January 17, 2013OSSIPEE — Selectmen here approved the draft of the 2013 warrant as they get ready to present the articles to town meeting voters March 13.
Two articles that are likely to garner much discussion are 1) if the time has come to hire a part-time police officer for Ossipee Central School; 2) and whether or not Center Ossipee Fire Precinct residents should be the only ones paying to keep street lights in town.
For as long as those asked can remember, Center Ossipee Fire Precinct taxpayers have been paying the bill for the street lights located throughout the Village and along the length of Route 16B. It is unclear if an agreement exists that requires the Precinct taxpayer to foot the bill for all of the lights, and because of that, Precinct Commissioners want the expense to be shared by all taxpayers in town. The number of lights has grown, at last count, to 53.
Ossipee Selectman Robert Freeman, who is also a Center Ossipee Precinct Commissioner, became upset with his fellow selectmen at their Jan 14. meeting, accusing them of flip-flopping. Freeman said when he approached Selectman Kathleen Maloney and Selectman Harry Merrow about the idea to add $17,000 (the annual cost of the streetlights) both seemed open to the idea and in favor of letting the townspeople decide at Town Meeting. On Jan. 14, as the full list of warrant articles was being voted on, however, both Maloney and Merrow spoke against it. As it stands now, the request will remain on the warrant so voters can make the final decision. The article will show that Maloney and Merrow are opposed to the town paying the bill though there is little evidence as to why the Precinct got stuck with the responsibility in the first place, other than "it's the way it always has been done." Freeman questioned why only Center Ossipee taxpayers have to pay for the street lights when the entire town benefits from them. He added that not only does the Precinct budget include funding for the street lights but he has the responsibility of regularly checking the lights and reporting any problems to the electric company.
Other warrant articles
The remaining warrant articles deal with various appropriations.
• $350,000 for the repair and maintenance of town roads
• $30,000 to highway department capital reserve fund, a savings account for future equipment purchases
• $20,000 to the highway department building fund, saving for the day when it might be necessary to expand the town's highway garage or build a new one
• $30,000 to the bridge repair or replacement fund
• $173,000 to purchase two new plow trucks, with $75,000 of that to be taken from the highway department reserve fund and the rest to be raised through taxes
• $35,000 to purchase a third compactor for the transfer station. This compactor will be used to compact the bulky items including furniture and construction debris. According to Public Works Director Brad Harriman, about 900 tons per year of this demo waste is hauled from the town's transfer station annually. With the current system, the trailers fill up with six to seven tons and are hauled away at a cost of $275 per haul. With the compactor, he said, about 13 to 14 tons can be loaded into each container with the same $275 hauling fee. He estimates within two years, the new compactor will have paid for itself
• $66,552 to purchase two new police cruisers
• $17,000 for a part-time resource officer for Ossipee Central School
• $80,000 to put in a reserve fund to be pay for the town-wide property revaluation that must be completed in 2014
• $50,000 to replenish the employee benefit pay reserve account. This fund is tapped into when an employee leaves employment with Town of Ossipee and has accumulated unused vacation and sick time that must be paid out
• $10,000 for the treatment of milfoil in Ossipee Lake
• $159,960 for town's 20 percent share of a federal grant received for completion of phase two of the Whittier Covered Bridge restoration project
• $9,500 to install three garden islands; one at Courthouse Square, one at the Folsom Road and Route 16B intersection, and the third at the Grant Hill and Route 16B intersection. Harriman said the plan is to construct more permanent islands made of granite. Currently the islands are built of railroad ties which are rotting and in need of replacement
Selectmen are waiting on estimates so they can put a dollar figure in a warrant article that will fund improvements to town-owned buildings, including putting a new roof on the library and doing electrical upgrades to the town hall, highway garage, library, and police station. Harriman said the library roof needs to be replaced this year because it has deteriorated to the point that water is leaking in around the chimney
The board voted against supporting a request that was submitted by petition that seeks $5,000 for the Freedom Food Pantry. Earlier in the budget season the board unanimously voted against giving any funding to the food pantry in Wolfeboro as well, with Merrow suggesting that if people are hungry they should be using the pantry in Ossipee.
The board voted to table a request to add $10,000 to the warrant for equipment, repairs, and improvements to the town's recreation department and facilities. They will take up discussion on this article at their next meeting Jan. 28.
If registered voters would like an item added to the warrant for town meeting voters to decide on, they have until Feb. 5 to submit the request by petition with the required number of registered voter signatures on the petition. For more information about filing a petition, contact the selectman's office at 539-4181.