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Operating budget leads off town Warrant


January 26, 2010
ALTON — With no big-ticket expenditures being brought forward this year, and requests for capital reserve funding kept at a minimum in light of the recession, Alton's proposed operating budget will be the largest spending item facing voters at next week's deliberative session on the 2010 town Warrant.

Taking the place of traditional town meetings, deliberative sessions offer voters in Alton and other SB2 communities a final opportunity to debate and make any changes to the list of Warrant articles that residents will vote on at the polls in March.

Article 20 on this year's Warrant asks voters to raise and appropriate an operating budget (not including any appropriations from separate articles) of $5,988,088 — a figure $55,541 below the default budget passed by voters last year, due largely to the elimination of cost of living allowances for town employees.

In the event that voters reject the figure recommended by the board of selectmen and the budget committee, the default operating budget would be set at $6,025,816.

The remaining articles that will be up for discussion during next week's deliberative session include:

-Article 1, the election of town officers.

-Article 10, which asks voters to discontinue a series of capital reserve funds for town buildings, library additions, fire department radios, and a portable pump, all of which are currently empty.

-Article 11, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $103,500 for the purpose of purchasing and equipping three SUVs for the police department, with $19,325 to be funded through a grant and the remaining $84,265 to be withdrawn from the town's undesignated fund balance (a "rainy day" fund that municipalities are required by state law to maintain, and which currently holds roughly $2.5 million).

-Article 12, an annual request asking voters to raise and appropriate $28,000 to be added to the Landfill Closure Capital Reserve Fund for the purpose of clearing up a contamination at the former town landfill.

-Article 13, an annual request asking voters to raise and appropriate $20,000 to be placed in the Benefit Pay Expendable Trust Fund for the purpose of covering the cost of benefits for retiring town employees.

-Article 14, which asks voters to adopt the provisions of RSA 41:14-a, a statute that would give the board of selectmen the authority to buy or sell property on the town's behalf, provided any acquisitions or sales are submitted to both the planning board and the conservation commission for review.

-Article 15, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $10,000 to be added to the Solid Waste Equipment Capital Reserve Fund.

-Article 16, which asks voters to grant the town's water commissioners permission to enter into a four-year lease agreement totaling $40,000 for a truck with an aluminum body, and to raise and appropriate $10,000 (to be borne by water system rate payers) for the first year's lease payment.

-Article 17, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $25,000 to be added to the Recreation/Grounds Maintenance Capital Reserve Fund.

-Article 18, which asks voters to establish a new capital reserve fund for milfoil treatment, and to raise and appropriate $7,500 to be placed in the new fund.

-Article 19, which asks voters to establish a new capital reserve fund for improvements to the Pearson Road senior center, and to raise and appropriate $15,000 to be placed in the fund.

-Article 21, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $128,597 for the purpose of funding ambulance personnel wages, training, and vehicle fuel/maintenance, as well as the purchase of supplies and equipment, with the full amount to be withdrawn from the Ambulance Operation Fund.

-Article 22, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $28,000 to outfit the town fire boat with a second engine, with the full amount to be withdrawn from the undesignated fund balance.

-Article 23, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $10,000 to be added to the Bridge Replacement Capital Reserve Fund.

-Article 24, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $50,000 to be added to the Highway Equipment Capital Reserve Fund, with the full amount to be withdrawn from the undesignated fund balance.

-Article 25, an annual request asking voters to raise and appropriate $750,000 to be added to the Highway Reconstruction Capital Reserve Fund, with $175,049.85 to be funded through revenues from the Highway Block Grant Fund and the remaining $574,950.15 to be raised through taxation.

-Article 26, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $8,996 in support of the Community Action Program.

-Article 27, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $7,951 in support of VNA Hospice.

-Article 28, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $5,100 in support of Community Health and Hospice.

-Article 29, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $2,280 in support of the American Red Cross.

-Article 30, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $10,000 in support of Alton Community Services.

-Article 31, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $284 in support of the Medication Bridge Prescription Program.

-Article 32, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $1,500 in support of New Beginnings.

-Article 33, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $7,500 in support of Genesis.

-Article 34, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $2,000 in support of Caregivers Transportation.

-Article 35, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $500 in support of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

-Article 36, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $2,400 in support of the Appalachian Mountain Teen Project.

-Article 37, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $2,500 in support of Child and Family Services.

-Article 38, which asks voters to support the development of a walking trail along a stretch of town-owned property from Depot Road to Route 28 that would be restricted to motorized traffic, with the cost of materials to be funded through donations and the labor to be supplied by volunteers.

[Editor's note: For a look at the history behind this article, see our re-cap of the Jan. 20 selectmen's meeting in the full online edition or in our print edition.]

-Article 39, a petitioned article asking voters to change the purpose of the existing Town Beach Capital Reserve Fund (which currently holds $25,000) by expanding its use to allow for maintenance of the town beach and Harmony Park.

-Article 40, a petitioned article asking voters to delegate the authority currently held by the town cemetery trustees to the board of selectmen, which was submitted in response to the trustees' recent decision to offer the full-time cemetery caretaker (who they felt was being unfairly attacked by the budget committee) a three-year contract — a decision that outraged town officials who felt they should have been consulted on the matter.

-Article 41, a petitioned article asking voters to enact a new regulation stating that selectmen's salaries, including cost of living allowances, can only be changed with the approval of the voting body.

-Article 42, a petitioned article asking voters to send a resolution to the state legislature calling for a statewide vote on the definition of 'marriage.'

-Article 43, a mechanism for hearing the reports of any committees, boards, commissions, agents or local officials who wish to come before voters.

The town's deliberative session has been scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. in the Prospect Mountain High School auditorium, with a snow date of Thursday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. in the same location.

Editor's note: Articles 2-9, a series of changes to Alton's zoning ordinance proposed by the planning board, have already been presented to the public during a series of recent hearings, and will not be open to discussion during the deliberative session.

Brendan Berube can be reached at 569-3126 or bberube@salmonpress.com

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