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December 30. 2012 9:02PM

Step-raises a possibility for Meredith employees

MEREDITH - Town selectmen say careful spending in the past four town budgets will allow the town to spend money this year on much-needed capital projects, such as new town vehicles.

Town officials are examining giving town employees full step raises for the first time in four years, according to the selectmen.

The town has kept its budgets near level-funded during the past four years in part because the selectmen have been spending money on big-ticket budget items, according to Selectman Peter Brothers.

"We've been very careful in trying to hold back capital projects during the tough economy," Brothers said. "Our objectives have been flat budgets and not to raise taxes."

The selectmen have been putting money into expendable trust funds, knowing they would need to update equipment soon.

They hope to keep the upcoming budget tight as well, hoping for a 1.5 percent or less increase in taxes.

But the town has $750,000 in trust funds that it hopes to match with voter-approved funds to pay for some much needed equipment, including at least one vehicle for the highway department and two new police cruisers.

"We plan to continue to use some vehicles that we replace in other town departments as well," said Selectman Carla Horne.

Meanwhile, the selectmen have met twice to discuss whether to give town employees full step and cost-of-living salary increases. During the past four years, the town has only given partial salary increases to town employees, "in careful increments," Brothers said.

This year that may change, Horne said.

"We're seriously considering it," she said. "I think it's important to take care of our people, this is a tourist-oriented town and we need to show our best."

The selectmen are continuing their work on preparations for the 2013 budget.

dseufert@newstote.com


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