Chelsea Road Repair Will Drive Expenses Higher in Randolph

Front Page / Jan. 8, 2004 12:00am EST

Chelsea Road Repair Will Drive Expenses Higher in Randolph

The Randolph Selectboard this week approved a general fund budget, police budget and water and sewer budgets that are slightly increased from last year.

The general fund budget approved Tuesday night is $2,226,546, about a 6.8% increase from last year's figure of $2,084,416. However non-tax revenues, largely higher payment from the state "in lieu of taxes," are also scheduled to rise from $684,000 to $757,000, which will soften the blow.

The amount needed for taxes would be $1,424,511, just $24,000 higher than last year, according to summaries prepared by Barbara Stearns.

The capital budget is another story. Fueled by the necessity to do something about the deteriorating Chelsea Road, the Town Meeting appropriation for that budget is scheduled to rise from $334,400 to $468,794 next year, which will cost about six cents on the tax rate. (That's a $60 increase for a $100,000 house.)

Actually, the capital budget is increasing even more than those figures would indicate. For bookkeeping reasons, $50,000 for gravel was moved by Stearns from the capital budget into the general fund budget, because it represents operating expenses.

The capital budget is funded by more than taxes, however. Investment income from the Landfill Fund and projected borrowing for new municipal offices are also included.

All in all, the Town hopes to accomplish about $1.4 million in capital improvements next year.

(The capital budget has not yet been passed by the Selectboard and will be on their agenda for the 20th.)

Stearns said the relatively small increase in taxes for the general fund was an achievement, given the fact that union-negotiated wages will rise 3% and health insurance is going up 15%. Town workers pay 8% of their health premiums; that will rise to 10% in two years.

Other impacts on the general fund budget included a doubling of audit costs, to $15,000, a one-time increase to gear up for new requirements and an increase from $6000 to $10,000 for the town to hold a hazardous materials day at the landfill.

The fire department budget shows a 32% increase from $140,000 to $185,000, partly driven by a $25,000 appropriation for repairs on the used ladder truck the department wants to buy.

The requested special approriations are up from $46,212 to $53,637.

The Randolph Conservation Fund is asking $5000, after skipping the request last year. Two new organizations are asking support from the voters, the Randolph Area Preschool, and the White River Partnership. The Visiting Nurses Assn. is requesting about $1300 more than last year.

On the bright side, both the selectboard budget and town clerk budget are decreased, by about $10,000 each. In each case, special projects approved last year have been completed.

Water, Sewer, Police

The Water Department budget was approved at $715,595, compared to $694,058 last year.

The Sewer Department budget will decrease markedly, following the completion of major capital projects this year. Stearns said she expects sewer rates will have to be raised somewhat within the next year or two.

The Police Budget was approved at $410,000, a 3.6% increase from last year's $396,000. Projected revenues are somewhat lower, in addition, so that the rax rate for the Police District is expected to rise about 3 cents ($30 for a $100,000 house), Stearns said.

Selectman Kevin Osha voted "No" on the police budget.

"It's just too much," he said after the meeting.

"It is the single largest issue I hear from the public about," he said. "I get several complaints a week."

Many of the complaints, he said, are that too many of the police calls take place outside of the Police District. It's unfair to have the District taxpayers pay for all that police time, he said.

By M. D. Drysdale

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