Spencer approves budget, maintaining property tax rate

Published 11:04 pm Monday, July 1, 2019

SPENCER — The Spencer Town Council unanimously voted Thursday to maintain the town’s property tax rate, currently set at 65.5 cents per $100 of valuation.

Going forward, this is where Spencer needs to be, said Mayor Jim Gobbel when asked about the 2019-20 fiscal year budget. This  is a “good budget,” Gobbel said.

The decision to maintain the tax rate comes as the town set out three goals in this year’s budget — downtown revitalization, employee retention, and community outreach.

During Thursday’s workshop, discussion on addressing employee retention came to a head.

“Essentially, I tried to … maintain the tax rate,” said Budget Officer John Softley. “Take the funds generated from that — allocate them to the items that this board had specifically discussed. Then, a couple of items that were truly needed for administration.”

“There is no town employee in Spencer that is overpaid,” said interim town manager, David Treme. “We have got to do our best to retain employees.”

In order to do so, the town has budgeted roughly $21,000 to bring in an outside consultant to review salaries.

“I want to be able to look at what the market is,” Treme said.

In addition, $10,000 has been budgeted for an insurance consultant.

 

Fire Department 

Under Treme’s direction, the town discussed needs for the Spencer Fire Department.  The requests came from the Fire Department, spelled out in a letter from Fire Chief Jeremi Carter.

“The addition of a new full-time staff member would allow immediate response to calls,” Carter wrote. “Currently, the two part-time employees must wait on a volunteer to arrive to respond to fire-related calls.”

The new position is budgeted at roughly $36,000 for this fiscal year, according to the change in the budget. With the fiscal year having started July 1 and the hiring process likely to take a couple of months, Softley said this is an appropriate amount for this fiscal year. It will cover 10 months of pay for the new full-time personnel.

The position is a plus for safety, Treme said, because it will “help us coordinate our activities better with the volunteers and the equipment.”

The yearly budget for this new full-time position will be about $40,000.

A new, full-time staff member would create consistency and allow for quicker response times. This will provide “better service to our citizens,” Carter said.

In other budget changes:

• Two defibrillators, budgeted at $3,800, and vehicle maintenance, budgeted at $4,750, for the Fire Department were approved.

• A total of $592 was approved for the Library Department to make salary adjustments.

• Under land management, $1,800 for Historic Preservation Commission informational materials was budgeted.

Contact reporter Samuel Motley at 704-797-4264.

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