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Ossipee budget ready for March 9 Town Meeting


Ossipee selectmen will propose a survey on merging fire departments


February 17, 2011
OSSIPEE — Final adjustments have been made to the Ossipee 2011 proposed budget that will go to voters on March 9 at the Town Meeting.

A review of the budget shows the projected operating costs to be down about $20,000 to $4,440,692.

Last year's warrant articles totaled $1,042,564. The 2011 warrant articles total $972,483, but instead of the full amount being raised by taxes, selectmen are asking for $703,883. The difference will be made up by using money from the town's surplus funds. They plan to use $236,600 to buy a new truck for the highway department and two new police cruisers. A $32,000 article for the recreation department's summer teen program will be paid for with grant money. If the grant money is not received, according to the warrant, the program won't happen.

More improvements are scheduled for town buildings. This year, the selectmen's office got a complete remodel and for the first time, the Town Hall is completely insulated. In 2011, selectmen plan to increase storage space at the town hall, update the bathroom and flooring at the police station and make bathroom improvements at the highway garage.

This year's combined fire department budgets come in at about $1,290,602 plus Ossipee Corner's proposal to bond the construction of a new fire station at $1.85 million. The fire precinct budgets are voted on at annual meetings in the individual precincts. West Ossipee held their meeting Jan. 22. Ossipee Corner will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed bond Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m. and their annual meeting for voting on the bond, election of officers, and approving the operating budget will be held March 15 at 7 p.m., both meetings occurring at the Ossipee Corner Fire Station. Center Ossipee Fire Precinct will hold their annual meeting Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at Center Ossipee Fire Station.

Selectmen are asking the town voters to approve spending $5,000 "for the purpose of mailing a questionnaire to taxpayers in reference to proceeding with the merging of the fire departments." At Monday night's selectmen's meeting resident Robert Gillette urged selectmen to get assistance from a polling expert at University of New Hampshire for help drafting the questionnaire to avoid any slant or bias in the survey questions.

In a letter dated Feb. 7 from selectmen to the fire commissioners, the selectmen said, "At town meeting we will be asking for support of a town wide questionnaire regarding the subject of merger. We have already indicated that we want the fire departments to have a hand in composing the info and questions. We do intend to send a cover letter with the questionnaire covering the options, an estimate of the costs and the long term effects of any merger. The questionnaire will be reviewed by our attorney prior to sending it out. We will also be explaining the two methods of how the fire departments can be merged as well as asking them whether or not they want us to proceed and how. As we see it there are two ways that this could be done if a merger was desired. First by vote of the precincts. Or second, by vote of the whole town. If the second method was picked then a bill would be submitted to the legislature. This would not require the town to merge but rather give the town authority to vote by ballot for or against a merger."

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