As the Hillsborough County budget hearings got underway today with a review of the corrections’ department request, news from County Commissioners was good on two fronts.
Since last week’s public hearing, Commissioners have restored $55,000 for Meals on Wheels (it was $64,350 last year), and even with that, rather than ask for a two percent increase in property taxes, Commissioners have cut it back to one percent ($441,094), up from $44,109,421 to $44,550,515.
The proposed budget still uses $4,898,710 from the county surplus, about twice the amount legislators earlier recommended.
However, there were some indications that further savings could come in the form of new contracts which will hopefully be presented to the executive committee later in the month.
Only $125,000 was cut from the nearly $15 million corrections budget ($100,000 in the overtime line and $25,000 in gas heating; both motions were mine and passed 7-2 and 8-1 with Manchester Democrat Pat Garrity in opposition both times; he actually wanted to increase the salary line!).
When department hearings continue next week (the Sheriff's Department Monday at 9 a.m. in Goffstown), expect further cuts to be made from an already pared back request from commissioners.
Significant increases could also be in the offing on the revenue side. Corrections Superintendent David Dionne expressed confidence in an ability to take in up to 50 female prisoners from outside the county, at a rate of $57.50 a day (approx. $21,000 per year).
Any city or town officials planning their budgets can be relatively confident that the county budget will come in with no increase in property tax assessment, knock wood.