Proposed Peterborough town budget increases $1.1 million

  • The Peterborough Budget Committee and Select Board held a hearing Tuesday night. —STAFF PHOTO BY ROWAN WILSON

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/8/2023 11:37:46 AM

At their budget hearing Tuesday night, the Peterborough Select Board and Budget Committee approved all proposed warrant articles to go on the ballot in May.

The total budget residents will be voting on is approximately $14.8 million, a $1.1 million increase. This figure includes the general municipal budget, water and wastewater operations. If all warrant articles pass, the town would need to raise $10.3 million through taxation.

If the town doesn’t apply any fund balance toward reducing the tax rate and there is no increase to assessed value, the estimated tax rate would be $11.68 per $1,000 assessed valuation, an increase of $2.51 per $1,000.

If assessed value increases 10 percent, the estimated tax rate would be $10.62 per $1,000, an increase of $1.45 per $1,000. If value increases 10 percent and the town applies $500,000 from the fund balance, the estimated tax rate would be $10.10 per $1,000, an increase of 93 cents. If assessed value goes up 15 percent and the town applies $500,000 from the fund balance, the estimated tax rate would be $9.66 per $1,000, up 49 cents.

Town Administrator Nicole MacStay explained that there were three main categories that increased substantially this year. Energy costs have increased by $83,980, debt service has increased by $89,177 and personnel costs have increased by $1.3 million.

With inflation high this year, MacStay said, “To me, this speaks to the very responsible budgets the departments heads brought forward.”

All employees would receive 5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increases and a 3.7 percent merit increase.

“This is all in response to changes in the employment market,” said MacStay. The town’s goal is to keep employees and attract new employees when people leave. The town is accounting for a number of retirements this year and part-time employees who will be succeeded by full-time hires.

“Employees who are worth more can do more and save us more,” MacStay said.

As an example, she brought up an ad that the Jaffrey Police Department is running for a police officer. The town is offering a starting salary of $58,281 for an uncertified officer. In Peterborough, the starting salary for an uncertified officer is $49,046.

“We’re having trouble attracting people at that,” said MacStay.

Separate from the operating budget, residents will be voting on establishing an expendable trust fund for the upkeep of bridges, culverts and dams. The $237,280 is from unanticipated bridge aid the Select Board accepted in December, and no money will be raised through taxes.

Another warrant article calls for $450,834 toward the Ambulance Service Revolving Fund. This amount is Peterborough’s share of the cost to operate the 911 Emergency Response Ambulance Service for 2023.

The town is also looking to establish a town forest on three town-owned properties off Greenfield Road and authorize the Conservation Commission to manage the property.

The Select Board voted to put all 18 warrant articles on the ballot, with none being held for Town Meeting.

March 22 is the last day for a petition warrant article to be submitted. The filing period for open positions in the town election starts on Wednesday, March 14, and runs through Friday, March 31.

The town’s deliberative session is sche duled for Tuesday, April 4, at 7 p.m. at the Peterborough Town House Upper Hall. The ballot session and election is Tuesday, May 9, and the open session of Town Meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 10, at 7 p.m.

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