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Kelley asks for no budget increases this year

Says taxpayers need to be kept in mind

August 07, 2009
LITTLETON—Steve Kelley, the chairman of the town budget committee, said the committee would be looking to keep town and school budgets flat next year.

This means as much as possible there will be no increases in budgets, he said. That will be difficult because of contractual obligations concerning personnel, who are receiving automatic pay increases.

"No matter what, those go up," he said during a School Administrative Unit 84 board meeting Monday night, citing what he called the seven to 10 rule, meaning if the budget goes up 7 percent in a year in little over 10 years, it doubles.

Kelley said he took an informal poll of various committee members and all agreed to work to keep both budgets as low as possible.

"It was unanimous that we come up with town and school budgets that do not increase town or school taxes," Kelley said.

Kelley said he feels more comfortable this year that it will be possible to do just that. The town manager is more experienced dealing with Littleton's budget and will be able to keep it down, Kelley said. He said he also thinks the school board and new Superintendent Thomas Stephens will be able to do the same with the school budget.

"We are masters of our own destiny," Kelley said. "Fourteen million dollars is a lot of money, I hope to maintain a flat line budget."

One major way to keep costs down will be to try and get personnel costs down. While he and other budget committee members are not looking to lay anyone off, at the same time the seriousness of the economic situation must be more obvious than they were last year.

"Everyone wants a good job with good benefits but we have to deal with the realities of the situation," Kelley said. "The town and school can't just keep raising peoples' taxes."

He said that approach would not work in the business world. He said the town and school must be fair to the citizenry."

Last year the various town unions were approached about making voluntary cuts in wage increases, he noted. The unions representing town employees did agree to wage cuts, the school unions did not.

He asked everyone in town to think of creative ways to save money for both town and school.

"We as a community have to take this on as a challenge," Kelley said. "We can't afford to send Joe Q. Public a higher tax bill."

Martin Lord Osman
Coos County Commissioners
Tilton School
Town & Country
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