Merrimack's assessed value expected to increase at least $20 millionBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
February 20. 2018 11:31PM
MERRIMACK — The town’s overall assessed value is expected to increase by at least $20 million, which could offset some of the anticipated tax increase, according to town officials.
“We know for sure that we are going to pick up about $20 million in new value — that is new value, not inflated value,” said Town Manager Eileen Cabanel.
The town’s assessed value is nearly $3.4 billion.
“Last year we picked up $75 million on the (outlet) mall,” Cabanel told the town council last week. “ … As the value goes up, the tax rate goes down.”
Last week, the council voted in support of a proposed $34,511,890 budget for 2018-2019. If the proposed budget is approved by voters at the polls in April, the town portion of the tax rate is expected to increase from $4.90 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to about $5.15 — a 25 cents increase.
However, Cabanel said the $20 million in inflated value will likely reduce the anticipated tax rate hike by 3 cents to $5.12 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Included in the proposed budget is $50,000 — half from the town’s capital reserve fund and half from the general government fund — for a space needs study to review the feasibility of a new safety complex for both the police and fire departments.
The study would determine the number of garage bays necessary for a public safety building, as well as other details such as the number of jail cells, according to Paul Micali, the town’s finance director.
“It is going to give us the basic layout of the building,” he said.
“The police station is really in rough shape and is being outgrown,” Nancy Harrington, town council chairman, said recently. She said other communities are also considering whether safety complexes that house both police and fire departments are more cost effective than separate stations.
Also included in the proposed spending plan is $304,000 to establish a new special investigation drug unit within the police department, $21,000 to form a deputy police chief position (and eliminate one lieutenant position), $37,000 for extra help in the town clerk/tax collector office and $62,000 to hire an additional custodian.
While the town is anticipating a revenue increase of about $768,000 next year, total expenditures are up nearly $1.7 million, according to the proposed budget.
Some of the adjustments include increases in health insurance by $282,000, short term disability costs are up $38,000, workers compensation costs are on the rise by about $44,000, general insurance is $9,000 more, legal costs are up, tipping fees have increased and the town is purchasing new voting booths at a price-tag of about $19,000.