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New Durham prepares for budget season

August 30, 2011
NEW DURHAM — In a joint meeting of the New Durham Board of Selectmen and the New Durham Budget Committee on Monday, Aug. 29, a schedule was set up for the 2012 budget season.

A quarterly review will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 19, and department reviews will be set up and begin on Wednesday, Oct. 26, with both meetings beginning at 7 p.m. at the New Durham Town Hall.

In other business, the topic of providing a wage increase to town employees was heavily debated.

Selectman Jeff Kratovil made it known that he thinks the town employees deserve a raise, stating that there hasn't been an across the board increase since 2008.

"Anything less than a two percent increase would be an insult to the town employees," said Kratovil.

The majority of the members in attendance spoke against a raise across the board, and the topic of giving "bonuses" or "merit-based raises" to deserving town employees was introduced by David Curry, the chairman of the budget committee.

Curry talked about creating a "bonus pool" that could have a certain amount of money in it and could be accessed when employees deserve a bonus.

Selectman David Bickford questioned the legality of providing bonuses and was told that these bonuses would still be taxed as earned income.

The members in attendance also agreed that the current evaluation system for town employees doesn't provide them with enough feedback, and that creating a new system is something that both boards will look into.

There are currently about 65 town employees, and that includes the members of the New Durham Fire Department.

J.R. Jones suggested a hybrid policy; a one-and-a-half percent increase across the board and a bonus system for employees that are performing above and beyond their normal duties.

David Shagoury suggested that each town department create a zero-based budget, requiring each department to build their 2012 budget from scratch.

A question was raised on how to handle employees who reach the "top dollar" level in their position.

"If they are looking for more money, they can move to a different job," Bickford said.

The boards also discussed the Capital Improvement Plan and items that need to be added to the CIP for the 2012 budget.

"We are looking for what we absolutely have to buy," Selectman Chairman Theresa Jarvis said.

It was also reported that all roads in New Durham would be free and clear of debris and open to the public by the end of the evening.

Locking in a price for gas, oil and propane was discussed, and the boards elected not to lock in a rate for fear of the rates going down and the town actually losing money on locking in a rate.

Kratovil suggested that the town look into buying a hybrid police vehicle and providing a one-year moratorium on taxes to encourage new businesses in New Durham.

Jarvis made it a point to thank Vickie Valckden, who is the town's financial officer, for helping out during Hurricane Irene.

The next scheduled New Durham Budget Committee is on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. at the New Durham Town Hall.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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