EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

February 8, 2014

Hampstead voters make no changes at deliberative session

Attempt to cut basketball court funding denied by voters

HAMPSTEAD — There were no changes made at the town’s deliberative session last night; all articles went to the ballot as written.

The most contentious article of the night was one asking for $24,500 to build an outdoor basketball court on Veterans Way.

“This would be something that would be appreciated very much and would have a tremendous amount of use,” recreation commission member Brian Goode said.

Budget Committee Chairman Matthew Murphy spoke out against the proposal.

“There was never a plan presented to us as a Budget Committee,” he said. “This isn’t how we spend taxpayer money. We’ve had an indoor court at the Veterans Memorial Gym for years. This new court won’t even be available for use during winter or at night.”

Resident Jorge Mesa-Tejada made an amendment to zero-out the article.

“This allows the Recreation Commission to come back to the town next year with a better plan,” he said.

The amendment was overwhelmingly defeated.

Voters sent a $5.5 million budget to the ballot with no discussion. The default budget is $5.4 million.

“This is a good move for the next year, taking into account all expenses from the previous year and making cuts where we could,” Selectmen’s Chairman Sean Murphy said.

The town’s two-year negotiated police union contract also advanced to the ballot with no amendments.

“There will be a 3 percent salary increase each year,” Murphy said. “There will also be a $1 increase to their detail pay each year.”

Murphy said that while police union contracts are typically longer, the two sides agreed on a two-year contract because of the uncertainty of the new Affordable Care Act.

Taxpayers will pay $16,699 in the first year of that contract.

Voters also sent an article which would establish a revolving fund for recycling revenues. On display at the meeting was a $15,000 check from S.C. Johnson. The town received the money for finishing fifth in a nationwide recycling challenge held by the company.

Just 50 residents attended the meeting, which lasted just more than an hour and a half.

Residents will have the final say on all of the articles at the polls March 11.

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