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Rindge

Full house comes out to avert cuts

Rumors of push to slash up to $200,000 from budget prompts big turnout at deliberative session

  • Voters packed Rindge Memorial School's cafeteria Tuesday night to discuss the proposed 2013 operating budget of $3.7 million during a special deliberative session.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Voters packed Rindge Memorial School's cafeteria Tuesday night to discuss the proposed 2013 operating budget of $3.7 million during a special deliberative session.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Former Select Board Chair Jed Brummer asked the current Select Board on Tuesday whether or not it would support future efforts to change the town's fiscal year. While some current town officials noted the benefits of doing so, the Select Board made no commitment.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Former Select Board Chair Jed Brummer asked the current Select Board on Tuesday whether or not it would support future efforts to change the town's fiscal year. While some current town officials noted the benefits of doing so, the Select Board made no commitment.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters and town officials met Tuesday night at Rindge Memorial School to discuss the proposed 2013 budget at the first portion of Rindge's Special Town Meeting, deliberative session.<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Voters and town officials met Tuesday night at Rindge Memorial School to discuss the proposed 2013 budget at the first portion of Rindge's Special Town Meeting, deliberative session.
    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters and town officials met Tuesday night at Rindge Memorial School to discuss the proposed 2013 budget at the first portion of Rindge's Special Town Meeting, deliberative session.<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Voters and town officials met Tuesday night at Rindge Memorial School to discuss the proposed 2013 budget at the first portion of Rindge's Special Town Meeting, deliberative session.
    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters and town officials met Tuesday night at Rindge Memorial School to discuss the proposed 2013 budget at the first portion of Rindge's Special Town Meeting, deliberative session.<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Voters and town officials met Tuesday night at Rindge Memorial School to discuss the proposed 2013 budget at the first portion of Rindge's Special Town Meeting, deliberative session.
    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voters packed Rindge Memorial School's cafeteria Tuesday night to discuss the proposed 2013 operating budget of $3.7 million during a special deliberative session.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Former Select Board Chair Jed Brummer asked the current Select Board on Tuesday whether or not it would support future efforts to change the town's fiscal year. While some current town officials noted the benefits of doing so, the Select Board made no commitment.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Voters and town officials met Tuesday night at Rindge Memorial School to discuss the proposed 2013 budget at the first portion of Rindge's Special Town Meeting, deliberative session.<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Voters and town officials met Tuesday night at Rindge Memorial School to discuss the proposed 2013 budget at the first portion of Rindge's Special Town Meeting, deliberative session.<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Voters and town officials met Tuesday night at Rindge Memorial School to discuss the proposed 2013 budget at the first portion of Rindge's Special Town Meeting, deliberative session.<br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

RINDGE — The town’s proposed 2013 operating budget of $3.7 million sailed through deliberative session Tuesday night. But more than 100 people turned out for the meeting, after rumors had circulated throughout town in recent weeks that a resident was going to recommend a budget cut of up to $200,000.

“Everyone rallied the troops. That’s what rumors do,” Select Board member Roberta Oeser said by phone Wednesday, referring to the high turnout in response to concern that a significant budget cut was possible. Oeser said members of the Rindge Crime Watch, Recreation Committee and other residents sent out mass emails, encouraging people to defeat any such motion on the floor.

The budget was well received by residents and no cut was proposed as rumors on the street had suggested, said Police Chief Frank Morrill, who attended Tuesday’s meeting with a handful of officers from his force.

“As the police chief, I told my officers that a cut like that would more than likely affect staffing levels across the entire town,” Morrill said by phone Wednesday of the rumored $100,000 to $200,000 budget cut. “With that potential, the employees were concerned and components of the community were concerned about how that would affect the services that they have come to rely on.”

Tuesday’s deliberative session was the second to be held in Rindge this year. Rindge continues to be without a budget, following voters’ decision in March to rescind a 2012 vote at the polls that would have changed the town’s fiscal year with a one-time 18-month budget. In order to enact a 12-month budget, the town petitioned the Cheshire County Superior Court this spring to hold a Special Town Meeting, and the court granted that request on June 3.

Deliberative session was part one of the budget approval process; voters will have to wait until Rindge’s Special Town Meeting on July 30 to cast their ballots.

At the town’s regularly held deliberative session in February, Budget Advisory Committee Chair Tom Coneys made a motion to reduce the proposed 18-month operating budget of $5,424,329 by $104,329 through cuts to town staffing, employee hours and increases in employee contributions to health and dental care premiums. This time around, the Budget Advisory Committee and Select Board unanimously backed the proposed 12-month, $3.7 million operating budget, but that didn’t alleviate concerns that another proposed cut was possible.

Resident Edward Lamoureaux said by phone Monday that he had been actively encouraging people to attend this special deliberative session so that they could have a say in the future of their town. The rumor on the street suggesting a significant budget cut is a moot point now, he said, but was taken seriously by residents at the time.

“We need to keep Rindge vibrant, strong and a great place to play,” Lamoureaux said. “It’s always good for people to come out to their town meetings to vote and speak up about what they want.”

The proposed $3,707,000 budget includes $1,522,915 for operating expenses and $2,184,085 for town employee wages and benefits, according to a summary sheet distributed at Tuesday’s meeting. It represents a $90,782, or 2.5 percent, increase over the approved 2012 operating budget of $3,616,218.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Town Administrator Carlotta Lilback Pini highlighted the differences in this year’s proposed budget over the 2012 approved budget. A 10 percent increase in employee health insurance premium costs, effective July 1, and an increase in the town’s contributions to the N.H. Retirement System are significant expenses the town had no control over, Pini said.

Savings include more than $20,000 in wages for the full-time planning director position, which has remained vacant since mid-January when former Planning Director Matt Henry resigned. Earlier this year, the Select Board chose to reduce the administrative assistant position from 40 hours to 32 hours per week and retitle it Executive Secretary to the Town Administrator and Board of Selectmen. In mid-May, the board hired Rindge native Nicole Sesia.

Fewer elections this year compared to 2012, reduced welfare costs and reduced costs to print the town report were among the other changes, Pini noted.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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