December 20, 2012OSSIPEE — Selectmen here have put the finishing touches on their proposed 2013 budget. It is now expected the budget will be scrutinized by the town's Budget Committee.
That committee has branched out into subcommittees with members assigned to learn about the different town departments and their budgets and report to the group. Additionally, department heads and non-profits seeking donations in the budget are expected to present their proposals to the selectman and then again to the Budget Committee.
Historically, the Budget Committee here has pretty much gone along with the selectmen's proposed budget. In 2006, the budget committee recommended giving five local nonprofits including the food pantry, Tri-County Community Action, and Ossipee Preschool a total of $15,065 less than what the selectmen recommended and went along with the rest of the selectmen's $3.8 million operating budget.
In 2007, the committee gave the town's emergency management department $7,500 more than approved by selectmen. Despite the committee's attempt to gut the budget requests of Northern Human Services, Ossipee Preschool, and Tri-County Community Action, the Town Meeting voters weren't agreeable to that and gave the organizations the funding selectmen recommended.
The committee recommended the same exact budget the selectmen recommended in years 2009 and 2010, totaling $4.7 million and $4.8 million respectively.
The warrant and Town Meeting minutes for 2008 are unavailable on the town's website.
In 2011, with the operating budget up to $4.85 million, the committee went along with all of the selectmen's recommendations but then added $3,000 for Kingswood Youth Center.
Last year, going into the March 2012 town meeting, the Budget Committee had cut the selectmen's recommendation by $23,177 to $4,948,340. The voters at the meeting put it all back and then some, approving $46,603 more than the Budget Committee recommended. The committee and the Town Meeting voters voted down giving the selectmen a raise. The committee and the selectmen recommended a $12,587 budget for the animal control officer but after a few voters spoke up at Town Meeting about what they felt was a lack of response by the dog officer; they managed to sway the whole meeting room into cutting $6,000 from the budget. The town's animal control officer has resigned and the town is now looking for someone to fill that position.
Going into the 2013 proposed budget as finalized Monday by selectmen, the Budget Committee is looking at a recommended budget that is up about $119,000, not including water and sewer bond payments.
Throughout the proposed budget increases are seen in the form of pay increases and related payroll expenses and health insurance costs for town employees. Less than half of the town's employees are in the employee union, but it appears that all town employees receive the same negotiated health care, paid time-off, and percentage raise increases as those in the union. The town does not have a separate employee policy and procedure or benefits manual for non-union employees.