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Proposed Ossipee budgets for 2011 being "kept down"


Current employees may be asked to pay for part of health insurance cost


November 11, 2010
OSSIPEE — "We asked everyone to keep it down this year and so far they've done it. Everyone is doing very good this year," said Ossipee Chairman Harry Merrow at the weekly selectmen's meeting this Monday, Nov. 8.

He and fellow board members have been accepting budgets from a few department heads each week, approving some on the spot but taking most "under advisement." The process continues as the board and the budget committee work through the winter to set budget recommendations that go to voters at the March town meeting.

Two weeks ago board members hinted at the possibility that union negotiations could result in all employees paying a portion of their health insurance costs. The payroll and insurance lines of all proposed budgets have been put on hold pending the final union contract. Currently, new employees pay a portion of their health insurance but most town employees do not. Further, selectmen use the union contract as a guide to set the same pay and benefits for employees whether they are members of the union or not.

Budgets reviewed by selectmen this week include animal control officer, town clerk, tax collector, supervisor of the checklist, planning board, zoning board, and conservation commission with all coming in at just about the same bottom line as last year.

The budget that brought the most discussion at the town meeting last year also resulted in a lengthy discussion Monday night: the recreation budget.

Ossipee Recreation Director Peter Waugh explained that since his assistant, Jason Hanken, resigned earlier this fall, several recreation programs have been cancelled including Old School P.E., open gym, teen dodgeball, grades four to six dodgeball, adult bowling, teen trips and mystery games for younger kids. With help from the police department and some volunteers, teen dances at town hall will continue. Waugh said he could use the help of an assistant now but is concerned about hiring someone and then having the funding for the position removed by voters at town meeting.

Merrow questioned whether it is necessary to hire someone with the education Waugh is requiring for that position – a bachelor's degree in physical education, recreation or another related field and one to two years experience. "If I need a truck driver and I find one with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, I will pay him for driving a truck, not for his Ph.D.," said Merrow, who suggested the recreation department vacancy could be filled with someone who could do the job but did not have the degree or experience.

The board took Waugh's proposed budget under advisement and no decision was made regarding filling the assistant position.

Broadband mapping

Selectman Kathleen Maloney announced that 117 broadband mapping surveys were completed at the Town Hall on Election Day last week. The goal is to have as many households as possible complete the survey either in writing or by visiting www.iwantbroadbandnh.org. The New Hampshire Broadband Mapping Program will take all the information collected to create a statewide map detailing where the high speed internet needs are. Maloney said the surveys will also be available at the town library and at the three post offices.

Police detail work

Ossipee resident David Babson presented a complaint on behalf of another Ossipee resident and was happy to do so, as he said, "It's a pet peeve of mine, too." Babson was referring to Ossipee police officers with town-owned police cruisers doing traffic detail for tree work along the highway in Barnstead. It is common for police officers to work "detail" shifts in Ossipee and other towns throughout the state as highway paving, utility pole installations, tree work and even car races at N.H. Motor Speedway all require security or traffic safety. In return, said Merrow, detail shifts pay about $55 an hour with $15 of that going to the town. "That money has paid for new police cruisers," said Merrow who added he did think that Barnstead is too far for Ossipee officers to travel to work the detail shifts. Selectman Morton Leavitt said the board has met with the police chief and told him they do not want officers working details outside of Carroll County. Leavitt added that the new state retirement fund rules require towns to count the detail hours as work hours and therefore pay a percentage of that into the fund. Because of that, he said, it is questionable whether or not the town is actually making any profit when officers work the detail shifts.

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