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April 04. 2014 9:14PM

Budget, town engineer likely hot topics in Hooksett

HOOKSETT — Residents have the opportunity today to discuss and potentially amend 16 articles at the Hooksett’s annual Deliberative Session. In addition to a $16,681,262 operating budget, voters can review a police contract representing a 2-percent increase and a $91,884 request for a full-time town engineer.

The latter, said Town Administrator Dean Shankle, is likely to draw the most discussion when residents gather at 9 a.m. today at Cawley Middle School. The tax impact of hiring a town engineer is 6 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation, or $15 on a $250,000 home, but Shankle said the position is likely to save the town on future operating budgets.

In the last seven years, the town has served as a pass-through account for anywhere from $106,000 to $405,000 in engineering costs for local developers.

Shankle said a town engineer would save contractors money while also providing an on-staff resource for municipal projects.

This year’s ballot, added Shankle, has been trimmed to 16 articles.

“We tried really hard to cut down the warrant so it doesn’t take people all day in the voting booth,” Shankle told the Union Leader. “We put the police cruisers and fire department and public works equipment in the budget instead of separate warrant articles for each item. The articles that are still on warrant pertain to things that are required to be there, such as leases and capital reserve requests.”

Including the aforementioned items, the budget committee’s recommended operating budget of $16,681,262 represents a 3.87-percent increase, or an additional $621,720. Should the article be defeated, the default budget is $16,451,761, which signifies a $229,501, or 1.39 percent, bump.

The majority of the increase, said Shankle, is due to contract obligations and increases to insurance premiums.

In addition, the Hooksett Police Union, which sought a multi-year deal, settled with selectmen on a one-year contract extension which represents a 2-percent increase over the current pact. In financial terms, the agreement means a 3-cent increase per $1,000 assessed valuation, or $7.50 per on a $250,000 home.

Should all money articles, including the operating budget, be approved, the total municipal tax rate is expected to increase from $6.88 to $7.08, or an additional $50 on a $250,000 home.

Voters have a final say on all articles at Town Elections on Tuesday, May 13, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. at David R. Cawley Middle School.

roconnor@newstote.com


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