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January 31. 2013 10:29PM

Litchfield town deliberative session set for Saturday

LITCHFIELD - Local residents will have an opportunity to amend more than 15 warrant articles and a proposed budget during Saturday's town deliberative session.

According to Town Administrator Jason Hoch, the recommended operating budget of $5,045,145 is about $80,000 more than the current budget.

"About $35,000 of that increase is the added cost from the New Hampshire Retirement System," said Hoch. "That is what everyone is dealing with right now."

Other adjustments to the budget include third-year wage increases from a police union contract and the anticipated hiring of four to six on-call firefighters, according to Hoch.

Voters will review 18 warrant articles, although some of them are typical housekeeping items. There is a request for $12,500 to be used for preliminary engineering costs to design a sidewalk on Pinecrest Road that would connect the bike path on Albuquerque Avenue with Litchfield Middle School. The fee, Hoch said, is just for the design plans; the actual construction costs will likely be presented to voters at the 2014 annual meeting. "We know how popular the Albuquerque Bike Path has become, so we want to get the ball rolling to eventually connect the path to all of the schools," he said. "This is step one towards doing that."

There is a separate request to allocate $10,000 to repair the entrance to the town hall and police station. The requested funds, according to Hoch, are leftover from the town hall roof replacement last year.

"There is severely deteriorated concrete at the front entrance," he said, adding the existing columns at the entryway also need to be repaired.

Residents also will be asked to appropriate $20,000 to repaint the old town hall, $10,000 for an engineering study to determine possible designs for a wastewater sewer system and nearly $19,000 for a 2 percent cost of living adjustment for nonunion town and library employees.

Another warrant article, which is advisory only, seeks to gain public comment about the current official ballot voting, or SB2 form currently used by the town. The article asks for insight into whether town residents would like to revert to the traditional town meeting for conducting its annual meeting.

"If there is interest to go back to the traditional town meeting style, then it will be placed on the warrant next year to discuss the merits of each type of government," said Hoch.

Saturday's deliberative session begins at 10 a.m. at Campbell High School, 1 Highlander Court.

The school district's deliberative session will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the high school.

Election Day is March 12.



khoughton@newstote.com

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