Town budget proposal comes in with 2.1 percent increase

January 22, 2014
LITTLETON — The proposed 2014 operating budget surpasses $7.9 million. This amounts to a $164,258 increase, or 2.11 percent, compared to the budget adopted last March. Residents were given a detailed overview of the plan at Monday night's budget hearing.

The police department would receive an increase of nearly $100,000. The department hopes to fund new equipment, an active shooter training exercise, and additional time for parking enforcement. The department's $1.35 million spending plan accounts for 25 percent of the proposed operating budget.

Town spending for Twin State dispatch services would increase nearly nine percent. The fee charged towns is based on call volume. As Town Manager Fred Moody said at the hearing, "We are a bigger portion of their overall activity."

Some parts of town government would experience spending declines in the proposed budget. Town legal costs would drop more than $35,000. Although several utility challenges and other abatement issues continue, legal expenses were reduced thanks to the extension of the TransCanada tax stabilization agreement.

The warrant includes a request for voters to approve the new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Overall, the deal calls for an increase of $19,486 over the life of the agreement. Just over half of that cost is in the 2014 proposed budget.

The AFSCME contract was rejected last March. The union represents employees at the fire and highway departments, as well as the transfer station.

In Article 10, voters are asked to appropriate $8,000 to provide life, disability, and lost wage insurance for call company firemen. At previous meetings, Moody said the idea is meant to protect those who serve the town, as well as retain call company members.

This year's proposed road improvement article would permit up to $430,243 to design and upgrade four roads. These include High Street from Park Avenue to Pleasant Street; Carleton Street; Partridge Lake #2 from Parker Camp to Herrick Road, and; Brook Road from Redington Street to the town line.

The budget hearing presentation included pictures from each of the four roads. High Street is considered the #1 priority. Along with Carleton Street, the High Street work includes sewer repair. Some of the funding for these two projects would come from applicable sewer fund balances.

As in previous years, the warrant will include several petitioned articles for town departments and social service agencies. Four articles pertain to requests for parks and recreation work. The articles would fund tennis court improvements at Remich Park, a new tractor, and roof repair for the pool's bath house. Additionally, voters are asked to permit the movement of $25,000 of timber revenue from Mt. Eustis harvests into the department's capital reserve.

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