By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier is expecting up to 400 people Wednesday evening at city hall to hear the bad news contained in the city’s proposed $32.5 million budget.
It calls for the elimination of two police officers, two firefighters, one public works employee and cutting funding to all outside agencies that use local funds for federal matches, Grenier said.
Grenier said the cuts are just to keep the tax $39.27 per thousand.
“We’re desperate,” Grenier said. “We are up against it.”
He expects two groups of people at the public hearing, those who believe taxes are too high already and those who want to do more for education.
Already in the mix is the closure of Brown Elementary School, the city’s last operating elementary school. It will close at the end of the school year.
“This is the beginning of the end,” Grenier said.
He is looking to the legislature to restore state education funding and made the 115-mile trip south to Concord nine times during the winter to lobby lawmakers on a number of bills aimed at helping Berlin and the North Country.
The funding to restore stabilization grants and for disparity aid in the second year are in the House-passed budget with a study commission to determine the real cost of an adequate education.
Senate leaders have not committed to any of it yet.
The Berlin public hearing on the budget starts at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.