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Senator Forsythe answers questions in Alton

May 17, 2011
ALTON — State Senator James Forsythe visited the Alton Board of Selectmen's meeting on May 16 to answer questions from the board and the public.

Forsythe talked about the governor's budget, which completely eliminates the state retirement contribution from 25 percent to zero percent.

Forsythe said the house has proposed to raise it back up to 10 percent, which would equate to $4.6 million. Building aid and catastrophic aid has also been cut drastically by the governor, but Forsythe said the House is trying to restore these programs.

Member Loring Carr pointed out that if the governor isn't going to contribute to the retirement and other programs, then the town shouldn't follow any directions laid forward by him.

Barbara Howard questioned the Right to Work bill, which prohibits collective bargaining agreements where employees are required to join a labor union or pay dues. Forsythe said the bill was passed in the House and the Senate, but it was then vetoed by Gov. John Lynch.

The bill will be coming back for veto vote in the near future.

Member Peter Bolster, who is also state representative, said he is against the bill. Members of the public pointed out that representative Jeff St. Cyr is also against the bill.

Forsythe also talked about the repeal of the $30 surcharge for vehicle registration, which the senate recently passed. Forsythe explained that the towns only received about one-third of the money from this surcharge, which helped fund construction projects.

Howard asked about the fight against nationalized healthcare, and Forsythe said that there is a bill out that sees the forcing the purchase of insurance as unconstitutional. This bill is on its way through the court system and will be decided in coming months.

Earlier in the meeting, town administrator Russ Bailey announced the plans for the Memorial Day parade. There will be a gathering in front of the town hall beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, May 30, and the parade will start at 10 a.m.

Bailey said the Lakes Region Planning Board is looking for a representative from Alton to be part of the Scenic Byways Exploratory Committee.

The board approved the nomination of town planner Ken McWilliams to attend the meetings. Bolster said that he has attended the meetings in the past and sees the need to keep in the loop on this committee.

Ruth Messier, who commended the town for the recent town report that included a spiral binding, stressed the importance of the Scenic Byways Exploratory Committee.

"Don't let them drop it like a hot potato," Messier said.

Messier said that the issue has been brought up many times in the last 30 years, but nothing has been done about it.

Messier also suggested listing the reason for going into nonpublic sessions on the board's meeting minutes. She pointed to an example on a set of recent meeting minutes where no reason was given.

Member Steve McMahon suggested promoting walkways throughout the town through flyers and other promotions.

The board was presented with bids for gear for the fire department, and McMahon suggested discussing it during a workshop in the coming weeks.

The issue of parking in front of Maxfield Real Estate was addressed by the board again. The board approved eliminating the parking spot closest to the corner and going back to original configuration near the real estate office. Carr suggested that MRE can put up no parking signage and a quote can be obtained for painting no parking area when the town paints the parking spaces.

Bolster thanked volunteers for helping to raise between $2,000 and $3,000 at a fundraiser for the Alton Senior Center that held recently at Shibley's at the Pier.

Bailey said that the Reed Road Bridge has been added to the state list for bridge aid. The funds won't be available until 2020, where the state would pay for 80 percent of the project. Bailey said if the bridge needs repair the town can complete the repair and then could be reimbursed in 2020.

The board also discussed the Places Mill Bridge. The project is out to bid, a pre-construction meeting will be held this week and a meeting with the abutters will be held in the near future. Notices will need to be sent to Alton and Gilmanton abutters, as the bridge will need to be closed between 30 and 40 days to complete the project.

The board approved the bids for several highways projects including several materials for the Coffin Brook Road project.

The board tentatively accepted a bid for gravel for the transfer station by Northeast Mechanics totaling $30,724. If state specifications are needed for the project, the project will need to be put out to bid again with the state specifications listed.

Alton Police Chief Ryan Heath came before the board to talk about a pair of grants that police department has been granted.

The two grants, a DWI and a Traffic Patrol grant, each total $5,040. Heath explained that these grants help the department better patrol the area during the higher trafficked months of the year.

Bolster questioned if officers on patrol via the grants could respond to an emergency situation and he was told that they could.

Carr objected to the grants and voted against it, but Bolster, McMahon and chair Dave Hussey voted in favor of the grants.

Heath also asked the board to support applying for a COPS grant, with a due date of May 25. Heath pointed out that the last two full-time officers were added to the department through grants, and a full-time officer hasn't been added to the department without the use of a grant since 2003.

The grants would help the department trim some of the overtime pay that it is forced to pay out during the summer months. The board approved applying for the grant and accepting it if the department is given the grant.

The board discussed Arianna Drive, which has four lots with two that were overdue for taxes. The town recently claimed the two lots and received quick-claim deeds from the homeowners on the road. The two lots won't be able to be resold for three years.

The board denied a hawkers and vendors permit for the summer months for a food vendor. Bolster said the board should establish a policy for these types of applications and explained the reason for denial, as it would take away from businesses in Alton Bay.

The board approved the use of the town docks for the 35th annual Boat Museum Show on Saturday, Aug. 13, from 7 a.m. until noon.

The board discussed a barn easement, which dates back to the 1700s. A public hearing will be held at the next meeting before deciding on the easement.

Bids were received for septic pumping, but they came in a variety of types, and the board will put the project back out to bid and asks for a fixed rate.

Carr talked about the water department's request for the town to pay for the retirement cost of an employee. The board approved amending the personnel manual to require the water department or any other independent be required to pay into their retirement plan, effective immediately.

Bailey said the bids for the project on Bay Hill Road should be coming by the end of the month, and some materials from New Hampshire Department of Transportation have already been received.

The board approved the renting of a grading/excavating machine at the transfer station, with a monthly rental cost of $5,000 per month. The purpose of the rental is complete the construction project at the transfer station.

Carr suggested setting up a walkthrough of the town buildings once again, and Bailey said he would work on setting something up.

Howard talked about the police grants that were accepted, which some people see as free money. Howard said the federal grants aren't free and costs the taxpayers money.

The board went into a nonpublic session to discuss personnel, reputation and litigation.

The Alton Board of Selectmen is scheduled to meet next on Monday, June 6, at 6 p.m. at the Alton Town Hall.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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