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Wolfeboro selectmen approve articles for 2011 warrant

November 24, 2010
WOLFEBORO — At their Nov. 17 meeting Wolfeboro selectmen reviewed proposed articles for the March 2011 warrant, voted on which to include and set a rough order for placement on the ballot.

A public hearing on the three articles that will be bonded will be held during the selectmen's regular meeting on Dec. 15. Bonded articles require approval of 60 percent of those voting to pass. All other articles will pass by a simple majority vote.

A total of 19 articles were placed on the ballot. Because the total number of warrant articles is unknown at present and will be affected by the addition of any petitioned articles, selectmen assigned letters to each article.

Article A. Renovation of Brewster Hall. Final cost estimates are still being developed for this major project, based on plans developed by Newport Collaborative Architects (NCA) with the sponsorship and help of the Friends of Town Hall. Selectmen used a placeholder estimate of $4 million, of which all but $5,231 will be bonded. The $5,231 is the balance remaining in a town office reserve fund.

Selectman Chair Linda Murray read a statement in favor of adding this Brewster Hall article to the warrant but asking for a second quote from another construction management company. Murray pointed out that the use of the construction management method for major projects had been endorsed by the former Town Office Citizen's Action Group (TOCAG) and was being used by the school district in the Kingswood renovation project. She also state that town hall staff have waiting over 12 years to be provided with a safe and modern facility.

Only Selectman Marge Webster objected to adding this article to the warrant because she was concerned about the "flaky estimates" and wanted firmer figures before proceeding. Webster had also objected to the town accepting the NCA plans from the friends. The vote to add the article was 4-1, with Webster in the negative.

An amendment to add a Request for Qualification for construction management bidders was also passed 4-1.

Article B. Pop Whalen Arena Sprinkler System. The installation of a sprinkler system is required if the arena is to receive a Certificate of Occupancy from the Code Enforcerment Officer in October 2011. The estimate of $149,600 is being updated and will change by the time the bond hearing is held. The full amount will be bonded and the bond payments will be made from the Pop Whalen Enterprise Fund drawn from user fees. As a result there will be no impact on the tax rate if this passes. Approved 5-0.

Article C. Electric Department Pleasant Valley Road Electrical Conversion Project. This project is needed to raise the voltage in the Pleasant Valley area at a cost of $675,000. The full amount will be bonded and paid through the Municipal Electric Enterprise Fund, paid for by electricity users. As a result there will be no impact on the tax rate if this passes. Approved 5-0

Article D. Interim Town Offices. Proposes $75,000 to pay for temporary office space while Brewster Hall is being renovated. Murray noted that if Article A, the Brewster Hall renovation, does not pass, this article will be null and void. She said the town was looking at three sites: the Bell Building on Lehner Street, Wickers Sportswear building and available space at Clarke Plaza. Town Manager Dave Owen added that Huggins Hospital has indicated it has available space as well, but no hard figures have been made available yet.

Webster said she felt the language in the article was vague and voted against adding it to the warrant. The final vote to add was 4-1.

Article E. Upgrade Parking Lots to ADA Standards. Proposes $150,000 to regrade and repave town-owned parking lots to conform to the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as specified in the settlement agreement the town recently signed with U.S. Department of Justice. The lots at issue include the Dockside parking lot, the library parking lot, the Depot parking lot and the Libby Museum parking lot. Approved 5-0.

Article F. Municipal Building Maintenance Fund. Proposes $150,000 to make priority repairs and improvements identified in the Bergeron Technical Services Survey last summer. Approved 5-0.

Article G. Upgrade Town Roads. This annual appropriation is being increased from $550,000 to $750,000 on the recommendation of the Capital Improvement Program committee. Approved 5-0.

Article H. 2011 Operating Budget. Because the Budget Committee is still reviewing it, the final number has not yet been set. On Nov. 3 selectmen gave its approval to a total operating budget of $25,611,112, which was 3.38 percent higher than the 2010 budget approved by voters last March. Approved to be added, 5-0.

Article I. Construct Glendon Street Parking Lot. Proposes $300,000 to construct a new parking lot on land acquired in 2009, repave the adjacent existing lot, and add new lighting, landscaping, drainage and signs. Approved 5-0.

Article J. Sidewalk Upgrades Downtown Core. Proposes $100,000 to improve specific concrete sidewalks in downtown. Approved 5-0.

Article K. Reconstruct and Resurface Basketball and Tennis Courts at Foss Field. Proposes $210,000 to rebuild the courts and replace the fence around them. This project has been proposed and considered each year for five years. Approved 5-0.

Article L. Design of Pine Street/Crescent Lake Road Improvement Project. Proposes $95,000 for engineering, surveying and design of improvements for these roads. Approved 5-0.

Article M. Fire Trucks and Apparatus Replacement Capital Reserve Account. Proposes to add $175,600 to this reserve. Approved 5-0.

Article N. Public Works Vehicle and Equipment Capital Reserve Account. Proposes to add $155,000 to this account. Approved 5-0.

Article O. Police Communications Improvements. The worksheet gives an estimate of $100,000 but a final figure is still in development. This is aimed at eliminating communication "dead zones" for police, fire, public works and other town personnel. Selectmen Dave Senecal said the town has been dealing with this problem for 30 years. Approved 5-0.

Article P. Police Union Contract Agreement. No figures given, since negotiations are continuing. Approved 5-0.

Article Q. AFSCME Contract Agreement. Again no figures given due to continuing negotiations. Approved 5-0.

Article R. Renew Lease for Dockside Restaurant. The lease expires in June and unless voters give selectmen approval to sign leases up to five years (see next article), the renewal would have to be approved by voters in March. The draft warrant article called for a three-year renewal with an optional two year extension. The Roarks, who are the leasee, asked if the term could be longer or if they could make an offer to purchase the Dockside building. Greg Roark Jr. said they had just completed a seventh successful season and while the three plus two lease was acceptable, they would prefer a lease of five years with an extension of two years or longer. Public Works Director Dave Ford spoke in favor of a sale, but Selectman Sarah Silk said people in past have told the town not to sell. Webster moved amending the article to offer a five year lease with five year extension, Silk seconded and the vote was 5-0 in favor.

Article S. Rental or Lease of Town Property. This asks voters to approve giving selectmen the authority to rent or lease town property for a term up to five years without further vote or ratification by voters. A new state law allows voters to override the requirement for voter approval of all multiyear leases (as in Article R).

Other business

At the end of the meeting, Selectman Webster announced that she was resigning from the board, effective Nov. 30. See accompanying article.

Ford provided selectmen with a listing of all of the repairs and upgrades recommended by Bergeron Technical Services in their building survey that indicates which will be done as part of the regular budget and which will be done in 2011 as part of the $150,000 requested in Article F, described earlier.

The board approved a Payment in Lieu of Taxes arrangement with Northern Human Services for 2011-13.

Selectmen also approved changes to the town personnel policy adding family leave arrangements and making the policies more consistent.

The board reviewed the monthly expenditure and revenue report through October with Finance Director Pete Chamberlin. The major concern continues to be with welfare expenses, especially housing assistance, but adjustments made earlier in the rest of the budget are offsetting the overage.

Silk pointed out that the Solid Waste Facility is now on its Winter hours, which incude closing on Wednesdays.

Town Manager Owen informed the board he will be accompanying his wife on an international trip between Dec. 3 and Dec. 20. Town Planner Rob Houseman will be Acting Town Manager during that period.

The next meeting of the Board of Selectmen will be Dec. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wolfeboro Public Library meeting room.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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