By Chris Paul
Public Hearing on the over $39 million FY23 town budget was discussed during the Monday, Dec. 6, Londonderry Town Council meeting and the biggest part of the discussion centered on the addition of a $100,000 for the Police Departments cyber security upgrade.
Town Council chairman John Farrell led off the talks by explaining that the town fiscal year starts on July 1, 2022 and ends on June 30, 2023 and they were looking at budgets that will end 18 months out.
Town Manager Kevin Smith presented the newest numbers to the council in the public hearing, with Finance Director Justin Campo feeling ill.
Smith said the town budget is about $3,300 under the default budget and about a half of a percent above the current operating budget.
He also stated that staff had looked into whether or not the utilities lines in the department budgets needed to be raised because of the rise in water, gas and oil prices and he felt they could be left the way they were presented.
Smith also brought up the need for an additional $100,000 for the Police IT Departments Cyber Security Plan and felt that it could be raised through a Warrant Article, but was apprehensive about whether it would fail and negate the ability of the police to upgrade.
The Proposed FY23 Budget was presented at $39,204,994, with $2,849,544 coming from sewer fund user fees making the General Fund $36,355,4550.
The subject of the $100,000 cost for Cyber security garnered the most discussion after the budget presentation and Budget Committee member Jonathan Kipp asked whether the cost could be shared with the school district somehow.
Farrell felt that the level of security the police departments was looking to put in place would be far greater than the school district would need.
Police Chief Bill Hart concurred, saying that it was fundamentally different in kind but not in degree.
Farrell added that it might be possible for the school and town to work together, but police is much different.
There was a lot of concern raised about whether the IT security plan could move forward if the Warrant Article failed.
Hart expressed concern over the article say that the funding needs to be “Lock Box Secure.”
Farrell pointed out that 80% of the budget is made up of personnel and that if the $100,000 were to be added to the budget it would most likely have to come from there.
Councilor Joe Green felt that town staff could find the money needed elsewhere in the budget, suggesting the salt budget may not need to go up by $20,000.
Smith responded that they could look at what is budgeted for insurance plans and thought a good amount could come from there.
Resident Bill Hamilton addressed the issue saying that he had worked with budgets for a number of years and was willing to bet that the town could go back and find at least five percent more savings to the taxpayers in the budget.
He ended by challenging town staff to go back and find all of the little things that the budget has over what is needed and come back with a lower number.
Hamilton spoke earlier in the meeting about the significant rise in his recent property tax bill.
There will be another public hearing on the town budget in Jan. 17.