruled that Delegation Vice Chairman Ray Howard (R-Alton) could not abstain on the vote. Howard then voted against the appropriation, creating the tie vote.
DeVoy says that the commissioners will reduce their request as it originally included funds for the more costly family health insurance plan for the newly hired officers, which it now appears will not be needed.
He said that the commissioners received a letter from Belknap County Sheriff Mike Moyer this week in which Moyer projects that $26,000 will enable his department to make it through the year without exceeding the budget approved by the delegation.
DeVoy said that the process of hiring the new corrections officers is proceeding and that has enabled work to resume on the final phase of he corrections center project of renovations to the existing jail.
He said that some of the inmates in the current jail will be temporarily transferred to the corrections center while work on the old jail is completed.
DeVoy expects that work will resume next week on the jail portion of the $8 million project.

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