Public Hearing Set for May 19 on Derry Town Budget

The Derry Town Council will hold a public hearing on its proposed 2017 budget in a special meeting Thursday, May 19 at the Municipal Center.

The budget, if passed by the Council, will reduce the tax rate by 1 cent, while maintaining and in some cases enhancing the current levels of service.

Highlights of the budget include provision for two new firefighters, one new police officer, and a fully funded Economic Development Department with a full-time contracted director. Acting Town Administrator Steve Daly’s original budget called for a part-time Economic Developer position at $75,000, as directed by the previous Council, but this Council determined that the Town needed and could afford the full-time position.

Council chair Brian Chirichiello credited the drop in the tax rate to “moving things around” and the line-by-line budget review process.

In the line-by-line process, which took several special meetings, the current Council was able to tweak Daly’s budget. Daly had received his charge from the previous Council, Chirichiello said.

“We made changes but kept the same end result, the 1-cent reduction,” he said.

“Line by line is really good,” Chirichiello summed up. “It didn’t take forever, and it was transparent.”

Under the tax cap the town is allowed to raise the tax rate up to another 6 cents, but this budget lowered it, Chirichiello noted.

Several departments reported savings from economies or personnel adjustments, and these were taken into account. These included:

• A $95,000 drop in health insurance;

• A $47,000 drop in Teamsters health insurance;

• A drop of $12,000 in the Town Clerk’s budget line; and

• A revenue increase from ambulance fees of $55,000.

Drawing from the Unassigned Fund Balance (UFB) is an issue, he allowed, and “we can’t keep doing it. It would cause problems down the road.” But even there they enacted some savings, with the amount from UFB being $365,000 instead of Daly’s original $650,000.

The budget if passed would allow Fire Chief Michael Gagnon to staff his tanker every other day. It would allow him to have staffing of two shifts with 16 per shift and two with 15 per shift, Gagnon said in a phone interview.

In addition to the newly-created Economic Development department, the working amounts for each town department are as follows:

• Emergency Management, $69,361;

• Administration, $537,578, up $20,000 due to a proposed policy review of the Executive department;

• Health, $83,323;

• Information Technology, $599,692;

• Human Services, $390,863;

• Finance, $732,629;

• Assessing, $513,583;

• Tax Collector, $794,416;

• Fire Prevention, $10,992,487, down because fire hydrants were moved to Other Municipal Obligations;

• Other Municipal Obligations, up $414,000 due to the fire hydrants;

• Fire Dispatch, $976,790;

• Libraries, Derry Public Library, $1,311,414, Taylor Library, $183,446;

• Planning, $266,867;

• Police, $9,639,803;

• Animal Control, $80,601;

• Highway, $4,020,567;

• Transfer Station, $1,768,702;

• Public Works Vehicle Maintenance, $460,639;

• Buildings and Grounds, $739,944;

• Cemeteries, $254,091;

• Code Enforcement, $354,410;

• Recreation, $597,432;

• Parks, $914,168;

• Town Clerk, $137,840;

• Elections, $64,791;

• Wastewater, $2,220,563;

• Water, $2,591,672;

• Cable, $319,143; and

• TIF (Tax Increment Finance) District, $322,316.

The bottom line for the budget is $43,892,783. This is 66 percent Personnel, 22 percent Operations, 7 percent Capital, 4 percent Debt and 1 percent Transfers.

The May 19 meeting is in the third-floor Council Chambers at 7:30 p.m.