After lengthy review, Derry councilors scheduled to approve municipal budget
DERRY — After conducting a lengthy line-by-line review, town councilors are scheduled to cast their final votes on the proposed fiscal year 2015 budget Tuesday night. The council will decide at the meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the third-floor meeting room of the Municipal Center, on the approximately $37 million spending plan and whether to make an additional $400,000 in cuts.
If the budget is approved, the projected tax rate would be $10.22 per $1,000 for town services, acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau said in an email Friday.
A simple majority vote is required to pass the budget.
Councilors began reviewing the budget in a series of workshops last month. Having spent a number of hours analyzing the budget, councilors sometimes debated whether to cut an item or pass it forward.
“It’s never an easy decision,” Councilor Joshua Bourdon said Friday. “It can be emotional and we are doing the best we can on behalf of our constituents, the people who elected us here to make those decisions.”
So far, the council has cut $392,660 from the proposed budget trimming personnel line items, including the removal of the community development coordinator position at $112,000 per year, as well as a number of capital improvement items, Budreau said.
But of the items cut, none has been as contentious as the $235,625 reduction in salary and benefit increases not mandated by contract, that councilors opted to make earlier this month.
Before the 6-1 vote was taken, Budreau and Chief Financial Officer Frank Childs warned that such a reduction could have dire financial consequences.
“I think this would be a travesty for the town of Derry,” Budreau said.
Next year, the town could be facing a difficult situation to bring the budget within the town’s tax cap, with possible cuts in service to be considered, Childs said.
“You’re facing a very, very difficult situation next year that will involve serious discussions by you about service deliverability,” Childs said.
But Council Chairman Mark Osborne said he felt like he’d heard a similar discussion last year at budget time about possible gloomy financial scenarios if certain cuts were made. But he added things still seemed to work out well, in his view, with the current budget.
Childs then said the past year has worked out because the town’s management team has done a good job of overseeing the budget and keeping costs down. Childs also cited a significant increase in revenue of approximately $650,000, from such sources as a rooms and meals tax.