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Proposed 2010 Wolfeboro budget up 2.2 percent


General Fund budget 4.59 percent higher


November 12, 2009
WOLFEBORO — Following weeks of budget workshops with department heads, selectmen finalized the 2010 town budget on Nov. 4 and sent it on the Budget Committee. The Budget Committee will hold its own review before the final budget goes before the voters next March.

After a few final adjustments the total 2010 budget was set at $24,804,096, up $532,871 or 2.2 percent from the $24,271,225 voted for 2009.

The budget is made up of two major parts, the General Fund, which covers town operations and is funded through property taxes, motor vehicle fees and other sources, and four Enterprise Funds (Municipal Electric, Sewer, Water and Pop Whalen) that are supposed to be self-supporting through fees.

Projected expenses for the Enterprise Funds for 2010 of $14,339,049 are up only 0.52 percent or $73,629 from the $14,271,225 voted for 2009. The most significant items among the Funds are an increase of $558,389 for wastewater treatment in the Sewer Fund, offset largely by a decrease of $468,406 the Municipal Electric Fund due to lower costs for purchased power.

Projected expenses for the General Fund for 2010 of $10,465,047 are up 4.59 percent or $459,242 from the $10,005,805 voted for 2009. The five most significant increases by dollar amount between what was voted in 2009 and is being proposed for 2010 are: $163,917 for Technology (an item that was not in the 2009 budget); $126,187 for Fire/Rescue (up 8.9 percent); $72,266 for Police (up 5.57 percent); $64,787 for Highways & Street (up 5.66 percent); and $60,000 for Other General Government (up $6.53 percent).

The five most significant decreases proposed for the General Fund are: $112,875 less for Sewer Fund Transfer Out (down 38 percent); $80,282 less for Financial Administration (down 22.46 percent); $38,737 less for Other Highway (down 7.87 percent); $35,515 less for Solid Waste Collection (down 4.11 percent) and $24,918 less for Other Public Safety (down 5.61 percent).

In the discussion leading to the final vote, there was a debate over whether or not to use a three-year lease/purchase arrangement to acquire a vehicle for the planning department, to be used primarily by Code Enforcement Officer Audrey Cline. Selectman Linda Murray argued for a straight purchase and Selectman Sarah Silk supported her, but Chairman Dave Senecal and Selectmen Kristi Ginter and Marge Webster voted in favor of the lease/purchase.

When it came time to decide on the term of a bond for $872,636 for the Rapid Infiltration Basin project, the vote was also 3-2. Murray argued for a 20-year term on the basis that even though interest costs were higher, the value of the money in future years is less and the short-term property tax impact is lower. Senecal, Ginter and Webster voted to accept Finance Director Pete Chamberlin's recommended for a 10-year bond.

Zimmerman request for refund

Paul Zimmerman came before the board to request the refund of $249.48 he had paid to appeal a decision by Public Works Director Dave Ford denying his request to move the driveway at a residential property he had purchased at 7 Pine St. just behind Dunkin Donuts. Zimmerman had the site cleared of junk and regraded, and had applied to move the driveway further away from the house. Ford denied the driveway permit, citing drainage concerns, and Zimmerman filed an application to appeal the decision to the Zoning Board of Adjustment. The ZBA hearing was scheduled but just before it was to take place he was informed that Wolfeboro has no provision for appealing denials of driveway permits. Zimmerman then requested a refund.

Town Planner Rob Houseman explained to selectmen that when Zimmerman asked about appealing he thought Zimmerman was appealing his letter of Nov. 7, 2008 warning him that creating "an apparent 100 x 100 parking lot" on the site was in violation of the zoning ordinance. In the letter Houseman wrote, "It appears that you are constructing this parking area in order to facilitate the conversion of the property to a commercial use."

Zimmerman denied that he was creating a parking lot and said that if he was going to convert it from its present residential use to a commercial one, he would file the required site plan. He said Houseman never told him that driveway permits could not be appealed. He added that the same night his hearing was called off the appeals of three other applicants were also dismissed.

Senecal said the matter was whether the board felt the $249.48 paid for an appeal that was not allowed should be refunded. He added as a Code Enforcement Officer himself in Ossipee that he was disturbed by the assumption that the work involved a commercial enterprise when the property was still residential and the site work did not require a permit to be done.

Silk moved to deny the refund request. Murray seconded. The vote was 3-2 to deny, with Ginter voting with Murray and Silk against and Senecal and Webster voting in favor.

After the meeting this reporter examined Zimmerman's ZBA application of July 17, 2009. On page 6 is written, "The denial of the driveway permit to move the driveway 50' south is totally unreasonable and makes it impossible to properly landscape the property." This made it clear that Zimmerman was not appealing Houseman's Nov. 9, 2008 violation decision.

Other business

The board approved a tax warrant of $10,726,792 for Tax Collector Brenda LaPointe to collect. Taxpayers will receive property tax bills shortly.

A decision on whether to hold a Winter Employee Appreciation Afternoon in February, near Valentine's Day, was deferred to allow Town Manager Dave Owen to gather more information.

Owen also withdrew a proposed change in the mileage reimbursement policy that would have required employees to carry automobile liability insurance as a condition of receiving reimbursement from the town. "It's more complicated than we thought," he said by way of explanation.

The board voted unanimously to support an application for a $200,000 grant to fund sidewalk and crosswalk improvements from the Safe Routes to School program funded by the N.H. Department of Transportation. The grant application was prepared by the Safe Routes to School Task Force and Public Works Director Ford. The funds would improve or build sidewalks between Carpenter School and Foss Field and between Crescent Lake School and Main Street.

Selectmen approved permits for the 18th annual Turkey Trot Road Race on Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and for the Wolfeboro Lions Club raffle held as part of that event.

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