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Laconia school administration explains how it will cut down to a tax cap friendly budget for 2015-2016

LACONIA — The School District Budget and Personnel Committee last night approved a draft budget of $38,085,778 for fiscal year 2015-16 that will be presented to the City Council on Monday.

The net amount to be raised in property taxes is $22,884,384, which is $710,040 more than this year or an increase of 3 percent.

Business Administrator Ed Emond explained to the committee that the maximum allowable increase for the School District under the mandates of Laconia's property tax cap is $915,980. However, he said, the amount of money that is raised by the state-wide property tax and redistributed to the state's school districts is down by $205,940, lowering the bar for local taxes.

Some of the strategic plan initiatives that will be implemented if the City Council approves the budget as presented are $71,500 for a full-time Law Enforcement instructor at the Huot Technical Center, $5,500 for Project EXTRA, $51,000 for elementary school staff, $24,000 for elementary school supplies and materials, an updated phone system for $6,000 at the elementary schools, $10,000 for the balance of a purchase of a 14-passenger multifunction school activity bus, $12,000 for a security camera system, and $30,000 to raise the stipends for substitute teachers.

Key additional expenditures included in next year's budget are $662,000 for health insurance, $660,000 for salaries, $58,000 in bond payments, $16,000 for the school bus contract, $268,000 for retirement contributions, and the $210,000 itemized above for strategic plan initiatives.

The total amount of additional expenses is $1,874,000 while additional anticipated revenue adds up to $1,400,000 — which left a shortfall that has to be dealt with of $474,000.

Emond said further adjustments now include staff retirements savings, reduced transfers to trust funds, and the elimination of the boiler replacement at the SAU offices, which will be done using $125,000 from this year's budget.

Another adjustment the district plans is to reduce the amount of money transferred to reserve accounts from between $425,000 to $100,000.
Member Mike Persson asked what the administration's plan was if the City Council wants to cut the tax rate a little more, like it did for this year's budget.

Emond replied that if that happened, the district would look at cutting maintenance items and possibly not contributing at all to the reserve funds.

Persson cautioned that cutting the reserve accounts when the School District is beginning negotiations for three new union contracts may not be such a good idea.

"That case should be made (to the City Council)," he said and the three committee members, Chris Guilmet and Scott Vachon (who attended via the internet) agreed.

The committee planned on distributing draft budget booklets to the full board with a presentation. The budget will be presented in draft form to the City Council on Monday, after which it will come back to the full School Board for a final vote in April.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 12:50

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Hermit Wood's fruit & honey wines to be featured at Sanday's Taste of the Lakes Region

MEREDITH — Hermit Woods Winery, which has greatly expanded its wine production since it relocated to the former Fermentation Station building on Main Street in Meredith last year, will be taking part in the 25th annual Taste of the Lakes Region .
The will be serving some of their fruit and honey wine, as well as a sweeter dessert wine, at the Altrusa Club-sponsored event which will be held from 4-7 p.m. at Church Landing in Meredith on Sunday, March 22.
Hermit Woods makes a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional wines from local fruit and honey, as well as a few select wines crafted from imported grapes.
Bob Manley, who along with Ken Hardcastle and Chuck Lawrence opened the small boutique winery on Taylor Road in Sanbornton in 2011, says that the move to the new location has been a huge success.
''It's been fabulous. The town has been very good to us. Mill Falls at the Lake, which has guests from all over the world, sends a lot of people over here so we really have a very diverse group of customers,'' says Manley.
He said that since last year's move to Meredith the winery has increased its production from 1,000 cases to 2,400 cases. ''That's nearly 30,000 bottles of wine a year. We were fortunate to get an equipment loan from Meredith Village Savings Bank which has enables us to upgrade all of our winemaking equipment,'' says Manley.
Taste of the Lakes Region will feature 20 of the Lakes Region finest restaurants serving up samples of their culinary specialties for the benefit of the Laconia Altrusa Club's community projects.
The event has raised nearly $300,000 for the Altrusa Club's efforts in promoting literacy and scholarships over the years and has raised the awareness of folks in the Lakes Region of the fine quality and variety of offerings of the area's restaurants.
''We're looking forward to fine weather and a big turnout at what has become the most popular culinary event in the Lakes Region,'' says Deanne Murphy, president of the Laconia Altrusa Club.
Taking part in this year's event are Contiagiani's Catering Service, Fratello's Italian Grille, the Homestead, Hermit Woods Winery, Camp, T-Bones, Cactus Jack's, the Hilltop Restaurant at the Steele Hill Resort, Patrick's Pub and Eatery, Ellacoya Barn & Grille, Holy Grail Food and Spirits, Lago, the Lakehouse Grille, Giuseppe's Pizzeria & Ristorante, Canoe, O Steaks and Seafood, Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant, Annie's Cafe and Catering, Lavinia's, the Local Eatery, Hector's Fine Food & Spirits and the Woodlands Tavern.
Tickets cost $25 per person and can be purchased at Hart's Turkey Farm in Meredith or in Laconia at Hector's or at the Coldwell-Banker Residential Brokerage. Because there is a cash bar at the event, no one younger than 21 will be admitted.
Altrusa's Taste of Lakes Region cookbook will also be for sale for $15 at the event. This 176 page hardcover book that was published in 2012 featuring recipes from local restaurants and community members. It can also be purchased online from Altrusa of Laconia's website www.altrusalaconia.com
Sponsors include the Laconia Altrusa Club, radio stations 93.3 the Wolf, 98.3 LNH, WEMJ AM 1490 and The Laconia Daily Sun.

Chuck Lawrence, Ken Hardcastle and Bob Manley of Hermit Woods Winery share a toast after moving to their new location on Main Street in Meredith. (Courtesy photo)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 12:28

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Re-Imagine Laconia open house is tonight

LACONIA — Tonight the city's Planning Department will cap the process to "Re-imagine Laconia" with an open house at the Opechee Conference Center in Lakeport beginning at 5 p.m.

The Re-imagine Laconia effort is the first step in the preparation of a Master Plan re-write designed to define and identify the values that will inform the vision statement, which will serve as the keystone of the plan.

The conference center will be ringed with different interactive stations where participants can mingle with one another while offering their perspectives on the future of the city during the first hour.

At the "heroes and headlines" station residents will be asked to write a sketch about someone who has left an indelible mark on the city and its inhabitants along with a newspaper headline envisioning the city 10 years into the future. At the land use station there will be a number of options for changing the face of the city together with colored dots for residents to score them in order of priority. Residents will also have opportunities to express their opinions about the management of natural resources and the development of the local economy.

Those who have not completed the survey on-line at www.re-imaginelaconia.org will have another opportunity at the survey station where laptops will available to record responses. to 10 questions, all aimed at gathering opinions about all aspects of civic life, from the outward appearance to the quality of life in the city.

Children will be welcomed and a table will offer them activities to pass the time while teens will have a corner to themselves to "text their opinions".

At 6 p.m. Planning Director Shanna Saunders will summarize the results of the community forum held in October, explain what steps have been taken since and look ahead to the next steps in formulating the Master Plan. In particular, Saunders will address the values and priorities expressed by residents and visitors since her department began soliciting opinion last summer. The goal will be to identify the principal values and incorporate them into a vision statement that will inform all aspects of the Master Plan.

David Hohenschau of the Orton Family Foundation, which provided funding and support for this stage of the Master Plan process, will explain why the identification and refinement of community values is essential to the planning process.

At 7 p.m. the open house will resume another hour for those who arrived after 6 p.m. Drinks and light refreshments will served during the evening.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 12:16

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Terenzini will resign as town administrator in Moultonborough

MOULTONBOROUGH — Town Administrator Carter Terenzini yesterday announced he will resign his position effective April 1. His decision followed the failure of a petitioned warrant article to eliminate the position of town administrator — and Terenzini with it — by an overwhelming majority of 180 to 40 at Town Meeting on Saturday.

Terenzini yesterday confirmed reports of his resignation, saying that he had informed the staff of his decision, and noted "the very wide margin" against the warrant article, but politely declined any further comment.

Terenzini, who began his career in public service in 1973, became town administrator in Moultonborough in 2008 after holding the same position in Spenser, Mass. for nine years. He also was city manager in Mt. Morris, Michigan and town administrator in Castleton, Vermont. Before turning to administration he was commissioner of Community of Economic Development in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and later principal planner and economic analyst with the State of Massachusetts. He earned an associate of arts degree at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and Masters of Business Administration at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

For much of his tenure in Moultonborough, Terenzini has been the target of suspicion and criticism from a vocal segment of the community who more than once questioned the renewal of his contract. In 2013, 200 petitioners urged the Board of Selectmen not to renew his contract and begin seeking a replacement. This first open effort to oust him began when the Selectboard pursued removal proceedings against two members of the Planning Board — Josh Bartlett and Judy Ryerson — which after much prevarication and dissembling was ultimately revealed to have been initiated by a recommendation from Terenzini.

After dismissing Terenzini's complaint against Bertlett and Ryerson the selectmen discounted the petition and renewed his contract for two years, until March 31, 2016. This year Terenzini's critics took a different tack, seeking to remove him by eliminating his job.

Meanwhile, Terenzini had apparently read the handwriting on the wall for some time. In 2010, he applied for a town administrator's position in Palmer, Mass. A year later he was interviewed for a similar position in Kingston, Rhode Island and in 2012 he was among three finalists for an opening in Wareham, Mass.

NOTE: A recount on Monday confirmed Josh Bartlett as the winner of the second open seat on the Board of Selectmen. On election day, Jean Beadle, chairman of the Advisory Budget Committee polled 374 votes, Bartlett polled 295 votes and Chuck Connell polled 294 votes. Connell requested the recount, which found Bartlett received 296 votes and Connell 294 votes.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 March 2015 12:13

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