Town Considers Social Service Funding, Senior Center Expansion

The Town Council considered during their final budget workshop increasing funding for a number of local social service agencies.

The Budget Committee held its public hearings on the agencies’ requests before Thanksgiving and has proposed a total allocation of $49,000, a 10.2 percent increase over last year’s budget for social services.

The most substantial increases are for Community Caregivers, for which the Committee proposed increasing funding from $5,640 in FY16 to $10,000 in FY17; Rockingham Community Action, increasing from $13,160 in FY16 to $14,000 in FY17; Child and Family Services, increasing from $2,350 to $3,500 in FY17; and Upper Room, increasing from $11,280 to $12,000.

Budget Committee Chairman Ted Combes said the Committee has proposed rounded amounts for each of the agencies, including three agencies that did not request increases in FY17-Big Brothers, Big Sisters, American Red Cross and Rockingham Community Action.

Other agencies the Committee recommends funding in FY17 are Home Health and Hospice at $1,500; Sonshine Soup Kitchen at $1,000; and RSVP Friends Program at $800.

Despite the increases, Combes noted the proposed allocation is $1,000 below the FY17 Default Budget and $4,929 below the combined amount the agencies requested.

The Council agreed to review the proposal and make a decision at their next meeting.

In addition to the social services budget, the Council considered a more detailed plan for the Senior Center expansion, the funding for which is included in the proposed FY17 budget.

After reviewing the $375,000 allocation proposed for the project in the Capital Improvements Plan, it was determined a smaller-scale, $350,000 addition would be more appropriate, according to Administrative Support Coordinator Steve Cotton.

By reducing the proposed 30,000-sqaure-foot addition to a 19,000-square-foot expansion, the Town will save around $100,000.

“We just don’t see how we could put an addition that large on that lot,” Cotton said.

An additional $60,000 in savings will be achieved by completing engineering and architecture in-house.

The renovation will include a complete overhaul of the Senior Center’s kitchen, with the addition of an outdoor entrance; as well as a new bathroom and new utility closet.

“The bottom line is, this is an old building. There could be some surprises, but we think $350,000 will give them the additions they have been asking for, along with rebuilding the kitchen,” he said.

Finally, Public Works Director Januscz Czyzowski provided an update on potential access fees the Town could see from an investment in the extension of sewer down Route-102.

“The sewer interceptor going west in the facility plan, approximately 23 businesses are abutting this line, and I know of one proposed business now that will be abutting this line,” he said. “Also, you will have 38 residential units abutting the area that could directly tie to the interceptor. There are 44 businesses not abutting, and 208 units of residential units that could tie to area of interceptor.”

Czyzwoski noted the importance of extending sewer to Crossroads Malls, particularly with Eliott being located in the vicinity of the improvements.

Additional fees to be generated through the extension will be determined by a number of factors, including the flow of the system and how many residential abutters tie in, according to Czyzwoski.

Moving forward, the Council plans to hold their first public hearing on the proposed FY17 budget at their Dec. 14 meeting at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

The final day to deliver warrant articles is Tues., Jan. 12.

Town Manager Kevin Smith recommended residents submit their warrant articles as soon as possible to ensure the Town’s legal counsel has an opportunity to review the language of the proposal.

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