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December 01, 2011
OSSIPEE— Property owners here should plan to be on the lookout for two very important pieces of mail coming from Ossipee Town Hall.

The first, just in time for the holidays, is the second property tax bill of the year. Returning to work after the long Thanksgiving weekend, the tax collector's office was abuzz with the printing of the bills that were mailed Monday afternoon.

The other piece of mail, expected to be mailed next week, is the survey that asks taxpayers whether or not they are in favor of the town's three fire precincts merging into one. The survey postcards are due back by Jan. 30, 2012. Over the course of the two months, there will be four hearings to discuss the pros and cons to the merger idea. The hearings, to be scheduled, will be held at each of the three fire departments and at Town Hall. When asked at the selectmen's meeting why it has taken months to prepare the information and get the surveys sent out, Selectman Morton Leavitt responded there were many committees meetings and much work that went into "this extremely sensitive issue."

In other news from Monday night's selectmen's meeting, the board will be meeting with the town's recreation director, Peter Waugh, to discuss equipment and improvements he is proposing for the skateboard park at town hall.

Region 9 Vocational Center Construction Trades students continue to work on building a new garage at the Town Hall and are expected to have it completed in the next "week or two".

Selectmen have received the plans for renovating the town's building at 1 Moultonville Road. The project will soon be going out to bid. The building is set to have four offices, a kitchenette, ADA-compliant accessibility, and a 48-person meeting room as well as storage rooms. The selectmen's goal is to move all of land-use related files and work to that building, including the planning board, zoning board, and conservation commission. Those boards and storage are currently housed on the second floor of the Town Hall.

"With the economy the way it is…why is anyone getting a raise pray tell?" asked Ossipee resident Kevin Houle during the budget discussion portion of Monday's meeting. Houle was referring to the three percent raise that town employees will receive in 2012 as, selectmen explained, is part of the union contract. Houle suggested since the selectmen are only holding public meetings every other week, they should also be getting paid half as much.

"Being at the meeting is a very small part of the job," Leavitt responded and added that selectmen are called upon for a variety of problems, meetings, and tasks necessary to the daily operation of the town government functions.

Public Works Director Brad Harriman pointed out the cost saving measures that have reduced the government buildings portion of the proposed 2012 budget by nearly 11 percent. He expects there will be a significant savings in heating costs since the Town Hall was insulated and an energy-efficient furnace was installed at the highway department garage. At the garage, a woodstove has also been installed. Crews are getting firewood for the woodstove from trees they have cleared on the sides of town roads.

A change that has the potential of having the most positive impact on the 2012 expenses is selectmen's decision to shop around for a better deal on town employee health insurance and possibly form a cooperative with surrounding towns for better negotiating power. The board is scheduled to hear presentations from four insurance providers.

As was announced a few weeks ago, the town will not be reimbursed for repairs made to Marble Road or the replacement of the bridge following Tropical Storm Irene. The road is considered a Class VI road and ineligible for FEMA reimbursement. Harriman told selectmen Monday that FEMA will be reimbursing the town about $22,500 of the $30,000 spent making repairs to other roads after the storm.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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