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Selectmen approve 2013 budget and draft list of warrant articles


Increase from the approved 2012 operating budget is 2.54 percent


by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
November 15, 2012
WOLFEBORO — Following a month of budget hearings with department heads Wolfeboro selectmen approved a 2013 budget of $26,339,198 at their Nov. 7 meeting.

The increase from the approved 2012 budget is 2.54 percent. Selectman Chair Linda Murray said the total was not final because the health insurance rates from School Care have not yet been provided and could be lower. The total also does not include the value of offsetting grants for milfoil and asset management and, now that the presidential election is over, budgeted increases of $35,000 for police and fire services for a summer White House will be deducted.

Beyond those items the board went over five "revisit" items from the budget work sessions, including Conservation Commission clerical overtime, cost of a consultant to advise on electric cost (out to bid and not in yet), the cost of state permits to add sand to Albee and Carry Beaches ($3,421), the net cost of a replacement mower for Parks and Recreation, and the cost of refinishing the floor at the Libby Museum.

The proposed budget now passes to the Budget Committee for detailed review.

Warrant Articles

The board also reviewed a draft list of 18 warrant articles for the March 2013 ballot and added one.

The following list is in the order discussed and not necessarily the order on the ballot. In each case the board had to decide whether or not to bond the project, which reduces the impact on the tax rate but means paying for the work for years after it is completed.

A. Acquisition of 74 and 80 Lehner Street for $180,000, ranked "Desirable." The appraisal of the two lots is due by Nov. 15. Murray favored bonding the purchase since the property will have long-term use and value and other land purchases have been funded that way. Selectman Dave Senecal wanted to wait for the appraisal, but the other four selectmen voted to bond the article.

B. Center Street Upgrades for $700,000, ranked "Urgent." This is the reconstruction of Center Street from Pickering Corner to the junction with Route 109A, involving replacing drainage lines with larger pipes and rebuilding and raising sidewalks, among other improvements. It will be a town-managed project with the state contributing two-thirds of the estimated $2,100,000 cost and the town responsible for the remaining one-third. The board agreed the work should be bonded.

C. Sewer System Inflow/Infiltration Reduction for $400,000, ranked "Necessary." This is the second project aimed at eliminating groundwater infiltration of sewer lines in key areas and thus reducing the load on the wastewater treatment plan and extending its life. This will also be bonded.

D. Public Works Garage Upgrade for $340,000, ranked "Urgent." This project involves replacing the fuel dispensing system, hydraulic vehicle maintenance lift, and the salt shed. This will be bonded.

E. Maintenance Building for the Parks and Recreation Department for $200,000, ranked "Urgent." A single building would replace six deteriorating small structures. The design for this project has not been completed but will be available for the next selectmen's meeting. No decision made on whether or not to bond.

F. Road Upgrades for $600,000, ranked "Urgent." Public Works Director Dave Ford had originally requested $750,000. The difference is not doing the end of Forest Road. As with all town road work, this article will not be bonded.

G. Middleton Road Design for $50,000, ranked "Urgent." The state is willing to pay two-thirds of the cost of upgrading the road in return for giving the road to the town for future maintenance. The total cost of the design and engineering will be $150,000. Actual construction willnot be done until 2018. Not bonded.

H. ADA Upgrades to Town Hall Parking Lot for $100,000, ranked "Necessary." This is the last project in the town's settlement agreement with the U.S. Justice Department. ADA-compliant parking spaces will be provided and the back lot will be reconstructed. Not bonded.

I. Electric Meter Upgrades for $720,000, ranked "Desirable." This five-year project will replace all current electric meters with ones that can be read remotely. The cost will be paid through the Municipal Electric Enterprise fund, paid by users, and not from taxes.

J. Replace Fire Engine 1 for $425,000, ranked "Urgent." This will be paid for through the Fire Equipment capital reserve.

K. Replace and Upgrade HD-6 for Highway Department for $200,000, ranked "Necessary." This will be paid for through a capital reserve. The existing HD-6 truck will be replaced with a 10-wheel dump truck and spreader.

L. Replace Electric ME-3 bucket truck for $225,000, ranked "Necessary." This will replace a front-line truck that has exceeded its useful life. Truck will be ordered in 2013 and delivered in 2014. The cost will be paid through the Municipal Electric Enterprise fund, paid by users, and not from taxes.

M. Add $150,000 to Highway Department Capital Reserve. Not bonded.

N. Add $176,000 to Fire Department Capital Reserve. Not bonded.

O. Add $100,000 to Town Offices Capital Reserve. This reserve was created in 2001 to pay for future work on the building.

P. Operating Budget of $26,339,198 or whatever final amount is determined by the Budget Committee.

Q. AFSCME Contract Agreement, to be ratified by voters. To be finalized before the Deliberative Session.

R. Police Union Contract Agreement, to be ratified by voters. To be finalized before the Deliberative Session.

Murray proposed to add a 19th warrant article: a Capital Reserve for the Abenaki Ski Area, with $20,000 as an initial deposit. She pointed out that the town was just given $250,000 worth of snowmaking equipment and said it makes sense to set aside funds to replace the snow groomer and other equipment when needed in the future.

Senecal thought it was a good idea but suggested the board may want to consider a higher initial amount.

The board plans to revisit some of these articles at its next meeting on Nov. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall meeting room.

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