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Meredith works out tax rate, budget considerations

November 07, 2018
MEREDITH — The board of selectmen are looking at preliminary details an considerations going into the budget process for next year as they work out the tax rate.

The tax rate is close to being set, though due to a calculating error $135,000 more will be requested from the fund balance. At Monday's board workshop, Town manager Phil Warren said he was told by Administrative Services Director Rob Carpenter that the calculation that led to the request of $275,000 from the fund balance did not include the $135,000 that was appropriated at town meeting for the Price property.

By using $275,000 from the undesignated fund balance, the municipal tax rate would be $5.07 per $1,000 in assessed valuation, the addition $135,000 was requested to keep the municipal portion at $5 per $1,000.

Selectman Ray Moritz said the original budget they did had a fund balance transfer of $525,000. To keep the tax rate at $5, putting in the additional $135,00, "certainly appears reasonable."

Warren said the tax bills would probably be out a week an a half before Christmas.

Warren outlined the current requests by regional agencies, which accounts for a net increase of $4,300. The agencies that will not be applying again this year are the Greater Meredith Program's 250th Anniversary Committee as the celebration this year is almost done. The New Hampshire Association for the Blind had requested $500, but then withdrew their request asking that the town apply that $500 to a worthy cause.

Health insurance is projected to have a Guaranteed Maximum Rate increase of eight percent, Warren said data from the insurance company shows that 41 percent of what they pay in plan liability is from some large claims.

"It looks a little better, it is not the whole group that is driving it it's the large claims," Warren said.

There will be no cost shifting or benefit decreases to the employees. Harvard Pilgrim will also be offering a program offering a phone number to ask about providers who might offer a service for a lesser price and offer a reward if the patient is already seeing someone at the lower price.

Dental insurance is expected to have a 2.3 percent increase with also no cost shifting to employees or decrease in benefits.

Warren said there has been a discussion on the insurance opt out. Those who opt out of the health insurance and choose to go on another plan, like a spouse's plan, reduces the overall costs and level of risk to the town.

Currently, the town offers $2,500 to an employee who opts out of the health insurance, though single plans cost closer to $10,000. Warren said he might propose increasing the opt out amount during the budget process. Selectman Jeanie Forrester said she attended a meeting where she learned the city of Dover has an opt out amount of $15,000.

Martin Lord Osman
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