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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hearing set for Wednesday on second half of Brookline budget

BROOKLINE – Town officials will cross the final “t” and dot the final “i” of the 2012 budget proposal at a hearing Wednesday night.

Selectmen tackled the first half of the budget – everything from the ambulance and Fire Department to the cemeteries and conservation commission budgets – at a Monday hearing. On Wednesday, highlights will include the police and highway departments, and another $1.5 million in proposed warrant articles.

The second hearing will be held at the Town Hall on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

On Monday, selectmen went over several budgets and answered questions from a small audience. Highlights included the ambulance service budget of about $160,000, an increase of about $20,000. Most of that increase will send a volunteer EMT to training to become a paramedic, according to Wes Whittier, the ambulance service director.

One of the town’s larger departments, the library, would increase its budget to about $207,000 next year, an increase from around $202,000, mostly because of increased costs to buy books, media and magazines and to replace the circulation system.

The largest item on the warrant this year – aside from the budget itself – is a bond issue for more than $1.3 million to complete the 10-year-old Brookline Safety Complex.

The money would build a new police facility to be co-located with the ambulance service, which was the plan when the building was first constructed, according to Tad Putney, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. Right now, the Police Department is in the basement of Town Hall.

The bond wouldn’t impact 2012 taxes because the first payment wouldn’t be due until next year, Putney said.

Budget drivers include the first of five lease payments for a new fire truck, $74,640; an increase in health insurance premiums that adds $45,100; and a rise in the town’s contribution to the New Hampshire Retirement System, adding $33,000, according to budget documents.

In addition, the proposed budget includes $27,500 to buy a new police cruiser, $25,000 to cover the cost of unanticipated legal expenses, and $7,210 for election and registration costs, the result of a year in which there will be four elections, according to budget documents.

Those items account for about 80 percent of the proposed budget increase.

The overall budget, including warrant articles, would be a little over $4 million, an increase of $276,360, or 7.4 percent, according to budget documents, according to budget documents.

Warrant articles include a request to spend $60,000 on road and bridge improvements, $58,200 to hire a full-time town administrator, and $10,000 to extend an option on a Main Street parcel known as the Monius property, according to the proposed warrant.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Cote won Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).