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Allenstown: School budget hiked, fire truck supported

ALLENSTOWN - An amended school budget and debate over a new fire truck marked Saturday's town and school district meetings in Allenstown. About 45 residents attended, along with a near equal number of nonresident observers.

The proposed school budget was amended to equal the higher default budget. The budget committee had proposed 1.5 percent in cuts, but restored funding for a school resource officer and the D.A.R.E. program.

According to school board Chairman Thomas Irzyk, the proposed budget would have left the school district short of funds to pay for high school students attending Pembroke Academy.

Resident Dawn LeBrecque proposed amending the school budget to the default budget amount, and the motion carried, 29-16. The default budget amount of $9,521,193 is the same as the 2012 school budget, with certain adjustments included, and is $59,722 higher than the budget proposed by the budget committee.

Irzyk said the default school budget would add 10 cents per $1,000 of property value to the school tax bill. However, budget committee secretary Larry Anderson asserted the increase would be significantly higher. All other school warrant articles were approved.

The strongest debate was over a proposed lease/purchase of a new pumper truck for the fire department. Deputy Fire Chief Paul St. Germaine made the case for the need of the new truck, citing the age of the current equipment. One pumper truck is 36 years old and has needed costly repairs, including fixing its pumping mechanism.

The cost of a new fire truck is $420,702.70 and would be paid for in a lease/purchase arrangement over five years. But some on the budget committee questioned why the fire department wasn't considering the purchase of a less expensive used truck.

Interim Town administrator Shaun Mulholland said it was a timing issue, that buying used equipment requires faster action than the town can give. Most sellers won't wait for the time required for the town to allocate funds or approve a purchase, he said.

The fire truck proposal and all other warrent articles were approved. Allenstown residents will vote on both school and town articles in an election scheduled for Tuesday, March 12.

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