EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 4, 2013

N.H. deliberative sessions wind down this week

Staff reports
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Many New Hampshire towns and school districts will hold deliberative sessions this week, providing taxpayers with a forum to debate, discuss and potentially amend warrant articles to be voted on March 12.

Friday marked the deadline for anyone wishing to run for town or school office. Deliberative sessions this week start tonight and wrap up Saturday.

Polls will be open in all towns March 12. It’s then that voters decide municipal and school budgets, elect their officers, and approve or reject numerous warrant articles.

This year, those funding requests include a new police station in Hampstead, expanding the Newton Board of Selectmen, spending $1.7 million for a kindergarten addition in Pelham and much more. Most warrants are posted on town websites.

Hampstead meets

tomorrow, Friday

Hampstead School District voters will meet at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Hampstead Middle School, 28 School St., to discuss the operating budget and eight other warrant articles.

The proposed budget is $23.7 million; the default budget is $120,000 higher.

Two collecting bargaining agreements will be discussed. Voters will get a chance to debate separate four-year contracts for the Hampstead Support Personnel Association and Hampstead Educators Association.

The district is asking voters to put $75,000 into a school renovation capital reserve fund.

At the Hampstead town deliberative Friday, voters will consider yet another proposal to construct a new police station.

The proposal would cost the taxpayers more than $1.6 million and the town hopes to pay for it all in one year.

The proposed municipal budget is $5.36 million, which is close to $60,000 more than last year’s budget.

Other items up for discussion include $51,000 to add a new full-time police officer and $28,500 from the capital reserve fund to upgrade the fire department’s equipment.

The town deliberative session is Friday at 7 p.m. at Hampstead Middle School, 28 School St.

Londonderry holds town, school sessions

Londonderry residents will hear details of the town’s proposed $27.5 million operating budget tonight at 7 in the Londonderry High School cafeteria.

In addition to the budget, voters will discuss and debate more than a dozen warrant articles, including adding a police officer to serve as a school resource officer.

Voters also are being asked to add $710,000 to a capital reserve fund to purchase equipment like ambulances and highway trucks; $400,000 of that article would come from the town’s fund balance. They also will consider putting $200,00 into a maintenance trust fund for repairing and maintaining town facilities. Only $50,000 would come from property taxes, the remainder would be taken from the town’s fund balance.

A citizens petition resulted in a warrant article asking taxpayers to spend $227,000 to pave a one-mile section of the town’s rail trail system.

That’s not the end of floor debate for Londonderry taxpayers. The school district meeting is Friday at 7 p.m. in the Londonderry High School cafeteria.

Londonderry residents will hear details about the school district’s proposed $66 million budget.

Next year’s budget includes staff cuts and other reductions, due to less money coming to Londonderry in state adequacy funding.

Less money also is coming to town as a result of the state pushing higher retirement and health-care costs on to municipalities and school districts.

School officials did restore some funding to the original budget proposed by Superintendent Nate Greenberg, restoring 14 teaching aide jobs.

“If the state had not downshifted funds (to us), we would be returning money to the taxpayers,” School Board member Steve Young said. “That’s no fault of our own. The revenue from the state is just not there.”

Voters will also consider a warrant article for a $4.5 million bond for the renovation and construction of district buildings “as deemed appropriate.”

At a recent bond hearing, school district business administrator Peter Curro presented the board with a list of more than 25 projects he said were needed at various district schools.

Some work projected under an approved bond includes paving, roofing work, asbestos removal and other repairs that school officials say are necessary. A 60 percent vote to approve is needed for this article to pass.

Pelham mulls budgets, kindergarten

Pelham voters, too, have town and school deliberative sessions this week. It starts will the town session at 7 p.m. tomorrow in Sherburne Hall, 6 Village Green.

Town officials are looking for a $13 million budget.

A citizen petition warrant article will ask voters to consider giving a property tax break to disabled residents.

The school deliberative session is Wednesday at 7 p.m., also in Sherburne Hall.

School officials are requesting a $27.6 million budget.

Voters also will discuss a proposed $1.7 million kindergarten project and an $895,000 Town Hall renovation to provide offices for the School Administrative Unit 28 offices, relocating to Pelham after a breakup with Windham.

Salem faces school projects

Salem voters will consider major school renovation articles Thursday. The deliberative session begins at 7 p.m. at Salem High School.

The articles include a $16.2 million bond to upgrade the Fisk, Soule and Haigh elementary schools, and a proposal to spend an additional $805,237 on improvements at Haigh.

Voters will also debate a citizens petition article seeking $679,000 for a multipurpose room at Soule.

The proposals come only a year after voters defeated a $21.5 million plan to renovate the three schools. A year earlier, residents approved a similar proposal to upgrade the Lancaster, Barron and North Salem elementary schools.

Declining student enrollment has prompted district officials to consider closing Haigh. The School Board decided to hold off on a full $5.5 million renovation of Haigh in case it is shuttered.

The $20-year bond article only calls for spending $369,682 on Haigh and the remainder on the two other schools. The $369,682 would fund basic improvements needed to maintain the building in case it does close.

The second article, requesting $805,237 in additional bond money for Haigh, is automatically defeated unless at least 60 percent of voters support the 20-year bond. The citizens petition article, requesting $679,000 for a multipurpose room at Soule, would also be voided if the bond fails.

Another warrant article requests $72,232 to fund a one-year, 1.25 percent pay raise for the 188 members of the Salem Educational Support Personnel Association. The union represents school aides.

Voters will also be asked to approve an operating budget of $62,247, 816. If defeated, a default budget of $62,390,591 would take effect.

If all warrant articles and the multipurpose room are approved by voters March 12, the school portion of the tax rate would increase 3 percent — or 38 cents per $1,000. It is now $12.47 per $1,000. The multipurpose room accounts for nearly half of that increase.

Pay raises on Sanborn ballot

Voters in the Sanborn Regional School District will consider pay increases for teachers and support staff at the deliberative session Wednesday. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Sanborn Regional High School auditorium.

The proposed teachers contract calls for overall increases of $519,167 for 2013-2014, $459,466 for 2014-2015 and $529,314 for 2015-2016. The increases were recommended by the School Board and Budget Committee.

The support staff contract seeks increases of $99,495 for 2013-2014 and $74,973 for 2014-2015. They increases are recommended by the School Board and Budget Committee.

Voters will also be asked to consider an operating budget of $31,586,769. If defeated, a default budget of $31,519,733 would be enacted.

Timberlane voters mull contracts, budget

Timberlane Regional School District voters will meet in deliberative session at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Timberlane Performing Arts Center, 40 Greenough Road.

Up for debate is a proposed three-year teachers’ contract, which has teachers getting a 1.5 percent salary bump for the 2013-2014 school year.

Voters also will discuss a proposed $64.2 million dollar budget which is $200,000 less than the current budget. The current budget would become the default for next year if the proposed budget is voted down.

A proposal to allow the school administrative unit budget to be voted on will also be discussed.

Windham faces

middle school project

Windham town and school voters will wrap up the week with two deliberative sessions.

School district voters meet Friday at 7 p.m. at Windham High School, 64 London Bridge Road.

Taxpayers will get a chance to debate a proposed $31 million middle school project.

Voters also will be discussing a proposed $45.6 million school budget.

A proposed teacher contract also will be before voters after negotiators for the union and School Board reached an agreement for the first time in several years.

The town deliberative session begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, also at Windham High School.

Voters are being asked to approve a $13 million budget for the town at the polls March 12. The town operating budget is only about $12.2 million. Special warrant articles account for another $740,000.

Officials are looking to make improvements to the Searles Building, buy a highway truck, upgrade police communication and town computers, acquire new breathing gear for firefighters and set aside conservation land.