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Budgeters scrutinize cemetery spending

October 13, 2010
During its second meeting for the 2011 budget, the Budget Committee debated the amount of money going toward town cemeteries and agreed to hold off on a decision until Oct. 28.

The $44,000 cemetery budget consists of $14,000 going to the old town cemeteries and $30,000 given to a cemetery association.

The old cemeteries in Gilford were recently inherited by the town because of a statewide law, and three cemetery trustees now work to maintain and restore cemeteries such as Weeks Cemetery on Hoyt Road.

While the trustees have said they need even more than $14,000 to bring these cemeteries back from ruins, some Budget Committee members felt the funding should be cut.

"Rome wasn't built in a day," said committee member Sue Greene. "They can't fix this all in one swoop."

Budget member Terry Stewart reminded the committee that the three trustees are dedicated individuals who do most of the work themselves. He said it may feel a bit discouraging for them to see two cemeteries in prime shape with an almost guaranteed $30,000 per year, while the dozens of cemeteries they care for may be put on the back burner for less than half this amount.

Greene also referred to the $30,000 given to a cemetery association annually to take care of the private cemetery Pine Grove and McCoy cemetery in Gilford. She noted that this particular line item did not break down the $30,000 to explain where each cent would go, whether to maintenance, labor costs, or equipment.

"There needs to be some careful scrutiny. This isn't clear enough," said Greene.

Committee Chair Dick Hickok said that as long as he can remember, the cemetery association has always been granted $30,000, a number that the committee had yet to question until last Thursday.

To solve the problem, committee member Dale Dormody suggested they wait until the Oct. 28 meeting, which directly addresses the cemetery budgets, and request that the association break down the $30,000, just as they ask of outside agencies.

It was also suggested that the committee could ask to take over the two cemeteries, although they came to the conclusion that this may result in more labor and more money for the town in the end.

The committee also discussed other portions of the administrative budget, including $247,991 that covers wages, benefits and town administrative staff.

Stewart said the benefit increases for insurance rates were alarming, but he noted that the town administrator's pay has been frozen. Other employees are still receiving merit wages.

The elected official portion of the budget came out to $6,461 thanks to nixed selectmen stipends; $820 for boards and committees; $554,737 for Finance; $216,968 for town insurance; $513,363 for debt; $59,500 for the capital trust fund; and $68,600 for legal services and potential litigations.

Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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