By Alex Malm
The Town Council was briefed on the proposed FY25 budget, during the budget kickoff workshop on Saturday, Nov. 4.
It was explained by Town Manager, Mike Malaguti, that the default budget, which essentially accounts for any contracts, contracted costs, and mandated costs, is $40,576,567, which is up 8.18% over the FY24 budget.
Malaguti stated that his proposed budget is less. His proposed budget is $40,376,676, compared to the FY 24 budget of $37,508,445. In total, it’s about $200,000 less than the default budget, which is about a half a percent increase.
“As in prior years, there’s a difference in the town manager’s proposed operating budget and the default budget,” Malaguti said.
One of the major increases Malaguti pointed to is Waste Management, which will be an increase of $459,049. Malaguti noted that they will see a 5% increase in the contract. He added that last year when the contract was renegotiated, an inflation provision was added.
“It was approved last year and for that reason it’s part of the default budget,” Malaguti said.
Another major increase is to health insurance premiums, which will cost about $1.4 million, along with other increases to insurances like dental, property insurance, and unemployment.
Malaguti said they have a buyout program where employees who don’t opt in for insurance get a stipend instead. With the continuing cost of health insurance, they may look at proposals to increase the buyout to encourage more employees to consider it.
Other major increases include $280,925 for the NH Retirement System, $210,216 for operational contracts, and $978,187 for personnel costs as part of contracts with unions.
Malaguti said one piece of good news with the budget is a savings of $733,466 for the reduction of debt services, due to a bond being paid off.
Town Council Chair, John Farrell, said with about 83% to 84% of the budget going towards benefits and salaries, it means they only have a small percentage of the budget they can cut from.
“If we want to reduce anything, we have to decide what services to cut,” Farrell said.
Malaguti said he knows that he didn’t present many good pieces of news, saying that conditions affecting everyone’s budgets are now affecting the municipal budgets.
“This is not a lot of good news you just heard,” Malaguti said.
However, he explained that they worked hard to set up a budget, which will set them up for success moving forward.
“I’m proud of that work,” Malaguti said.
Malaguti noted that they currently have two public hearings scheduled, which is currently scheduled for Dec. 4 and Dec. 15, and they will also be having a number of other workshops during Town Council meetings, when people can have the chance to give their input.
He said the Deliberative Session is scheduled this year for Feb. 10, which gives the voters the chance to finalize the budget.
“That certainly is an opportunity for people to be heard,” Malaguti said.