Proposed Town Budget Shows 4.58 Percent Increase

December 2, 2016

 

 

by Barbara O’Brien

After months of working with department heads and other town officials, Town Administrator David Sullivan unveiled the proposed 2017 town budget during the selectmen’s Nov. 21 board meeting.  Based on the current proposal, next year’s overall town budget shows an increase of 4.58 percent ($632,465) over the current 2016 town budget.

Speaking of the proposed net 2017 town budget, which is all inclusive of the operating budget, plus any special funds and proposed warrant articles, Sullivan said, “These are not likely to be the final numbers.”  Selectmen and Sullivan will continue working on budget numbers for the next several weeks.  As proposed now, the 2017 town budget totals $14,441,095.  The 2016 town budget totaled $13,808,630 (which was an increase of 3.16 percent or $460,000 from 2015).

According to Sullivan, a breakdown of the proposed 2017 town budget shows an increase of $326,800 for the operating budget (2.367 percent); an increase of $113,050 (.819%) for special articles; and $192,615 (1.395%) for the capital expenditure budget proposal.  Special articles include trust funds and three union contracts (fire, police and union municipal employees).

The major increases in the proposed 2017 operating budget include the following:

Insurance (workers’ compensation) – $69,730;

State retirement – $69,680;

Health insurance – $54,930 (the past four years there has been a premium holiday because of prior overpayment);

Non-Union wage increases (2%) – $51,410;

Position change in Human Resources to full-time – $42,140 (current part-time employee retiring next July);

Position change for bookkeeper to full-time – $35,840;

Police overtime – $28,990  (overtime budget has been consistently overspent for several years);

STEP increases for longevity for all town departments – $24,150;

Two signs for Emergency Management Complex (50% grant) – $23,500;

Recreation department for sports fields – $15,000;

Solid waste department for demolition/construction and other waste removal – $13,550;

Liability insurance – $12,810;

Administration expenses for storm water management and an intern position – $12,500

Gear dryer for the fire department – $10,000;

Upgrade for scene lights for fire department on Engine 1 – $8,200;

Police department for speed trailer/message board (50% grant0 – $8,000

Protective vests for police officers (50% grant) – $5,650;

Contracted services for fire department dispatch with Derry – $5,000).

The increases in the proposed 2017 operating budget account for 52 percent of the overall budget increase for next year.

Decreases in the proposed 2017 town operating budget include -$9,000 for solid waste site improvements; -$17,405 for elections; -$96,970 for general government maintenance; -$41,005 for other combined minor decreases.

The police union contract accounts for an increase of $40,670 for 2017; the fire department union contract shows an increase of $36,190; and the municipal employee union contact accounts for an increase in 2017 of $11,190.  Each of the proposed contracts, which have been ratified by the unions and the selectmen, are for three-year terms.

Twenty thousand dollars has been added to the proposed 2017 budget for the celebration of Windham’s 275th anniversary.  This expense falls under Special/Trust Fund Articles.

Increases in the capital budget include a hike of $30,000 for road improvements (up from $360,000); $180,000 for 20 percent of the Greenway Trail Grant (although the grant of $720,000 was not received); $100,000 for the Police Command Center; $85,715 for the second loan payment on the new fire engine; $85,000 for improvements to the Nesmith Library; and $50,000 for replacing the antiquated municipal phone system.  The net overall increase in the proposed capital budget is $192,615 (28% of the total budget increase for 2017).

The largest portion of the proposed 2017 town budget is for public safety, including fire and police (51.06%); followed by General Government at 16.39 percent; Highways and Streets (8.34%); Culture and Recreation (10.30%); Sanitation (5.80%); and Capital Improvements, including debt and capital reserve funds (6.17%).  The least amount of the annual budget is spent for Welfare (.32%) and Health and Human Services (.29%).

Selectmen will continue to discuss the proposed 2017 town budget during their Monday evening meetings between now and the end of December.  A year-end selectmen’s meeting is slated for Thursday, Dec. 29.  These meetings, held at the Community Development Building next to town hall, will be open to the public.