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February 26. 2013 8:54PM

Conway sets budget numbers for deliberative sessions

CONWAY - Voters will have a chance to restore funds to the town and school warrants next week, after the Conway Municipal Budget Committee pared down the bottom line of the Conway School District budget and voted not to recommend several warrant articles on the town's warrant.

The deliberative session for the town is at 7 p.m. Monday at Kennett High School. The deliberative portion of the annual school district meeting is at 7 p.m. March 6 at Kennett High School.

Earlier this month, the committee met in a session that lasted several hours, with the 17-member committee trying to find a way to keep property tax increases down. In a 9-8 vote, the budget committee set its recommendation for the school district's operating budget at $33,137,099, with the Conway School Board recommending a 2013-2014 operating budget of $33,509,885. The default budget is $ 33,635,533. The board's proposed budget represents an increase of $966,579 over 2012-2013. These figures do not include special articles.

The school board struggled with the increases in its budget for several months, paring down warrant articles in an attempt to mitigate the tax impact of the jump, which would have an estimated increase of $1.33 per $1,000 of value if the school board's proposed operating budget and other warrant articles are approved. One of the larger increases is in special education, which is going up over 9 percent, from $4,902,563 to $5,346,099.

The selectmen and the budget committee agreed on the town's proposed operating budget of $9,686,674.

The board and committee split on a $3,000 request from Carroll County Transit's senior transportation and the North Conway skating rink. The budget committee voted to recommend a $5,000 expenditure for the Schouler Park skating rink. That does not represent the total cost of getting the rink up and running. The North Conway Water Precinct budgets over $6,000 for the rink.

Among the special warrant articles recommended both by the board and the committee are: $35,000 for the White Mountain Community Health Center; $35,000 for the Gibson Center for Senior Services; $13,000 for Tri-County Community Action Program's fuel assistance program; and funds requested for Children Unlimited, the North Conway Community Center, Vaughn Community Services and North Conway Daycare.

Not recommended by either the select board or budget committee was a $10,000 request from Northern Human Services. Committee member Bill Marvel argued that the town already supports the organization through its nonprofit property tax exemption. It was an argument he used when speaking against other nonprofits, though he said other social service agencies had been more forthcoming when asked how much their property tax would be without the exemption.

Also not recommended by the budget committee was $50,000 for a Conway emergency shelter generator.

The committee voted not to recommend the police contract, even though there will be no impact on the operating budget. Several members objected to the structure of the benefits, and the number of sick days Conway Police Department personnel could accrue and then cash out when retiring.

The residents who show up at the deliberative sessions next week will get the final say on the numbers that will appear on the school and town warrants, with voting April 9.

syoungknox@newstote.com


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