December 29, 2011TUFTONBORO — In 2012 Tuftonboro residents will be asked to take care of some unfinished business. Last March 26, townsfolk voted down a $3.2 million proposal on the town warrant for a combined police and fire facility in an acrimonious town meeting marked by shouts to end debate and get on with the show.
A majority vote to reconvene, following an insufficient 60 percent affirmative vote on March 9, ignited a campaign calling for residents to vote no, and surly signs appeared along Route 109A in Tuftonboro all the way to resident Paul Zimmerman's Clarke Plaza Shopping Center in Wolfeboro shouting, "What part of NO don't you understand?"
Attendance at earlier public information meetings on the proposal with the architect and committee members, selectmen's meetings, budget committee hearings, police and fire department open houses and the Candidates' Night combined didn't compare to the overflow crowd that gathered on Saturday, March 26, at Tuftonboro Central School to reject the amended $2.9 million Article #3. It was defeated 354 – 268.
A new committee was formed to draft a new proposal, this time a fire station only, and in March 2012, voters will be asked to consider the modified plan.
In the March town elections, incumbent Carolyn Sunquist won reelection for another three years, fending off a strong challenge by challenger Ted Wright, winning 373 votes to his 309. Road Agent Jim Bean easily won re-relection for three years, winning 401 votes against his nearest challenger, Jeff Moody, who received 180 votes. In the third contested position, for library trustee, Paul Matlock won 346 votes against Tony Lyon's 274. The rest of the open positions were uncontested. Town Clerk Heather Cubeddu led the vote count in the uncontested contests, with 678 votes. Tax Collector Jackie Rollins was close behind with 660 votes.
Tuftonboro's 2011 tax rate is set at $8.71 per thousand dollars of assessed property value, an increase of just 2.6 percent over the 2010 tax rate of $8.49. The county rate also went down slightly, but the local school rate went up 17.5 percent and the state school rate went up 6.6 percent, accounting for the overall increase.
Sales of island and lake front property did well in Tuftonboro in 2011, according to municipal data sheets provided to the town by the Department of Revenue Administration, but sales of more than half of the lower priced homes went for considerably less than their assessed value this past year. Total property sales amounted to about 100.
While some homes sold at bargain prices as a result of foreclosure or bankruptcy, others on the lake actually sold for more than their assessed value
Like other New Hampshire towns, Tuftonboro's cost for its employees' pension fund increased when the state trimmed costs by passing on paying its share of pension funding with the enactment of HB2, effective July 1. Town and school employees shared the hit with an increase in their pension fund contributions.
In a move to cut expenses, Tuftonboro entered into an agreement with Tamworth and Freedom to share the services of Certified NH Assessor Rodney B. Wood rather than hire its own assessor. It also represents a departure from a total property assessment completed every five years to the assessment of just 20 percent of the town each year.
The transfer station increased recycling revenues, which go into the general fund. Operations have produced around $72,000 in revenue so far this year without the December figures, compared to around $56,000 total for 2010.
Also, the board approved a reorganization of staff at the transfer station, effective in the 2012 budget. Manager Clay Gallagher said that efficiencies at the plant have reduced labor costs by $17,000. There will be a full time position with medical benefits to take the place of several part time jobs, to help retain trained staff.
The hours of operation will remain the same, with total weekly man-hours in the slower months, October through April, nine hours less and total weekly man hours in the busy months from May to September, five hours more.
The year was marked by volunteer participation in milfoil control efforts. Tuftonboro formed a milfoil committee and was active in a three-town cooperative arrangement with Moultonborough and Wolfeboro. The purpose is to share the expense of a Diver Assisted Suction Harvester and two pontoon boats.
On Sunday, Sept. 24, volunteers began work at 8 a.m. on milfoil control efforts in Winter Harbor Basin. Tuftonboro's Fran and Patrick Laase, newly certified divers, dug the weed from the hard-packed and rocky bottom while Russell Baerenklau, Selectman Dan Duffy, Bill Marcussen, Steve Wingate and George Fair manned the boats up above on into the afternoon.
The extent of milfoil infestation in Tuftonboro's water bodies was mapped by Amy Smygula of the NH Department of Environmental Services last spring, and the results are available for viewing on the town's website and at the town offices.
A citizen committee, including Selectman Dan Duffy, has put extensive effort into preparing a proposal for changes in the Time-Warner Cable contract, beginning with a 20 question survey of residents likes and dislikes in the present arrangement. An ascertainment hearing was held in April with the town's cable contract lawyer, Attorney Kate Miller of Donahue, Tucker & Ciandella on hand to hear from residents.
The main complaint is the switching of network channels to Portland stations and away from the Boston stations. A contract has been sent to Time-Warner and the town waits for comment.
Ledge Hill Road, Melvin Wharf Road and Pine Mill Run were paved this August, along with ZaDeDa Road, the much-discussed, unfinished project of a failed development project. The Tuftonboro Farms Association, led by resident David Ford, received money held in escrow to assist in payment and will be paying the town back individually for the next seven years along with property tax bills.
No matter what issues have come up during the year, the town showed an abundance of good will in the spontaneous creation of the First Thanksgiving Community Dinner, the first holiday tree lighting at the Tuftonboro Free Library, generous contributions for holiday gifts to fulfill the wishes on the Christmas tree in the lobby of the town offices, and a town sponsored, well attended candlelit buffet for the volunteers, board and committee members and employees that contribute to the running of the town.