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Bow officials presents their town budget, say it will have minimal impact on local tax rate

Facing steep increases in public pension costs and a sizable bond request for a new town safety building, the Bow budget committee last night presented what they characterized as a conservative 2013-2014 operating budget, which, when combined with all warrant articles, will raise local tax rates by less than one percent.

The tax increase is relatively small because it rose so sharply last year when residents began paying for an extensive water and sewer expansion, and because the actual payments for the new $7.7 million safety facility, if approved, won’t kick in until the following year’s budget.

This year’s proposed operating budget, which requires a simple majority vote by residents to be approved next month, is roughly $9.8 million – about $380,000 more than the current year’s. The operating budget alone will increase the local tax rate by 7 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The largest increase in the operating budget is $117,875 in additional pension costs, which comes from the state’s announcement earlier this year that it will no longer pay a large share of the payments.

Officials at last night’s public hearing said that when the town tax rate increase is combined with the 62-cent increase that is projected from the Bow School District’s new budget, the owner of an average $300,000 home would pay $216 more in taxes in the coming year.

The new budget has 20 warrant articles, including the $7.7 million safety building bond request. The new 30,000-square-foot facility would be located at the intersection of Knox and Logging Hill roads and would replace Bow’s existing police and fire department buildings, which officials have said repeatedly are dangerously past their prime. Construction of the facility would represent the first phase in a three-step plan to develop a town center.

Several of the other warrant articles comprised fund requests for the purchase of new public works and safety vehicles, including an ambulance, a dump truck, a backhoe and a half-ton pickup truck.

The town is also requesting $350,000 to pave Woodhill Hooksett Road between Allen Road and Nathaniel Drive, and other roads, as well as $50,000 to pay for the design of a future renovation project at the Baker Free Library.

Additional cost increases in the operating budget include $83,992 for the town’s sewer budget, $59,627 for health and dental insurance, $57,943 for cost-of-living adjustments and $21,259 for the water budget.

Last night’s proposed budget, including all warrant articles, will be voted on by the town at its annual meeting March 13.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319 or
jblackman@cmonitor.com.)

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