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Privatization of solid waste facility tops New Durham Warrant


March 03, 2010
NEW DURHAM — Faced with a heavily burdened tax base, a deepening recession, and a drastic reduction in shared revenues from the state over the past year, New Durham's Board of Selectmen has turned its attention in recent weeks to the development of a creative cost-cutting idea that will lead off discussion of the 2010 Warrant at next week's annual Town Meeting.

Article 3 on this year's Warrant, which is expected to generate extensive discussion, asks voters for authorization to seek proposals for privatizing the operations of the town's solid waste facility, and to enter into a long-term contract should the selectmen receive a bid proposal through negotiations that they consider advantageous to the town.

Another proposal expected to spark debate next week appears in the form of Article 16, which asks voters to discontinue the Construction of New Fire Station capital reserve fund created in 2006 and transfer its current balance of $105,015 into the town's general fund.

Should Article 16 pass, Article 17 asks voters to establish a new capital reserve fund for the purpose of renovating, improving, or adding onto existing public service facilities (which would encompass both the fire and police departments) or constructing a new public safety building, and to transfer $105,015 from the town's undesignated fund balance into the new reserve fund.

In view of the economic downturn over the past year that made it difficult for both the town and the development firm of Red Oak Ridge, LLC to pursue conservation of the 2,038-acre Birch Ridge property above the south shore of Merrymeeting Lake, Article 21 asks voters to approve a new resolution in support of the project that would authorize the selectmen to:

-Continue vigorous pursuit of the permanent conservation of the property;

-Apply for, accept and expend any federal, state, or private grants that may become available toward the conservation;

-Cooperate with federal or state agencies and non-profit conservation organizations;

-If appropriate, submit a Warrant article to voters at the 2011 Town Meeting asking for no more than $1 million to be raised in support of the project through direct appropriation and/or the issuance of bonds; and

-Take all other reasonable steps to give effect to the resolution.

Along with the new resolution, voters will be asked, in Article 22, to raise and appropriate $10,000 for the purpose of defraying costs associated with the conservation effort, such as survey costs, legal expenses, and timber cruise costs.

The estimated tax impact of Article 22 would be 2.5 cents per $1,000 of valuation (the equivalent of $2.50 on the tax bill for a $100,000 home).

The remaining articles set to be discussed during next week's Town Meeting include:

-Article 4, which asks voters to raise and appropriate an operating budget in the amount of $3,021,287, with an estimated tax impact of $5.43 per $1,000 of valuation, or $543 on a $100,000 home.

-Article 5, which asks voters to establish a new capital reserve fund for road reconstruction, and to raise and appropriate $146,595 (the equivalent of 33 cents per $1,000, or $33 on a $100,000 home) to be placed in the new fund.

-Article 6, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $105,055 for road reconstruction and maintenance, with the full amount expected to be off-set by state Highway Block Grant aid.

-Article 7, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $408,730 for sidewalk construction, with $326,988 to come from Transportation Enhancement grant funding, $10,000 to be withdrawn from the Sidewalk capital reserve fund, and the remaining $71,742 to be raised through general taxation.

[Editor's note: Article 7 is contingent upon the town receiving its anticipated Transportation Enhancement grant, and will not take effect unless that funding is received. The estimated tax impact of the $71,742 set to be raised through taxation would be 16 cents per $1,000, or $16 on a $100,000 home.]

-Article 8, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $53,500 (the equivalent of 12 cents per $1,000) to be placed in a series of existing expendable trust funds as follows: $40,000 in the Town Building Improvements Trust; $6,500 in the Computer and Office Equipment Maintenance Trust; $3,500 in the Forest Fire Trust; $3,000 in the Accrued Benefits Liability Trust; and $500 in the Records Management Trust.

-Article 9, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $263,463 (the equivalent of 60 cents per $1,000) to be placed in a series of existing capital reserve funds as follows: $70,000 in the Highway Truck Reserve; $50,000 in the Highway Equipment Purchases Reserve; $30,000 in the Fire Truck Reserve; $25,000 in the Revaluation Reserve; $20,463 in the Police Cruiser Reserve; $20,000 in the Construction Expansion Highway Garage fund; $15,000 in the Municipal Land Acquisition fund; $10,000 in the Milfoil fund; $7,500 in the Solid Waste Equipment fund; $5,000 in the Library Facilities fund; $2,500 in the Dry Hydrants fund; $2,000 in the Library Technology fund; $2,000 in the Shirley Cemetery Maintenance fund; $2,000 in the Meetinghouse Restoration fund; and $2,000 in the Master Plan fund.

-Article 10, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $33,085 toward the purchase of a police cruiser, with $30,585 to be withdrawn from the Police Cruiser Capital Reserve Fund and the remaining $2,500 to come from a highway safety grant.

-Article 11, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $35,000 toward the purchase of a one-ton pickup truck with a plow, with the full amount to be withdrawn from the Highway Truck Capital Reserve Fund.

-Article 12, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $40,865 toward the purchase of an all-wheel steer loader, with $20,000 to be withdrawn from the Solid Waste Equipment Capital Reserve Fund; $4,000 to come from a New Hampshire the Beautiful grant; and the remaining $16,865 to be taken from the town's undesignated fund balance.

-Article 13, which asks voters to discontinue the existing Construction Addition to Transfer Station Capital Reserve Fund and transfer its current balance of $24,306 into the town's general fund.

-Article 14, which asks voters to establish a new capital reserve fund for solid waste facility improvements, and to transfer $24,306 from the town's undesignated fund balance into the new fund.

-Article 15, which asks voters to establish a new capital reserve fund for vehicle and equipment maintenance, and to raise and appropriate $20,000 (the equivalent of five cents per $1,000) to be placed in the new fund.

-Article 18, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $25,000 (the equivalent of six cents per $1,000) in order to reimburse the Conservation Fund for the acquisition of one acre of land abutting the town's 1772 Meetinghouse.

-Article 19, which asks voters to discontinue the New Property Tax Maps Capital Reserve Fund and transfer its current balance into the town's general fund.

-Article 20, which asks voters to discontinue the Davis Crossing Road Capital Reserve Fund and transfer its current balance into the town's general fund.

-Article 23, which asks voters to approve a change in language to Section F (a) of the town's Ethics Ordinance.

-Article 24, a petitioned article asking voters to approve a resolution calling on state officials to allow a referendum on an amendment to the New Hampshire Constitution defining 'marriage.'

Article 1 (the election of town officers) and Article 2, which asks voters to adopt a series of amendments to the town's zoning and land use ordinances (including new ordinances aimed at establishing a Town Center Mixed Use Business District, regulating stormwater management, and making the construction of workforce housing more feasible in New Durham) will be voted on at the polls on Election Day (Tuesday, March 9).

This year's Town Meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 10, at 7 p.m. in the New Durham School gymnasium.

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

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