March 21, 2012Selectmen confirmed their intent to conduct a staffing study for the Town Clerk/ Tax Collector (TC/TC) office at their meeting Wednesday, March 14 with a vote of two to one.
With Selectman Gus Benavides opposed to the motion, Selectmen Kevin Hayes and John O'Brien moved forward with their plan to conduct a study similar to the town-wide 2004 Municipal Resources Inc. (MRI) study.
"We want to continue with the study to see what is there, and what is necessary," said Hayes.
Town Clerk/Tax Collector Denise Gonyer presented the 2004 MRI study to selectmen at a previous meeting as proof that she needed an additional employee. According to Gonyer, the TC/TC office staffing was set according to the study, and since 2004, they have added programs and increased their responsibilities, such as answering residents' emails.
Gonyer opted to reduce one full-time position to a 24-hour part time position without benefits, and selectmen decided to eliminate the position completely.
With the intent of funding the 24-hour position, Budget Committee members added $12,200 to fund the part-time position. Selectmen then also approved the additional funds, but reminded Budget Committee members that their recommendations apply only to the bottom line of the budget, and that only the selectmen can designate funds for specific a purpose.
Unsatisfied with the 2004 study, O'Brien, who was not a selectman when MRI conducted the original study, said he anticipated they would again use MRI if they could get more specific results. Selectmen said they needed hard data to make a decision, instead of the anecdotal evidence presented to them. Selectmen previously estimated the study would cost about $2,000.
In other business, the selectmen voted to table a discussion regarding a request for a tax exemption from Wesley Woods.
According to Hayes, with the given information, Wesley Woods did not meet the criteria for tax exemption.
According to Rod Dyer, an attorney representing the New England Deaconess Association, Wesley Woods was approved for 40 units, and currently has 22 units, all filled. Dyer explained that the community is similar to the Taylor Community, which went through a similar situation in Laconia. According to Dyer, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Taylor Community is a charitable enterprise.
It was estimated that Wesley Woods paid around $80,000 in taxes in 2011.
According to Dyer, in 2010, Wesley Woods had an operating cost of about $855,000, but only took in about $236,000. He explained that the criteria for living at Wesley Woods are that applicants must be 62-years-old or older, and that the cost was negotiable, depending on the applicant's income.
Selectmen tabled the issue until their meeting on April 11.
Lastly, the selectmen approved several items for the Police Department, including a new Police Interceptor from Hillsboro Ford for about $25,000, which will go into service between 120 to 140 days from the date of order.
Additionally, Selectmen said they would approve a lease for a Harley Davidson Police Motorcycle pending receipt two grants through the NH Highway Safety Agency for up to $1,500.
According to Keenan, the overall cost of a one-year lease would be almost $4,000 without grant funding. Keenan explained that the motorcycle would save on fuel costs when responding to calls or on patrol. If anyone needed to be taken into custody, a cruiser would take them in, as Keenan said two vehicles usually respond when arrests are made.
Keenan also said that training would not be an issue, as Gilford's Police Department already employs a certified instructor.
Selectmen also approved a $500 donation from the Gilford Police Relief Children's Fund for the DARE program.
Finally, Keenan and the selectmen recognized Field Training Officer Doug Wall and Dispatcher Jason Fasshauer for their actions beyond the call of duty helping a local homeless family. Keenan said this was part of their "Caught in the Act" awards, aimed at recognizing extraordinary efforts by Gilford officers.
The two officers were recommended for the honor by Patrol Officer Adam VanSteensburg.
"That is the kind of service that makes this an outstanding town," said O'Brien, commending the two officers.