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January 29. 2013 10:45PM

Goffstown voters ready to debate over budget issues

GOFFSTOWN - Residents will discuss the town's budget and several warrant articles at its deliberative session Feb. 6 at Goffstown High School at 7 p.m.

Should voters pass the Budget Committee's town budget and all recommended warrant articles, the estimated town portion of the tax rate is $9.62, a 23-cent increase over 2012, or an additional $50 on a $220,000 home.

Article 11 is the town's operating budget, which is set at $19,382,591. Included in that figure are amounts that could be removed if voters choose to set up revolving funds for cable television and police details.

Article 12 asks voters to approve a collective bargaining agreement for Department of Public Works workers, which will cost $30,208 its first year.

Articles 13, 14, 15 and 16 will have no tax impact, because funding will come from a combination of the town's fund balance, impact fees and grant money.

Article 13 sets aside nearly $277,000 for the purchase of computer software for town offices, Article 14 asks for $169,000 for police department software, Article 15 requests voters to expend $120,000 for the repair of a culvert on town land, and Article 16 sets aside $761,000 for improvements at Main and Pleasant streets, and Main, Elm and High streets.

The design could include the construction of a third town roundabout at the intersection of Main and Pleasant streets.

Budget Committee Chairman Peter Georgantas said because funding for those warrant articles is coming from a surplus of tax dollars, residents have essentially already paid for those items.

"Those funds could be used to offset the tax rate," he said, "but they've chosen to use that money for expenditures that they didn't think would pass in a regular budget."

David Pierce, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the use of the fund balance is at the discretion of the board, which can be used for one-time expenditures or to offset the tax rate.

"The fund balance is most appropriately used for one-time projects - it should not be used for a recurring expense," he said. "These are one-time infrastructure improvement-type projects, and appropriate for the use of fund balance."

Even with $800,000 coming out of the fund balance, Pierce said it remains healthy.

"We still have sufficient reserves in that accounting line that our auditors are happy with," he said.

Article 17 requests $75,000 to be put into the Fire Apparatus Capital Reserve Fund.

Articles 18 and 19 seek to establish revolving funds for purposes currently in the budget - PEG TV and Police Special Detail.

Should those articles pass, the operating budget will be reduced on both the expenditure and revenue side of the budget.

The first fund will be for cable access television provided by GTV, the town's cable access channel.

GTV expenses and revenues are included in the 2013 operating budget. If both the cable revolving fund and operating budgets are approved, $84,000 will be removed from the operating budget and 40 percent of the cable revenue received from the town's cable franchise agreement with Comcast will be placed into that fund.

Voters will also be asked to approve a revolving fund for police details. If the operating budget is approved along with this fund, an additional $55,000 will be removed from the operating budget and all special detail revenue paid by vendors will be placed into the fund.

kremillard@newstote.com


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