Tamworth town meeting
Voters give town employees a raise, pass budgets
March 18, 2010
TAMWORTH — Residents provided town employees a raise during the annual town meeting held Wednesday, March 10.
Early in the meeting, resident Chris Conrod moved to add $15,487 into the budget in order to give town employees a raise. He explained, that last year residents removed funds for employees' raises and then this year, selectmen voted 2-1 not to include a cost of living increase for employees.
"I applaud the fiscal responsibility," said Conrod. "But to put all the onus on town employees is going too far."
Resident Sally Garcia asked how much the increase would cost in terms of taxes and if there was going to be an increase in taxes on the school side of Tamworth's government.
Conrod replied that the increase would amount to four cents per $1,000 of property value. So, the owner of a $250,000 home would end up paying an additional $9.70.
School board member John Cleveland addressed Garcia's question from the audience by saying school spending is up slightly, but taxes should be flat.
Prior to the vote, Selectman John Roberts said he voted to withhold pay raises this year but he would honor the will of the people if they chose to grant them. He said this tough economic period was the reason for his decision.
"If you want them to get raises, I'll go along with it," said Roberts.
After some amending to Conrod's motion, the money was added to the personnel administration line item bringing it to $19,987. Because of the increase, the general government operations budget rose to $573,452. Voters also passed an additional $472,714 for police, fire, ambulance, emergency management and animal control. They also passed $999,989 for public works.
The only secret ballot vote of the evening was on a warrant article that changes how the town selects a road agent. The warrant article asked residents to allow selectmen to appoint road agents annually after 2011 rather than have the voters elect them every three years. The date of 2011 was chosen because that's when Road Agent Bruce Robinson's term expires.
Resident Herb Cooper advocated for the warrant article because it would allow the town to have more oversight of the road agent. Currently, the road agent is only accountable to voters every three years, but if the warrant article passed, the road agent would be accountable to selectmen just like any other employee, said Cooper.
But most residents seemed to think the current arrangement is working well and they plowed over the warrant article in a tally of 190 no votes to 25 yes votes.
Outgoing selectmen's chair Tom Abugelis said he wasn't in favor of the warrant article because of a concern that it would reduce the voice of the people.
Residents decided to postpone raising $10,000 for the Rescue Equipment Capital Reserve Fund. Resident David Little told voters that although he supported the rescue service, raising the money for the fund should be postponed because the town will lose money because of inflation if it sits in the bank. A majority agreed with him.
In other actions voters: Repealed a number of articles passed at prior town meetings that have been superceded by state and federal law, newer ordinances, or ruled unconstitutional;
- Approved $39,236 to upgrade the lighting at town facilities. The money will come from grants;
- Approved $1 to be put in the fire engine capital reserve fund (housekeeping);
- Approved $204,931 for culture and recreation;
- Approved $6,400 for Tamworth Conservation Commission;
- Approved $2,000 for Cook Memorial Library building maintenance capital reserve fund;
- Approved $5,000 Transportation Enhancement Capital Reserve Fund. The town needs to save for a 20 percent match in order to receive a grant. The money would pay to widen some roads to include shoulders for pedestrians.
In one vote, residents approved articles 16 through 30 which call for $113,000 in spending for groups outside the government: Article 16 — $1,750 for the Tamworth Outing Club to fund Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth baseball programs. Article 17 — $6,000 for funding Tri County Community Action's fuel assistance program, which serves Tamworth residents. Article 18 — $7,000 for Tamworth Caregivers for the purpose of serving Tamworth residents. Article 19 — $229 for the Medication Bridge Assistance program. Article 20 — $4,810 to support White Mountain Community Health Center's efforts to help meet the needs of uninsured or underinsured Tamworth residents. Article 21 — $1,161 to support Starting Point, which provides advocacy and support for victims of domestic and sexual violence and their children. Article 22 — $3,750 to assist the Mental Health Center. Article 23 — $5,000 for the Tamworth Scholarship Committee Inc. Article 24 — $4,000 for the Community Health Center. Article 25 — $3,100 for the Children Unlimited's service programs for children up to 3 years old. Article 26 — $40,000 for Tamworth Community Nurse Association. Article 27 — $16,000 for Tamworth Meals on Wheels. Article 28 — $3,027 for the Visiting Nurse Association-Hospice of Southern Carroll County and Vicinity, Inc. Article 29 — $15,500 to Bearcamp Valley School and Children's Center. Article 30 — $2,000 for Agape Ministries' Food Pantry.