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Selectmen 2024-02-05

Budget Hearing
February 5, 2024

Present: Chet Bowles, Diane Callahan, Rich Dufresne
Also present Sandy Eneguess, Road Agent

Call to order by Chet Bowles at 5:32 pm

8 members of the public

The Town Administrator reviewed the 2024 revenue estimates. It was explained that revenue will be revised just before the tax rate setting and are usually revised upward. Bill Joyner asked if a worksheet could be put together showing 2 years prior with percentages.

The expenditures were reviewed and explained. General Government has increased due to a 3% COLA for the Town Administrator; 5 elections, which increase the Moderator and Deputy Moderator stipends; the Auditors stipends have been reduced, there have been increases in the website costs, QuickBooks and QuickBooks Payroll, and Government Buildings, Rory Goff asked about the increase in Government Buildings and it was explained that the Board has entered into maintenance contracts for the heating system and generator. 2023 expenditures include the School House roof, which was paid for by an LCHIP grant and money from trust funds.

Public Safety was reviewed, Police has decreased, Ambulance has increased, Fire has increased. Mr. Dufresne explained that the Fire Department has been restructured and they are leasing a fire tanker. The Fire Department costs are based on assessed values. The Police Department costs are based on population. The Ambulance costs are0 based on the number of calls and population. Mike Williamson made comments about not needing Fire or Police. Pete Paris and Anne Booth both stated that as a small town Sharon would not be able to provide these services on its own. Williamson recommended speaking to the Town of New Ipswich about Police and Fire services.

Sandy Eneguess reviewed the estimates for the Highway budget and explained how he came up with his estimated costs. Marc LaPlante asked what overlay is, Eneguess explained that this is a second coat of pavement over a winter mix to make the road last longer. Eneguess also explained that there is increased traffic on McCoy Road, about 150 more cars/day plus 2 school buses. This increased traffic is due to the Charter School that has opened up. Mike Williamson commented that the Highway budget has increased since he moved to town in 2019 but, in his opinion, the roads are not any better. Eneguess explained that he is trying to plan ahead while at the same time doing things that have not been done. Pete Paris made the comment that he thinks there should be a warrant article when costs get to a certain amount. Paris also stated that when he was Road Agent he had a priority list, Eneguess said that he also has a priority list. There was discussion about how costs have increased in the last few years.

The rest of the budget was reviewed with no further questions.
Budget Hearing Continued

Individual warrant articles were reviewed:
$6,000.00 proposal for two computers and software, one for the Town Clerk and one for the Town Administrator. The Board asked that more detail be provided for residents.
$6,152.00 to the Bridge Reserve Fund, which would come from fund balance. This would put money received from the State of NH in Dec 2023 for a “one time bridge aid payment” into the Bridge Fund.
$5,776.00 to the Town Highway Repairs Fund, which would come from fund balance. This would put money received from the State of NH in Nov 2023 for a “special highway block grant” into the Highway Repairs fund.
$6,000.00 into the Assessing Reserve Fund, this is to cover the 2024 assessment updates. The Board received notification that the costs from the original 2019 estimate have increased and this will cover the balance needed.
$1,000.00 to the Technology Upgrade Expendable Trust to build this account for technology costs.
$1,000.00 to the Emergency Communications Expendable Trust to build this account to cover future costs of emergency communications equipment.
$157,000.00 to the Town Highway Repairs Fund to cover the cost of paving Nashua Road. There will be no warrant article for McCoy Road as there is no cost estimate available at this time.
Mr. Dufresne recommended a warrant article to start a new fund for building maintenance, repairs, and capital improvements. After discussion it was decided to request $3,000.00 to start this fund.

The 2024 public hearing on the budget was closed at 6:52 pm.

Selectmen’s Public Meeting
February 5, 2024

Present: Chet Bowles, Diane Callahan, Rich Dufresne

Call to order by Fred Woodhouse at 6:52 pm

Motion to approve the minutes of 1/18/2024 and 1/30/2024 (Bowles/Dufresne). All in favor, motion carried.

Motion to approve the 2024 Police Contract with the Town of Peterborough (Dufresne/Bowles). All in favor, motion carried.

Town Meeting: Motion to hold the Town Elections on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, and the business portion of Town Meeting on Thursday, March 14, 2024 starting at 7:00 pm (Dufresne/Bowles). All in favor, motion carried.

Nora Hanke, Monadnock Sustainability Hub, and Jason Cooper, SWRPC came in to make a presentation on community power.

It was explained that a community power plan allows towns to set up a plan to purchase electricity in bulk and pass on the savings to town residents. The town would negotiate with an electric supplier, sign a contract, and would be able to choose how much of the electric supply is from “sustainable sources”. Eversource would still supply the poles and electric lines. Billing would still be done through Eversource, but the line showing “supplier” would change. This would need to be adopted at the town meeting. Anyone currently an Eversource customer would automatically be enrolled in this and would have to “opt out”.

Ms. Hanke stated that the slides used in this presentation would be forwarded to the town.

Meeting adjourned at 7:59 PM.

Minutes taken by Debra Harling. Approved on 02/20/2024.