January 31, 2013TUFTONBORO — Tuftonboro's 2013 projected operating budget is up five percent from last year. The payment of interest on the construction loan for the fire safety building is one factor. An increase in the ambulance service contract is another.
In addition, the state has increased the town share of retirement costs for a second year in a row, and payments for Social Security, Medicare and FICA, which are shared by the town and its employees have increased.
The town's employees are to get a two per cent raise, but that is offset by a reduction in health care benefits and the aforementioned increases.
In the opinion of Town Treasurer and GWRSD School Board member Jack Widmer, "The state took itself off the hook and passed along the retirement costs to the town and the school, leaving them to have to explain why their budgets went up." He has noted that the school budget went up just 1.43 percent. Without the retirement changes, it would have been almost zero.
Looking over the final $3.5 million appropriation figure, including warrant articles totaling $523,000, during the Jan. 22 Budget Committee meeting, Vice-Chairman Tyler Philips commented, "There's nothing profligate, nothing I can't defend."
Last year's total figure, including warrant articles, was $3.9 million.
The committee put the finishing touches on its 2013 operating budget following final discussion of the Parks and Recreation Commission budget.
Gina Lessard, representing the Commission, asked for the board to appropriate $3,300 to pay for a supervisor of the swim program and up to two swim instructors. She explained that Commission Chairman Mary Ann Murray, who retired in 2010 after managing the swim program for 25 years, has continued to volunteer her services but will not do so next year.
Board members commended the work of the Parks and Recreation Commission, but expressed puzzlement over exactly how the Commission's Revolving Fund works, and asked for a more detailed accounting of those funds. Lessard answered that Town Treasurer Jack Widmer will be at the commission's next meeting to discuss accounting procedures for that fund.
The Committee will meet at the Old Town House on Tuesday evening, Feb. 5, at 6:30 p.m. At 7 p.m. the floor will be open for a public hearing on the operating budget and warrant articles.