EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 3, 2013

Voters tweak proposed selectmen raise

By Alex Lippa

---- — PLAISTOW — Voters will get a chance to give their selectmen a raise after the warrant article was approved yesterday’s deliberative session.

The article proposes a raise in selectmen’s annual stipends from $1,000 to $3,000. Selectmen in Plaistow have not seen a raise in their stipends since 1970.

“We do a lot of running around” Selectman Dan Poliquin said. “There’s a lot of out of pocket expenses associated with being a selectman. It would appreciated and it would help off-set a lot of the costs.

The average selectman’s salary in New Hampshire for a town of Plaistow’s size is about $3,000.

The voters did make one change to the article which clarified that the proposed salary bump for selectmen would be pro-rated starting in April, for this year only.

That change was one of the few made at the deliberative session. Voters voiced no disapproval to the $7.7 million proposed town budget. The budget increased less than 1 percent from last year’s budget. The budget and warrants will be voted on at Town Meeting on March 12.

Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said the lack of changes is reflective of the work done by the Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee.

“When you look at the number of meetings that the Budget Committee and Board of Selectmen have to go through, where every line in the budget and every word that is presented in the deliberative session, you get an appreciation for how thoroughly this is vetted before it is presented to the taxpayers,” Fitzgerald said.

Perhaps the most passionate warrant article was in support of a new shelter for the Old County Road recreation facility. Selectman’s Chairman Michelle Curran singled the article out as one of the most significant ones which will go to ballot.

“This is an extremely important motion to pass this year,” Curran said. “There is no place right now to properly shelter our children.

The shelter would provide protection from bad weather during the town’s summer children’s recreation programs and also be a space where the town could hold multiple events and functions.

“One of our visions is to have a more permanent structure so we can utilize that space, not only for our summer recreation program, but for other events,” said resident Sue Sherman, who is a member of the town’s recreation commission. “This will not only help our kids and our sports programs, but it can help all families and seniors.”

No changes were made to the warrant article which requested $80,000 from the taxpayers. Voters chose not to spend $150,000 on the same facility last year.

Fire Chief John McArdle spoke in support of a proposed $80,000 for a new roof for the public safety complex.

“We are going to remain in that building,” McArdle said. “We need to fix that roof. We are hopefully going to be there for a very long time.”

About 40 residents and town officials attended the meeting at Town Hall. The session was just over two hours long.

Other proposals advancing to the ballot include $50,000 for a new highway department truck, $31,500 to replace mobile radios in the police department and $10,000 for new windows for the Plaistow Circuit Court House.