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Hooksett town manager: Hiring engineer would save money

HOOKSETT — Of the 16 articles on this year’s Hooksett town warrant, the article most likely to draw significant discussion, according to Town Manager Dean Shankle, is a $91,884 request for the full-time salary and benefits of a town engineer for the Community Development Department.

“Anytime you go to add another position to the town staff, people are always hesitant,” said Shankle.

The estimated tax impact for the position is 6 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation, or $15 on a $250,000 home.

But Shankle said the position is likely to save both the town and local developers money that would otherwise be budgeted going forward.

In fact, he said the town spent $106,000 on outsourced engineering services last year, the lowest of the last seven years. In 2008, the total bill was $405,000.

“What we’ve been doing is contracting with engineering firms and most of the money that ends up going to the engineer is a pass through because the developers pay it,” said Shankle. “We looked at the last seven years and the money that came in over those seven years would have given us enough money for us to pay for that full-time position and still given us enough (of his or her) time to work on our own projects.”

In addition, Shankle said the town could become more business friendly by reducing the cost to contractors from roughly $113 an hour to as low as $80 an hour and the position would still pay for itself.

“Developers in town have been complaining since I got here two years ago,” said Shankle. “It would also give someone on staff who could react quicker when certain situations arise and we need someone. So it’s really just as much about convenience as it is cost saving for the town itself.”

Hooksett’s deliberative session is scheduled for April 5, and election day is May 13.

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