Hudson Budget Committee Held a Public Hearing and Three People Showed Up
January 20, 2017
by Len Lathrop
Now before everyone gets something (clothing or otherwise) in a bunch, three refers to the number of people at the public hearing who were not part of one of the following groups – budget committee members (8), Hudson Board of Selectmen (1) Hudson School Board (2) town department heads (4), school district staff (4), members of the Hudson School Board leadership team (23), Hudson Cable volunteers, elected town committee chairpeople, and committee members (3).
The school district public hearing was the first agenda item for the evening. Dan Wells, president of the school board leadership team (School Ballot Article 3), rose and spoke about the salary change and how it was to equalize the number of days worked with the teacher contract approved by taxpayers last March that became effective this school year.
As there were no other members of the public wishing to speak, each school board warrant article was read and motions were made to approve the warrant, with a roll call vote.
The school district ballot that will be debated at the deliberative session Saturday morning, Feb. 11 at the Hudson Community Center, will have five questions for the voters to give their yay or nay on. While number and wording might change at the Feb. 11 meeting the warrant will be on the ballot in March.
SB Warrant 1 is the operating budget, which, as it stands today, will be for the amount of $52,534,706; if defeated, the default amount will be $52,366,374.
SB Warrant 2 is a contract for the 36 members of teamsters Local 633; it is a three-year agreement with a first-year increase of 2.75 percent, a 2 percent increase totaling $9,472 the second year, and the final year of the agreement members will get $36,872, which is a 2.75 percent bump.
SB Warrant 3 Is a contract for the leadership team, AFSCME Local 1906, which has 55 members, the first year it has a estimated tax impact of $.04 per $1,000 of evaluation, the first year cost is $114,773 which is a 2.25 percent raise, the second year is a 2.75 percent increase worth $132,678, the final year the cost is 136,232 which represents a 2.75 percent increase. These are cost of living adjustments only.
SB Warrant 4 – voters are asked to approve spending $175,000 to replace the roof of the gymnasium and library at Alvirne High School; the money is to be withdrawn from a Capital Reserve account.
Warrant Article 5 would take any excess funds at the end of the school year and add this to the Renovation Capital Reserve account.
Quickly the meeting was shifted to the town ballot and its 19 warrant articles, as there was no public input and Chairman Price took the ballot into a voting mode. The first four warrant articles are amendments to the zoning ordinance, which do not fall under the control of the budget committee.
Town Warrant Article 6 is for construction of a fire station on Lowell Road. The voters have been asked this question before. At that time it needed a 60-percent approval level as the voters were asked to approve a bond to build the station. This year the $2,900,000 will be funded without a bond by using $2,100,000 from unassigned fund balance and $800,000 from general taxation. The $800,00 would be a one-time expense to the taxpayers, like how the Alvirne track was paid for last year.
Warrant Article 7 is the general fund operating budget. The request is to approve $25,062,815; this budget allows the town to operate, but doesn’t include the water and sewer operating budgets. If the operating budget fails, the default amount is $24,894,750.
Warrant Article 8 is to provide funds to run the Hudson sewer system; while the cost of this budget is funded from sewer fees every voter gets to vote regardless if they use the sewer system or not. The request is for $1,912,779, and, if it fails, goes to a default of $1,553,948.
Warrant Article 9 is for the town water system with a request is for $4,134,601 with a default of $3,612,441; like the sewer fund, the water use pays for the cost of this article, but everyone voting is asked to approve.
Warrant Article 10 is to approve a contract for the Hudson Police Association; it is a two-year contract that covers the 53 employees with a 2-percent increase in both years. The first-year cost is $113,937 and the second year is $122,281.
Warrant Article 11 is a new contract for the Hudson Highway Department with 23 members; in year one the increase is $48,747 and the second it is $44,258, which is a 2-percent raise in both years.
Warrant Article 12 is a wage and benefit increase for the town clerk/tax collector for the sum of $1,307.
Warrant Article 13 is a request for $8,925 for a 2-percent wage and benefits increase for the nine full-time Rodgers Memorial Library employees.
Warrant Article 14 is to authorize a withdrawal of $200,000 from the Ambulance Capital Reserve Fund to purchase a replacement ambulance.
Warrant Article 15 asks the voters if the town can take $357,000 from unassigned fund balance. These are funds not spent during the current year. Three separate sums of $119,000 would be placed in three capital reserve accounts: communications equipment and infrastructure, recreation field construction, and major repairs to town buildings.
Warrant Article 16 is to create a capital reserve account for improving and renovating Hudson libraries and to put $1 in the fund.
Warrant Article 17 is to discontinue five capital reserve funds, whose purpose has been completed.
Warrant Article 18 – to adopt an RSA that provides for a veterans tax credit.
Warrant Article 19 – to authorize the Hudson Selectmen to establish user fees for Benson Park; it is advisory only and not binding on the selectmen.
Voters should mark their calendars for the deliberative session on Feb. 4 for the town ballot and the following Saturday, Feb. 11 for the school budget. Deliberative is where questions can be asked and amendments offered for certain changes to each warrant article, relative to language in the article and the dollar amounts.