Bedford's $26.1 Million town budget would carry a 4 cent tax rate hike
BEDFORD — The Town Council’s proposed $26.1 million operating budget reflects a 4 cent increase in the tax rate, and includes hiring two police officers and filling a building superintendent position.
The 4 cent increase equals about $16 per $1,000 assessed property valuation for a $400,000 home. Three cents of this increase relates to contractual obligations for three collective bargaining agreements, and 1 cent is for a six-month salary for a new building superintendent, effective July 1.
On the town side, the total anticipated tax rate for 2014 would be $5.01 per $1,000 assessed property valuation, or a $2,000 bill for a $400,000 home.
The council presented its proposed budget at a Jan. 8 public hearing, with a second hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 10 Meetinghouse Road. The Budgetary Town Meeting is 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, at the Bedford High School theater, 47 Nashua Road. Election Day is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 11 at the high school gymnasium.
The council approved spending $50,000 for a six-month salary and benefits for a new in-house building superintendent, as recommended by former-Town Manager Jessie Levine and Jim Stanford, director of the Public Works Department. Levine’s last day as town manager was Jan. 10.
The council had discussed adding the building superintendent position last year, but it did not gain enough support for a budget item. The town has been paying $130,000 for a building management contractor, and if the position is approved by voters in March, that money will go toward other town projects such as roads or building repairs, said Stanford.
He said recently several town employees have been dealing with heating oil issues and have been “running around in a million directions trying to get it done.”
“I do believe having a person in house has some added benefits because we all wear multiple hats here and by getting the right person where we can say, “OK, today you have to deal with the oil situation,” or other immediate town building-related issues, he said.
Councilor Bill Jean said he sees the benefits of using a contracted service and an in-house employee.
“We need someone who has a plan of attack, for example, roof repairs and no one is doing that now,” Jean said.
The town’s proposed $26.1 million operating budget includes $4.5 million for the police department, $4 million for the fire department, $5.3 million for the Public Works Department and $3.3 million for debt service premiums and interest.
Resident Faith Schuetz, who offered the only public comment about the budget at the public hearing, questioned the need for a master plan reserve fund. The council is proposing adding $17,500 to the current $88,000 reserve balance.
Councilor Bill Dermody said the town is required by state law to update its master plan every 10 years, and the plan is used as a general guideline for town goals relating to planning and land use, economic and capital improvement development, preservation and conservation, recreation, public safety and other future models.
“It’s a vision of the town. Residents are invited to give their input, such as pedestrian paths and trails, which opens up other discussions,” he said. “It’s an A to Z, soups to nuts, that affects the town.”
The master plan was updated in 2010, and the 2020 revision is slated to begin in 2018. The town’s master plan can be viewed at vhb.com/bedfordmasterplan.
To view the Town Council’s 2014 proposed budget handout, visit bedfordnh.org.