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Capital reserve budget could rise by 3 percent

PETERBOROUGH — Voters could be looking at an increase of about three percent for capital reserve projects in the 2014 fiscal year budget, according to early projections presented last week to the Select Board and Budget Committee.

At a joint meeting Tuesday of the two groups, Leslie Lewis, chair of the Capital Improvement Committee, said that the committee is recommending projects that add up to $1,044,254 after revenues are subtracted.

“I was a little disappointed that we could only get to three percent,” Lewis said. “A million is the number we were aiming for. I don’t think that will be possible in the future.”

New recommendations for 2014 include $25,000 for portable radios and self-contained breathing apparatus cylinders for the Fire Department, which would be an ongoing expense for several years; $30,000 for street lighting at the Grove Street Bridge, a one-time expense with $10,000 coming from Downtown TIF District revenue; and $25,000 for a study of the feasibility of an in-house 24-hour dispatch facility for the Fire and Police departments. The plan also calls for $30,000 to purchase a minibus for use by the Recreation Department. The Recreation Committee has requested three minibuses, to be purchased over a six-year period, but only the one bus is included in next year’s proposal.

Lewis noted that debt service will increase significantly next year when payments for the Adams Pool bond start.

She said the town faces three challenges in making its long-range capital improvements plan: trying to maintain necessary infrastructure and equipment in difficult economic times, balancing deferred expenditures against increased future costs, and trying to level-fund a budget when bonded debt is steadily increasing. She said upcoming projects such as the Main Street bridge and reconstruction of Union Street could add more than $400,000 in debt service starting in fiscal year 2017, even though parts of the bridge project will have offsetting state and federal funds.

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