Support for Youth Services wanes again in Sanbornton



SANBORNTON
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Voters headed only one time to the ballot box during Sanbornton’s Town Meeting last week, as they cast their votes on a petitioned warrant article to add $42,000 to the budget in support of the Youth Assistance Program. For the second year in a row, the ‘no’s’ won out, however, bringing court diversion services for several youth in Sanbornton to an end. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
May 18, 2011
SANBORNTON — It wasn't an especially large crowd, and Sanbornton's 2011 Town Meeting ended in an admirable time frame, but throughout the course of three and a half hours last Wednesday night, voters in Sanbornton had their say and made their decisions on several budgetary issues.

Amidst those decisions, they also said no once more to the Youth Assistance Program by a vote of 66 to 78, denying the petitioned request for $42,000 to support at risk and troubled youth in the town.

State Rep. Bill Tobin of Sanbornton led off the discussion, saying he was in support of YAP.

Tobin said he has been hearing everyone across the state say, "Cut, cut, cut," and while he agrees in many instances, sometimes, it is wiser to spend money in order to save.

"You can save money now by not putting oil in your car, but you'll end up paying for a new engine down the road," said Tobin.

Spending money to keep children out of court systems and steer them in the right direction, he said, would save money in the long run.

Newly elected Selectman Karen Ober spoke on the matter, saying she is not against support of children, teens and families in trouble, but questioned the need for such a program.

"By voting yes for this, you are double taxing yourselves, and I don't know may people who would like that," she said from her seat as a budget committee member that evening.

One argument for YAP had been accessibility for families to the more locally based program, but Ober said she had spoken with people from the Belknap County Youth Services Bureau and Restorative Justice programs who said they often travel to towns such as Sanbornton to bring their services to those who did not have transportation to Laconia.

Others, including YAP Director Martha Douglas, Merrimack County Sheriff Scott Hilliard, and Sanbornton Central School counselors spoke in support, but after a secret ballot was cast, the program again fell short of a majority vote.

Douglas said grant funding for Sanbornton residents kept the program going last year after voters cut the agency from their budget, but that grant is no longer available, and services will now cease in the town.

"It's really too bad, and we hate to see it happen, but we can't afford to offer our programs at no charge when we have other towns who support us and need our assistance," Douglas said.

Police Chief Steve Hankard requested that $32,000 be out aside for a new police cruiser, but also advised voters that the money will not necessarily be spent this year.

Hankard said his cruisers were in good condition, and he felt the department might be able to skip a year in its annual rotation of the fleet.

"We actually plan not to buy a new cruiser this year unless it's mechanically necessary," said Hankard.

Voters agreed to appropriate the money in case anything did happen to ensure the department was not short a cruiser in case of any accidents or mechanical failures in the vehicles they currently own.

Sanbornton's Fire Department also brought forth a warrant article proposing to replace Engine 2 with a tanker truck capable of hauling water to the scene of any remote fires. The article was amended from $268,000 to $230,000, of which $219,000 would come from the Fire Truck Capital Reserve Fund and the rest would be offset by a trade-in of Engine 2.

"The (interim fire chief) thinks it's possible to buy a tanker truck for $230,000, and that we can trade in the old truck for $10,000. If not, we'll come back before you next year," said Selectman Andrew Livernois.

Huse Road, a dirt thruway between Woodman Road and Black Brook Road, will see a new bridge constructed this summer by the town. The road has been closed for some time due to deteriorating conditions on the bridge, but safety officials told selectmen they would like to have that road open for emergencies. Upon a state inspection of the structure, it was found that the abutments were in good shape and reconstruction would only require a new deck, guardrails and gravel for drainage.

"This is something we can do ourselves. No (Department of Environmental Services) permits are needed," said Select Board Chairman Dave Nickerson.

Following a hearty "yes" from voters, the project will now be put out to bid, and Nickerson said it could realistically cost even less than the projected $50,000.

After a few short bookkeeping items on the warrant, moderator Liz Merry adjourned the meeting at 10:25 p.m., to a round of applause from voters who remained until the end. Selectmen said they would have liked to see a larger turnout, but were otherwise pleased with the meeting.

"I think it went well, but only time will tell. We had to make some tough decisions, like voting against YAP. But, people also have to understand that as the state starts making cuts and placing more of the burden on the towns, it's going to get tougher," Nickerson said.

Budget Committee Chairman Earl Leighton agreed with Nickerson, and also congratulated the select board on their work in the past year.

"They've been good managers for the town of Sanbornton," Leighton said.

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