December 20, 2012WAKEFIELD — Following a sparsely-attended public hearing on Dec. 5 that reviewed the proposed budget for 2013 line-by-line, Wakefield selectmen adopted an operating budget of $4,161,529. This does not include additions to capital reserves or any other warrant articles.
This total is $197,729 or five percent higher than the approved 2012 operating budget of $3,963,800.
The proposed budget was reviewed by the Budget Committee on Dec. 10 and the numbers given here are the final numbers for the 2013 ballot.
At the Board of Selectmen's next regular meeting on Dec. 12, Selectman Peter Kasprzyk reported that the Conservation Commission is working on what to do next with its proposed purchase of 121 acres in Union Meadows in light of the petition filed by 58 Wakefield voters demanding that the land acquisition be placed on the March 2013 ballot, as allowed under state law, RSA 41:14-a. The town is in the process of preparing the necessary warrant article. Because of this petition, the proposed closing on the land purchase, originally scheduled for June 2012 and postponed several times due to the requirements of the $135,000 in grants secured for the purchase, can not take place before March 13 at the earliest, assuming voters approve.
The town is now technically in violation of its purchase and sale agreement on the property.
Kasprzyk pointed out that the town has already spent over $20,000 in conservation funds on the surveys and other costs related to the purchase which would be lost if the owner exercises her rights and seeks another buyer or buyers. He asked those who signed the petition to take this into account and consider withdrawing their names.
It was not clear at press time whether it would be possible to withdraw names or stop the process of drawing up a warrant article on the purchase, even if people did change their minds.
Town Hall improvements
Town Administrator Teresa Williams reported that there may be an extra $3,000 in the capital reserve for Town Hall improvements. She said the total reserve is $57,475 and the board has approved $19,000 for a backup generator and $35,000 for sprinkler installation, leaving a balance that could be added to the sprinkler contribution.
Improvements to Town Hall are a joint project of the town and Wakefield Projects, Inc., a non-profit group that raises funds for improvements and is focused on restoring the Opera House on the upper floor of the building.
The consensus of the board was to increase the town contribution to $38,000 for sprinklers, as proposed. Selectmen Chair Ken Paul said he would prefer to get the Opera House work done before the February Deliberative Session.
The official opening of bids on Town Hall work will be held on Dec. 20 at 4 p.m.
Union resident John Fournier had some parting words for the selectmen before moving to Maine. See separate report on that discussion.
Selectman Charlie Edwards reported from the Parks and Recreation Committee that Pride Day will be back in 2013 and will include the Shriners Marching Band, the first band in the parade since the Spaulding High Band marched a few years back.
The board voted to encumber planning funds for the Heritage Commission so that a project begun this year can be carried over into 2013 and completed.
Selectmen also voted unanimously to readopt General Accounting Standards Board Rule 54 on fund policies and an updated Investment Policy. The Investment Policy is supposed to be reviewed every year but not review has been done since 2005. Quarterly reports to selectmen are now required.
The board reviewed a letter from Dan Davis asking that a pile of rocks in Lovell Lake near the Town Beach be removed, and agreed the matter should be referred to the Parks and Recreation Department for action.
Selectmen put off a final decision on whether to choose Virtual Towns & School or eHost to host the town website. The proposed cost from Virtual Towns & Schools is included in the 2013 budget.
Kasprzyk reported that the town's new mechanic, Al Canney, came to the Joint Vehicle Maintenance Committee meeting to be briefed on what the committee had in mind for school, police and fire maintenance tasks. It was agreed he should go to SAU 49 in Wolfeboro to see how school buses are maintained in the Governor Wentworth Regional School District. It was learned that the Wakefield School District has four extra buses that could be used in place of regular buses that need service. The next meeting of the committee will be on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 4 p.m. at the Public Safety Building.
Kasprzyk also reported that the Heritage Commission is working on the rail trail from Turntable Park to Route 16 and looking to see if the town's insurance coverage would extend to that trail. The commission would also like to park a rail car and possible replace the fence at Turntable Park.
Edwards reported that the planning board will be placing eight new zoning amendments on the 2013 warrant. The new amendments will be posted on the town website and a public hearing on them was scheduled for today, Thursday, Dec. 20. The board also decided that establishing a new Route 16 commercial corridor willnot require an ordinance change, and the board's $15,000 request to complete the Natural Resources chapter of the Master Plan was turned down by the Budget Committee.
Edwards also reported that Parks and Recreation had a great Santa's Breakfast this year, raising $6,000 and netting $3,000. That should mean the 2013 Fireworks are now paid for. A scoreboard keeper is needed for basketball season.
Dec. 27 will be the last day for the Wakefield Food Pantry at Meadow Street. The new building has been completed and the pantry expects to be open for business there on Jan. 2, 2013.
Town Administrator Williams reported a problem with a strong heating oil smell following deliveries. Chairman Paul thought it could be a tank ventilation problem and suggest she call DF Richard, who supplies heating oil.
Kasprzyk recommended setting up a lock box inside Town Hall with keys to access restricted areas so that selectmen can deal with issues like windows being left open if needed. He also suggest a list be prepared to be placed in the box giving names and numbers of servicing companies.
It was announced there will be a special meeting on the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 4 p.m. to open bids for work on Town Hall. There will be no regular meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 26, so the next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen will be on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall meeting room.