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Goffstown voters to mull fire station improvements

Union Leader Correspondent

February 02. 2014 9:24PM

GOFFSTOWN — Voters will be asked to approve a $4.5 million fire station improvement program and a $19,580,945 town operating budget at the deliberative session.

The deliberative session takes place Wednesday at 7 p.m., at the Goffstown High School auditorium. The snow date is Thursday at 7 p.m., same location.

The proposed 2014-15 budget is an increase of $307,656, or 1.6 percent, over the current year’s budget. If the proposed budget fails, the default budget would be $19,596,061 — about $15,000 more than the default budget. Also up for vote is a special warrant article for the $4.5 million fire station improvement plan.

At the start of the budgeting process, town department heads had requested $23,691,124, but selectmen cut that amount to $20,243,515.

The budget consists of $4,717,712 for the police department, an increase of $87,115 from last year; town hall is at $2,379,883, an increase of $75,391; public works at $5,107,687, a decrease of $26,303; fire department at $2,576,457, an increase of $81,963; parks and recreation at $428,333, an increase of $232; town library at $717,710, an increase of $14,589; the town’s capital improvement plan for $1,166,606, an increase of $1,424; the sewer fund at $1,742,762, an increase of $76,224; and the emergency medical services fund at $417,962, an increase of $3,380.

Included in the CIP are $450,000 for the road plan, $72,206 for two police vehicles and an Interceptor SUV; one fire forestry vehicle to replace a 1968 Jeep and serve as a rapid response vehicle at $95,000; and eight Public Works Department vehicles at $549,400.

Another driving force in the budget is a 14.4 percent increase in health insurance costs for employees. However, the budget eliminates any increases for wages or longevity pay for 53 non-union town employees, who increased their contributions to health and dental plans by 3.5 percent this year.

The 2014 projected tax rate on the town side in 2014, not including special warrant articles, is $9.33 per $1,000 property valuation, a decrease of 39 cents over the 2013 tax rate of $9.72 — or a decrease of $97.50 for a home assessed at $250,000. The proposed budget also takes into account a 0.5 percent increase in the town’s property assessment for 2014.

If the budget and warrant articles are approved, the total 2014 projected tax rate would be $9.44 property valuation, a tax decrease from 2013 of $70 for a $250,000 home.

Warrant articles

The proposed fire station bond would repair, update and expand the town’s three fire stations at a cost of $4,565,000. If approved, there would be no tax impact in 2014. Bond payments would begin in 2015, resulting in a 27-cent increase to the tax rate for the first year. In subsequent years, the bond payments would add 26 cents to the tax rate per year for 19 years.

Another warrant article requests $80,000 to rebuild the Pleasant Street bridge sidewalk and underlying structure. There is no tax impact, as the project would be paid from an unreserved fund balance.

Also carrying no tax impact, with money coming from an unreserved fund balance:

• A request for $73,000 to rebuild the Tyler Drive detention pond and the Maple Avenue/Smith Road treatment area.

• The Town Hall ADA lift bond of $40,000 would replace the existing lift and install an ADA-compliant vertical elevator at Town Hall.

• Public library exterior painting and repairs would cost $35,000.

• Police Department Server Virtualization Project would provide upgrades to the servers, data storage and disaster recovery at a cost of $75,000.

• A $25,763 warrant for self-contained breathing apparatus for the Fire Department would allow Goffstown to participate in a six-town grant to replace the town’s apparatus. The grant of $1,099,734 is for all six towns, with Goffstown’s matching portion of $25,763.07.

A warrant article asks to place $100,000 in the Fire Department Apparatus Capital Reserve Fund to help offset the purchase of new fire apparatus in the future. The tax impact is 7 cents per $1,000 valuation.

A $20,000 warrant would help support the Goffstown Main Street Program, with a tax impact of less than 2 cents.

A warrant asks voters to support the youth drug, alcohol, and suicide prevention programs of Goffstown’s nonprofit Crispin’s House. The cost is $20,000, with a tax impact of less than 2 cents.

A warrant for $5,000 will support Goffstown Waterway Association’s effort to manage milfoil in Glen Lake. This appropriation would be combined with grant funds to begin the project. The tax impact is less than 1 cent.

Politics Goffstown

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