Hillsboro budget gets slight boost

Last modified: 3/9/2011 12:00:00 AM
After weighing proposals that would have slashed town spending by hundreds of thousands of dollars, Hillsboro voters passed a budget last night that was slightly higher than what the selectmen had recommended.

Residents approved an operating budget of $6.5 million, adding in $5,500 to continue an anti-drug and alcohol program for the town's sixth-graders.

The budget represents a 4.5 percent increase over what voters approved last year, despite the efforts of several residents who last night proposed deep cuts, prompting hours of debate.

'As we are all aware, times are hard, and they are not scheduled to get better in the near future,' said state Rep. Robert Fredette, as he made a motion to cut the proposed budget by more than $600,000 and suggested the town contract with the county to dispatch emergency calls instead of running its own center.

'At this time, we cannot afford the luxury of our own dispatch center,' Fredette said.

He referred to remarks made by Selectman Robert Buker, who noted earlier in the meeting that the town has 44 homes under foreclosure.

'If you vote past the current budget,' Fredette said, 'you will have no right to complain when they come and take your house later.'

Other residents, however, urged caution when proposing cuts without giving town officials the chance to consider them.

'While I respect the desire to be careful of our spending, I'm not sure that tonight to make a significant cut is a good idea,' said Schyler Jones, a lieutenant in the town's fire department.

Jones said he knew people in town had lost their homes, and 'I have compassion for those folks,' he said. 'The economy sucks, big time.

'But tonight, in this meeting, we are not going to solve that problem,' Jones said, 'even by cutting the budget $500,000. Blindly, I might add.'

Ultimately, voters agreed with him. Fredette's motion failed in a secret ballot vote, 113-63.

But Fredette wasn't the only person to speak in favor of large cuts that took aim at the dispatch center and police department budget, which combined make up close to 30 percent of the town's budget.

'We have to stop it somewhere,' said Alan Urquhart, who had circulated a proposal through the crowd to cut $276,000 from the operating budget. He said he didn't want to deny police Chief David Roarick's defense of his department's spending, but 'we've got to look at these things or we're going to get taxed out of our homes.'

Roarick said the department wasn't asking for new equipment or programs but needed additional money - about $150,000 more than last year - to pay its officers. He said officers made 100 drug arrests last year and over 600 in-custody arrests, 200 more than is typical.

'You asked us to clean up the streets, and that's what we're trying to do,' Roarick said. 'Unfortunately all this comes with a cost.'

Roarick also said that contracting with the county to dispatch emergency calls wouldn't save the town money, disagreeing with estimates provided by Fredette and a committee formed last year to study the issue.

Besides the budget, voters also said yes last night to spending $150,000 on road paving and $25,000 to tear down a house in disrepair on Route 31, property that the town acquired by tax deed last year. They approved the selectmen's recommendations to set aside $35,000 in a capital reserve fund for future ambulance purchases and $10,000 in another fund for the replacement of a community services van.

Three hours into the meeting, residents had yet to vote on spending $150,000 to replace the Gould Pond Road bridge over Sand Brook, $125,000 to improve energy efficiency at the police station, and $100,000 to complete the fire suppression sprinkler system at the library, among other remaining warrant articles.




Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301
603-224-5301

 

© 2019 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy