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Second School Resource Officer Likely to Go to Voters

Budget talks continued during a workshop on Nov. 17

A budget workshop on Nov. 17 saw discussion on another school resource officer for the police force, a position that Chief of Police and Acting Town Manager William Hart said will likely go to voters in the form of a warrant article.

The first of at least four budget discussions saw the new police position brought up as part of a full-day of deliberations. Hart said that the resource officer, who would be the second in the district, would cost the town between $100,000 and $110,000 in total employee compensation.

"Earlier in the decade we had generally three or four assigned to the school," he said. "The great recession suggested we needed to trim those positions back. Everyone has always felt those positions are important to our community."

Hart said that the Town Council and budget committee had a consensus that the taxpayers should make a judgment on whether the position is needed.

The operating budget recommendation this year is coming in lower than the default budget.

The town voted last year for the recommended budget following the deliberative session.

Hart said that it is important to say that the recommended budget did not include personnel changes, layoffs and salary reductions.

Depending on the action of the Town Council, that information could come in as early as today, at which point the ramifications of those changes will be discussed.

"We're going to give that information to the (Town) Council and obviously they're going to make the choices they need to make," he said. "Where we are right now, with the town manager's recommended budget, there are no personnel reductions."

Hart said that he anticipates a brief budget process this year, but changes are always possible.

He added that one theme that came out of the day of budget talks was that further budget cuts will have a significant impact.

"Over the last four years, five years, the budget has been significantly trimmed back, so really any further cuts likely will impact services or personnel."

During a Nov. 5 meeting of the Town Council, the general fund budget recommendation was $27,498,483. The default budget totals $27,640,402. The recommended budget is a $744,000 increase from FY13, stemming from employee benefits for health insurance and the New Hampshire retirement system.

Hart said that some late changes were also made on Friday before the workshop.

At least three more budget workshops will take place on Nov. 19, Nov. 26 and Nov. 29.

A final adoption of the budget proposal will take place on Jan. 14.

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