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Selectmen concerned about revenue shortfall, higher expenses

Board agrees to set funding sequence for capital projects

September 03, 2009
TUFTONBORO — With revenues down by about $250,000 and increases expected in county and school expenditures, Tuftonboro has a "tightening of the belt coming" according to Dan Duffy, Chairman of the Tuftonboro Board of Selectmen.

Speaking at the Aug. 31 meeting, he alerted the public that discussions of salaries for town employees in the upcoming budget will not be an easy topic.

"We have fine employees," said Duffy, but with state aid down and no increase in cost of living allowances, the board is facing tough decisions. John Simms, chairman of the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) committee, commented, "Perhaps the future is going to be leaner than we thought" and said that a business model would look at "reducing head count" and "increasing the work [per employee]."

Selectman Carolyn Sundquist said that Tuftonboro has a "stable work force" and indicated that she would not like to lose anyone. Duffy echoed that sentiment and again complimented the town's employees.

The board is asking departments to keep their budgets level, and Sundquist said the board will need to see the operating budget and insurance costs before making salary decisions.

Facilities Committee report

Public Safety Facilities Committee (PSFC) Chairman John LaPolla presented the committee's final report, which followed its final presentation of options to the community on July 30 at Tuftonboro Central School.

A tally of the surveys handed out to those in attendance – 50 to 55 residents, including the selectmen and the committee members – showed a preference for construction of a standalone new fire and rescue station to be built on the Gould property.

LaPolla pointed out that the vote represented only a small portion of the town's voters. The committee itself, hitherto neutral, offered the following recommendations: a new, combined police and fire facility or a new standalone fire department with a separate police department created either by expansion of its existing location or a standalone building at another location.

Though its report makes no recommendation for a location, it points out that the Dearborn property is large enough for the combined facility but not separate police and fire department buildings.

The survey comments, according to the committee report, did not show a common thread, but among them was the statement, "Don't spend money," and suggestions "both written and verbal" to consider the police and fire department space needs along with space needs at the library and Town Hall.

Simms offered the opinion that it would be best to build the new library before building a new building for the police department. "You can't do the police until the library is done, because, if done, the old library could be part of the solution," said Simms.

He went on to suggest that in terms of planning, he would like to see the selectmen agree on a sequence, such as the fire department first, library second and police department third, thus setting a direction for planning. The CIP could then proceed to "factor in the numbers," as he put it.

Duffy made a motion to establish the suggested sequence, and the board agreed unanimously.

Betsy Frago, a member of the PSFC, asked, "Is this for planning purposes and not set in stone?" Simms remarked that the CIP only serves as an advisory body. He added that his committee's "overall guide is capital capacity. We want to hold down costs."

Other business

Sundquist said that she'd like to see a beautification project involving three triangular sections of land in town. She noted that the Tuftonboro Hikers have adopted the triangle in Melvin Village and expressed the desire to see the others – one near the Tuftonboro Central School, the other at the intersection of County Road and Route 109 – beautified, too.

Moultonborough officials would like to perambulate the town line with Tuftonboro selectmen. Selectman Bill Stockman said he feels it would be important to have a surveyor do it and asked administrative secretary Darlene McWhirter to ask how much detail Moultonborough wants, who they would recommend and what is the budget for the project.

Stockman added that the RSAs say that the boundaries should be perambulated every five years, and they need to be done. He would like to investigate the Ossipee/Tuftonboro town line question brought up by Marion Morgan, former administrative secretary for the town, who said that she was informed by a mapping company that she has a 660 foot property line between Tuftonboro and Ossipee going down the middle of her Neal Road residence.

Duffy said also that he has been involved with helping a resident resolve a town boundary dispute, which the study could resolve.

The selectmen reported that they met at the transfer station with Waste Management to discuss their contract renewal, coming up soon, and according to Duffy, may see "possibly significant savings" with the new contract.

Wolfeboro Director of Public Works and Water and Sewer Utilities Dave Ford sent a copy of his letter to the Department of Environmental Services dated Aug. 12, offering an update of actions taken to address seepage problems at the Rapid Infiltration Basin adjacent to Tuftonboro.

The selectmen will be walking the infiltration system area with Ford at 11:30 a.m. this Friday, Sept. 4.

Public input

Simms said that he watched a DVD of the recent meeting between the board and the police chief, Andrew Shagoury, and wanted to correct the impression that he had recommended that the town have a police commission.

He explained that Shagoury is a knowledgeable and strong advocate for the police department, as he should be, but perhaps it would be a good idea to form a committee of limited duration to gather information to assist in planning matters.

The chief has presented plans to the CIP for an additional officer and car in 2012 and the same in 2015. The selectmen have modified the chief's goal of vehicle replacement from every six years to every eight years, but Simms said, as a taxpayer, it would be useful to know more facts about the operation of the department.

In these times of "declining income, the taxpayer takes the hit. Even holding the line is a hit," said Simms.

Town offices will be closed on Labor Day, Sept. 7, and there will be no selectmen's meeting that evening. Their next regularly scheduled meeting will be on Monday, Sept. 14, at 9 a.m.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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