Workshops on $59 million Portsmouth budget begin Monday
PORTSMOUTH — The Town Council will begin deliberations tonight, April 29, on a $59.14 million spending plan for 2013-2014 that represents a 2 percent increase over the current town budget. The workshop begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.
Town Administrator John Klimm is recommending a budget of $59,137,289, about $355,000 less than what had been requested from town departments. Taxpayers would be responsible for funding $47.57 million of the budget, an increase of just over 2 percent. The budget includes $37.42 million for the public schools, a .4 percent decrease from the current spending plan.
According to a letter submitted by Mr. Kilmm to the council, the proposed budget includes many initiatives, including a long-term public roads plan "aimed at combating the progressive deterioration of the town's roads."
The Public Works Department has requested money for road repairs in the past but funds have not been consistently allocated to the program, he said. The goal is to commit $1 million in un-borrowed funds annually toward road maintenance until road conditions are improved enough to allow the ongoing maintenance program to be scale back, he said.
"It is well established that the cost of allowing roadways to fall into a state of total reconstruction far exceeds the cost of an ongoing maintenance program," Mr. Klimm stated, adding that Public Works has already compiled a list of needed road repairs. "These repairs may include full depth reconstruction, asphalt overlay, milling, shimming, paving, crack sealing or chip sealing. Year one of our program has been a success and our commitment must continue in the years to come."
Other proposals in the budget include:
• a five-year capital improvement plan, in cooperation with the School Department
• a new full-day kindergarten program in the schools
• increased funding for pension plan liability
• return of "real dollars" to restore town's fund balance
• adoption of a community outreach and civic engagement plan
• an operational audit of the fire department and hiring of civilian dispatchers
Here's the schedule for upcoming Town Council budget meetings, all of which begin at 7 p.m. at Town Hall unless otherwise noted:
• Monday, April 29: Capital improvement plan
• Tuesday, April 30: Police, fire and public works
• Tuesday, May 14: School budget and adoption of provisional budget
• Wednesday, June 12: Public hearing at the middle school
• Monday, June 24: Formal adoption of budget
A copy of the budget can be viewed or downloaded at www.portsmouthri.com.