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Hooksett departments dig deep for staff raises

The Hooksett Town Council unanimously agreed to give non-union town employees a 2 percent raise for the second year in a row, at a total cost of roughly $60,000.

Even though the town is operating from a default budget for the second year in a row and the raises were not approved by voters in a warrant article, town council Chair James Sullivan said the council had the authority to grant the pay raises.

"We did get public input, and the 2 percent raises were important because it keeps non-union employees' raises in line with union employee raises voters approved in May. The raises will not affect the services that citizens are provided by the town, which was a key to my vote," Sullivan said.

According to town administrator Dean Shankle, the value of the raises is $59,247.18 and will go to employees including the police and fire department chiefs, the office of the town clerk and tax collector, family services and library employees.

"It is important for morale and fairness that we reward our employees who do hard work. It's not a lot of money, and it keeps them from falling behind union workers. If union workers keep getting raises but non-union workers don't, you could have supervisors making less than the people under them. The raises were a good management thing to do."

Of the roughly $60,000, Shankle said only about $14,000 had to be transferred from line items in the budget to departments that couldn't cover the cost.

"Everyone looked at their budgets to help figure out how everyone could get a raise. The bigger departments like the fire department had no trouble finding the money, but some of the smaller departments like family services and the library did," Shankle said.

To cover $7,698 worth of raises for the library, Shankle said the town would transfer money from tipping fees at the recycling center, while the $7,519 for the town clerk's office, family services, and the accessing and finance departments came from the fire department's budget.

"It just shows that the employees worked together to make this happen. Trying to encourage each other and move things forward, it shows a good sense of camaraderie between the departments," Shankle said.

Shankle said that as a contract employee, he would receive no extra money as a result of the 2 percent increase.

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