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Littleton will still have to pay for revaluation

Seymour sworn in as selectman

Newly sworn in Selectman Marghie Seymour at the work table in the conference room of the town offices in Littleton Monday morning. Ron Bolt was appointed chairman of the Board of Selectmen and Ed Boynton vice-chairman. Art McGrath. (click for larger version)
March 17, 2010
LITTLETON—No may mean no when the people vote not to expend money, but in the case of a town-wide reevaluation, the town will be paying for one this year anyway.

That was the message from Town Manager Chuck Connell and the seeming consensus of the Board of Selectmen during their meeting in the town offices, Monday morning.

Last week the voters narrowly rejected a warrant article authorizing the spending of $125,000 to conduct a town-wide property value revaluation. The revaluation is mandated by state law and the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) will likely force the town to have one done, if necessary by an order from a Superior Court, Connell said. A revaluation is required to be done every five years.

Since the voters rejected the warrant article, under the state law RSA 32:10, "No means no," no town money can be spent on a purpose for which voters have voted against. Connell said the court order would be one way to get around that, as it would trump the town vote and free town funds for the purpose. Another option would be to hold a special town meeting, if Superior Court approved.

Those options would be preferable instead of the DRA conducting the revaluation on its own and then charging then town, Connell said. That would be far more expensive than hiring an assessing form, he said. DRA would rather the town pay for it and conduct the revaluation on its own, he said.

"Unfortunately town counsel is of the opinion that no means no so we'll have to do one of those things, we won't be able to move funds from elsewhere in the budget," Connell said.

Several residents were concerned why the money for the revaluation was a warrant article rather than part of the budget.

Resident Alison Bolt said it should have been in the budget.

Connell agreed and noted it could have been in the budget.

"Traditionally it's been a warrant article," Connell said. Revaluations have only been mandated for five years, so in many towns they remain warrant articles, he said.

"Making it a warrant article gives people the impression they have a say in the matter," resident Mary Daly said.

Selectman Marghie Seymour asked if a special town meeting was held for another issue if the funds for a revaluation could be on the warrant. Connell said it could but only if a Superior Court agreed.

Other business

Just before the Monday meeting, Seymour was sworn in. Not long into the meeting, Connell asked her if she preferred to be called selectwoman or person. Seymour said no.

"I would just as soon be selectman and not worry about it," Seymour said. I get uncomfortable when people change the language.

At the very beginning of the meeting, Selectman Ed Boynton nominated Ron Bolt to be chairman. Boynton said that while traditionally the selectman in his third year in office is the chairman, Boynton said he wasn't sure he had the time to devote to the position.

"Being chairman takes a lot of time and energy," Boynton said.

Boynton also said he has been dealing with health issues and that might affect his ability to do the job as well, he said.

Bolt accepted the nomination and put forward a list he thought should guide the chairman, including issue awareness, conflict resolution, being the primary spokesman for the board, and taking the lead in an emergency management situation.

Bolt also gave the other board members a list of suggested priorities for the year for them to consider for future meetings. These might be used to update the Goals and Objectives list the board makes annually to give direction to the town manager and his staff. High on Bolt's list was a mission statement for the Opera House Management Commission as well as a comprehensive plan for the occupancy, renovations and maintenance of the Opera House-Town Building.

Completing Main Street reconstruction and resolving claims for issues on some of the work was also on the list.

The board will have its regularly scheduled meeting this afternoon at 4 p.m.

Martin Lord Osman
Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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