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Castleberry Fairs

Budget Committee resists efforts to fully fund Police Department


February 22, 2012
NORTHUMBERLAND Despite encouragement from audience members at the Feb. 15 public hearing on the proposed 2012 town budget, members of the budget committee resisted efforts to restore full funding for the town's police department.

The two and one-half hour meeting, attended by less than 20 townspeople, generated little discussion on most of the proposed budget, but saw much of the one and one-half hour public hearing portion concentrated on the proposed elimination of three of the town's four full-time police officer positions.

Budget committee members were challenged on the cuts by Police Chief Marcel Platt, selec tboard and budget committee member Rob Gauthier, fellow select board member Barry Colebank, Town Clerk Min Kennett, and several other audience members. Budget committee member Al Rossetto, who had made the original motion to cut the police department, defended the committee's action, despite accusations the committee had been less than forthcoming in its deliberations concerning the police department and admitting they had failed to invite anyone from the department to their meetings to defend the proposed budget.

Following the public hearing portion of the meeting, the last hour was devoted to finalizing the numbers for the warrant articles and voting to recommend (or not) each of the individual articles. An attempt to amend Article 14 by increasing the town's operating budget by approximately $85,000, proposed by Rob Gauthier, failed. Budget committee approval of the proposed $1,801,267 operating budget then barely gained approval of the committee on a 5-4 vote.

Committee members recommended voters not approve Article 15, a petitioned article seeking to add $355,002 to keep the police force at full strength. Select board members had also recommended that voters not approve that article. The budget committee also recommended that voters not approve Article 19, a $25,000 appropriation for the equipment capital reserve fund, Article 27, a $52,000 appropriation for the purchase of a one-ton truck for the highway department, and Article 30, seeking $39,633 for various charitable organizations. All three of the articles had received approval from the board of selectmen.

The committee also recommended voters turn down articles funding the Groveton High School chem-free graduation fund, the Cal Ripken baseball program, and the community Christmas organization. Passage of all three of those articles had also been recommended by the board of selectmen.

Articles 38 and 39, both concerning curbside garbage pick-up, also received a thumbs-down from committee members and selectmen had recommended approval of neither of those two articles.

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