Gilford town budget hearing promises tough questions
GILFORD — At the request of the town, the executive director of the Lakes Region Planning Commission will be on hand tonight for the town budget hearing, at which residents will consider a proposed $13.1 million budget.
The presence of the planning commission's Jeffrey Hayes was requested because members recently voted to cut the town's $8,500 yearly dues payment to the commission. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Gilford High School in Lecture Rooms A and B.
The move was made because of a bill in the Legislature that would eliminate the state's nine regional planning commissions by 2015. The committee also had an issue with the salaries at the commission, as they are perceived by budget committee members, said Town Administrator Scott Dunn.
Hayes said he will gladly attend the hearing, and said it is in Gilford's best interest to remain a member of the 30-community commission, which was created in 1968 and recognized by the state as an official regional planning commission in 1970.
"We hope they stay as members," Hayes said. "I am hoping that as they get more information from us, they will moderate their view."
The Lakes Region Planning Commission, which takes 10 percent of its budget through members and the rest from state and federal grants, is helpful in "cost-avoidance" for Gilford, Hayes said.
It has saved the town money through its program of collecting household hazardous waste, through its work in updating local transportation needs for the state, and many other programs, he said.
"The region works best when all the members participate," Hayes said. "We save the town a lot of money."
The town budget committee's proposed budget is for $13,124,893, while the selectmen are proposing a budget of $13,116,393. The difference is the cost of Lakes Region Planning Commission dues.
The budget includes $1.2 million for the town police station renovation and addition, as well as the town's first payment into the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid system of $78,162, which is now required for the town to use the regional dispatch and support system.
Officials are anticipating that the budget will cause the town's overall tax rate to drop by 26 cents, Dunn said.