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Little response from public at bond hearing

February 23, 2011
TILTON — A hearing on Tilton's bond articles, including the $2.7 million one for a new police station, drew little comment at the public hearing Thursday.

Those who were there spoke in favor of the project, which was recommended by the Life Safety Building Committee and chosen by the selectmen as the proposal that will go before voters. A second option, which had a new station being built on Main Street, is off the table, as selectmen wanted to present only one option at Town Meeting to increase the likelihood that it would pass.

The $2.7 million bond includes building a police station at 61 Business Park Drive, as well as bringing in a water line that would service both that building as well as the other buildings in the Nickerson business complex.

The town is already paying 33 cents per $1,000 of a home's valuation on its tax rate after purchasing the Business Park Drive property three years ago. If this bond is approved, it will add another 44 cents to the tax rate, for a total of 77 cents.

If that bond article passes, then a separate article asking to appropriate $650,000 to bring in the water line for future development will be null. If the police station article fails, voters will decide whether they still want to bring water into the business park. With the park's owner agreeing to pay half the cost, the total portion that Tilton would be responsible for is $325,000.

Town Finance Manager Tim Pearson said that if one business moves into the complex because of the new water capability, the tax revenue from that business would essentially pay for Tilton's portion of the water line installation bill.

One of two members of the public to speak at the hearing, Joseph Jesseman said he was in favor of the bond article, noting that the current police station has personnel working in "medieval conditions."

"We own Business Park Drive, and yet we spent a couple thousand dollars studying every option in the world to get us back to 61 Business Park Drive," he said. "I'm here to say, as a resident and taxpayer, we can't afford not to (move forward); it doesn't get any cheaper."

Jesseman said that for all the money that has been spent doing studies, the town could already have a new police station.

Pearson figured that 27 cents of this year's tax rate was spent on studying options for a new station.

"I want to get on with this," Jesseman said. "To just defer the issue to next year and next and next year doesn't make sense."

Tim Sattler, a member of the Life Safety Building Committee, agreed.

"I think the time is right," he said. "I think we can't afford not to."

Sattler said he's heard from other residents that this is a bad time build a police station because of the economy, but he urged people to look at the big picture. He said adding a water line makes the decision "more of a no brainer."

"We should be looking at the water solution up there; (it) has a lot of potential for the future of the town," he said.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord & Osman
Alton School
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