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Proposed New London budget shows 3 percent increase

NEW LONDON - When voters come to Town Meeting in a few weeks, they'll be presented with a 2014 proposed budget that is up about 3 percent from last year.

Elections will be at the Whipple Memorial Town Hall from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14. Town Meeting will be held May 15 at 7 p.m. in the old middle school gymnasium in New London.

The $7.2 million general operating budget, including transfers to capital reserves, has increased by a total of $182,065 or 3 percent from fiscal year 2013, town officials said. That increase, before other major components of the tax rate are figured during the rest of the fiscal year, would add 17 cents to the tax rate for a 4 percent increase.

The increase is due to several factors, town officials said.

The town kept the same employee health insurance plan this year, but the cost of the plan increased 14 percent.

Town employees and the town share the cost of the increase proportionately. In December, the Board of Selectmen approved a personnel policy change requiring all new full-time employees hired after Dec. 10, 2012 to contribute 15 percent to the cost of their health insurance premium should they elect to participate in the town's health insurance plan. That should result in health insurance savings going forward, town officials said.

Another increase is due to the unusual event of 27 two-week pay periods instead of 26 in fiscal year 2014. The cost of this extra pay period is about $85,000. This phenomenon will not impact the budget again for another 11 to 12 years, or sometime around 2025.

There was also an increase due to impacts from increases in costs from the state retirement system. The impact on the proposed budget is approximately $61,000, officials said.

The Board of Selectmen has included funding for a raise of 2 percent for town employees.

The budget committee has recommended an increase of $15,000 for the Kearsarge Area Council on Aging, bringing the total contribution to $35,000. The Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce requested an increase of $2,500 to fund weekend staffing at the New London Information Booth.

Payroll costs associated with the increase in health insurance premiums, retirement system contributions and an extra pay period amount to a budget increase of approximately $210,000. Savings were realized in the areas of legal expense, postage, debt service requirements and in the highway department.

Projected revenues are down approximately $65,000 from fiscal year 2013. At least half of this decrease is due to the trade-in of the fire department ladder truck.

The town also anticipates lower revenues from the state's Highway Block Grant and Meals and Rooms tax distributions.

The revenue projections will be revisited in September when more current data will be available, town officials said.


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