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Meredith schedules budget hearing for Feb. 4

January 09, 2019
MEREDITH — The selectmen will be going forward to public hearing with the proposed budget of around $15,658,806 with some help from fund balance to manage the tax rate.

The selectmen discussed the budget and the budget process during Monday's workshop meeting, ready to present a total proposed budget of $15,658,806 with a net appropriation of $10,065,005. Selectmen can still change any of these preliminary numbers at the budget public hearing in February and voters can make any amendments at town meeting in March

Town manager Phil Warren said he was asked to give a preliminary assessment of what the fund balance looks like. In an email, Warren said Administrative Services Director Rob Carpenter indicated he was comfortable giving a preliminary figure of close to $4 million.

After the discussions at the last budget workshop, Warren recommended putting $650,000 from the fund balance into the budget, which will likely put the municipal portion of the tax rate to $5.20 per $1,000 in assessed valuation.

The total budget appropriation across the board would be $15,658,806, with a net town appropriation of $10,065,005.

Selectman Ray Moritz said with the healthy amount of money in fund balance he suggested taking out around $800,000 more to cover costs such as the $50,000 Conservation Commission budget request and the $16,000 for the police departments part time line as well as lower the municipal tax rate. After some discussion Warren said if they put in $830,000 from the fund balance they could bring the municipal tax rate to $5.10 per $1,000 in assessed valuation.

"You know me over the years I've been a cheapskate with spending out of the fund balance," Moritz said. "In this case it's gotten really healthy. I think we've built it up over the last few years from $2 million to now $4 million. I think that's probably more than we really need here and so I'm for giving it back to the taxpayer."

Warren said he will publish a preliminary budget and the selectmen can make further changes, including an increase in the use of fund balance, at the hearing.

The town's budget hearing will take place on Monday, Feb. 4 at 4:30 p.m. during the regular selectmen's meeting.

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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