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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Weak economy means no raises for Atkinson town employees

From the Eagle Tribune;

Weak economy means no raises for Atkinson town employees
By John Basilesco
jbasilesco@eagletribune.com

ATKINSON — The slumping economy will mean no raises for 121 town workers next year.

For the first time in 21 years, selectmen voted against cost-of-living raises for them, citing the sagging economy. It affects every town worker, except members of the police union, who are currently negotiating a new contract.

Of the 121 town employees who won't get raises, 113 are part time and a dozen are full-time workers.

"Selectmen weren't pleased about it," Town Administrator Steve Angelo said about the board's decision. "They had to tell town employees there would be no increase. But they had to balance the horrible economy and the ability of taxpayers to afford their government."

The board voted 3-0 against granting raises next year. Paul Sullivan, the board's chairman, and Selectmen William Friel and Fred Childs voted against the raises.

Friel said the board's decision was part of an effort to cut back because of the downturn.

"We're trying to be fiscally responsible," he said. "Our town employees do a great job and we support them, but we also have 6,600 residents we represent. Given the (weak) economy, we couldn't justify the cost of living raises. Unfortunately, it doesn't make the Board of Selectmen popular with the town employees."

Friel said this was the first time in 21 years that the town decided against granting raises. The last time was also during an economic slowdown, which started in the late 1980s and continued into the early 1990s, Friel said.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

If they want to be fiscally responsible, they should trim the PD budget to make up for the increase in the EA budget that is being proposed.

Then they should take all the extra police cars off the road, prohibit anyone from taking cars home and turn down the thermostats in the town hall. Ever night, the heat is blasting all over while there's few people in there. It's bad enough they do it during the day.

Anonymous said...

Dagnabit! You hit the nail right on the head! Its about time we started curbing our spending. Heck, I have not seen a pay increase for the last three years!

Anonymous said...

Lots of pork in that police budget. It should decline equal to the increase in the EA budget, otherwise, the PD budget actually increases because its not paying the EA tab anymore.

But Phil can say the PD is only being level funded like everyone else when he actually gets an increase. This is too painful to watch.

Anonymous said...

My income is down 50% (no kidding) and I am self employed. I can't pay these huge tax bills from Atkinson now. How can the town pay a town administer such an outrageous amount of money? Pay that person 50% as that is what a town clerk would get AND THAT IS ALL WE EVER NEEDED. Offer me that job at 50% and I'll take it--fast. I could do the town administer job and be kind to people to boot. And yes, do revamp that police budget and get rid of private use of official vehicles. --I heard there will soon be a private helicopter to take officials from town hall to the Atkinson Country Club and also for Fall "leaf peeping". Maybe park that copter at the THIRD NEW Atkinson Golf Course they are backing? Great idea! How much to wax that copter and get an elderly affairs logo on it so it is legit? $10,000? That's a bargain.

Anonymous said...

HEY WHY DOES THE CHIEF HAVE TWO TAKE HOME CARS? The LT. has one take home car, and the Detective has a car just for him, in addition to all of the cruisers?

Why are we paying for FOUR Private vehicles?

GET RID OF THEM! IT IS TIME TO STOP DYNASTY BUILDING CHIEF!

Anonymous said...

Not only are we paying for them, we fill them with fuel and do the maintenance.

Can you think of ANY company today in this economy that is offering such perks?

The joy ride has got to stop

Anonymous said...

I saw the selectmen meeting Monday night and here is what I heard. Because of the way they are paying our new Town Administrator, it actually cost the town $10,000 less than it did with McCallister. The new guy agreed to waive the benefits package and retirement package in exchange for a higher salary than McAllister got. The net cost was actually a reduction of $10K in the budget. That was my understanding of what I heard on Monday night.

This probably doesn't make you feel much better, but considering we are rid of McAllister and we pay less for the position now, in my opinion, those are two steps in the right direction.

Also agree that the free vehicles for police at our expense needs to stop. What other town does this?? It's nuts.

Anonymous said...

We don't need a town administrator. WE NEED A TOWN CLERK.

Anonymous said...

The police budget is wacko, and with 2 take home cars for the chief? The selectman need to sell the town car and the durango. Months ago, Chairman Sullivan had mentioned this idea, but that was all that ever transpired. My bet is alot of voters will be in the "No" area for increased budjets, including Elderly Affairs. I can say for myself that this years tax increase was a bit of a kick in the ass.

Anonymous said...

The Durango clown car itself is a shame; Consentino says it was a great deal from a car dealer, but if they wanted to be generous they could have given a discount on a cruiser, paint job, or service. Instead, chiefy chooses to drive around in a show truck to be the big man in town. Ego is a terrible thing...

Are you aware of the study that came out about the DARE program itself? There was ZERO difference in drug involvement between students that had gone through their training and those that hadn't. More money and wasted time down the drain...

Anonymous said...

I agree. When I got my tax bill I could hardly believe it. It was almost like a $800 increase!

Since my family and I have cut corners to afford the increase I believe the town can cut some corners too and give up some of those perks.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the other town employees feel about the fact they get no raise but certain, select few in the PD get free vehicles, maintenance and gas. If you factor in a car payment, annual maintenance, annual registration fees, insurance and fuel, you could easily spend $500/month on an average vehicle. EASILY. We are not talking Durangos here. I have to guess we taxpayers are probably paying at least $2,000 plus a month for this wasteful spending. While this burns my butt to no end, I have to think there are a few employees who are not exactly pleased to get no pay raise while the fat cat and a few of his henchmen still get a free ride. Oh wait, let me guess, these officers are all on call. That's the justification. Well how about we take them off of being on call then so they don't have to worry about it. Then we can cut the vehicles. I am sure they are getting these late night calls at least once a year. Just call Plaistow and we don't need to be on call.

Thems some nice perks if you can rip off the taxpayers in front of everyone else not getting a raise. Where's the Selectmen? This is really bad and right in front of everyone else getting squeezed.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!! HO! HO! HO!

MAcciard said...

You don't have to call Plaistow. Unless something has changed since I left the budget committee, the PD budgets enough patrol man-hours, to have two officers on patrol 24/7. The Lt. and I have had this conversation many times. But effective scheduling is not in the cards.

Anonymous said...

What smart guys! Horrible Economy = Financial problems, so instead of our government watching out for us, and paying us what we deserve (already less than every town around) they choose not to pay us. If this is true I'm going to quit. There are still jobs available which are just next door so if Atkinson wont help it's employees then we'll help ourselves to another town.

THANKS ATKINSON SELECTMEN! great government to say there's a horrible problem and say to fix it, we'll make it worse and give you less money so we cant feed our families! Nice thinking. Take some classes on how to fix an economy.

Idiots

Anonymous said...

An $800.00 increase in your taxes, nice. Pull your tax card and you'll see they are increasing your assessment every year. They may advertise a small increase but the real numbers are hidden from the average Joe.

I know several people who are either contractors or town politicians who have renovated and expanded their homes but they did not pull permits and do not pay their fair share. Someone has to pay for them. Why not you?

Anonymous said...

why should government workers get a raise when private sector workers are not?

No one said you werent going to get paid, they said you arent getting a raise! Deal with it just like I am!

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous said...
I agree. When I got my tax bill I could hardly believe it. It was almost like a $800 increase!

Since my family and I have cut corners to afford the increase I believe the town can cut some corners too and give up some of those perks.

December 4, 2008 6:15 PM


An $800.00 increase appears to be excessive even in this town. Something is very wrong. Please email me at: lartus@aol.com so we can find out why it went up so much. If you would like the help, that is.

Sincerely,
Leon
Atkinson Taxpayers For Fair Evaluations Committee

Anonymous said...

12:06, I know in our condo complex of many expensive remodeling jobs that are not taxes on. I even brought this to the attention of our assessor and as usual nothing has been done. All they have to do is actually do their job and do a walk through...The town is loosing a lot of revenue on this kind of stuff and the honest taxpayer is actually paying higher taxes so these people can get away with this. Oh some of these non permitting jobs have been done for 15 years. Quite a long time with no walk through!

Anonymous said...

The town can cut corners in many ways that Selectmen haven't addressed.

1. Police cars are just one. (We only need two)

2. End the attempt to "Bait and switch" the cost of Elderly Affairs from the Police Budget to the taxpayers. (Budget Committee…Are you listening. Do you read the blog?)

3. Insurance cost for all cars owned by the town.

4. Major business is requiring employees to take Non-vacation days off without pay through out the year. We could do the same. We do not need a Selectmen's clerk sitting there doing nothing, planning board clerk or Town Administrator plus FICA and other benefits five days a week. (Not to include the Town Clerk. She is the only one that makes money for the town.)

5. Selectmen could give up their $3000 plus a year salary plus benefits to prove their dedication to the citizens.

6. Require Selectmen to work out of their home and turn down the heat and lights in their office except for Howdy Dowdy night. (Last part is optional. We could put a end to that night) Save money on Dave’s job.)

6. Town dump could go back to burning scrap wood instead of paying for a chipper.

7. If the town were to continue chipping, put the waste produced out to bid for pellet stove pellet companies and make money for the town. (Help go GREEN)

8. Take all money from ACT 20 income and put it into the general fund to lower the tax rate. We do not
need more expenses on TV for the Selectmen's Howdy Dowdy show. (See point 6.)

9. Put the Road Agents job out to bid.

10. Advertise for a fulltime police chief and end the expense for Mr. Baldwin.

11. Fire most part time policemen that NEVER serve.

12. Make local government smaller and less expensive.

Citizens of Atkinson

Some of you are out of work. In the next months more of you will be out of work and will not be able to afford everyday expenses. Some of you will be foreclosed upon and will have no place to go. Some of you will ask for assistance from the town and be refused. You will be refused because your selectmen recommended over spending and can no longer afford your request. Your right to vote will still exits. Please show up at town meeting before that right is gone too.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous said...
12:06,

I know in our condo complex of many expensive remodeling jobs that are not taxes on. I even brought this to the attention of our assessor and as usual nothing has been done. All they have to do is actually do their job and do a walk through...The town is loosing a lot of revenue on this kind of stuff and the honest taxpayer is actually paying higher taxes so these people can get away with this. Oh some of these non permitting jobs have been done for 15 years. Quite a long time with no walk through!

December 5, 2008 6:11 PM

Please contact lartus@aol.com regarding your complaint. One of our committee members will meet with you for follow up. Suggest not going to the town again because they will not help. It is not in their best interest. Your complaint IS in taxpayers interest.

Sincere regards,
Leon
Atkinson Taxpayers for Fair Evaluations Committee.

Anonymous said...

The cost delta between the July tax bill and this one is roughly $300 increase.

And if I compare my land and home evaluation between both bills, they are exactly the same.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous said...
The cost delta between the July tax bill and this one is roughly $300 increase.

And if I compare my land and home evaluation between both bills, they are exactly the same.

December 6, 2008 8:47 AM

I believe you but have you pulled copies of your tax cards (past and present)at Town Hall? That is where you will find the errors that drive your assessment up.

Your tax bill is not your tax card. They are two different things.

Anonymous said...

To December 6, 2008 9:06 AM

No I have not pulled the tax card. That will be something that I will do on Monday when I pay my tax bill.

Has anybody else seen an increase from the July bill to the December bill?

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous said...
To December 6, 2008 9:06 AM

No I have not pulled the tax card. That will be something that I will do on Monday when I pay my tax bill.

Has anybody else seen an increase from the July bill to the December bill?

December 6, 2008 10:26 AM

The biggest bill always comes at the end of the year after the tax rate has been set. Email us after you make copies of everything in your tax folder at town hall and print out your current tax card from the CAMA system computer.

We will help you go over everything for errors.

Anonymous said...

I believe the wizards with their lap tops are missing obvious cuts that could make us move forward, as that seems to be the objective.

A few years ago a committee got together and looked into the Matrix system at that time. They dared to suggest that the Tax Collector and Town Clerk should be one and the same office. This never went anywhere cause the good old guys were still against it.

This is not a move to hurt any ones job but it makes common sense to combine these offices and make the change that brings us up to todays needs. Almost every Town in NH is Town Clerk/Tax Collector. There has to be a reason for this.The job description has changed so because of the computer.

The Tax bills come in by Fed.Ex by the thousands of dollars. The Tax Collector can do nothing more than collect your taxes and let you know if your bill has been paid. The collector has nothing to do with how your taxes have been derived. The assessor is who you have to deal with.

Combining the office would give us some more space to work with. The tax office sits there empty most of the time. You would have qualified people there to fill in for vacation,etc.

Maybe I am wrong but it makes sense to me and it would take people smarter than me to figure out the cost effective benefit it could be to our budget.

Anonymous said...

People -

The bill mailed in May is based on the budget of the preceding year. The bill in November is based on the current year. The difference in taxes, therefore, is based on the increases in local, school, state and county assessments.

Anonymous said...

December 7, 2008 7:30 PM,

Yes, that is what I see. I dramatic increase in these areas in comparison to what we had in June.

Oh, this one hurts. I just never seems to go down though.