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Crucial decision leads off Barnstead Warrant


March 09, 2010
BARNSTEAD — Town officials are hoping the voters who attend Barnstead's annual Town Meeting on Saturday will come prepared to put the longstanding dispute between the selectmen and Barnstead Fire-Rescue, Inc. (BFRInc.) to rest by taking the final step toward a municipally managed fire department.

Article 5 on this year's town Warrant asks voters to ratify the final agreement between the selectmen and BFRInc.

As part of that agreement, the town is being asked to raise and appropriate a grand total of $104,172 for the purpose of paying off BFRInc.'s mortgage on the Parade Road fire station, with $64,172 in federal re-imbursement for recent storm damage to be withdrawn from the town's undesignated fund balance, and the remaining $40,000 to be raised through taxation.

If the agreement passes Saturday, BFRInc. (which was created in the mid-1990s after several private fire companies within Barnstead merged together and became a non-profit entity charged with managing the municipal fire department's finances and the maintenance of some of its equipment) will dissolve at midnight on March 31 and re-organize as something akin to a firemen's association, which will manage whatever financial assets are still in BFRInc.'s possession after its buildings and equipment are turned over to the town.

The town would own both the Parade Road and Center Barnstead fire stations, which it would have to use as fire stations under the terms of the agreement unless a new station is built (at which time the town would be able to use the two buildings for whatever purpose it sees fit).

Whatever organization takes the place of BFRInc. would retain the right to use the Parade Road station for meetings and other social events, provided it receives written approval to do so from the town's fire chief.

Under the terms of the agreement, the organization that BFRInc. evolves into would also have the right of first refusal any time the selectmen and fire chief determine that a vehicle or piece of equipment formerly owned by BFRInc. is no longer serviceable, and should be sold.

The selectmen have also promised to maintain the municipal fire department's Web site and provide an awards program for retiring fire-rescue personnel, the scope of which will be determined by a committee of five people deemed acceptable by both BFRInc. and the board of selectmen.

The final provision of the agreement states that the selectmen must pay BFRInc. 25 percent of its annual appropriation for 2010 before the organization dissolves on March 31, in order to cover BFRInc.'s expenses for the first quarter of the year.

The remaining articles that voters will act upon Saturday include:

-Article 6, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $30,000 for the purpose of purchasing a fully marked and outfitted police vehicle that will replace an existing vehicle.

-Article 7, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $30,036 in support of hazard mitigation projects on Holmes Road, Province Road, and Parade Road.

-Article 8, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $10,000 in support of milfoil treatment on the Suncook River and Suncook Lake.

-Article 9, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $10,000 to be placed in the Bridge Construction Capital Reserve Fund.

-Article 10, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $20,000 to be placed in the Highway Department Heavy Equipment Capital Reserve Fund.

-Article 11, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $15,000 to be placed in the Fire Truck Capital Reserve Fund.

-Article 12, which asks voters to raise and appropriate $5,000 to be placed in the Town Hall Computer Support Expendable Trust Fund.

-Article 13, which asks voters to discontinue the Cistern Capital Reserve Fund created in 1999 and transfer its current balance into the town's general fund.

-Article 14, which asks voters to create a new expendable trust fund for cistern maintenance and construction, and to transfer $3,700 from the town's undesignated fund balance to be placed in the new fund.

-Article 15, a petitioned article asking voters to raise and appropriate $5,000 to be placed in the Historical Society Building Capital Reserve Fund.

-Article 16, which asks voters to authorize the selectmen to convey a property acquired by the town through a tax deed in 2005 to Robert and Diana Stanley.

-Article 17, which asks voters to authorize the selectmen to convey a property acquired by the town through a tax deed in July of 2005 to the Evans Trust.

-Article 18, which asks voters to authorize the selectmen to convey a property acquired by the town through a tax deed in June of 2004 to prior owner Lynn Ordway.

-Article 19, which asks voters to authorize the selectmen to convey a property acquired by the town through a tax deed in January of 2003 to Richard Healey and Joseph Laurino.

-Article 20, which asks voters to re-classify a portion of Hartshorn Road by upgrading it from Class VI to Class V.

-Article 21, which asks voters to change the position of town treasurer from elected to appointed, with the current treasurer to hold office until March of 2011 if the article passes.

-Article 22, which asks voters to accept a 50-foot right-of-way along Colony Drive in Locke Lake Colony and discontinue portions of the original layout for the right-of-way that fall outside the current 50-foot area, giving the Colony's Association room to expand and renovate its lodge.

-Article 23, which asks voters to direct the board of selectmen to investigate possibilities of saving money by joining with surrounding towns in regionalization for purchasing of products and services.

-Article 24, a petitioned article asking voters to send a resolution to Barnstead's State House delegation calling for a referendum on an amendment to the state Constitution defining marriage.

-Article 25, a petitioned article asking voters to support a restriction stating that town officials and school board members may hold only one position at a time, whether that position is elected, appointed, or voluntary.

-Article 26, a petitioned article asking voters to change the method of selecting the town health officer from an appointment by the selectmen to an election.

-Article 27, a petitioned article asking voters to support a proposal to limit selectmen, planning board and zoning board members to two consecutive terms, with a required absence of two terms before they would be eligible to run again.

-Article 28, a petitioned article asking voters to change the current method of selecting the town building inspector from an appointment by the selectmen to an election.

-Article 29, a petitioned article asking voters to adopt a resolution calling on New Hampshire's Congressional delegation to push for a new investigation into the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

-Article 30, which asks voters to raise and appropriate the budget committee's recommended operating budget of $3,345,548. The selectmen's recommendation stands at $3,362,868.

-Article 31, a mechanism for dealing with any other business that may come before the meeting.

Saturday's Town Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in the elementary school gymnasium.

Editor's note: Article 1 (the election of town officers); Article 2 (which asks voters to decrease the number of selectmen from five to three); and Article 3 (a series of proposed amendments to the town's zoning ordinance) were put before voters at the polls Tuesday as ballot questions.

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

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