Town wages go up, but budget decreases

  • Dublin budget committee chair Charlie Champagne addresses a question during Tuesday’s budget hearing.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Dublin budget committee member William Gurney spoke at Tuesday’s budget hearing, telling the audience why the committee isn’t in favor of a warrant article asking the town to raise $10,000 to help fund the operation of the Dublin Community Center.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 6:5PM

Dublin’s budget committee has proposed an operating budget of $1,928,652 for 2018, a 1.7-percent reduction from last year’s approved budget. 

The largest areas of reduction in the proposed budget are in health insurance (a decrease of $37,882) and the highway and streets budget (a decrease of $27,082, $16,675 of which is wages). This year’s budget includes a 2.2-percent salary increase for town employees.

The only point of contention between the budget committee and the select board in the budget this year is whether or not the town should add two hours per week to the assistant to the town administrator position’s workload.

“We listened to the justification and we didn’t feel it was needed,” said budget committee chair Charlie Champagne, during Tuesday’s budget hearing. 

The assistant to the town administrator currently works 28 hours a week, according to Champagne. Adding two hours would make the position full-time, which would also require the town to provide health insurance for the employee.

The two hours would add an additional $11,037 to the committee’s proposed budget, $9,720 of which would be for health insurance. 

Selectman Dale Gabel spoke in favor of giving the additional two hours a week to the position, saying that the town administrator position has seen an increased burden of work and responsibilities over the years.

“It’s important to make the position competitive so that we can continue to encourage and attract the best people possible,” said Gabel. “This also allows the town administrator to focus on more than bureaucracy.”

The budget committee is not recommending four warrant articles this year, two of which are petitions. 

Committee member William Gurney spoke about the committee not recommending an article that if passed, would raise $10,000 to help fund the operation of the Dublin Community Center. 

“This is the third year in a row [for this warrant article] and its gone up,” said Gurney.

Gurney said one reason the committee is not recommending the article as the DubHub also qualifies for a real estate tax abatement, with the committee not feeling the center should be taking advantage of both a warrant article and an abatement.

Gurney also said that if the town is to continue to fund the center through taxation, the townspeople should have more say in what happens there. Gurney brought up an example of the library having trustees as a potential model. 

“We may want to look at a relationship like that going forward,” said Gurney. 

Committee member Judy Knapp said the committee is not recommending a warrant article asking for $6,836 in tax dollars to support eight advisory health and welfare service agencies.

Knapp said the committee doesn’t recommend the article, as the members feel such organizations should be supported through donations, not tax dollars. 

The two petition articles, if passed, will give 10-percent raises to the town clerk/tax collector and the deputy town clerk/tax collector to the tune of $3,039 and $534 respectively. 

Town Clerk/Tax Collector Jeannine Dunne spoke during the budget hearing, saying that she and her deputy have a lot of knowledge and do much for the town. 

“We haven’t been treated equitably,” said Dunne. 

Champagne pointed out that both positions have a 2.2-percent raise built into this year’s budget, so approving the petitions would add an additional raise on top of that. 

The selectmen are also not recommending the petition articles. 

The following warrant articles have been recommended by the budget committee and select board: $450,000 for road construction bond to be paid for out of the road construction capital reserve fund; to take $39,900 from the police cruiser capital reserve fund for a new police cruiser; take $10,000 from the town buildings maintenance capital reserve fund to replace the west side of the fire station roof; take $10,000 from the town buildings maintenance capital reserve fund to replace the archives building roof; take $25,696 from the recycling fund for a vertical bailer; to add $338,000 to various town capital reserve funds with $100,000 coming from the town’s unreserved fund balance and the rest from taxation; raise $4,000 to fund the Dublin Advocate; raise $7,900 for various expendable trust funds.

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.