January 05, 2012TUFTONBORO — Tuftonboro's Board of Selectmen tackled the finalization of 11 warrant articles at its Jan. 5 work session. The budget committee will have a crack at accepting, modifying or rejecting the warrant articles, which they will receive in preparation for their Jan. 11 meeting.
Selectmen will consider those recommendations before the final warrant is drawn up to present to voters at Town Meeting in March.
Selectmen all agreed on the need to build a fire station, whose cost to build and equip is estimated to be $2.15 million. The first payment on the bonded project would not come due until 2013.
The article for a replacement for fire apparatus "10-Utility-2," originally priced at $70,000 was revised downward by Fire Chief Adam Thompson by around $5,000. The board entered the figure of $65,000 for the warrant. Both Thompson and Selectmen Chair Bill Stockman expressed a preference to pay for it in one year, though the Capital Improvements Program committee suggested a five-year lease/purchase agreement.
Selectman Carolyn Sundquist was not ready to put that in writing, saying, "It depends on other articles."
The board easily agreed on a warrant for $185,000 to pave town roads. Sodom and Ledge Hill Roads were mentioned as the possible candidates. "That's been basically the same for about the last six years," said Stockman. He noted that the budget committee has desired to chip away at that figure in the past, but in his opinion, "It's important to keep up with maintenance or we'll start to see a deterioration of the roads."
Discussion of two articles pertaining to the purchase of a baler and a used backhoe for the transfer station included agreement that the equipment would help save money in operations, but Stockman expressed some reservations about trading in the T Rex for the used back hoe, which manager Clay Gallagher plans to use for safer and more efficient compaction.
Stockman noted that the increased compaction can lead to splitting of the containers if one is not careful but agreed with the others that Gallagher is aware of that.
The baler is estimated to cost $12,750 and a reimbursement grant of $2,500 from NH the Beautiful is expected, which would reduce to cost from taxes to $10,250.
The backhoe is a $50,950 item with $25,000 expected from the T Rex trade-in and a reimbursement grant of $5,000, reducing actual cost to around $21,000.
The decision on adding $75,000 to the library's existing capital reserve account and creating a capital reserve account of $75,000 for police facilities (both suggested by the CIP) engendered a lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of doing so.
"The amount scares me," said Selectman Duffy. "I'm aware that's a lot to ask for," he added, but agreed to "let the people decide."
Stockman weighed in with a list of objections, while keeping in mind that getting a "67 percent majority [required for passage of a building bond] is some tough."
He said that in the past he has voted no on capital reserves, and has in fact run on that position. "Doing both (capital reserves and bonding) seems wishy-washy to me.," said the long time selectman, "…I do like the concept of doing one project at a time. " He also said he likes to keep the reserve [the undesignated fund balance] at a healthy level and offered the opinion that "if you put money aside (as in capital reserve), you're not making money."
He continued, "I'm most upset about the banking business and the fees they pile on…The banks are making all the money in the world, but things do pass and maybe we'd have a better chance of a project passing if half is raised ahead of time." He said he recognized that that seems to be the trend.
Sundquist said in defense of the capital reserve concept, " In the old days, people saved, then spent what they had saved to buy what they wanted, to me that's capital reserve."
Stockman said that the economy has been poor since 2007 and offered that "when you need $2 million, you have to do something. People don't have that in their back pocket."
The board considered the timing and impact of placing the money for both projects in reserve, and looking ahead to the impending court case with Public Service Company of New Hamphire as to the assessed value of the land on which it places poles and strings lines, and the fact that the first payment on the fire station project would not come due until 2013, if passed, that now was as a good a time as any.
A warrant asking for voters to raise $185,000 for an engineering study and design for final bid to rebuild and repair sections of Lang Pond Road received approval. Preliminary design work has already been paid for and the permit is effective until 2013. The project will proceed pending an expected grant for the remaining $400,000.
Stockman pointed out that the grant from the Farm Bill to mitigate wetlands and protect water quality may not be available for long in the future, depending on the political climate.
In the course of the meeting, selectmen also agreed to request from voters funds for milfoil control measures in The Basin estimated at around $45,000, for which a $15,000 reimbursement grant has been approved through the NH Department of Environmental Services; $33,000, subject to a $13,000 grant arranged by the Mirror Lake Protective Association for the Mirror Lake Boat Launch (dependent on a grant); and $29,500 for Melvin Wharf repairs.
The next selectmen's meeting is scheduled at the Old Town House at 9 a.m. on Primary Election Day, next Tuesday, Jan. 10.
The Milfoil Joint Committee will meet on Jan.11, at 9 a.m., at the Town Offices. The Budget Committee will meet the same day and place, but at 6:30 p.m.
CORRECTION: Our apologies for an incorrect last name reference in the yearend round up article published last week to the Chairman of the Capital Improvement Program committee. Correctly stated, his name is Terry Smith.