SALEM, N.H. — Looking ahead to the town’s 2020 budget, selectmen are deciding where to potentially make cuts.
With a growing need to update the town’s facilities, multiple selectmen are wondering if they should cut money for paving.
For the past five years, the paving budget has hovered between $4.5 million and $5 million, according to a presentation by Town Engineer Dan Hudson.
About $1.2 million of the annual road budget is spent on maintenance while approximately $500,000 is spent on reconstructing neighborhood roads, $100,000 on sealing cracks and the rest is used for reconstructing major roads, Hudson explained.
In 2003, Salem officials created a 10-year paving schedule to keep up with the maintenance of roads and funding the paving program each year ensures that maintenance takes place, Hudson said. The paving needs are assessed every five years, he said. Selectmen Robert Bryant and Lisa Withrow suggested cutting back on the estimated $5 million paving budget to more adequately fund other projects in town.
Withrow suggested reducing the budget by about $1 million, and Bryant suggested decreasing the expenditure for roads even further to about $3.5 million.
“We are suffering from a tremendous deficit in our buildings,” Bryant said, referring to potential projects to renovate the police and fire stations.
Hudson urged selectmen to continue funding the paving program at roughly the same level.
“We have had a very robust and predictable program,” Hudson said.
“I don’t envy the board,” Hudson said of making budget decisions, but he added it is important to continue maintaining roads.
Selectman Michael Lyons said he was not inclined to cut the paving budget.
Lyons pointed to bond projects in the school district, saying that town taxpayers have acknowledged the need to fund repairs and he thinks they will also fund improvements for the Police and Fire departments.
Roads on the paving list presented by Hudson are Industrial Way, Emery Road, Plaisted Circle, Woodmeadow Drive and West Duston Road.
Residents on Woodmeadow Drive, Emery Road and West Duston Road attended the meeting and urged selectmen to not cut their roads from the schedule if the budget were cut. Chair Jim Keller said the budget cuts are not finalized and the Budget Committee would be in charge of making changes to what roads receive work.
Selectmen are beginning to review the proposed municipal budget. They will review the first draft of the budget Oct. 3 and Oct. 7, and then vote Oct. 9.