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Budget Suggestion and Opinion Survey

Overview (April 2011)

PEDC Budget Suggestion survey results

The Portsmouth Economic Development Committee recently posted an online survey to get the opinions of Portsmouth residents on the Town budget. The {PEDC feels that public opinion is important for our Town officials to understand as they discuss our budget problems. Our thanks to the 40 intrepid Portsmouth residents who made suggestions on closing the Portsmouth budget gap on this PEDC survey. This survey differed from most PEDC surveys because it required that respondents identify themselves and provide contact information for possible follow ups. In today’s atmosphere of cheap shots by anonymous commentators it is nice to see people take responsibility for their suggestions. A summary of the data from this survey (with the contact information removed) is available on the PEDC website. Contact information will be made available to Town officials if more information on any suggestion is needed.

This  survey also asked about the use of town services, and the most used Town services included the Town website (90%), the Transfer Station, Glen Farm, and the Portsmouth Free Library (all 84%), and the Town Clerk’s office (82%).

There were many interesting suggestions made for reducing expenses and details of these suggestions are posted on the survey summary. Several had to do with consolidating Town services and regionalizing non-critical services such as road repair, school busing, school/Town grounds maintenance. Others recommendations included: Transitioning all public employees into a 401K type pension plan; examining the feasibility of sharing Police, Fire and other services with Middletown to save money; making the harbormaster a volunteer job; considering a volunteer fire department; maximizing the usefulness of the Town website for services which might allow cuts in Town staff , establishing volunteers to assist with Town services during peak or emergency periods, limiting overtime for all Town employees and shortening the hours that Town Hall is open (but only if money can be saved).

Suggestions for new ways to generate revenue for the Town also varied widely. Some of the more interesting ones included: charging fees for school bus use, sports and other activities, charge student parking fees at PHS; streamlining new business permit process to encourage new business development, establishing a Town Municipal Court and increase speeding surveillance in School Zones, restoring the former Elmherst School chapel for use with weddings at Glen Manor House, turning the Elmherst school property into a conference center or other uses that generate revenue for the Town, and adding a new wind turbine to generate electricity for the Town. Details of these and other suggestions can be found on the survey summary.

Most respondents understood the need for increases in taxes or fees to maintain the current level of Town service and most preferred to see a combination of both to maintain a sustainable Town budget.

All of these suggestions and more are detailed in the survey summary, available on the PEDC website. Portsmouth residents are encouraged to read the summary in detail to get an idea of what some of their neighbors in Portsmouth think about our current budget problems. There were many good ideas for revenue generation that deserve to be carefully considered by our Town officials as they continue with their current and future budget discussion.

Download a complete summary of the data generated by this survey(PDF Document)