Error, cost-of-living adjustments drive up Rindge budget

  • The Rindge Meetinghouse Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/14/2022 2:39:30 PM
Modified: 1/14/2022 2:38:36 PM

Two major stumbling blocks emerged during the Rindge Select Board budget hearing Wednesday – an error regarding the police department expected to significantly increase the budget put before residents during the hearing, and a skyrocketing cost-of-living adjustment driving up wages .

The Select Board ultimately did not settle on a final number for the budget, continuing the meeting until Tuesday, Jan. 18, mainly due to the wages and benefits for a ranked police officer mistakenly being left out of the budget.

The total budget discussed Wednesday for fiscal 2022 was $4.67 million, which is a $244,319, or 5.5%, increase from the current budget. However, during the hearing, Police Chief Rachel Malynowski said the pay and benefits for the department’s sergeant – a position currently unfilled – had been mistakenly taken out of the budget due to a miscommunication between herself and Finance Director Laurie May, who compiled the budget.

Malynowski said between the wages, health insurance and state retirement contribution for the sergeant position, the total cost could drive the budget up by approximately another $100,000, but she did not have exact numbers, only having caught the discrepancy earlier that day.

That would place the proposed budget at approximately $4.77 million. 

One of the reasons the proposed budget had already increased more than 5 percent was wage increases, as the total cost of wages and benefits has increased about $125,940, or 4 percent, from last year.. 

Select Board Chair Karl Pruter explained that typically, the town provides planned step increases for employees, but also makes cost-of-living adjustments, based on the rate of increase for Social Security. Typically, he said that rate of inflation has been between 1 and 3%. This year, however, the rate was nearly 6%.

“And it’s affected our budget,” Pruter said. 

The Select Board had not calculated the town’s default budget, which is adopted in the event the town votes against the proposed budget, at the time of Wednesday’s hearing.

The board agreed to continue the hearing until 6:15 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Rindge Recreation Department. It is anticipated at that time there will be a final proposal, including the full police department budget, and a calculated default budget presented. 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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