WALPOLE, N.H. -- A mistake within the town's 2013-14 budget has been fixed and the confusion it caused among residents was cleared up at a public hearing Thursday afternoon.
Selectman Jamie Teague told the dozens of citizens who met at Walpole Town Hall that the water and sewer budget was accidentally left out of the $3,080,393 regular schedule operating budget approved by voters at Town Meeting in March.
Teague explained there are different sections to every budget and the figures designated for water and sewer services were not added to the overall budget, as it usually is. She assured people the error will not affect their taxes or the setting of the tax rate, as the water and sewer services are funded with user fees, which Teague said also will not increase.
"When you do a budget for a town or a school district, anything that is considered a government entity, you file a report," she said. "After everybody votes on the different warrant articles and that report goes to the state and the people at the (N.H.) Department of Revenue Administration -- that's the DRA -- they take all those reports and they have to match. And our reports didn't match."
Teague said the omission was an oversight and apologized on behalf of the selectmen for "getting people in a tizzy about it."
She said the matter took so long to get straightened out because there have been some personnel changes in the town's accounting department.
When the topic of town personnel came up, resident Krystyna Marcom said Walpole recently had a very competent bookkeeper and wanted to know why she no longer works for the town. Teague said that was a personnel matter that cannot be discussed publicly.
"Sometimes you hire someone and think it will work out perfectly and it doesn't," she said.
When pressed by other members of the crowd, Teague said a new bookkeeper has not yet been hired, though interviews have been held with some of the 21 people who applied for the job.
"We should have that person in place within the next month," she said.
Earlier in the public hearing, Teague read aloud a letter from town Road Agent Jim Terrell, who wanted to update people on the damage caused by Winter Storm Nemo and summer storms.
Teague pre-empted the letter by saying Terrell and his crew are still trying to catch up on the road paving. She said about $100,000 of damage was done to Walpole town roads, with a section of Wentworth Road being affected the most.
"To prevent repeat damage to Wentworth Road on the hill leaving town it was decided to put in drainage to help prevent such damage," Terrell wrote. He added that the estimated cost of the project -- with drainage culverts, installation of catch basins and hurricane style frames and grates and paving -- will likely be about $92,000.
"By paying for the drainage materials out of the highway budget there was $75,000 left to pay for installation and paving," he wrote. "All other flood expenses have been covered by the highway department."
Terrell said Walpole can expect about $24,000 in FEMA reimbursement for Nemo. He also mentioned the town is eligible to receive 75 percent of the cost of flood repairs from the rainstorms that were declared a disaster in late June and early July. He said some mitigation money also will be available to cover the remaining cost of the Wentworth Road drainage project.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.