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Joyce Endee

Moore chosen to replace Tice as West Ossipee Fire Commissioner

PAULA MOORE, left, is sworn into office of West Ossipee Fire Commissioner by precinct Clerk Marilyn Bolduc, following Monday night's appointment. Bob Pustell looks on. (Mellisa Ferland photo) (click for larger version)
March 24, 2011
OSSIPEE — At what should have been his first springtime meeting of the year, West Ossipee Fire Commissioners held a moment of silence in memory of Commissioner Roger Tice, who passed away suddenly last Friday, March 18.

Tice's absence on a board of three was apparent and felt by everyone in attendance at the March 21 meeting; however, given the pressing items before them, Commissioners Greg Howard and Paul Jay continued moving forward with business as usual.

In doing so Howard announced the board would be appointing an interim fire commissioner to fill Tice's seat until a vote could be conducted at next January's elections. West Ossipee residents Stanley Brothers, David Swift, Paula Moore and Henry Ela all publicly stepped forward as candidates for the position. After holding interviews with the interested residents in a two-and-a-half hour long non-public session Howard and Jay chose Paula Moore to fill in as interim fire commissioner.

Prior to her appointment, Moore had said that the precinct needed "to move forward… We need someone who is going to work for the well-being of the whole district."

With Jay up for re-election at the end of this year candidates, will vie for two seats in January; a one-year term to complete Tice's stint and a standard three-year term. Howard said that the 2011 vote would be done by ballot, allowing for absentee voting, and that a candidates' night would be held prior to the elections.

In regard to the commissioners' recent decision to place West Ossipee Fire Chief Bradley Eldridge on involuntary administrative leave, Daymond Steer of the Conway Daily Sun asked if there had been any resolution. Still within the timeframe set by the commissioners to meet with him, Jay answered that the men had held no meetings with the chief as of yet, but planned to do so that evening in a non-public session.

Tom Kondrat of West Ossipee shared aloud a letter he had written to the commissioners in regard to an unanswered question at the Jan. 22 annual meeting.

"What's to prevent the district from overspending the budget again," he asked in the letter. Claiming the Commissioner's had spent approximately $64,000 more than the $491,000 appropriated by the town in 2010, Kondrat cited N.H. RSA's 32:8 and 32:11 pertaining to emergency expenditures and over-expenditure procedures.

RSA 32:8 states that no village district commissioners "shall pay or agree to pay any money, or incur any liability involving the expenditure of any money, for any purpose in excess of the amount appropriated by the legislative body for that purpose." In addition RSA 32:11 declares that the commissioner of revenue administration cannot "approve such expenditures unless the governing body designates the source of revenue to be used," and that the commissioner does not have the "authority to increase the town or district's tax rate in order to fund such expenditure," both of which, Kondrat said, has occurred.

He explained that when the tax rate was set in mid-fall of 2010 it showed an increase of 23 cents from the $2.82 per thousand that was anticipated given the approved budget.

Kondrat wanted to know who had authorized the overpayments and by what authority. He asked who would pay the taxpayers back if there had been no authority to do so.

Equally as stumped, Howard, who was recently elected but had read through all of the previous meeting minutes, said he couldn't recall coming across any discussions of approving over expenditures.

One component of the increase that Mellisa Ferland, the department's secretary, recalled was that when the DRA was setting the tax rate in mid-fall of 2010 it was noticed that debt service stemming from 2008 wasn't included in the town meeting vote taken in January 2010. Therefore DRA tacked on an additional $40,000 to cover the debt service.

Jay said the commissioners would pass the letter on to the auditors for clarification and would readdress the issue when they could provide some insight to Kondrat's questions.

Another issue faced by the board is the possibility of a boundary line adjustment involving the Whittier Coalition, Charles Brennan (the owner of a neighboring jewelry business) and the West Ossipee Fire Precinct.

Due to expire, a 2003 agreement between the Whittier Coalition (owner of the property behind the fire station) and the commission stated that the Coalition would give the fire precinct some of their property as long as the precinct paid for the survey and boundary line adjustment.

With the December 2011 deadline approaching, a representative of Land Tech on behalf of the Whittier Coalition presented a boundary line adjustment plan to the commission at its Feb. 7 meeting. However the idea was not met with praise from everyone. Brennan stated that it was the first he had heard of any plans for a boundary line adjustment and was concerned about how his property would be affected. Also concerned with the configuration was another resident, Tom Fraser, who questioned why the Coalition wasn't giving the precinct all the land it needed as he had read in a newspaper article. However, no one was present from the Whittier Coalition at the February meeting to answer his question.

Now, with Mark McConkey of the Whittier Coalition present, Fraser restated his question. Before any talk of a boundary line adjustment he wanted to know, "what it is Mark is going to give back to the precinct" in regards to a portion of property that was promised the department for expansion in the future.

McConkey explained that for years the Coalition had offered the department the option of relocating the building to another location on the property, yet the exchange was never acted upon by the department and the idea was put aside. Still, land has been gifted from the Coalition to the department (doubling the size of the fire department's road frontage), but the department has yet to develop any type of building plans.

Now with boundary line adjustment plans, McConkey said the Coalition is willing to work with the department on a configuration that works for both parties. He also agreed to speak with Brennan about the proposed changes.

The commission will wait to hear back from McConkey in regard to his meeting with Brennan before deciding if they will pursue the boundary line adjustment.

The commissioners will meet next on Monday, April 4, beginning at 7 p.m.

Minutes from this meeting and those before it can be found on the town's Web site at http://ossipee.org/departments/publicsafety/wofd.html.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Garnett HIll
Varney Smith
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