Lengthy meeting clears 10 articles

LYNDEBOROUGH – It took more than four hours to get through 10 articles on the Town Meeting warrant Saturday.

There were two failed attempts to reduce the budget and a revote on the purchase of a one-ton truck for the highway department because of a tie. The second count passed by three, 39-36.

About 90 people began the meeting at 10 a.m. at Citizens’ Hall. Many left before the end at 2:30 p.m.

The operating budget totals $1,483,497, and is up 3.7 percent over last year. Capital spending is down about $50,000.

Budget Committee Chairman Burton Reynolds said the problem is decreased revenues, including changes in state funding, and the town not taking in as much in such areas as car registrations and land-use-change tax.

He said the effect on the town portion of the tax rate would be around 25 cents per $1,000 valuation. With a 27-cent increase in the school budget, there will be about a 50-cent increase, he said.

A move to reduce the budget by $38,952 – compiled by Paul Martin by reducing several line items – and to reduce it by removing a line for merit pay for town employees both failed.

Several officials called it a “barebones budget, one with no frills.” The new truck, which will replace a truck Perry said “died,” will use $45,000 from a fund and $10,000 in tax money. New Selectman Arnold Byam said he thought “the town is getting too much equipment,” noting there are more trucks than men.

Perry said he hires an extra person to plow snow, one of his main responsibilities.

Repairing a portion of the Francestown (Second N.H.) Turnpike for $110,000 prompted a lengthy discussion of liability issues. Road Agent Kent Perry said there have been several accidents because of the rough road.

He said requests for bids to repair the whole section through north Lyndeborough provided a “low bid of $360,000,” and he is, therefore, going to do the worst sections, about 1,100 feet.

Work will include “pulling up the asphalt, digging down to remove the rocks and putting in three culverts” instead of the current one. He noted that the adjoining towns, New Boston and Francestown, “have repaired their sections.”

Asked about liability if it isn’t fixed, Selectman Andy Roeper said, “If we are formally informed (by the state) of insufficiency, we will be liable.”

Residents of the area called the road dangerous and said, “Speed is an issue.”

Whether to allow the Conservation Commission to contribute funds to “qualified organizations” for the purchase of property interests or facilitating transactions related to the purchase took up almost an hour of sometimes-heated debate.

Conservation Commission member Mike Decubellis said the idea was to help landowners with costs of surveys and legal fees when they wished to donate easements to such organizations as the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests or the Monadnock Conservancy.

“Land trusts are qualified organizations” that have the ability to monitor large tracts of land that could prove expensive for a town, he said. “There is no cost to the town and makes our job easier.”

Martin made several charges of the plan being forwarded by “a self-serving elite” who “are making us think we are conserving land,” those who “make rules for all of us to live by as long as they don’t inconvenience themselves.” He said the town should own any property they contribute to.

Decubellis noted that the commission used money last year to help buy the lower Purgatory Falls and noted, “The conservation of land is a public purpose.” In this case, he added, “We are not purchasing property, but contributing to a plan between a landowner and an organization.”

Few articles passed without some dissent. Approved were the transferring of interest on the library expansion fund to the library trustees, $28,015, and adding $13,000 to the rescue vehicle capital reserve fund. Purchase of a new ambulance – $40,000 from a reserve account – and a new four-wheel-drive police cruiser – $29,000 from a fund – were approved.

A capital reserve fund for a backhoe was discontinued (interest from the purchase last year was transferred to the general fund), and the creation of a new account for a new backhoe-loader in 2014 was created with $15,000.

Thanks were extended to all people who helped during the December ice storm and to Roeper, who is retiring.