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Selectmen Propose Larger Budget This Year

The board's proposed operating budget is 3.27 percent higher than this year.

Amherst Selectmen are offering a higher budget that focuses on competitive wages and road repairs.

The board presented a proposed operating budget of $11,414,625 at the public hearing during their meeting on Monday. This is $561,264 higher than the current budget, which would add $.23/thousand increase to the town’s tax rate if approved.

Selectman Dwight Brew added that Amherst’s tax rate is the eighth lowest in Hillsborough County.

The proposed FY14 budget includes a large focus on repairs to Lyndeborough Road (Winding Hollow to Carol Ann), Cross Street (between Courthouse and Middle) and the Middle Street sidewalk. Additional proposed road reconstruction work from the road bond, which does not directly impact the operating budget, includes Walnut Hill Road and Middle Street are still going through design and layout before going through hearings and presentations.

Increases in New Hampshire Retirement, health insurance increases and landfill district costs are included in the budget.

EMS and fire personnel compensation is also a big player in the budget process this time around. Chairman Bruce Bowler has lead an effort to pay for firefighter training and raise wages for both fire and EMS employees in order to improve recruitment and retention rates. Bowler said that Amherst is far behind similar communities in compensating these employees.

The Amherst Ways & Means Committee agrees that changes need to be made, but disagreed on certain aspects of the plan at Monday’s meeting. The committee supports raising EMS wages ($75,000) and pay improvements and incentives for firefighters.

The committee believes that compensation for firefighters taking Level 2 training should be cut in half from the selectmen’s proposal of $15,960. They do also not agree that the town should pay for time spent for firefighter probationary training ($2,520/yr), EMT training ($6,480/yr) or monthly fire department meetings ($13,468/yr)

Amherst voters voted down their last proposed budget of $11,095,396 at last year’s election, which left the town with a $10,853,361 default budget this year. The default budget for this year’s elections has been calculated at $11,269,800.

Tony Yakovakis January 16, 2013 at 03:47 PM
We already, as taxpayers, approved a road bond to pay for these repairs. Why more money needed? Did repairs run over budget ? Why ? Who is keeping cost in check?
Robert Michaelson January 16, 2013 at 03:57 PM
Hi Tony. I double checked and it looked like I put in the wrong roads in that paragraph. I just corrected the story. -Rob
Noley January 16, 2013 at 09:29 PM
This is about what I expected with respect to roads: Vote for the bond and wait for the news about what else needs to be repaired. I drive on and ride my bicycle on Lyndeborough Road and don't see a whole lot of need for more work. On the other hand, training for new firefighters and EMTs makes sense for pretty short money. It's hard to attract new people if there isn't some incentive for them while climbing the learning curve. - Noel Ward
Jim Farrow January 17, 2013 at 06:07 PM
I believe, that we paid an independant firm to assess the roads in town and to come up with an action plan to help the BOS sell it to the taxpayer, that we needed to bond money for the road repairs, we voted in favor of this. So why now, two years later, maybe less, are they proposing to raise our taxes to repair roads, isn't this the point of the bond that we're already paying for? The BOS should do the independant audit of the town that's required, share this with the taxpayer, then ask for money in their budget. We shouldn't give them a dime until they become more transparent with the taxpayers money.

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