DERRY — Town councilors approved the fiscal year 2015 Budget Tuesday night, cutting approximately $400,000 and giving residents a tax reduction.
Councilors voted 6-1 to approve the $36,547,738 budget for town services. Councilor Al Dimmock cast the lone dissenting vote.
When the process started last month, the proposed tax rate stood at $10.39 per $1,000 valuation. With approval of the budget, the rate drops to $10.22 per $1,000, or a cut in the tax rate by 17 cents, Council Chairman Mark Osborne said.
“It isn’t where we want to be, but I do believe, and this council agrees, we are moving in the right direction,” Osborne said.
Before the vote was taken, Dimmock proposed a motion calling for the Taylor Library line item to be reviewed before accepting the budget. Councilors had agreed in a prior vote not to “zero out” the $187,189 item.
Councilor Thomas Cardon said he objected to the consideration of the question, which forced a vote on whether to proceed with Dimmock’s motion.
“I want to keep the Taylor Library funded at its full funding right now,” Cardon said.
Councilors voted 6-1 not to take up Dimmock’s motion.
The council agreed to $392,660 in cuts from the budget for such items as personnel costs, removal of the community development coordinator position at $112,000 per year and a number of capital improvement items, according to administrators.
Of these cuts, none was more contentious than the $235,625 reduction in salary and benefit increases that councilors opted to make earlier this month.
Acting Administrator Larry Budreau and Chief Financial Officer Frank Childs had warned that such a reduction could have dire financial consequences for the town.
Next year, the town could be facing a difficult situation to bring the budget within the town’s tax cap, with possible cuts in services, Childs said.
But Osborne said he’d heard a similar discussion last year at budget time about gloomy financial scenarios if certain cuts were made. Things still seemed to work out well with the current budget, he said.
Childs said the town’s management team has done a good job of keeping costs down; he also cited an increase in revenue of approximately $650,000 from such sources as the rooms and meals tax.