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Ginter will not seek reelection as selectman


Town finished 2009 under budget by 5.5 percent


January 28, 2010
WOLFEBORO — At the end of the Jan. 20 Wolfeboro Board of Selectmen meeting, Vice Chairman Kristi Ginter announced that she will not be running for reelection in March.

Ginter, who has been under some pressure recently due to the controversy over the Historic District Commission (HDC) and her past battles with that commission, thanked her fellow board members and the public for their support and urged others to step forward and serve the town. "I had a challenging couple of years," she said. The decision not to run came out of "trying to find a balance between personal and family life and public commitments."

Selectman Linda Murray spoke for the rest of the board in saying she appreciated Ginter's contributions and willingness to serve.

The long-running dispute between the town and Chris and Kristi Ginter over the home they built on Stoneham Road in the Cotton Mountain Historic District led to a lawsuit that was finally settled on Nov. 23, 2009, when the other four selectmen signed off on a settlement agreement with the Ginters. It then took a few weeks for a judge to approve the settlement, which calls for the Ginters to install the appearance-only center chimney required in their 2004 HDC Certificate of Approval by April 1, 2010. In return, the vinyl shutters that the Ginters installed "are allowed to remain indefinitely," provided that when they need to be replaced, the wooden shutters specified in 2004 shall be installed unless the HDC agrees to allow "something other than wooden shutters."

In the absence of Board Chair Dave Senecal, Ginter ran the meeting. Town Manager Dave Owen was also absent due to illness.

2009 Financial Report

Finance Director Pete Chamberlin presented the board with his December 2009 and full year report on town finances. He was pleased to report that overall town departments came in under budget without having a freeze imposed, as has happened in the last two years. Combining the town's five funds, expenditures were 94.541 percent of budget. Expenditures for specific funds were: General Fund, 93.8 percent expended; Water Fund, 92.3 percent; Electric Fund, 92.5 percent; Sewer Fund, 91 percent; and Pop Whalen Fund, 93 percent.

Chamberlin noted that all purchase orders still open at year-end have not been accounted for, and that will increase expenditure percents and lower the balances remaining unspent in the funds. The only fund that may end up slightly over is the Pop Whalen Fund, due to the increased cost of electricity.

Despite the fact that, overall, expenditures came in under budget, two line items in the General Fund were significantly over at year end: legal expenses and welfare.

Legal expenses were significantly over budget in three of the six departments that have legal expenses: Executive (including the board of selectmen), was $43,356 over on a budget of $70,000 (62 percent); the HDC was $5,590 over on a budget of $500 (1,118 percent); and Code Enforcement was $3,785 over on a budget of $5,000 (76 percent). A breakdown these expenses has been requested and will appear in this paper next week.

When all open purchase orders are counted, Chamberlin estimated that welfare expenses will be close to $40,000 over on a budget of $104,646 (38 percent). The two line items over the most were Direct Assistance-Food and Direct Assistance-Rent, which were over by $19,527 and $18,433 respectively.

Revenues, which were a source of great concern going into the year due to the poor economy, came in at 93.11 percent of budget. Overall General Fund revenue was six percent higher than expected when the tax rate was set, motor vehicle fees were eight percent higher and the market for recyclables from the Solid Waste facility improved by year end.

Selectman Marge Webster asked if Chamberlin would be ready for the audit this year. Chamberlin responded that he was nearly ready now and the audit is not scheduled until May. He also reported that the new software installed last year is allowing him to start tracking 2010 expenditures right away, based on the proposed budget. The old software required that the previous year had to be completely closed out before tracking expenses in the new year could begin.

Public Comments

Virginia Panaccione read a statement to the board (the substance of which appeared in this paper last week as a letter, entitled "Enough is Enough") criticizing the HDC and its lack of standards for evaluating applications and fiscal irresponsibility (being $5,590 over budget on legal expenses). She also criticized the behavior of the HDC Chairman and Vice Chairman ("I would have been fired as a high school teacher if I acted like that") and contrasted it with the treatment she experienced at the planning board when she testified in favor of the petition article calling for the abolition of the HDC. She asked the board of selectmen to replace its representative (Selectman Sarah Silk) and put a planning board member on the board. "How many ways can we tell you that they have no standards, just personal opinions?" she asked. She concluded by asking for a mediation session.

Beverly Woods, who has spoken against the HDC at earlier meetings, expressed her concern about the petition warrant article calling for the establishment of a Heritage Commission, particularly since the proposed commission would only be concerned with the two historic districts currently overseen by the HDC. She pointed out that there are obviously historic resources in town that lie outside those districts.

Woods was also concerned that while the proposed commission was described as advisory only it could put into the building approval process obstacles to approval and it can also assume the duties of the HDC. She felt that this was "an HDC in sheep's clothing" and asked when a public hearing will be held so that members of the public can ask questions.

Murray responded that town counsel advised that a public hearing was not needed for this warrant article. She said that selectmen could not take the petitioned article off the warrant and voters will have to choose based on what was presented. Ginter added that the article could be discussed at the Deliberative Session on Feb. 2.

Woods ended by stating that if the Heritage Commission article should pass, the board of selectmen should only appoint those who are not current HDC members.

Temporary event permits

Selectmen approved temporary event permits for the following: Cate Park Band concerts that the bandstand every Wednesday evening from June 30 through Aug. 25; Friends of the Wolfeboro Community Bandstand concerts every Saturday evening from July 3 through Sept. 4; Artists in the Park at the Cate and Town Parks on Aug. 18; and the Hospital Aid Street Fair, to be held Aug. 6 and 7 on Monument/Brewster Field.

Selectmen declined to consider a series of temporary event permits submitted by the First Congregational Church for an outdoor sculpture exhibit in three locations around town from June 25 to Sept. 10. Murray said what was being proposed was not a series of events, but a continuous exhibit and that the church only needed to get town permission for the placements in Cate Park. The other two placements, at Clark Park and at the church, did not require town permission, though the Clark Park placements would need permission from the Wolfeboro Historical Society. She advised Nancy Langfeld and Toby Twining, who were present representing the church, that Owen would get in touch with them about the best way to approach the project, which Murray thought would involve holding a public hearing.

The next meeting of the board of selectmen will be at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at the Wolfeboro Public Library meeting room. Selectmen hold regular meetings every first and third Wednesday at the library, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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