LONDONDERRY — Town Manager Kevin Smith plans to include most of next year’s budget increases that require a town-wide vote into a single omnibus article he’s calling the “supplemental operating budget.”
It totals a little over $500,000, he said Saturday during a session at which town department representatives presented budget proposals to the Town Council.
“The reason I did it that way is I’m trying to make it the least confusing to voters,” Smith said.
It is the start of budget season and it will last for a month-and-a-half, according to Smith.
He presented his budget proposal to councilors and explained how some items that used to be included in the default budget are now going to need a separate vote from residents in March. Smith said the change is fairly simple.
“Now you’re segregating certain expenses into a warrant article,” Smith said.
The biggest portion is the salaries and benefits of non-union employees. Smith said that totals about $123,000. Increases in police, fire and waste management contracts follow.
New positions, even if they are part of a union contract, also require a vote. Such is the case for a new school resource officer Smith said the town council requested a proposal for from the police department.
Lt. Patrick Cheetham said benefits and salary for that new position would add over $120,700.
The current police department budget is $9,168,026, Cheetham said. Besides the cost of the new SRO, the only other proposed increase would be for the building maintenance line item, which would be raised from $45,000 to $60,000.
“The police department has never gone over budget in the last 20 to 25 years, under Chief (William) Hart or Chief (Joe) Ryan,” Cheetham said. “That’s something we’re really proud of.”
A new SRO would mean bringing the total SROs in the department back to four, where it had been roughly a decade ago, Cheetham said. Currently, there is one dedicated to the high school, one for the middle school and a third that floats between the three elementary schools.
Smith said he included two capital projects from the Capital Improvement Plan in his proposed budget to be voted on in warrant articles in March. Those are for a new backup generator at the police station ($175,000) and drainage improvements at the Town Common ($235,000).
Aside from police, Smith said the fire department, public works department and library all presented budget plans on Saturday.
For the most part, they are all continuing the status quo, Smith said.
While the public works department often asks for more money, he said the town already appropriates about $1.2 million in annual road maintenance and reconstruction. And the fire department is in “fairly good shape” after already getting approval for major capital projects last year and getting awarded a SAFER grant this year for four new firefighters.
Smith said councilors can decide to take some of the items out of the supplemental operating budget and make separate articles.
The Town Council will discuss the budget again at its Nov. 19 meeting.
and will have additional weeknight meetings between then and right before Christmas, when they finalize their decisions, Smith said.