November 26, 2020MEREDITH — The town manager is proposing a budget with a .87 percent increase in 2021, figures the selectmen will look over in budget workshops scheduled for after Thanksgiving.
Town manager Phil Warren presented his proposed 2021 budget to the selectmen during their Nov. 16 meeting. Warren said his proposed budget for 2021 comes at an increase of slightly less than one percent over last year, with specific numbers pending.
One of the biggest decreases is in personnel costs with newer employees coming in at a lower pay scale. Warren said there have been increases in retirements and most town employees who retire leave at the top of their pay scale.
He said Because of the pandemic there has been a significant increase in the budget for public safety.
Warren said they are anticipating debt service to increase "exponentially" due to the major town projects. As a result, he said he kept money for expendable trust funds to a minimum, especially as the only purchase from expendable trusts next year is for a solid waste trailer.
There were no additional funds for town beach and Hesky Park staffing given the uncertainty of the times, though Warren said those could be added back in.
The biggest capital project slated for next year is $40,000 for a new roof on the Public Works office on Daniel Webster Highway.
"Since we're going to keep it, we're going to need to put a new roof on the building," Warren said. "That roof's about done."
Warren said there are no salary increases in the 2021 budget and there has been no real discussion on that. He said there are no scheduled salary increases other than some employees with merit step increases after a successful review on their work anniversary .
The police department asked for a court prosecutor for $35,000, though Warren didn't support that position this year. Currently, Lt. Michael Harper has the prosecutor position, which Warren said takes up around 70 percent of his time and takes time away from his supervisory duties.
"While I think it's worthy, I don't think it's the year unless we put things back in the budget," Warren said.
He said they could contract that service out and ask for a Request for Proposal
As a result, the proposed budget has a .87 increase.
The budget workshops have been scheduled for Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and 2.
Typically, the workshops are held at the Town Hall Annex, though Warren asked if the board would be comfortable because there is no space for social distancing there. He said they could move the workshops to the community center or they could be done virtually.
"Right now the trends are horrible, all the trends so far are awful," Moritz said. "I believe until some improvement starts we should try to make as many or all meetings virtual."
Warren said this might pose a logistical problem with reviewing documents, but if the selectmen have the documents and they can do a screenshare this might not be an issue. Moritz said this can be workable as long as there is a way to show screenshots of the materials benign discussed. The board generally agreed to hold the meetings virtually.