February 23, 2012EFFINGHAM — Selectmen here have put the finishing touches on the proposed 2012 town budget and it has passed the muster of the town's Budget Committee. Now it will be up to the town's voters whether or not to approve the $1.2 million dollar operating budget and 19 other warrant articles.
Town meeting will be held Saturday, March 17 beginning at 9 a.m. at Effingham Elementary School. New this year is that voting day for the election of town officials will also take place at the school on Tuesday, March 13 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
In the coming weeks, in towns throughout the county, the annual town report that includes all voting items will be available at the town hall so voters can become familiar with what they are voting on.
Beyond the normal operating budget, a few warrant articles stand out, including a request for permission from voters that will allow the selectmen to sell one of the town's ambulances. Effingham Fire Chief Randy Burbank has explained in selectmen's meetings that the department can make better use of a utility-type vehicle than an ambulance. Currently, the town contracts with Ossipee Valley EMS, an ambulance company based in Ossipee, that provides transportation of patients to the hospital.
Burbank has reported some successes as he has been working to rebuild Effingham Fire and Rescue Department since taking the fire chief position in March 2011. While medically trained members of the department respond, if available, to medical emergencies in the town and provide patient care while awaiting the ambulance, what they no longer do is use the town's ambulance to take those patients to the hospital. If voters approve Article 6, selectmen will have the authority to sell the 2005 Chevrolet ambulance in a sealed bid process.
For several years voters have approved adding money to a reserve fund for the purpose of replacing the town's ambulance in the future. Now that selectmen are hoping to do away with the town's need for owning an ambulance, voters will also be asked to discontinue that fund and move $38,000 to the fund set up to save for future fire engine purchases.
Other warrant articles
Voters will also be asked to approve the following articles:
• $25,804 for the second year of a five-year contract with Avitar for the property assessing services
• $120,000 for road reconstruction
• $136,000 for road paving
• $4,000 for computer software for the town clerk's office
• $29,353 to be added to reserve funds for future projects including milfoil control, purchasing police cruisers and fire engines, constructing a new town salt shed, repair and replacement of town owned bridges, and projects at the town's transfer station
• Expendable trust funds are different than reserve accounts as trust funds can be used to pay for expenses throughout the year, if needed. Voters will be asked to add $12,503 to trust funds that are used for maintenance of town-owned buildings, purchase of library equipment, and planning and land use board needs.
• Voters will be asked to move $34,000 from a fund established specifically for the repair and maintenance of Huntress Bridge into a general account that can be used for any town bridge in need of repair
• $7,000 for the annual town audit
• Selectmen and the Budget Committee do not recommend $3,000 for Carroll County Transit but the item will be on the warrant because a petition was given to the selectmen. Voters will have the final say in whether or not the town should support this public transportation system, "The Blue Loon."
• In non-money articles, the selectmen are asking that they be designated as cemetery trustees rather than the current practice of cemetery trustees being a separately elected group responsible for the care and maintenance of town-owned cemeteries. Selectmen will also be asking voters to establish the elected position of Town Auditor.