CHESTERFIELD, N.H. -- The Parks and Recreation Commission took up the bulk of conversation time at Saturday's public hearing aimed at generating public input on the proposed town budget.
The budget committee and Elaine Levlocke, the board of selectmen's representative to the committee, reviewed the 2014-15 town budget account by account in front of the roughly 30 people in attendance and there were few questions until the commission came up. The proposed figures for the commission are up $8,706 (or 47.2 percent) from last year's budget and it was obvious the reason was the pay for the commission's treasurer and the director, which were up 53 and 85.3 percent, respectively.
Resident Gary Winn, sitting the second row of metal chairs in the Chesterfield School gymnasium, said "an explanation is in order for the public."
Commission member Tracy Fairbanks said the hefty increases are due to a proposal to convert the commission from a part-time seasonal program to a year-round one and having the director work throughout the entire year. The spike in spending reflects salary and health insurance costs and Jon McKeon, chairman of the board of selectmen, reminded residents all the numbers are projected figures.
Cornelia Jenness said the "elephant in the room" is the question as to what sort of activities the director will direct during the portions of the year Chesterfield's young people are in school. Fairbanks said the commission's mission statement is to provide recreation for all residents of the town - not just children. She said winter activities would likely include snowshoeing, ice skating and possibly bus rides to casinos and sports games. She said she would also like the commission to host "some health awareness opportunities."
Jenness also asked the budget committee to explain what the Economic Development Committee (which has a proposed $2,400 allotted to it) is and Levlocke yielded to McKeon, who was sitting in the audience. McKeon said it is a committee started by the selectmen to determine how to help town businesses stay in Chesterfield.
Bill Bucknell, who mentioned he used to be on the budget committee, stood up and said he has noticed the roads are in terrible shape. He told budget committee members the low amount of money they are budgeting for chloride ($15,000), asphalt ($27,500), and salt ($84,500) will not help matters.
"I think you're cutting this particular part of the budget very, very tight. I think, with chloride, you're underestimating what you really need and you're underestimating what you really need for asphalt and sand," he said. "I'm just urging you to take another look at it."
Resident Joanne Condosta said she would like to see more chloride used on Gulf Road.
The proposed budget for executive/general government is $137,117 (down 2.9 percent from last year) while personnel administration is $459,450 (up 11.2 percent) and the general insurance for cemeteries is $31,000 (down 7.5 percent). The proposed budget for solid waste management is down 8.8 percent, which generated applause from certain budget committee members when it was read aloud.
Adoption of Article 4 on the town warrant would raise and appropriate $2,968,804 for the town's general operating budget.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow Domenic on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.