Raymond Board of Selectmen News

Default Budget Proposal Goes to Raymond Budget Committee
By Penny Williams   12-19-17

The Raymond Board of Selectmen on Dec. 18 forwarded to the Budget Committee the proposed default budget developed by Town Manager Craig Wheeler. The default budget is $4,494 less than the proposed Town budget.

The bottom line of the General Fund default budget is $7,564,870, which is up 1.29 percent over last year's default budget of $7,468,819.

This year, the default budget bottom line is much closer to the proposed selectmen's Town budget proposal. Wheeler said this is due to the fact that the proposed default budget is based on the current year's default budget, and the proposed 2018 selectmen's budget is much tighter this year.

The board also looked at the language on three warrant articles, as follows:

• Article 20 - Veterans Credit, which adds a three-year phasing in of the credit amount of $200 in the first year, $300 in the second, and $500 thereafter.

• Article #22, requesting $3,000 to offset the expenses associated with the 2018 July 4th celebration, and

• Article 21, which asks voters to approve changing the combined Town Clerk/Tax Collector position from its current status to one in which voters elect a Town Clerk and the Board of Selectmen appoint a Tax Collector. The tax collector would work part time and be under the supervision of the Town Finance Director. The change would occur when the present elected Town Clerk/Tax Collector’s term expires in 2020.

Raymond Selectmen Review Warrants, Proposed Ethics Code Change
By Penny Williams   12-15-17

The Raymond Board of Selectmen reviewed draft warrant articles for the March election and approved a change to the Town Ethics Code on Dec. 11, as well as learning that the Raymond town line has been moved roughly 80 feet into Epping, something that should be fixed.

Town Manager Craig Wheeler reviewed the warrant, starting with a collective bargaining article and going over the draft articles, as follows:

Article 8 - Collective Bargaining for Police Department and Dispatch with the Teamsters Union - no numbers yet.

Article 9 - Special Meeting if article 8 is defeated.

Article 10 - Scholarship Fund, $2,000. The fund currently holds $6,000.

Article 11 - CIP (Capital Improvement Program) recommended purchase of Public Works truck, $205,000, for roughly a 25 cent per $1,000 tax impact.

Article 12 - Social Services, $71,821.

Article 13 - Mosquito Control, $40,000.

Article 14 - Capital Reserve Funds total, $313,500. That includes: Government Buildings, $46,750; Highway Construction/Repair, $96,750; Highway Heavy Equipment, $50,000; Bridges & Culverts, $5,000; Sidewalks, zero; Police Department, $40,000; Fire Department, $50,000; Recreation, zero; and Parks, $25,000.

Article 15 - Water System Reserve Fund total, $60,000. That includes: Repair/Replacement, $28,000; Infrastructure, $28,000; Storage, $3,000; Utilities Vehicle,  $1,000; Site Acquisition, zero.

Article 16 - Road Reconstruction Projects, $300,000.

Article 17 - Shim-Overlay Reserve Fund, $244,000  (none of this amount is raised by taxation).

Article 18 - Vacation and Sick Leave for non-union employees, $20,000 ($124.40 in fund now).

Article 19 - Vacation and Sick Leave for union employees, $10,000 ($25,148.78 in fund now).

Article 20 - Veterans Credit, $200 in 2018; $300 in 2019, and $500 in 2020.

Article 21 – Town Clerk/Tax Collector Change when current term expires in 2020.

Article 22 - Fourth of July celebration, $3,000.

Article 23 – Change in Ethics Policy’s recusal section.

Ethics Committee member Gretchen Gott presented a proposed change to the Town's Ethics Code. She said the Ethics Committee is proposing a change in the current language in Section II B 2 of the Code of Ethics, to include details of recusal into alignment with the New Hampshire Municipal Association and Town Counsel.  The section of the code now reads: "Public servants who have been recused may remain in the hearing room for the public input portion of the hearing and shall seat themselves with the other members of the public who are present. When recused, the recused person shall not participate in further discussions, unless he/she clearly states for the record that he/she is doing so only as a general member of the public. The recused person shall not be present in the hearing room once the public input portion of the meeting is closed and the deliberation and voting process begins."

The change will appear on the Warrant Article as follows: "Public servants who have been recused may remain in the hearing room for the hearing and shall seat themselves with the other members of the public who are present. When recused, the recused person shall not participate in further discussions, unless he/she clearly states for the record that he/she is doing so only as a general member of the public.

 The board approved the change and it was moved to the warrant.

In other business:

• Selectman Greg Bemis said that when he participated in the Perambulation the previous week, he discovered that the Raymond town line has been moved about 80 feet into Epping.

Wheeler said research was done and several different town lines were found along this stretch. Bemis said Epping is working with legal counsel about what to do with this, and the Raymond selectmen decided to see what Epping comes up with and perhaps have a meeting with the Epping Board of Selectmen to work this out.

The line has to be corrected, and involves a 5-mile stretch that includes backyards, a river and open space. In addition, the Pine Acres Development has an incorrect lot line.

• The board dedicated the Town Report to two previous selectmen who died in 2017, Norm Weldy and Frank Bourque.

• Wheeler told the board that Liberty Utilities is planning a gas line running along the Route 101 corridor that will impact intersections 4 and 5, providing opportunities to hook into the line to serve developments and to provide additional infrastructure at those two intersections.

Amended Proposed Town Budget Comes in at 1.35 Percent Increase
By Penny Williams 12-7-17

The Raymond Board of Selectmen received an amended proposed budget figure at its Dec. 4 meeting, with Town Manager Craig Wheeler explaining that he had made changes to the 2018 proposed operating budget.

He said he revised all salary and wage lines because embedded in those figures were longevity payments that had been listed in the 2017 operating budget as one-time payments and should not have been carried over into the default budget. The Town is operating under a default budget.

Wheeler also said he removed vacation and sick time leave buy-down amounts and put them in a new line for $56,000.

These actions created a new bottom line amount of $7,569,364, a 1.35 percent increase, whereas the previously approved budget bottom line for the proposed operating budget was $7,573,985 or a 1.41 percent increase.

The board approved the new budget proposal and forwarded the amended 2018 operating budget to the Budget Committee.

In other business:

• Colleen West Coates presented the CIP (Capital Improvement Program) to the selectmen and said that what the committee tried to do was to figure out how to get things up to current service levels and identify current needs. "The CIP is a fiscal planning tool for large projects," she said.

The main crisis is in Public Works equipment, West Coates said, and noted that the committee also worked on Capital Reserve Fund definitions, making sure the ones funded are relevant. She noted that when done properly, the CIP can level the tax rate and prevent bonding and budget spikes.

She said the CIP is underfunded and would require a half million dollars a year for a number of years to be properly funded; the committee’s hope is to get it closer to being properly funded.

CIP funding projects are ranked as “urgent,” “necessary” - within 3 years, and “desirable” - within 4 to 6 years, followed by “deferrable,” “premature” and “inconsistent.”

West Coates said the committee recommendations are: to increase Capital Reserve Funds; add Public Works vehicles but present a separate warrant article for a Department of Public Works dump truck; access the Capital Reserve Fund for Sidewalks to use it for a Town Common project and close the Sidewalk Fund; access the Library Capital Reserve Fund to cover what projects, repairs and maintenance are needed at the Dudley-Tucker Library and take that Reserve Fund to zero and close it; move the Library Building to the General Building Department; move well cleaning into the Water Operating Budget; and regroup HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) repairs. The committee is recommending a warrant article for one Public Works vehicle at $205,000.

She also said the recommendation is to put $313,500 into the Town Capital Reserve Funds in the CIP as follows: $46,750 into Government Buildings; $96,750 into Highway Vehicles; $50,000 into Heavy Equipment; $5,000 for Bridges and Culverts; $40,000 for Police; $50,000 for Fire; and $25,000 for Parks.

For the Water Capital Reserve Fund, the committee recommended putting $28,000 for the repair and maintenance of the water treatment facility; $28,000 for the Water System Infrastructure and Distribution System; $3,000 for Storage; $1,000 for a Water Department vehicle; and zero for new well site acquisition, for a total of $60,000.

Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood said that at this time the water system with the present wells is just barely enough, and looking to acquire new well locations is necessary.

West Coates said she knows the committee is advisory but noted it has focused on getting a CIP plan in place so as not to lose any future grants for lack of having a plan.

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer told the board that the citizen’s petition warrant article for work on Orchard Street passed at last year's Town Meeting, and as a result he had looked at how to resolve the drainage problem at the top of that street in an appropriate and cost-effective manner. The warrant article did not include a money appropriation.

He said money remained in the Road Repair budget and he went ahead and made changes to the top of the street to address the problem. The entire project cost $12,000 and of that, $8,500 was for paving the area repaired, set for Dec. 5. He said that when it rains, he will know if what was done corrects the problem.

The Brown family expressed concern that more water would be crossing their property but Brewer said that wasn't so, and he thinks what was done will work.

• Resident Carol Watjus raised a variety of complaints during public forum. She claimed that combining finance director jobs with the Town and School District would save money; Right to Know requests had not been answered; Public Works employees should have done work that was contracted out; long-term Brownfield sites exist in Town; and Town properties should be paying taxes or rent.

She also questioned giving non-union employee raises when they were not allowed under a default budget; and why people are paid to take minutes of minutes, particularly at the CIP committee; and cited unpaid taxes going back 10 years.

She then submitted two new Right to Know requests – one for the past three years of pay increases for all non-union employees as well as for Wheeler and Community Development Director Ernie Creveling, and a copy of the Town Manager’s contract.


Proposed Raymond Town Budget Up 1.41 Percent Over Current Default
By Penny Williams   11-30-17

Town Manager Craig Wheeler presented the Raymond Board of Selectmen with changes to the proposed 2018 budget Nov. 27. The selectmen then approved sending the budget forward with a bottom line General Fund figure of $7,573,985, a 1.41 percent increase over the 2017 default budget.

The changes to the budget include the following:

• The Town Clerk/Tax Collector salary line was reduced to $133,423 by removing a part-time office clerk position. The Town Clerk/Tax Collector expressed concern that this move would hamper her ability to get the work done that she is expected to manage.

• The Revaluation line in the Assessing budget was reduced to zero by removing $26,000, which would have paid for Raymond’s remaining involved in an ongoing utilities court case.

• The Highway Department salaries and wages line was reduced from $231,433 to $216,626 by removing a vacant full-time position.

• The Highway Department Highway Operating Equipment line was reduced from $30,000 to $4,500, with the items that money would have covered to be sought instead in the CIP (Capital Improvement Program).

• Patriotic Purposes' $3,000 line item for the Fourth of July celebration was removed. Selectman Jack Barnes asked the board to approve seeking a Warrant Article for that amount so a local church would not have to continue carrying the burden of the Town’s celebration and parade. The board approved his motion.

• The General Fund bottom line was adjusted to $7,573,985, a 1.41 percent increase over the Default Budget.

• In other business, under public forum the board heard from two residents with complaints about the process and procedures the Town follows. Both asked the Town Administration and the Board of Selectmen to be more transparent.

• Resident Josh Mann, speaking as a citizen, asked the selectmen and Town Manager to re-think the proposed awarding of a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) to non-union employees on Dec. 31, which would result in a 2.25 percent salary increase and would be retroactive. He said the raise would mean that if the voters choose a Default Budget again in March, the raises would remain in the budget, taking away the ability of the voters to deny them, Mann said. He claimed that employees are unhappy but not so much because of money but because of issues with the administration.

While union employees received a pay increase this past year, non-union employees did not because of the default budget.

Mann also said he has resigned from the Fire Department, not because he has a problem with Fire Chief Paul Hammond but instead because of the process by which Hammond was appointed chief. He said the Town Manager promised an open process for the hiring of a new chief when Kevin Pratt retired, but noted this did not happen. He asked that the Town, when it says it is going to do something in a particular fashion, do as it says.

He also emphasized that the selectmen and administration must recognize that how their actions are perceived by those in the community is the reality for those residents.

Resident Tina Thomas seconded Mann's comments. She added that the Town has issues that need to be resolved with the process and procedure of employee salaries and payments, and there is a need for Board of Selectmen transparency.

She also discussed road issues on Ham Road, and said it badly needs to be paved and in its present condition is dangerous, especially in winter after it has been plowed. The same is true of Harriman Hill Road, she said.

She said she has heard nothing about an alleged problem with rats on Sun Hill Road that was raised several meetings ago, and she wondered what was happening. She also raised a question about a hole on Orchard Street.

Later in the meeting, Wheeler responded to the rat issue by saying the Health Officer had visited the area in question and met with homeowners in the immediate area, and had found no evidence of rats, but had asked that all trash be covered. Wheeler said he has heard nothing more on the matter since then.

• The board appointed and swore in June Dickerson to fill a vacancy as a full member of the Conservation Commission. Dickerson was previously a member of that commission but resigned several years ago. Her term will run to 2020.

• Wheeler said he would meet with the Budget Committee to discuss the budget the board approved that night, but noted the default budget will not be available until the end of the week.

• Chairman Jonathan Wood said he is still looking for people to volunteer to help flesh out the proposed Five-Year Plan and that and Barnes would be meeting with the School Administrative Unit (SAU) that week regarding a planned survey. The Five-Year Plan concerns building a new elementary school on the Raymond High School campus and converting the current Lamprey River Elementary School into a police station with space for some Town offices and community area.


Selectmen Reject Emergency Lane Plan, Hear Proposed Budget
By Penny Williams   11-25-17

Following a public hearing to consider designating private roads Jama Drive, Robinson Hill Road and/or Briar Road as emergency lanes, the Raymond Board of Selectmen declined to approve the proposal. The three roads provide parking access to conservation areas – Dearborn and Robinson Hill conservation areas and Cassier Town Forest.

Selectman Wayne Welch said that declaring the roads emergency lanes to allow annual maintenance grading was not correct, and would not be the appropriate use of the relevant state statute. The selectmen were considering the designation as a way to allow the town to expend money for annual maintenance grading if needed, rather than to make it possible for emergency equipment to access them.

The Town is a partner on the three private roads because they allow the public to access conservation land. However, after discussion and comments from the public and the board, Welch made a motion that the Town not declare Jama Road, Robinson Hill Road and Briar Road as emergency lanes, and the board unanimously approved the motion.

Robinson Hill Road already has an annual Town maintenance requirement in its conservation easement. Selectman Jonathan Wood said the board would revisit Jama Drive and Briar Road at a later date.

In other business at the Nov. 20 meeting, Town Manager Craig Wheeler presented a review of the Revenue and Expenditures of the budget, saying the expenditures under the Default Budget are on track and the revenues are up, thanks to motor vehicle registrations, building permits and investment interest.

Wheeler said salaries and benefits are the budget drivers, and he has included a 2.25 percent salary increase for all non-union employees starting Dec. 1 and retroactive to March 2017; union employees received the 2.25 percent increase under the default budget. He said this will not overspend the budget, and the salary increase for both union and non-union employees is in the proposed 2018 budget. He added that this is essential because the Town is unable to retain or hire new employees at the pay level being provided.

The 2018 proposed operating budget is $7,647,557 and the current 2017 default budget is $7,468,819, so the proposed 2018 budget is a 2.39 percent increase over the default budget.

Wheeler then reviewed the proposed budget, summarized as follows:

• Town Clerk/Tax Collector - $188,325, a 9.45 percent increase.

• Town Office - $472,256 - a 1.95 percent increase.

• Election - $27,916, a 159.13 percent increase because of additional elections this coming year.

• Cemeteries - $39,644, a 10.58 percent increase.

• General Government Buildings - $270,515, a 2.02 percent increase. Wood would like a line added for water provided to the school district.

• Assessing - $114,746, an 8.75 percent increase.

• Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment - $148,517, a 1.53 percent reduction.

• Legal - $60,000, a 14.89 percent reduction.

• Regional Associations - $8,000 proposed and $10,000 added back by the selectmen, to total $18,000. The selectmen want the Planning Board's request to remain with the Rockingham Planning Commission for at least six months to be honored.

• Ethics - $300, no change.

• Budget  - $200, no change.

• Police - $1,848,172, a 1.28 percent increase. The Police want to add $40,000 for repurposing the current evidence room and moving evidence records to new, temperature-controlled storage outdoors.

• Fire - $410,390, a 15.09 percent reduction.

• Emergency Management - $6,324, a 2.42 percent reduction.

• Building Inspection - $73,531, an 8.77 percent increase, with collected revenue of $67,000 to offset that figure.

• Dispatch - $446,102, a 3.06 percent increase.

• Hydrant Maintenance - $156,142, unchanged.

• Highway - $742,506, an 8.48 increase.

• Street Lighting - $24,500, no change.

• Administration Department of Public Works - $165,127, a 22.97 percent increase, with MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) and NOI (Notice Of Intent) costs.

• Fleet maintenance - $151,545, a 3.80 percent increase.

• Solid Waste - $337,525, a 1.16 percent.

• Ambulance  -  $39,300, no change.

• Business and Economic Development - $1,000, no change.

• General Assistance - $55,891, a 9.89 percent decrease.

• Library - $245,623, a 5.18 percent increase.

• Recreation - $289,250, a 3.79 percent increase.

• Patriotic Purposes - $9,261, a 43.65 percent increase, with money added for July 4th celebration.

• Conservation - $1,250, no change.

• Town Fair - $5,334, 1.23 percent increase.

• Debt Principle Interest, zero.

• Parks - $174,664, a 4.03 percent increase.

• Insurances - $1,135,400, a 5.05 percent increase, with health vendors and plans under discussion.

• General Fund Total - $7,648,557, a 2.41 percent increase over the default.

• Water Department - $650,238, a 17.52 percent increase because of well #4 costs.

• Water Debt - $168,040.

• Water Debt and Subtotal, $818,278 - 1.57 percent.

• Total - $8,465,835, an increase of 2.01 percent.

In other matters:

• Regarding the request made to the board the previous week for reconstruction of Lakeview Road, Public Works Director Steve Brewer said there are two issues involved: road paving, and drainage and storm water management. The road needs paving, he said, noting the project would cost approximately $90,000, but he noted he has to have a design for drainage and storm water management and he has no estimate on that cost.

It was noted that this work would be part of the MS4 plan. Brewer suggested that Lakeview work should be done when the town works on Harriman Hill Road next year, which is at the top of the list of roads to be done.

Wood suggested a TIF (Tax Increment Finance) district be established so that money for incremental improvements can be collected and put into a special fund for later use in the area. Brewer said he has money in the Road Construction Fund to do a Request For Proposals (RFP) for the work, and a motion to move forward was approved.

Conservation Commission Chairman Jan Kent asked about salt and sand on the road and was told that Town trucks are set to put sand and salt in the middle of the road, which reduces the negative run-off impact.

• Brewer and developer Jean Gagnon asked the board to accept Sandybrook Drive so that it can be plowed. Two homes are already occupied on the road and the developer will fix a turnaround at the end of the 400 feet needed to be plowed so the plows can turn around. A $650,000 bond is in place that will be renewed in 2018 and will remain in place until the development is completed.

The road when the original development was started was called Perimeter Road but it has been changed to Sandybrook, and the Fire Department has it mapped that way now. Brewer said the deficiencies in the original development plan have been addressed.

Selectman Greg Bemis made a motion to approve the request to accept the road so that the first 400 feet can be plowed. The motion passed with Welch opposing it.

• The board heard from Mark Grimshaw regarding Computers for Vets. Wheeler suggested to the board that the Town computers that are ready to be auctioned off should be donated to veterans through Grimshaw's company. Grimshaw said he could either wipe the hard drives clean or if the Town preferred, he could remove and replace the hard drives.

Wheeler said the Town has eight or nine pieces of computer equipment that are no longer functioning that could either go to auction or be donated to Computers for Vets. Bemis said Computers for Vets would be a great resource, and Selectman Jack Barnes made a motion, which was approved, to donate the equipment to Computers for Vets. Fire Chief Paul Hammond noted he had two more computers he would like to donate.

• Police Chief David Salois asked the board to approve his receiving three financial grants from the New Hampshire Highway Safety Department: DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) Patrol for $6,600, Sobriety Checkpoint for $5,818.92, and New Hampshire STEP (Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program) for $7,065.99, for a total of $19,480. The board unanimously approved the chief’s accepting the grants.


Raymond Resident Seeks Help with Drainage into Governors Lake
By Penny Williams   11-15-17

The Raymond Board of Selectmen heard from Susan Sorkin, a Governors Lake resident, who raised concerns about Lakeview Road. At the Nov. 13 meeting, she requested that Lakeview Road be put on the 2018 list of roads to be reconstructed and said that storm water drainage on that road should also be addressed.

Lakeview Road is on the list of Raymond's worst road segments, and Sorkin said the residents are concerned with storm water drainage that flows directly into the lake, bringing sand, salt and chemicals that the water runoff picks up along the way down the hill and deposits them directly into the lake.

The residents are concerned because the conductivity in Governors Lake is more than four times the New Hampshire median. In addition, the chloride level for the lake is almost 10 times the New Hampshire median. Chloride is toxic to aquatic life and impacts vegetation and wildlife. Electrical conductivity estimates the amont of total dissolved salts or ions in the water.

Sorkin said Governors Lake residents had recently reactivated a lake association for that water body.

Quoting from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services 2016 Individual Lake Report of Governors Lake Raymond, the board was told, "Elevated conductivity and chloride in addition to elevated phosphorous levels indicate that road salt and storm water runoff are influencing the Lake."  The board noted that this is MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) issue.

The Town owns the property where the water enters the lake at the bottom of the roadway. Selectman Jack Barnes said he wanted to talk with Public Works Director Steve Brewer about this to see what he has to say about it, and said Brewer can deal address it at the Board’s Nov. 20 meeting. The board invited Sorkin to return at that time.

In other business:

• The Board discussed the proposed $75,000 Social Services budget. Barnes said this budget has increased almost $5,000 over last year. The board has already approved adding $1,000 to the Child Advocacy Center.

Selectman Wayne Welch made a motion to level fund the Social Services budget with the exception of the already approved $1,000 to Child Advocacy, for a total of $71,821. The board voted unanimously in favor of his motion.

• Town Manager Craig Wheeler presented a series of budgets, but noted the figures will likely change. They are: Legal, $60,000; Insurance, $1,135,400; Debt and Principle Interest, zero; Assessing, $114,746; Planning/Zoning, $148,517; Regional Associations, $18,403; Building Inspection, $73,531 and Economic Development, $1,000.

• Wheeler said the legal line is subject to the charges of the Mitchell Group, which does much of the legal work for the Town, but there is some legal expense in the Planning Department budget as well.

He said health insurance is the biggest driver of the Insurance budget, and noted the Town will be looking at other carriers and/or different plans for next year, as the cost has risen about $5,000 over last year.

Assessing includes the revaluation of utilities, Community Development Director Ernie Creveling said. He said that Planning has seen a budget reduction, while the change from the Southern New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission to the Rockingham Planning Commission has not been in place long enough to determine if it will produce a savings.

Concerning Building Inspection, he noted that salary increases were not included last year because of the default budget so they will be put into this year's budget. The money for Economic Development allows him to do the Web site, attend training as needed and work with vendors to seek new businesses for Raymond. He indicated that the Buxton Co. provides hard economic development data and he is planning on visiting Rochester, where the company has been helping to bring businesses to that city. “It is enough for me to take a more aggressive approach,” he said of the budget.

Barnes said he thought the Buxton Co. charged around $50,000 and asked what Creveling would ask for if he decides it is worth hiring that firm. Creveling said if his visit to Rochester is positive, he would look at adding $35,000.

• Creveling also spoke about the Computer Budget and said he wants to replace 10 desktop computers. He noted that the reduction in this budget results from the Town’s having changed service companies.

• Chair Jonathan Wood asked for volunteers to work with him to detail the 5-Year Plan he proposed for town and school district facilities. The plan proposes moving the police station to the elementary school, which would also house some town offices and a community area, with a new elementary school to be constructed on the Raymond High School campus. No action has been taken on the plan.

Selectman Greg Bemis volunteered to assist, and Wood said he also had a volunteer from the community.


Three Private Roads in Raymond May Be Designated Emergency Lanes
By Penny Williams    11-11-17

Several residents spoke out at a Nov. 6 public hearing held by the Raymond Board of Selectmen on whether to designate one or more private roads - Jama Drive, Robinson Hill Road and Briar Road - as emergency lanes.

Under New Hampshire law, the emergency lane designation would allow the Town to expend funds on an otherwise private road, with the proposed scope of work to be grading once a year, if necessary. The three roads under consideration provide direct access to public conservation land.

Raymond Public Works Director Steve Brewer noted that Robinson Hill Road is very narrow and is more like a driveway, but it accesses the Robinson Hill Conservation Area. He noted the Raymond Conservation Commission plans to develop a parking area so cars don't park along the road and block it.

Jama Drive, which accesses the Dearborn conservation area forest, has been graded before, Brewer said. Briar Road accesses the Cassier Memorial Forest.

Conservation Chair Jan Kent said she and the Commission support the emergency lane designation. Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood asked Kent if Conservation would consider funding the work, as the roads access Conservation lands. She responded that she would have to bring the question to the Commission for discussion, but sees a concern with having Conservation pay to keep the roads open for Town emergency vehicles.

Brewer said the estimated cost for grading all three roads once a year would be $2,500. He noted that while the emergency lane designation allows for more than just annual grading, the Town can put in limiting language.

Selectman Greg Bemis speculated that once the Town commits to annual grading, it would have to keep it up, but Attorney Walter Mitchell of the Mitchell Group said the Town could decide not to continue grading without adding any liability.

Resident Carolyn Matthews said she is concerned that if the Town were to designate the roads as emergency lanes, it would be setting a precedent leading to the Town’s accepting private roads as public. The board said the reason for the emergency lane designation is not to benefit homeowners on the roads in question but to have a means to access conservation land. Mitchell noted that this addresses the need for emergency vehicles to be able to reach conservation land.

There was some concern that the roads should be plowed in winter but Kent said even when the Robinson Hill parking area is developed, it will not be plowed.

Robinson Hill Road resident Ken Winchell said he had thought the road was private but now it appears it provides public access to conservation land, and thus he did not understand why the homeowners on the road should have to share the cost of maintenance, as they now do. He was reminded that the Town has never graded Robinson Hill Road.

Winchell added that he was glad the Town is considering making the roads safe for emergency vehicles.

Several others spoke to the proposal. Resident Carol Watjus said she thinks making the roads emergency lanes sets a precedent, and noted the homeowners along the three roads should bring them up to Town road standards and have the Town then take them over as public roads. She also said her driveway is in need of grading and emergency vehicles could not access it.

Wood asked if she had a shared driveway, and she said she did not. He said he lived on a shared driveway known as Forest Road, and the five homes on it have an agreement among themselves about grading and clearing. He added that the Town is a partner on the three private roads up for discussion because of their access to conservation land.

The wife of David Cozart, who lives at the top of Robinson Hill Road, expressed concerns about parking on the driveway, and said she needed emergency access to her home. She questioned an area that she said had been cleared for parking by the Town, but Kent explained that was not Town property.

Wood reminded the audience that the Town is looking at the emergency lane designation for the public good of providing access to conservation land.

After closing the public hearing, Selectman Wayne Welch made a motion to continue the public hearing to Nov. 20, which was approved. He reminded residents that the Town had the foresight to put the parcels into Conservation to limit future development, as a way to keep Raymond as rural as possible, and noted that development impacts taxes. He said conservation land has benefited the Town.

In other business at the Nov. 6 meeting:

• The tax rate was announced and the board noted it can't be modified. It is $24.20 per thousand, and tax bills have been mailed. The municipal figure is $6.16, down .06 cents from the past year; the county rate is $1.01, up .02 cents; local education (Raymond School District) is $14.73, up .44 cents; and state education is $2.24, up .06 cents. The 40-cent increase in the tax rate translates on a $250,000 assessed value property to an increase of $115.

• Brewer updated the Well #4 construction project on Raymond High School property, saying 95 percent of the piping is in the ground and the final connection to the well will take place within a month. The water line has been charged and chlorinated and the building is almost entirely enclosed. The project is expected to be finished by the end of February, ahead of schedule.

• Brewer said Well #2 needs to be cleaned again because the screen is clogged, hopefully because of the rebuilding of Well #1. If the increase in minerals is instead the new normal, however, the cost will be $13,385. The board approved Brewer’s moving forward with the cleaning.

• Brewer said road paving started Nov. 6 on Green Road and is 75 percent done; Industrial Drive was to be paved Nov. 11 and the gravel shoulders will be done after the paving is finished.

• The Long Hill Scenic Roadway sign contest winner is Shirley Dodge. The board chose the winning entry and said the signs would be made up before Dec. 1, with a sign placed at each end of the road.

• The selectmen discussed Town Ordinance 283-19, concerning parking on West Shore Drive that has become a safety issue. A solution was suggested that would move the rocks on the beach side back about 5 feet, opening that area to parking, and would put “No Parking” signs on the other side of the street, amending the parking policy to accommodate this. The board decided to modify the policy and hold a public hearing on it.

• Community Development Director Ernie Creveling said he has met with the Buxton Co., regarding ways it could match up prospective businesses and retailers with the Town. He said the company has been successful in Rochester but it would cost at least $50,000 for a year. He has an appointment with another company as well.

• See related story on department budgets from the Nov. 6, 2017 Selectmen meeting below.

Raymond Police, Public Works Budget Proposals Come In
By Penny Williams     11-11-17

At the Nov. 6 Raymond Board of Selectmen meeting, Police Chief David Salois and Public Works Director Steve Brewer presented their proposed department budgets.

Salois noted the 2017 approved budget was $1,858,000, and proposes a draft budget of $1,824,678, $34,000 lower.

He said meeting the adjusted default budget from 2017 has not been easy and he has utilized mini-staffing. As a result he said there have been increased complaints from the public regarding speeding and noise. To meet the demands, he said the School Resource Officer was placed on regular duty instead for the first half of the year but is back in the school now. The department provided less patrol coverage, with two officers on duty around the clock, and less officer training took place. Two officers were at the Police Academy as well.

As another way to cut expenses, Salois said the department will purchase only one cruiser this year, rather than the two expected.

He noted the dispatch budget for 2018 is $439,269.

Salois said with the defeat of the proposed new police station in March, he needs to make improvements at the present station. He estimates it will take $30,000 to $40,000 to remove the contents of the evidence room to climate-controlled storage containers in the station parking lot, and create needed rooms from the current evidence room.

• Town Manager Craig Wheeler said the Town budget amount is $7,616,641, up 1.98 percent.  The 2017 Default Budget amount was $7,468,819. When the Water Department and Water Debt are added to the proposed budget, the amount rises to $8,402,692, an increase of 1.24 percent.

• Brewer presented the Public Works proposed 2018 budget of $2,053,630, or $2,839,707 when Water is added in. That makes his budget about 27 percent of the total town budget.

• The proposed Public Works budget is half a percent more than 2017 and 4.36 percent more than the default budget. Water is 1 percent more than 2017 and 11.7 percent more than the default, with Water Debt 40 percent less than 2017 and 40 percent less than the default because there is one less bond payment to make.

• The Fleet Maintenance budget proposal is $151,545, and Brewer noted the 2017 budget was overspent by $11,642 or 8.1 percent. The DPW Administration budget is $163,292, and the 2017 budget was overspent by $3,262 or 2.4 percent. The Solid Waste budget is $337,525, down 1.16 percent. Brewer noted it will take a year to determine the impact of the increase in garbage bag prices that was instituted this year. He said if a bulky waste pickup program were added, as some residents have requested, it would add approximately $80,000 to the budget, which could be offset in part by a tag charge.

• The Buildings Division budget amount is $254,751, down 3.92 percent, with 11 percent or $28,000 of last year's budget unspent. He said there would be cost adjustments needed to deal with proposed changes at the Police Station that would be in the $30,000 to $40,000 range.

• Chair Jonathan Wood asked where the cost of the water being supplied to the School Administrative Unit (SAU) is noted and Brewer said he had it in the Water section. Wood would prefer to see an additional line in the General Government Buildings budget to account for this.

• Brewer said the water going to the schools will be metered so the Town can track how much is being used and how much the Town is giving to the SAU. The free water to the SAU is the result of the negotiated easement between the Town and the SAU for Well #4, currently under construction on School District property at the high school.

The Cemetery budget is proposed at $40,405, and Brewer said $4,100 or 10 percent currently unspent. The Parks proposed budget is $177,133, with $13,400 or 7.6 percent unspent in 2017. The budget for Street Lighting proposes $24,500, and Brewer said the annual budget is consistently overspent, with $950 or 3.8 percent overspent in the 2017 budget. The Patriotic Purposes budget proposes $9,261, and $3,700 or 40 percent of that budget was unspent. The Town Fair budget is proposed at $5,334, and Brewer noted that a 2017 adjustment of $3,000 was added for the Fourth of July. He said 2 percent of the overall budget - $100 - went unspent. The Hydrant Maintenance budget is proposed at $156,442.

• The Water Division budget is proposed at $650,237, with adjustments to be added amounting to $32,000. This is an increase of 6.21 percent over the 2017 Budget Committee approved budget and 17.5 percent over the default budget. He suggested that $17,500 is the estimated amount for the cost of water provided to the schools. Not included in the present budget proposal are costs associated with Well #4.

• Brewer said he has 14 full-time employees over all divisions. A 2018 proposed staffing change would move Chris Boucher to Water full time, with his former three days in Highway covered by an additional hire.

Raymond Hires Finance Director, Permanent Fire Chief
By Penny Williams  10-19-17

Hiring from within, Town Manager Craig Wheeler announced to the Board of Selectmen on Oct. 16 that he has promoted Accounts Manager Julie Jenks to be Finance Director in training for the Town of Raymond. And Paul Hammond is now the Town’s official Fire Chief.

Wheeler said he has had no luck finding a finance director at the salary the Town was offering, with candidates expecting an annual salary of between $90,000 and $100,000, a figure above what Raymond budgeted for the position. Ever since a vacancy occurred in that post, the Town has been helped by Jenks and Interim Finance Director Eric Demas, along with Community Development Director Ernie Creveling. Wheeler said he and Demas decided that Jenks was capable of handling the position and should be promoted.

Jenks will secure the training needed to become fully qualified for the post, but Wheeler said she is already more than up to it at this point. Demas has agreed to continue helping out and mentoring Jenks for the next few months, and the Town has hired a part-time accounts clerk for 15 to 20 hours a week. Wheeler said he is also advertising to fill Jenks’ account manager position.

Meanwhile, at the same Oct. 16 meeting, Hammond was formally sworn in as the Town’s Fire Chief. He has been serving as Acting Fire Chief since the retirement of Kevin Pratt.

In other business:

• Wheeler said that working under the Default Budget, as of Sept. 30 the General Fund was 69.68 percent expended. He said that was good, because they had expected to be closer to 75 percent expended. The Water Department is at 76 percent expended, which he termed a little high, but noted that department had just made a bond payment.

On the revenue side the Town is about 2 percent above the previous year, with motor vehicle permits the biggest driver. The Town budgeted for $1.6 million and has collected 97 percent of that already, at $1,558,965. The Town will receive a Meals and Restaurant Tax of $530,338.

Wheeler said the Town budgeted $25,000 for building permits and has collected $54,000 thus far. This amount is a function of having raised the building permit fees as well as a fair amount of growth in new single-family homes and housing rehabilitations.

Wheeler also noted that interest on investments was budgeted at $9,000 and has come in at over $27,000.

"So with respect to revenue, overall we 're not in a bad place," he said.

• During Public Comment, a Sunhill Road resident said the neighborhood is dealing with rats. She said rats have been seen running down the road and is concerned about this for both safety and health issues, as there are a lot of children in the neighborhood. She also said residents are keeping chickens and livestock despite an ordinance to the contrary, and asked that the relevant ordinance be published in the Town’s new monthly newsletter.

Raymond residents are allowed to keep chickens if their property is a minimum of 2 acres. Sunhill Road is served by town water and has ½ -acre zoning.

Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood said the information and concern had been heard and while the board would not respond, as it hears but does not respond to public comment, the matter would be investigated.

• Continuing the presentation of department budgets proposed for 2018, the board heard the Dudley-Tucker Library budget, presented at $243,623; the Fire Department budget at $481,866; and, the Emergency Management budget, at $6,325, and forwarded them to the Budget Committee.

The library budget approved last year was $245,118 but the current default budget is $231,631. The library has six employees, only two of them full time. Library Director Kirsten Corbett said the budget is flat except for personnel costs.

The fire budget approved last year was $509,881 but the default budget is $483,322. The Emergency Management budget was $6,325, with the default budget at $6,482, the latter reflecting increased gas and repairs to the command vehicle.

Hammond said a few changes have been made since last year, “and we are going in a different direction. Salaries have been reduced by having call firemen work five eight-hour days, and by using per diem for the second firefighter position.

“The firefighters have started, and the maintenance guy is finishing, improvements over the door facing Manchester Road – putting up protectors,” Hammond said. “We had $500 for that, and it is coming in under budget at $300.

“Throughout the rest of the budget there are some slight decreases, such as office supplies down $25, but the dues and membership line is up $2,400,” he explained. “Also, fire protection gear is up, as we are replacing those that are at life-end, and the cost of coat and trousers is $1,700.”

• The board appointed Wood and Jack Barnes as the selectmen who will work with two School Board members on a survey of residents to obtain their views on converting Lamprey River Elementary School into a police station with town offices and community area, and building a new elementary school on the Raymond High School campus.

• Barnes stepped off the board temporarily to register a concern as a citizen. He said he was upset and angry at being called corrupt and having the Town Manager called corrupt in a public meeting, and he asked that people take care with the words they use. He said the members of the board are not corrupt but are hard working, and if anyone thinks someone is corrupt, he or she should go to the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office with their information. He added that free speech is a good thing but he is offended at being branded as corrupt.

• The board heard from two of the social service agencies it funds each year.

Speaking for the Child Advocacy Center were Maureen Sullivan and Raymond Police Chief David Salois. Salois noted the importance of this agency to the Town and its children, and Sullivan said 15 Raymond children had received its services, a larger number than from other towns.

The agency originally asked for $3,000 but was awarded $1,000, which was increased to $1,250 last year. For 2018 the agency is asking for $2,000, which works out to $135 per child helped during the year. The board voted 3-0-2 to approve the $2,000 request, with two abstentions, Wayne Welch and Barnes. Barnes said he would abstain from every social service agency request until the selectmen had heard all the agency presentations.

Meals on Wheels - Rockingham Nutrition was represented by Helen Kostrzynski, but after she explained what the organization does - provide meals to and welfare checks on patrons - the board did not ask how much she was seeking nor did it vote, as board members will vote on all agency requests at one time.

• The board approved a change of hours notice for the Town Clerk/Tax Collector's Office. The notice will also state that credit and debit cards will be accepted by that office, with the notice put into the tax bills when they are sent out.


School Board, Selectmen to Work Together on Survey for Elementary School Conversion
By Penny Williams  10-19-17

Raymond Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood told a joint meeting of the selectmen and the Raymond School Board that the Town is not planning any bond articles in 2018. School Board Chairman John Harmon said his board has not discussed any bond articles.

At the Oct. 16 joint meeting, Wood said the selectmen are looking at a warrant article for a plow truck. Town Manager Craig Wheeler said he expects to receive the Town tax rate from the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) Oct. 23.

Harmon said the school board is looking at warrant articles for the teachers union contract, as well as the operating budget and the CIP (Capital Improvement Program), and if there is a surplus, will consider an article to put $50,000 in the Unreserved Fund Balance.

Wood asked if there had been any decision regarding installing a larger oil tank at Lamprey River Elementary School, and Harmon said no such discussion has occurred. School Board member Joe Saulnier added that he had done some research and found that a tank, not necessarily one the School District would use, would cost at least $27,000; with installation, it would cost about $35,000. At that price it would take 10 years to get a return on investment, and Harmon said there was no way to calculate what the savings might be.

Harmon asked that Wood review the proposed 5-Year Plan that came out of the Joint Resource Committee. Starting with 2018, the plan calls for considering the conversion of the elementary school into a police station, along with estimating the cost of a new elementary school to be built on the Raymond High School campus.

Harmon said he thinks that considering a new school is putting the cart before the horse. He said the two boards need to know whether the townspeople are interested in building a new school and converting the current elementary school into a police station and community center, and added that to avoid upfront costs, it would be prudent to use a design-build route. But he emphasized that he wanted to wait to hear from Raymond citizens.

Selectman George Plante said he thinks people will want to have a figure to go with the proposal before they make a decision, but Harmon said a survey of what Raymond residents want is needed before any decisions are made regarding a new school

Selectman Jack Barnes said that while a survey needs to be discussed, the question is how to put it together, how much it would cost and who would conduct it. He said it doesn't appear to him there is time to do a survey for an article to be on this year's warrant.

Harmon said he thought the Joint Resource Committee had planned to do a survey and could not understand why it had not been done. Saulnier responded that it had been discussed by the Resource Committee but School Board and Resource member Jaclyn Sirrine said there is much more to consider in thinking about a new school, such as the site and the building itself. She said such a project would involve a huge cost and she wondered whether the people of Raymond even want to convert the school into a community building.

Wood corrected that by saying it would be a police station, not a community building, although it would have offices for some Town departments as well as a community center component.

Police Chief David Salois noted the preparation for the new free-standing police station proposed last year and defeated at the polls cost about $24,000, which was covered by CIP funds.

After more conversation, it was decided that the two boards should put together a survey. Harmon said he preferred to use a professional survey organization such as University of New Hampshire Extension, and said the survey should find out what residents think about a new school or whether they prefer updating the present school. He said the boards need to know the preference of the taxpayer.

Wood agreed that using a professional company to create the survey was wise, so as to frame the questions in an unbiased fashion. Barnes said he found it interesting that what a survey done in 2003 revealed was just about the same as the recent survey the Resource Committee conducted at the Town Fair. In 14 years, nothing much has changed, he noted.

The boards discussed the timeframe and acknowledged that it is too late for a survey to provide information in time for any bond decisions for this year's warrant. However, information available by mid-February could be used at the Deliberative sessions to answer questions.

Wood suggested that two members of the School Board and two members of the selectmen be appointed to handle the survey. The School Board said it would appoint its two members at its Oct. 18 meeting, and Wood said the selectmen would appoint their two members at their meeting later that evening.

Wood asked if there were any interest in seeking a 2.5 percent cap of the Town's assessed value for budgets going forward. This idea was discussed but the School Board said they already did that, as their budget had only increased 1.6 percent last year. The group agreed that one of the survey questions will be whether the townspeople approve of a 2.5 percent of assessed value tax cap.

Returning to the 5-Year Plan, Wood explained that it proposes that in 2019 the Town would look at boosting its CIP contribution and would consider a truck-washing bay for Public Works. It was suggested that as none of the surrounding towns except Candia have such a bay, this could be floated as a regional issue. In addition, 2019 would be the year to look at a new school.

In 2020, the School District would look at bonding the conversion of the elementary school to a police station, Town offices and community center, with its replacement slated for the Raymond High campus. The year 2021 would see the completion of the police station, with town offices moved to the old school building.

Wood also noted the Town does not itself have a cohesive five-year plan. He said departments may have long-range plans but they don't form a cohesive Town plan, and one is needed.

Raymond to Update Time Card, Payroll Documents and Policies
By Penny Williams  10-4-17

Town Manager Craig Wheeler told the Board of Selectmen at their Oct. 2 meeting that RSA 91A Right to Know information requests from resident Dana Hanson had exposed problems with how some things were being handled by the Town, and added that he had reached that conclusion on several issues prior to responding to Hanson's requests.

Gathering the information on employee salaries for Hanson's 91A request was time consuming, he said, and involved going through each Town employee's weekly payroll information and making sure to redact any HIPAA (U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)-related or personal information. As he went through this process he said he became aware of issues that should be addressed, he said.

Among these issues are the lack of consistency in forms from one department to the next, and no consistency of time cards, with all of them done by hand, resulting in some being illegible. It became clear, Wheeler said, that the Town, which has been using the same time sheets and payroll documents for about 20 years, needs to make improvements.

Wheeler emphasized that he thinks the Town needs a more efficient and accurate way of handling time sheets and payroll information and said he is researching the development of consistent electronic time sheets. Department heads would still be responsible for accuracy and the final execution of the documents, he added.

The second step, he said, would be obtaining software that would allow integration of electronic payroll and time sheets with the financial model the town has in place. However, he said, this raised the question of whether it would be better and less expensive to outsource the payroll system, and this is being studied as well.

In addition, he said consideration is being given to moving payroll to a bi-weekly model instead of the current weekly system.

Wheeler said decisions will be forthcoming in three to four months, and noted a search for a new financial officer is still under way.

Wheeler said the rest of Hanson's concerns have been forwarded to Town attorney Laura Spector-Morgan for her review and recommendation. She will be looking at the Town’s personnel policy and making recommendations for any changes she deems necessary. Chairman Jonathan Wood read a letter into the record from Spector-Morgan that said she was reviewing time sheets, compensation and the personnel policy and will contact the board with her findings and recommendations.

The  board then turned to proposed 2018 department budgets, all of which were approved and forwarded to the Budget Committee. They are as follows:

• Town Clerk/Tax Collector - up $13,000 due to a 2.25 percent raise for employees. The default budget amount was $172,072 and the proposed budget is $188,205.

• Elections - up $17,000 due to holding four elections next year instead of two. The default budget amount was $10,773 and the proposed budget is $27,916. A discussion ensued about having a third ballot machine so there would be a back-up.

• Conservation Commission - unchanged at $1,250.

• Regional Association - an increase from the default budget amount of $17, 810 to the proposed budget of $18,141. Resident Carol Watjus asked the board to provide her with a list of the services the Town gets for the money.

• Ambulance - remains the same contractual amount of $39,300.

• Ethics - remains unchanged at $300.

• Budget Committee - remains unchanged at $200.

• Recreation - up $10,000 due to the 2.25 percent salary increases. The default budget was $278,626 and the proposed budget is $289,250. Watjus asked why Recreation is not self-funding, saying that when it was established the warrant article called for it to be self-funding.

The board members asked her to provide the warrant article calling for Recreation to be self-funding.

In other business:

• The board discussed the need for a restroom facility at Eco Park at Lamprey River Elementary School. Resident Kevin Woods suggested a portable toilet be placed there for the months the park and trail are used, May through October. While the Conservation Commission wants to look into a composting toilet, Woods said its maintenance would be much more expensive than a portable toilet and would have to be maintained by the Town.

Woods suggested in his letter that the Town, the Conservation Commission and the Raymond School District could share the cost of the toilet, which for the months it was needed would cost $1,670 or $557 each.

The board decided not to take any action until the Conservation Commission had done its research on the composting toilet and submitted it to the board.

• Resident Carolyn Matthews announced that Saturday, Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to noon is the date for a riverbank clean-up sponsored by the Lamprey River Watershed Association, and she encouraged everyone to help. Matthews is a board member of the association.

Participants will meet to get instructions at the former Pines Restaurant on Route 27 at the Langford Road intersection. Middle and high school students needing community service certificates could earn them by participating. She said people could call her for information at 244-2017. She noted this will be a riverbank clean-up only and no household trash will be allowed.

• Brown suggested that the cost of grading private roads – Robinson Hill and Jama Roads, both of which access Town forests, as mentioned at a previous meeting - come out of the Conservation Commission, not the general fund.

• The board approved accepting a $47 donation from Hannaford from the sale of reusable bags to be put into the RCTV (Raymond Community Television) account.

• A Household Hazardous Waste Collection is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 on Industrial Drive. No latex paint or motor oil can be accepted. Other household chemicals, pool chemicals, pesticides, automotive fluids, oil-based paints, stains and drain cleaners will be accepted, although each vehicle will be limited to 5 gallons or 5 pounds of materials.

Raymond Selectmen Continue Review of Proposed Town Budget
By Penny Williams   9-27-17

Town Manager Craig Wheeler continued his review of the proposed 2018 budget at the Raymond Board of Selectmen meeting Sept. 25.

He discussed a proposed warrant article involving the veterans’ tax credit, which will go on the ballot both as a Town article and a separate citizen’s petition article from George Cantrell. Wheeler said Senate Bill 80, governing this tax credit, phases it in over three years, and added that the Town article is taken directly from statute and leaves the amount blank.

He then detailed last year's tax rate, demonstrating that the Town portion accounts for 27 percent of the tax rate, the School District 60 percent, the county 4 percent, and the State Education portion 9 percent. The cost of labor to operate the Town, he said, includes salaries and benefit packages and represents 71 percent of the 27 percent of the tax rate.

Last year's budget set by the Budget Committee was $7,637,732, while the Default Budget currently in effect is $7,468,819, he noted.

The Town Manager's preliminary draft 2018 budget figure is $7,889,576, which is a 5.6 percent increase over the 2017 Default Budget and a 3.37 percent increase over the budget approved by the Budget Committee.

He pointed out the increases in the proposed budget come primarily from items the Town cannot control, such as the New Hampshire Retirement System, which is increasing  ($62,000), insurance costs that will increase by approximately $97,000 and 2.5 percent employee salary increases the selectmen approved.

Wheeler said he now plans to start working with department heads on their line items.

The board also heard from Attorney Laura Spector-Morgan regarding the Town’s spending money on private roads. She explained that in the case of two private roads that lead to Conservation Town Forests – Robinson Hill Road and Jama Road, the Town has an option. She said the Town has been grading once a year both Robinson Hill and Jama roads, each providing access to Raymond Town Forest land, but this isn't allowed by the state unless the roads in question can be designated as emergency lanes.

Spector-Morgan said the Town has to notify all abutters on the private roadways 10 days in advance of a public hearing, where the Town, with written evidence, will seek approval to keep the road passable for emergency vehicles, supported by identification of a public welfare or safety interest other than one benefiting residents of the road. In the case of both of these roadways, the benefit would be access to the Conservation Town Forest land.

She said that if anyone votes no, the Town can't designate the roadway an emergency lane.

The board noted that only five or six families live on these two roadways, and voted to proceed with a hearing on Oct. 30. Public Works Director Steve Brewer said the Town has been grading the roads once annually in the fall, and if the roads are dedicated emergency lanes, he will be able to continue doing that.

Resident Gary Brown asked why the Town would even consider doing this, as he claimed it essentially means the Town would then own the road and be responsible for it. He was told, however, that it does not mean the Town would own the roadways - they would simply be designated as emergency lanes and the Town would decide how much or how little it would work on the roads. Spector-Morgan said the Town, by designating the roadways as emergency lanes, could spend money on them but would have no obligation to take care of them.

The selectmen noted that they favored doing nothing more than annual grading. Brown continued to question this, however, and Selectman Jack Barnes advised him that his comments should come at the public hearing.

Another resident asked if the Town would plow the roads and the board said it would not - that is currently done by those living on the roadways and the Town would be contributing only the grading of the roads once a year.

In other business:

• Brewer said work on the new Well #4 on Raymond High School property is on schedule and the detour for pipe installation on Harriman Hill Road went into effect earlier that day between noon and 4 p.m., with a police detail present to assist motorists. He indicated this work would be done within two weeks, with the project expected to be finished by January.

Spector-Morgan explained there is a snag with the 400-foot protective well easement, a portion of which goes over property owned by the Titus family. The family is concerned about the lot line for their property shown on the survey done by the engineers for the easement.

Gary Titus, speaking for the family, said they don't have an issue with granting the easement for the proposed price but want the survey done by the engineers to be destroyed and the lot line on the new survey removed because they disagree with where it is on the map, saying only the 400-foot protective well easement should be shown on the engineer's map. The board recessed to meet with Spector-Morgan regarding this and resumed shortly thereafter without further comment.

• Brewer reported the results of a traffic count on the two options for roads to be shimmed and overlaid with additional Highway Block Grant money, and chose to do the work on Batchelder Road. He said pursuing the Ham Road option would add a detour to a detour already in place on Harriman Hill Road, even though it would likely only be for a single day. The contractor plans to do roadwork Oct. 2-5. The board approved doing the shim and overlay on Batchelder Road.

• Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood said the Town has an issue with excess accumulated vacation time by its employees, and added that overtime is not supposed to be used except by Public Works employees. Compensatory time is available but he suggested considering a policy for vacation time that would be offered on an annual use it-or-lose-it basis.

• Wheeler said he is working with the Town attorney regarding resident concerns about a Town employee. He said he expected to have a response by the next meeting.

• Wood said the board is considering splitting the Town Clerk and Town Tax Collector positions. He said the responsibilities of an appointed position for Tax Collector should be under the Finance Director. The board plans to work on a warrant article to address this.

• Brewer reported the items up for auction earned good results: a 2004 truck went for $3,061 and a 2006 truck went for $3,600, with bids pending on a leaf vacuum and a snow blower. He said the police cruiser had a bid but the credit card given wouldn't work so that will be put up for auction again.

• Wood said the Resource Committee had provided a Five-Year Plan document (see Raymond Resource Committee Considers Proposed Five-Year Plan) and he asked if the board members had any comment. Suggestions included in the plan call for Town officials to estimate the cost to convert Lamprey River Elementary School into a police station, as well as for School District officials to estimate the cost to build a new elementary school on the Raymond High School campus. In 2018, the plan proposes a non-binding Town warrant to limit total spending to 2.5 percent or less of assessed value, along with boosting CIP (Capital Improvement Program) funding, increasing road funding, buying a new plow truck, and budgeting rental of a portable office and evidence storage container for police, to alleviate crowding and safety issues. The plan proposes a School District non-binding warrant article in 2018 limiting spending, improving its CIP contribution, buying a 10,000-gallon oil tank for the elementary school, and requesting funds for a space needs and cost analysis for a new elementary school.

The plan proposes a bond to build a new elementary school to replace Lamprey River in 2019, and a bond to convert the elementary school to a police station on the 2020 warrant.

Only Selectman George Plante had a comment, saying he couldn't vote for any new plow trucks until there is a facility to take care of the trucks.

• Ethics Committee chair Pam Turcotte reviewed the Town Ethics Code for the board.

• The selectmen plan a joint meeting with the School Board on Oct. 16.

Raymond Selectmen Get First Look at 2018 Budget
By Penny Williams   9-14-17

Town Manager Craig Wheeler presented the Raymond Board of Selectmen with its first look at the Town's preliminary operating budget for 2018 at the Board’s Sept. 11 meeting. He also reviewed the warrant as it stands today – and it already has 20 articles.

In his presentation, he showed what was proposed for 2016 by line item; what the Budget Committee had approved; what the default budget, now in place, provides; and a preliminary figure for 2018.

The default budget was $8.3 million. Wheeler told the board he is looking at a budget of $8.6 million for 2018.

There was no discussion of the various line items or the budget bottom line, as Wheeler said that would occur at the next Selectmen's meeting. He explained that what he was presenting was a general outline of the operating budget, and noted that copies of it are available at Town Hall.

The board asked if he would be able to meet its request to hold the bottom line to a 1 percent increase over the current default budget; his response was that he would have an amount to give the board at the next meeting.

Board Chair Jonathan Wood reminded Wheeler that the cost of paying for the high school's water must be added to the budget, as this was the agreement reached on the easement negotiation concerning the Town’s Well #4, which is in construction on Raymond School District property at the high school. Wood said the agreement calls for the taxpayers to cover the cost of providing the water to the school.

The warrant articles already known are: four zoning articles, the operating budget, the default budget, collective bargaining with the Teamsters, calling a special Town Meeting if Teamsters negotiation is voted down, scholarships, social service agency funding, mosquito spraying at a cost of $40,000, capital improvement funds, capital reserve fund for water revenue, road reconstruction, shim and overlay, vacation and sick leave for non-union employees ($20,000), vacation and sick leave for union employees ($20,000), veterans credit, and a place holder for a citizen petition.

He noted the order and numbering of the warrant articles may change. The first article would be election of officials.

In other business:

• The board held a public hearing for the purpose of accepting and expending the $208,978.60 provided by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation in Senate Bill 38, Local Highway Aid. These additional Highway funds must be used for roadwork but it is a non-lapsing fund.

Public Works Director Steve Brewer asked the board to accept the money, and the board was informed the funds can be used for paving, drainage, equipment, and signage related to improving Raymond roadways. Brewer asked that the money be approved for use in paving roads and putting in two culverts at the lower end of Harriman Hill Road.

Pike Construction will be coming in to Raymond in October to work on the roads already identified - a top coat on Old Bye Road and Richard Court, and reconstruction of Industrial Drive and part of Green Road. Brewer said he thought he would have about $50,000 left from the amount budgeted at the end of this work, and proposed two options for work he would like to do using the additional money and whatever he had left from the already approved project.

Those options are: a two-mile stretch from the Epping town line, all of Ham Road up to Harriman Hill Road at Prevere Road, and a two-mile stretch from the end of Batchelder Road where it meets Old Fremont Road up to Fordway Road off Lane Road.

He said he proposed shim and overlay for whichever stretch the board chooses and noted he also would be able to do the two culverts at the lower end of Harriman Hill Road. He said either two-mile stretch would work.

The board decided not to make a decision until the Chief of Police was able to get hard data on vehicle use on the roads. The board said that using the traffic count data would be necessary in order for them to make the best decision on the two options.

• The board heard from their Melanson Heath auditor, Pat Mohan, CPA (certified public accountant), who said the Town’s financial statements were given a positive "clean opinion." He noted the unrestricted liability this year is $113,380, whereas last year it was at a deficit. The Town's Unassigned Balance is $2,285,999, which is 30 percent of overall expenditures and is trending in the right direction, he told the board. The actual revenue exceeded the budgeted amount, and $160,256 was turned back to the Town.

Compared to where the Town was three years ago, he said all the numbers are trending in the right direction.

He made suggestions and observations in the Audit Management Letter about practices where the Town could improve its processes and procedures. Several had been made the year before and he said a couple more were added this year, among them the status of the finance office, as the Town currently does not have a finance director. Overall, he indicated the audit went well and was satisfactory.

• Kevin Woods, Raymond Cable Television (RCTV) coordinator and member of the RCTV board, told the selectmen what RCTV is trying to do to improve communications and get information to the public. He said social media plays an important role but emails are an important tool as well, as is the town's Web Page at www.raymondnh.gov. He said Raymond’s Twitter account has about 256 followers.

He asked the boards and committees to submit their agendas to him at least 48 hours in advance, although he prefers three days of advance notice, and noted that PowerPoint presentations and charts could be posted before meetings where they will be discussed, making it easier for people watching the meeting to understand what speakers are talking about.

Wheeler added that the School Board plans to publish a newsletter as well, and both the Town and School newsletter could have a link to each other.

• During Public Comment, residents Dana Hanson and Gary Brown presented what they alleged were salary and payroll inaccuracies regarding a specific employee, information they obtained through Right to Know request responses supplied by the Town Manager. They asked when these issues would be corrected. The board gave no response, as its custom is not to respond to public comment.

Later in the meeting, Selectman Jack Barnes asked the auditor if he had run into any of the items mentioned and Mohan said he had not, and noted that in his review he saw nothing out of order in payroll and salaries.

• The selectmen approved the appointment of Carol Watjus to the CIP (Capital Improvement Program) Committee, but as she was to be sworn in, she inquired why she had to be sworn in to an advisory committee when she had not been sworn into the Resource Committee.

As a result, she was not sworn in.
The swearing in document states the appointee swears to “faithfully discharge and perform all the duties incumbent on me according to the best of my abilities, agreeably to the rules and regulations of the constitution and laws of the State of New Hampshire, so help me God.”

• The board received a Social Services Information Packet. Because of an increase of $5,172 from the service agencies, the board decided to have the agencies that had increased the amount requested come in person to meet with the board. They are: Child Advocacy Center of Rockingham County, Child and Family Services, Richie McFarland Child Center, Rockingham County Nutrition Service, and, Seacoast Mental Health.

Town-Wide Survey for Facility Bonds to be Pursued
By Penny Williams

State Rep. Carolyn Matthews, R-Raymond wrote to the Board of Selectmen regarding the Joint Resource Committee’s recent recommendations to the School Board and selectmen concerning bond requests. In her letter, read at the Aug. 28 Board of Selectmen meeting, she recommended the board not put a bond request on the 2018 Warrant and said she has heard many people say both the selectmen and School Board did not fully explore all options before placing bonds for a new police station and an expansion at the elementary school on the 2017 warrant.

Both bond requests were defeated last March.

Matthews said building flexibility should be explored and recommended a town-wide survey be conducted by professionals. She suggested seeking the help of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and recommended doing nothing before obtaining the results of a town-wide survey.

Selectman Jack Barnes agreed and said the Joint Resource Committee should create a town-wide survey with professional help. He made a motion to charge the Joint Resource Committee with creating a town-wide survey professionally and determining its cost. The board approved the motion.

Also at the Aug. 28 meeting, the Town’s attorney paid a visit to explain action regarding unpaid taxes at Leisure Village Mobile Home Park.

Attorney Laura Spector Morgan discussed the unpaid taxes from empty mobile homes at Leisure Village, and affirmed the Board of Selectmen’s actions.

 The park is owned by Emile Bussiere Jr., and mobile home residents rent from him the property on which their dwelling sits.

Morgan explained the Town can place a tax lien on a property if taxes aren't paid by Dec. 1, and if after two years it remains unpaid, a tax deed can be implemented. Once the Town takes possession of a property by tax deed, it can sell or keep the property and evict those living there.

Concerning the empty mobile homes at Bussiere's park that have unpaid taxes and unpaid rent on the property, the attorney said the Town’s decision to provide demolition permits to Bussiere was the correct approach. The Board of Selectmen approved providing the demolition permits and Morgan recommended abating the taxes to clean up the books.

These taxes, amounting to approximately $60,000, would never be collected and otherwise would remain on the books, constituting a significant percentage of the 3 percent of uncollected taxes during the first half of town tax collection, according to Tax Collector Sharon Walls.

Board Chairman Jonathan Wood said the board plans to monitor park tax issues by speaking with park owners, but legally the Town cannot do anything to get information from owners on residents who have not paid their land rent.

Resident Wayne Watjus recommended the town not abate the taxes until a new mobile home has been put on a site and is producing revenue. The board did not take action on his request.

In other business:

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer explained his interest in seeking a Water Storage Evaluation Study at a cost of $11,500. After a discussion on the merits of the study, Selectman Wayne Welch said the information that would be provided was already in the Town’s possession.

Brewer said he thinks the study would provide the Town with information on the best way to go forward with the two water storage towers, as well as what the Town should do when it decommissions the Orchard Street water storage tower. The question of whether the Route 156 tower should be repaired or a new one constructed with at least the capacity of the two towers would also be addressed.

Welch proposed holding off on the study until Well #4, under construction at the high school, comes on line. A motion was made to table the study and the vote was 4-1, with Greg Bemis voting no.

• Brewer said a Parks and Recreation mower needs to be replaced. It has 14,079 hours on it and continues to have problems that require servicing. The low bid for replacement is $15,774 from Perkins Power Equipment in Exeter.

Barnes questioned how much more use the present mower would get this year and was told there are still at least two months of use remaining. A motion was made to use Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) money to fund the mower. The vote was 3-2, with Barnes and Welch voting no.

• The Onway Lake Road bridge is now open and clean-up work was to be completed in the coming days.

• Brewer said that with a pavement deterioration index of 66 percent, 22 percent of town roads are below 55 percent and 70 roads are above 66 percent. Discussion ensued about which roads to work on next. Representatives of Pike Industries will meet with Brewer to prioritize the roads, and will do the grinding.

Brewer said the board needs to prioritize which roads should be addressed. He suggested that the criteria for prioritizing blend the following: high use roads, roads that impact the image of Raymond, roads that serve the most homes, roads that serve businesses and schools, roads that serve as detours, roads adjacent to each other in order to maximize efficiency and "my" roads (squeaky wheel).

Wood asked that Brewer, Town Manager Craig Wheeler and Chief of Police David Salois meet to develop traffic data. Wheeler said there will be a public hearing Sept. 11 to accept additional Highway Block Grant money from the state. At that time, the board, with the use data in hand, can discuss prioritizing roads to be worked on with the nearly $700,000 that will be available.

• Raymond Voter Information Project (VIP) board president Susan Hilchey discussed the VIP’s voter guide, and asked that VIP volunteers be allowed to contact board and committee members and department heads directly for questions about warrant articles. Wheeler suggested a night when everyone would gather for that purpose, but Hilchey explained why that would not be practical in terms of deadlines for putting together the guide.

Wood said the boards, committees and department heads would do everything they could to be available to answer questions, and Barnes said the guide is very valuable to residents. Hilchey said if the Town had to pay for this compilation of information, it would cost around $10,000.

• Wheeler said the plan is to bring forward the preliminary budget for 2018 and all the warrant articles known so far at the Sept. 11 selectmen’s meeting.

Geology Leads to Cost Overrun for Onway Lake Bridge Project
By Penny Williams 8-23-17

Craig Musselman, president of the design engineering firm CMA, provided the Board of Selectmen at its Monday, Aug. 21 meeting with a review of the Onway Lake bridge repair, a project that is set to be concluded this month.

He explained that the project delays were the result of an unexpected geologic condition, which, after several attempts and redesigns, was overcome - but not before incurring long delays and cost overruns. It was finally determined that what was ultimately done would have been required regardless. The road was closed at the bridge in early October 2016.

As of Friday, Aug. 25, the Onway Lake Road bridge should be open to traffic, just in time for school buses.

Musselman and Raymond Public Works Director Steve Brewer told the board the bid for the project construction was $395,000 and the final cost was $668,000, due to change orders in design that amounted to $273,000. There is money available from the warrant article for the project, and Brewer said in addition, approximately $100,000 will have to be withdrawn from the 2017 Road Reconstruction budget to cover the remainder. He said the town initially had $300,000 for the Road Reconstruction Fund from a warrant article and then received an unexpected additional amount from the State of $244,000, giving the fund $544,000.

Asked if that deduction will reduce other planned road reconstruction work, Brewer said it would not. He said he expects to cover both areas with the funds he has.

While on the subject of roads, Brewer answered a question from resident Doug Vogel concerning the treatment to the shoulders of Green Road. Vogel said nothing was happening to address the disintegrating asphalt of the road itself. Brewer said, however, that the Green Road reconstruction will take place, but as always, the shoulders, ditches and culverts are dealt with and upgraded prior to starting actual road reconstruction.

In other business at the Aug. 21 meeting:

• Brewer reviewed the Well # 4 easement agreement between the Town and the School Administrative Unit (SAU). The project, as previously reported, will start with a temporary easement, allowing for construction. When the construction is completed, a permanent easement will be implemented. At that time $110,000 will be paid to the SAU by the Town, which, Brewer said, would be to cover the SAU's cost for hooking up the new water line from Well #4 to the Raymond High School plumbing system. Where that money would come from or how it would be assessed has not been determined yet, he said.

The easement covers the water well, line, pump and pump station as well as the line extending out to Harriman Hill Road. The permanent easement contains specific restrictions, such as a 400-foot protection radius, prohibition of anything that would be a detriment to the water supply, restoration of land disturbed during construction, free water to Raymond schools, schools to implement water conservation, prohibition of the sale of water to anyone or any company outside of Raymond, and discontinuance of the easement if the well becomes unusable. The well is at Raymond High School’s site.

Brewer noted the Town has a $2.3 million loan for the project and should there be any money left, it could be applied to the easement agreement payment.

Vogel and another resident both objected to providing the schools with free water, saying this would not encourage conservation of water in the schools. It was determined that currently the schools combined pay about $1,500 annually for water. Brewer said it has yet to be determined where the money for the free water to the schools will be assessed, but it would either be from water users or taxpayers. Both the speakers favored spreading the cost to all taxpayers.

• Town Manager Craig Wheeler announced that the newly appointed Finance Director, Annmarie Gilligan, resigned Aug. 7. He said that the town was managing with the help of former auditor Eric Demas, who works for the Town on Fridays and sometimes Saturdays and is acting as interim finance director until a permanent one is appointed. Wheeler said he doesn't expect to hire a new director until after October, and noted that before seeking someone for that post, the salary offered will have to be increased and additional help for that department, whether part time or full time, must be added.

• Resident Sally Paradis discussed the Scenic Roadway logo sketch for Long Hill Road. Wheeler said he had contacted Bryan Belanger at Lamprey River Elementary School and asked that the fourth grade be involved in a competition for a sign that would be erected for the roadway. The students, as part of their studies on local history, will walk the road and learn its history, and those interested may submit sketches. Paradis will coordinate with the school and provide the road's history. She said the focus of the logo should be on trees, stonewalls and preservation of the character of the road.

Wheeler said the contest would be posted on the Town Web site at raymondnh.gov and information would be in the upcoming newsletter, with submissions due to the Public Works Department by Oct. 15. The winning selection will be determined before Thanksgiving. Board Chair Jonathan Wood suggested Long Hill Road residents could be involved in the project, perhaps as judges.

• During Public Comment, resident George Cottrell brought up the veterans discount bill. Raymond did not sign onto that bill during the last Town Meeting because it was presented too late to allow an official warrant article to be prepared. Cottrell said he plans to present a warrant article this year, although as previously reported at the June 10 Board of Selectmen meeting, the Board has told him they plan to do so.

The bill would authorize Raymond to adopt what in 2016 was House Bill 430 (Chapter 217, Laws of 2016), adopting RSA 72:28-b, allowing municipalities by local option to extend the current Veterans’ Property Tax credit to all honorably discharged veterans, regardless of dates of service in relation to declared war-time periods. This bill amends RSA 72.

• The Town’s telephone system was discussed and Wheeler was asked why a live person does not respond to calls. He said there isn't enough time and personnel to do this but he would look into it. Board members suggested he call his office and see what he hears.

• New Life Assembly Church pastor Ken Bosse was appointed Police Department Chaplain.

• Bosse spoke about the Sept. 2 Day of Hope at the church, where those in need in the six towns that are members of the local Rotary Club are invited to receive an array of resources and services designed to help them.

• Luke Vadeboncoeur of Boy Scout Troop 101 asked the Board for approval to build a dog agility course at Riverside Park in the designated dog park area. The board approved his plan, and he said he will start work in September. He is holding a baked goods sale at Ben Franklin on Sunday, Aug. 27, with others planned, and said donations and volunteers to help with the construction are welcome. The project should cost around $900.

• Christina Vogel introduced Miss Raymond 2017, Sheridan DiLeo; Junior Miss Raymond 2017, Aurora Paci-Burghardt; and Little Miss Raymond 2017, Billie Reynolds, and described the events they will participate in throughout the year. She said donations for the scholarships that the Miss Raymond pageants sponsor are always welcome.

At Joint BOS, School Board Meeting, School Board Seeks Building Recommendation From Shared Resources Committee
By Penny Williams    7-26-17

At the July 25 combined meeting of the Raymond Board of Selectmen and Raymond School Board, it became clear that the direction, conduct and purpose for which the Shared Resources Committee was formed wasn't viewed in the same way by all parties involved.

What came out of that meeting was equally clear - the School Board wants a definite recommendation from the Shared Resources Committee on how it should proceed regarding a possible warrant article for the Lamprey River Elementary School addition that was defeated at the March Town Meeting.

School Board Chair John Harmon was firm about his position - he doesn't think the proposed school building construction project and the proposed police station warrant articles – the latter also defeated at Town Meeting - should appear together on the 2018 warrant. He said the boards need to learn from history that bond articles such as those will not pass if they are presented on the same warrant.

He also expressed concerns that the Shared Resources Committee had not been properly charged with coming up with a recommendation regarding how the two boards should proceed with the two proposed projects, and said the two boards are to blame for that, not the committee. But because of the lack of clarity as to what the two boards were looking for from the committee, he said it was important to make clear that a recommendation on how the two boards should proceed with the projects is expected.

There was additional discussion that the Shared Resources Committee had been directed to seek ways for the two boards to work together to produce savings for the taxpayers, but not necessarily to make a recommendation as to how the two boards should proceed.

Details about the forming of the committee can be found at “Raymond Selectmen, School Board to Work Together on Prioritizing Town Needs ” from the April 3rd meeting.

Selectman Jack Barnes, a member of the committee, pointed out that a previous committee had explored all possible ways the two boards could work together to produce savings beyond those already in place, and found there were no other areas of cooperative effort open to the boards.

Harmon expressed concern that meetings and members of the committee weren't following policies and procedures laid out in state statutes (RSAs), but his main concern was that time is an issue - the School Board wants input from the committee on how to proceed with the school construction project in enough time to be able to do all that is necessary to prepare a warrant article if desired.

School Board member Jaclyn Sirrine made the point that if the direction expected of the committee includes not just ways in which the two boards can save money by cooperative effort but a recommendation on how the boards should proceed with their individual construction projects, perhaps a sub-committee should be added. She noted that coming up with a recommendation on how the boards should proceed with their proposed construction projects would require a great deal of research, effort and time.

Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood, who serves on the committee, said he thinks the committee has been successful in getting the community involved and finding out its priorities. He said the survey conducted by the committee at the Raymond Town Fair in early July showed that residents think the proposed projects are important priorities and that they favored bonding for them. He noted that the committee had pointed out that communication was a big issue in the community and the Board of Selectmen had moved quickly to address that concern with a monthly newsletter.

Selectman Wayne Welch suggested the committee wasn't producing anything and should be shut down. Barnes disagreed, saying it was good for the community; he added that the boards need the input the committee is getting from residents.

Harmon re-emphasized that an agreement between the two boards should be arrived at as to how to go forward with the best chance of success for what is best for Raymond.

Harmon said he wanted to hear what the committee would recommend, and Wood said he would bring the concept of a recommendation to the Aug. 10 meeting.

Sirrine again noted that she does not think the committee can do both - come up a recommendation for how the boards should proceed with their proposed construction projects, and continue to try and find ways for the two boards to work together to produce savings for the taxpayers.

Selectman George Plante said he thought the charge was for the committee to find ways in which the two boards could save money by cooperating, and he would like to see the committee stick to doing that. Selectman Greg Bemis suggested the committee needs to find out about each of the proposed construction projects, and to have a clear direction to concentrate on so as to be able to make a recommendation.

Harmon again emphasized time as a factor and said he is expecting a recommendation on how the boards should proceed with their proposed projects. After discussing numerous dates, the School Board and the Board of Selectmen agreed upon Aug. 23 as a date for the committee to make its recommendation. Committee co-facilitator Doug Vogel, who did not attend the July 25 meeting of the two boards, will be contacted to see if the committee can meet on that date.

Carol Watjus, an alternate member of the committee from the community, said the committee shouldn't be expected to do something it wasn't directed to do, i.e., come up with a recommendation. She said the emphasis should be on community input and finding savings to help lessen the tax burden on residents.

Bids Come In for Raymond Water Storage Facilities Study
By Penny Williams    7-25-17

Public Works Director Steve Brewer told the Board of Selectmen on Monday evening, July 24 that four responses have been received from engineering firms concerning a Water Storage Facilities Study proposal. The chosen firm would look at the existing facilities, review Town and State inspection reports and provide information on the best path forward for the Town to address its aging and deficient water storage facilities on Orchard Street and Route 156. 

Brewer said he has an estimated cost of repair for the Orchard Street Water Tower, built in 1893, for a sum greater than $500,000, and an estimated cost of repair for the Route 156 tower, built in 1956, at greater than $800,000.

He reminded the board that the Long Hill Road Tower was built for $1 million in 2004, and the proposed study is critical to inform the Town whether it would be less expensive to repair the two existing water storage towers or to build a new, larger tower.

Brewer noted that the Capital Reserve Fund at the moment has $227,401, with the fund initially established to paint the water storage towers and in March expanded to cover other maintenance issues. The fund would cover the cost of the proposed study.

 The board opened the four study bid responses; they are: Weston & Sampson of Portsmouth,  $11,900; Underwood Engineers of Portsmouth, $12,700; Red Pierce of Topsham, Maine, $19,636; and Hoyle Tanner Associates of Manchester, $17,450.

The board asked if any of the companies had done a similar study of Raymond facilities and was told they had not, but Brewer noted that Underwood Engineers had the most history with water-related issues in Raymond. He said Weston & Sampson had also done some work in town.

Brewer said he would review the bids and return to the next meeting with his recommendation.

A pre-construction meeting was held with Kinsman Construction regarding Well #4 and time was spent reviewing the federal requirements governing the loan for the project that the Town received from New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

Brewer said construction is ready to begin just as soon as the easement is received from the Raymond School Administrative Unit (SAU). The well is on Raymond School District property at the high school. The Town can't authorize the start of construction until that easement is signed and in hand, and Brewer said that as the SAU was to meet the following day, he anticipates having the signed easement this week, meaning construction could start on Monday, July 31.

He said the SAU has been very cooperative and helpful with allowing construction equipment and vehicles to reach the site via an alternate route, without having to stop work to allow passage of school buses. The construction company, he said, is anxious to get started so it can get the building far enough along to allow work to continue during the winter. They think they can get the pipe laid prior to winter. Brewer said the Town supports getting far enough along to allow the company to work through the winter.

Community Development Director Ernie Creveling asked for $4,950 for a study to update the School Impact Fee schedule for the Master Plan. He reminded the board that last year the Master Plan update was revised from taking place every year to every five years, but it was time for it happen now. He said there is only one person who does this sort of study, Bruce Mayberry, and noted that Mayberry had done the original study in 2004 and the update in 2008. As new fees were added in 2010, it is important to have the study done to set the new School Impact Fees, Creveling said.

The board approved his request for funding from the Master Plan Update Capital Reserve Fund.

Brewer told the board that the Onway Lake Road culvert construction project is on track and will be completed before school opens.

In other business:

• During public comment, resident Carol Watjus asked Town Manager Craig Wheeler why he hasn't fully responded to her 91-A requests that she submitted May 1. She outlined the requests she made and the timeframe, and said she adjusted her request concerning service contracts to deal only with Public Works. She said she has received the requested documents for only one year, 2016. Her second request was for a list of town-owned properties and lease or rental amounts, and she has received nothing.

Her third request was for information concerning outstanding bonds. She said she did not receive a description of the State’s Revolving Bond or the new bond approved at Town Meeting 2017, and also has not received her requested information regarding employee vacation, compensatory time and sick time leave.

She asked Wheeler, "What's the problem?" and did not receive a response.

• The board opened 12 funding requests from social service organizations that serve the town. Wheeler said no new service organizations responded to the Request for Proposals (RFP) that was sent out, and all those that did respond were ones that traditionally service Raymond.

The funding requests are as follows, and these organizations will make presentations to the board beginning Sept. 11: Lamprey Health, $6,500; Child and Family Services, $6,000; Richie McFarland Center, $6,000; Rockingham Meals on Wheels, $4,000; CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), $500; Senior Friends Program, $6,000; Child Advocacy Center, $2,000; SNHS (Southern New Hampshire Services) Rockingham Community Action, $36,000; HAVEN (a violence prevention and support services agency), $4,175; and Area Homecare, $4,000.

• The board learned about new New Hampshire automobile drivers' licensing requirements. If licenses are renewed online before 2020, they will not be federally approved ID cards. For those cards, residents must go to a New Hampshire Motor Vehicles office. After October 2020, a license that isn't an official Federal ID cannot be used to board an airplane – that will require an approved ID license or an updated passport.

• The selectmen learned that the Dudley-Tucker Library received a State Council on the Arts grant and will be presenting Steve Corning’s Extraordinary Variety Show at Raymond High School at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 11. The free show is the finale of the Raymond library’s Summer Reading Program and is intended for Summer Reading Program participants.

The show is partially funded by a Kids, Books and the Arts grant, with funding provided by the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, CHILIS (Children’s Librarians of New Hampshire), and the Cogswell Benevolent Trust, and is supported in part by a grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts  and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as funds administered by the New Hampshire State Library and provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

• The Town plans to ask Dragon Mosquito whether it can spray for ticks, which are prevalent this year, especially at playgrounds. Sarah McGregor of Dragon Mosquito Inc., will be asked to attend a meeting to address this.

• Wheeler will introduce the preliminary budget to the board at the Aug. 21 or 28 meeting.

• Tina McCoy, new SAU Superintendent, was introduced.

• Resident Buster Hammond said the work done on the cemeteries was good.

• The selectmen heard that a Day of Hope, with medical and other professionals available to provide free care, counseling and help to Raymond residents, will be held at New Life Church on Sept. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• National Night Out will be celebrated in Raymond on Aug. 1, with residents invited to the Raymond Police Department to meet the Police Officers and tour the building. Child ID kits, demonstrations and activities for children will be provided.


Raymond to Look at ‘No Thru Truck’ Regulations Downtown
By Penny Williams   7-13-17

Police Chief David Salois, speaking as chair of the Raymond Highway Safety Committee, showed the Board of Selectmen slides and provided information July 10 in support of asking the board to temporarily lift the “no thru trucks” regulation through the center of town until the controlling ordinance can be updated.

He said tractor trailer trucks would continue to be prohibited because they are not able to make the necessary turns as they pass through the center of town. The chief said police have been called to help trucks negotiate around the Town Common.

The selectmen unanimously approved Salois’s request to temporarily lift the “no thru trucks” regulation through the town center. He will return to the selectmen within 90 days with proposed changes to the ordinance.

Salois also advised the board that the Highway Safety Committee would like the selectmen to ask the state to conduct a road study to review the speed limit on Route 27 between Epping and Candia. That speed limit currently ranges from 55 to 35 miles per hour.

He said the speed limits on Route 27 were put in place before the completion of Route 101. The Safety Committee would like to see the speed limit flattened to make it more consistent.

Salois will prepare a letter to the state for the selectmen to sign to request the review.

The Highway Safety Committee intends to look at other state roads through town as well.

Salois also said 30 mph speed signs have been placed at both ends of Long Hill Road. A sign for the Scenic Road status of Long Hill Road was created by Public Works Director Steve Brewer and displayed to the board, which suggested Town Manager Craig Wheeler arrange a contest to come up with a Scenic Road sign that would involve the community. He agreed to do so.

In other business at the July 10 meeting:

• During public comment, resident George Cottrell asked each selectman individually whether he would support a petition warrant article for Raymond to participate in a new RSA (state statute) recommendation for all veterans to receive a $500 discount on their property taxes. After hearing that selectmen supported bringing such a warrant article before the voters to decide, he announced he was going to put together the petition article.

Also during public comment, resident Gretchen Gott urged the selectmen to sponsor the warrant article suggested by Cottrell, rather than having it fall to Cottrell to craft a petition warrant article. She said a selectmen-sponsored article would carry more weight.

Cottrell returned to the microphone to say he wants to create the article, and added that “veterans are brothers to me.” Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood said that Selectman Jack Barnes, who is a veteran, would meet with Cottrell in the next week.

• Resident Gary Brown, clutching documents that he said he would later provide to the board, asked Wheeler during public comment about pay raises for Town employees. Wheeler said because the Town was operating on a default budget, no employees received raises this year; last year they received a 2.25 percent increase across the board.

Brown challenged this, and asked how one particular employee received a 15 percent increase between December and now, and a 17.837 percent increase going back to February 2016. He also questioned how this employee could use sick time to get paid overtime.

Wheeler offered to meet with Brown to discuss the issue, but Brown refused and told the board, "there's a lot more to come." He said Wheeler’s offer was an attempt to go behind closed doors rather than deal with the matter in public.

• Resident Lee Weldy said he opposed an abatement for the Leisure Village mobile home park, and noted that when he lived at a mobile home park in Exeter, if the homeowner was delinquent in paying property taxes, the park owner could remove the mobile home from the property. He added that he had seen such an event take place, and noted the park owner could take action much more quickly than the town.

He said that granting a tax abatement would create a bad precedent for the Town of Raymond.

• During public comment, resident Dana Hanson told the board she was concerned with the appointment of former selectwoman Colleen West Coates to the CIP (Capital Improvement Projects) Committee, where she would be party to helping determine how taxpayers are asked to spend their money. Hanson claimed West Coates raised concerns about her and her business on Facebook.

Hanson's husband later added his concern to that of his wife and suggested people should be careful what they say to selectmen. He asked the board to look into the allegations his wife had made and said there could be legal repercussions.

• Newly hired Finance Director Annmarie Gilligan reported that on the revenue side as of Friday morning, July 7, 90 percent of the taxes due had been collected and by that afternoon, the figure was up to 95 percent. From the audience, Brown asked if she knew what percentage of the collected taxes were from mortgages in which the bank pays the taxes. She said she did not know the answer but could find out.

On the expenditure side she said the town is doing well, sitting at 47 percent of the budget spent seven months into the year.

• The selectmen were told the Onway Lake Road culvert construction is progressing well, with the concrete poured July 7 and the forms removed July 10. The project is described as on target to be completed by Aug. 23, so school bus traffic won't be diverted.

• Community Development Director Ernie Creveling received the board's unanimous approval for upgrading the security levels on 10 new computer units set up in Town offices. He introduced security expert Mike Flores, who has provided solutions to security issues on Town computers, and requested the board approve $16,056 for specific individual computer security standard upgrades.

• Interim Fire Chief Paul Hammond advised that “no fires, no camping, no trash” signs had been erected on Onway Lake Island.

• The July edition of the new monthly town newsletter, Talk of the Town, has been distributed, and the deadline for the August newsletter is July 17. It can be found at Town Hall, the Dudley-Tucker Library, Recreation, and several businesses downtown, as well as online at the Town website at raymondnh.gov and at Raymond Area News (raymondareanews.com). The town meeting calendar is on the back of the newsletter.

• The selectmen heard that Executive Assistant Deborah Intonti has received her certificate as a Human Resources Trainer and is now providing services as Human Resources Coordinator to employees and department heads. She will be offering training for employees as well.

Gilligan said this was huge for the Town and a very big second job undertaking by Intonti.

• Wood said that during the Town Fair, he and others were approached by residents asking that large items such as couches and refrigerators be picked up curbside and taken to the transfer station when residents had obtained a ticket for the service. It was suggested that a specific day for this type of service be established. Wood said this suggestion would be looked into and a program developed.

• As soon as the “no smoking” signs are found, they will be put up on the Town Common and a designated smoking area marked.

• Gott told the board during public comment that in a recent court case, the judge had specifically thanked the Raymond Police Department for its work.

• Creveling introduced Rachel Marden, who has volunteered to become a member of the Business and Economic Development Team. The board unanimously appointed her to a three-year term.


Questions Raised over Raymond Fire Warden, Emergency Management Posts
By Penny Williams   6-21-17

Recently retired fire chief Kevin Pratt told the Raymond Board of Selectmen at its June 19 meeting that he took exception to a certified letter he had received from Town Manager Craig Wheeler, notifying him that with his retirement as fire chief, his jobs as Forest Fire Warden and Emergency Management Manager had come to an end and certain property in his possession had to be returned to the town.

Pratt provided the board with RSAs (statutes) and background documents that show that it is the Board of Selectmen that appoints the Emergency Management position, and that the Forest Fire Warden for Raymond is set by the State, in this case by Director of the Division of Forests and Lands and State Forester Brad Simpkins. Pratt said Simpkins told him he is still a Forest Fire Warden and would remain so until a full-time fire chief is approved in Raymond. At that time, the Raymond Fire Chief, Pratt and Simpkins would meet and discuss the position.

Neither the board nor Wheeler had any comment. Pratt said he didn't expect a decision from the board at that meeting. The board asked that the issue be put on the agenda for the July 10 meeting.

In other business:

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer said the Onway Lake bridge is heading back on schedule. He answered questions on the subject from resident Buster Hammond during public comment.

The construction was delayed by rain, which caused water and soil erosion issues that have been dealt with, Brewer said, adding that the piling construction crew will be back starting Friday, June 23. Brewer said the bridge, which replaces a culvert, should be in place and open to traffic by the end of July, and the job completed by the end of August.

• Brewer also noted that the previously announced increase in the Pay as You Throw garbage bags has been widely advertised on the Town Web site, at each of the vendors that sell the bags and via postcards sent out to 4,600 residents. The mailing cost $1,263, with $521 in printing and $742 in mailing. The price increase goes into effect July 1.

• Brewer updated progress on Well #4, saying that the background checks on the contractor are almost completed and the State is about ready to release the award, leaving just the easements to be finalized. He noted the cost came in well above what was budgeted and this is an issue, even with the $100,000 contingency fund the Town put in place. He said he is working with the contractor to identify places where cost savings might be realized, and Wheeler said he is looking for additional funds that might be used to close the funding gap.

• Brewer proposed a different way to handle the Town Auction of used equipment. He asked the board to approve using the online Web site Governmentdeals.com. This would widen the potential pool of buyers, he said, noting that in the last four auctions the average has been 10 to 14 participants, most of them local residents. The auction site carries a 12.5 percent fee per item but the town can determine who deals with this - the town, the buyer or a split between the two.

Wheeler said the Fire Department alone has 61 items for the auction.

The board unanimously approved using the online Web site for the auction and assigning the 12.5 percent per item fee to the buyers.

• Selectmen Chair Jonathan Wood raised the subject of communication with residents, and Wheeler said he has ready to go a town newsletter covering July that will be sent to those on the Town email list, with hard copies available and postings at the usual places. In addition the information on agendas and public hearings can be found on the Town Web site at raymondnh.gov.

Selectman Greg Bemis suggested getting an electronic sign to announce committee meetings, public hearings and other events. The board asked him to research such a sign, including cost and potential location, and get back to the board. The board then approved the newsletter to go out each month.

• Wheeler provided the board with an organizational chart of Town employees. The chart is on the Administration page on the Town Web site. The Town has 59 full-time employees. 23 part-time employees, 37 seasonal, one stipend, one temporary, 34 call personnel and five elected selectmen.

• Acting Fire Chief Paul Hammond sought the board's approval to erect a sign on Onway Lake Island stating that the Town owns half the island. The sign would say “No Camping, No Fires, No Trash.”

He said his department has to respond to the island for fires caused by campers on a routine basis, and always has to take police along. He said this is unsafe for the police, who must wear all their gear as well as a life jacket.

Hammond said the resident who owns the other half of the island is completely in agreement with him as far as restricting camping, fires, and trash on the island.

Wood recused himself because he often is contacted to call the police regarding island issues because people fear reprisals. Vice Chair Jack Barnes took over and the vote was 4-0-1 in favor of putting up the sign, with Wood recusing himself.

Hammond said there is not any teeth in the decision but there is a penalty in the State RSAs for lighting a fire on the island.

• Wheeler said the town budget is right on track and in some cases revenues have increased, such as increased motor vehicle registrations, increased building permits, and penalties on delinquent taxes. He noted that interest on investments is up more than budgeted, and he was notified that the Rooms and Meals Tax distribution has increased, with the Town getting a little over $100 more than anticipated.

• The board opened two bids for the Town’s Household Hazardous Waste event - one from Trade B Environmental Services of Connecticut at $1,945 and the other from Clean Venture  from Framingham, Mass., for $1,000.

• The selectmen were advised that Town employees have all completed updated ethics training and harassment training. The update was done by Primex Insurance and the Joint Loss Committee accepted the changes. Now it is time for the boards and committees to undergo the same training sessions. It was suggested that a date be set in mid-September for the training.

• Josh Mann and David Wilson were sworn in as members of the CIP (Capital Improvements Program) Committee.

• The board approved a Summer Farmers Market at the Town Common on Thursday nights along with the Summer Concert Series. It will run through Aug. 3.

• The board approved a Dog Parade to be held July 9 at 11:30 a.m. during the Town Fair.


Decision Due Aug. 15 on Leisure Village Tax Abatement
By Penny Williams   6-8-17

Several residents attended the June 5 Raymond Board of Selectmen meeting to speak at a public hearing on the proposed abatement of taxes for 10 vacant manufactured homes at Leisure Village that have no monetary value. Most opposed the abatement and favored working to collect the taxes.

The solution to the Leisure Park abandoned trailer problem proposed by the Board of Selectmen involves park owner Emile Bussiere Jr. underwriting the complete cost of removing the 10 vacant and abandoned dwellings if the town abates the $44,000 in taxes owed on them.

Bussiere already has the permission of five former owners to take down their mobile homes and clean up the lots where they were located. He will have to clean up all the vacated lots, put in cement pads and ensure that septic, water and power are all in good condition. His plan is to install 10 newer mobile homes, no more than 5 years old each, on those lots.

According to what Building Inspector and Health Officer David Hall said at a previous selectmen’s meeting, where he showed a video of the trailers, the cost of accomplishing the clean-up, if the town had to do everything itself, would exceed the abatement of the taxes by quite a bit, especially if asbestos were found. Just getting rid of each mobile home and taking care of its clean-up would run between $8,000 and $10,000 without asbestos complications, he explained.

Resident Gary Brown spoke up after another resident pushed hard to find out if everything had been done to collect the back taxes for the 10 vacant trailers, and was told that had been done. Brown, however, claimed the board it had not done everything.

Brown said if there were any mold in the trailers and the State was told, the State would respond and Bussiere would have to take care of it immediately on his own. Brown said if the board didn't have an inclination to call the State, he would do so himself the next day.

Brown claimed the selectmen did not have the taxpayers’ interest at heart, because if it did, it would get the back taxes from Bussiere, as well as having him remove the trailers and clean and prepare the sites for new trailers. Brown said the selectmen need better attorneys if this proposed solution was the best they could come up with.

After the hearing was closed, the selectmen were polled. Greg Bemis did the calculations and said the proposed solution would save the Town $16,000 at a minimum and he thought it was the best solution. He recommended going forward because Bussiere is cooperating with the Town. George Plante said he was against the proposed solution. Wayne Welch said the people have spoken and are asking that the board see if the Town can get Bussiere to pay the back taxes. Jack Barnes said he thought the board needed to have a lawyer provide legal advice as to what they can legally do, but the town should get the $44,000 in back taxes before it accepts any deal regarding the cleanup. Chair Jonathan Wood said this has been a problem for years and now they will be delaying a solution again. He said an absolute end date of Aug. 15 would be set and between now and then, the town would investigate alternatives to the present proposal.

The board voted to approve continuing to investigate alternatives, get legal advice and have a decision by Aug. 15.

The selectmen also heard a review of Capital Reserve Fund balances and requests for expenditures.

Town Manager Craig Wheeler read off a list of Capital Reserve Funds (CRF) and the amounts in each fund at this point:

Bridges & Culvert, $97,319; Cable TV, $15,530; Fire Department Equipment & Vehicles, $603,711; General Government Building Improvement,  $118,188; Health Insurance Expendable, $1,221; Highway Heavy Equipment,  $149,324; Highway Vehicle Replacement,  $152,996; Library Improvement,  $4,944.

Also, Master Plan, $48,507; New Town Facilities, $34,295; Park Equipment, Vehicle, and Facilities, $92,160; Police Dispatch and Facilities, $ 141,489; Recreation Department Equipment, 72,482; Revaluation, $2,873; Sidewalks, $3,386; Scholarship, $6,965; Town Office Technology Repair and Improvement, $23,340; Vacation and Sick Days Union,  $24,801; Vacation and Sick Days non-union, $122.

And, Water Treatment, $85,799;

New Well Site Acquisition,  $51,934; Water Department Utility Vehicle Replacement,  $4,072; Water System Storage Facilities, $227,401; and Water System Infrastructure,  $22,148

Following this review, Public Works Director Steve Brewer made the following CRF requests, all of which the board approved: $16,530 for removing sediment from lagoons at the water treatment plant and disposing of it; well cleaning and pump and motor replacement for the Route 107 well at $13,379.50 and irrigation of recreation field; well #3 pump and motor replacement at $4,570, although they may be able to use the pump from well #1 and thus spend only half that amount; and purchase of one-ton Ford F550 dump truck with regular and wing plows, at $99,000, to replace the 1999 truck 14 that won't pass inspection due to significant corrosion.

The board approved all of the requests; the only significant public comment was from Brown, who asked why the trucks aren't better cared for - i.e., washed on a regular basis to get rid of the salt. Brewer said they would need a wash-bay to be able to do this but agreed it would improve the life of the trucks. He said a wash-bay would require expansion of the garage to install such a bay and the cost was deemed prohibitive by his predecessors.

Brown suggested that cost might not be accurate and it should be revisited.

In other business:

• New Finance Director Anne Marie Gilligan was introduced and will start work on June 26.

• Police Chief David Salois presented Officer Steve McPherson with an award for his 25 years of service and presented three officers with certificates of appreciation for their part in a 2015 investigation: Capt. Mike Labell, Sgt, Scott Payne and retired Det. Ray Parrott.

• Salois, representing the Rotary Club, presented the board with a check for $1,000 to help with the July 4th Celebration.

• Wheeler said RFPs (Requests for Proposals) are ready to be distributed to all social service agencies that provide services to the residents of Raymond, and are due to be returned by June 30 and come to the board for review. The board approved sending and posting the RFPs.

• The board after a brief discussion approved posting “no smoking” signs at the Town Common, with a specific designated smoking area created and posted as such.


Town Plans to Produce Monthly Newsletter, Onway Lake Road Completion Expected by end of July
By Penny Williams   5-23-17 

The Town of Raymond will produce a two-page monthly newsletter to detail by department what will be coming up in the weeks ahead.

At its Monday, May 22 meeting, Town Manager Craig Wheeler told the Board of Selectmen that the plan is to put out a two-sided, one-page newsletter each month that will include what each department has coming up during the month ahead. The newsletter will be available electronically on the Town Web site at raymondnh.gov. However, acknowledging that not everyone has a computer, residents can call the Town Office and request a hard copy. Copies will also be available at local stores, the Dudley-Tucker Library and the Town Office.

Wheeler told the board it is too expensive to mail the newsletter monthly to all residents but anticipates the proposed format would get wide circulation.

Selectman Jack Barnes said he hopes the newsletter will be published in the online Raymond Area News (raymondareanews.com) as well.

Wheeler also noted that the Town will send out postcards listing the new Pay As You Throw bag prices that go into effect July 1. The Town will also put up posters and signs about the cost change at trash bag vendors and other places in Raymond where residents would be likely to see them.

In other business:

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer brought the board up to date on the Onway Lake Road project. He admitted progress has slowed during the past few days after the contractor hit unexpected groundwater issues. Brewer said the contractor has sought expert advice on how to address the problem and he didn't think it would extend the anticipated completion date, which is the end of July.

He said about 33 percent of the Onway Lake project funds allocated for the work has been spent. He explained that the project, rather than being a new culvert, is actually a bridge of sorts, and is 4 feet wider than the culvert it will replace.

The board asked if he has communicated with the abutters and neighbors regarding the anticipated end date. Brewer said he had not done so but those most impacted have been in contact with the construction company, and he plans to contact everyone connected once there is a definite end date, which would also be published on the Town Web site.

Since the closure, detour signs have directed vehicles through town. Selectman Wayne Welch said the detour is sending trucks through town, where they are being stopped by Raymond Police because they are prohibited from going through town. Welch asked Brewer to meet with Police Chief David Salois and make arrangements for the situation while the detour is in place.

• Pastor Ken Bosse of New Life Church told the board his church plans to pick up the roughly $1,500 to $2,000 shortfall caused by the default budget as regards the July 4th parade and events. He said the church will donate the money to the Town to ensure that the celebration goes on as usual.

Barnes asked if the townspeople could donate to help alleviate the shortfall and Bosse said that would be wonderful. They should make checks payable to the Town of Raymond, marked for the July 4th celebration.

Barnes said he didn't think it was right that the church and its members should shoulder the burden of financially underwriting the Fourth of July celebration, and he would write a check that night to help out. He said he recognized the Town lost the $3,000 Town contribution for the celebration with the passage of the default budget, but he hoped townspeople would step up and help. Barnes thanked Bosse and the church for their support.

Bosse said the celebration will continue as usual, with everything free. He added that he sees great value in his church stepping up and doing more to make sure the celebration goes on, as he thinks events such as this one bring the community together.

Gregory Sevinsky, Walmart manager, told the board Walmart would boost its support for the Fourth of July celebration as well.

• Sevinsky told the selectmen he and Walmart are aware of the difficulties meeting the cost of Town Welfare and said it was Walmart's pleasure to present the Town with a check for $2,000 to help with the Welfare Department's financial load.

The board voted unanimously to accept the gift and thanked Sevinsky and Walmart for its continued support for the Town.

• John McDaniels gave a presentation to the selectmen about the Reach High Scholars program. McDaniel grew up in Raymond and went on to college and a successful career. He created Reach High Scholars to improve the chances of Raymond students being able to take advantage of money that is available at select private colleges and universities.

A group of volunteers led by McDaniels in 2007 continues to provide interested Raymond High School students with a chance to attend one of the top 100 colleges in the country. No taxpayer dollars are involved. The volunteer organization encourages students to strive for the best and provides the assistance such students needs to prepare for and apply to one of the top 100 colleges, he said.

McDaniels said most importantly, the program encourages students to aspire higher than they thought they could. Reach High Scholars also helps students attend summer enrichment programs offered by Brown University, Dartmouth College, and Phillips Exeter and St. Paul's Schools. Financial aid for participation in these summer programs is provided. SAT and PSAT preparatory courses are also funded by the organization and made available to Raymond students.

McDaniels said he heard at a recent meeting that Raymond schools were not very good, and he was at the selectmen’s meeting to refute that belief. He said Raymond students do exceptionally well and his program has contributed to their success. He noted that Raymond students who participate often get a college experience that would have cost their family $100,000 or more for as little as $500. The program has raised $280,000 from eight companies and corporations and 16 individuals.

• Wheeler reported on expenditures and revenue, noting that expenditures are a little behind where they were in 2016 but revenues are about where they should be.

• The board approved appointing Doug Vogel and Mark Vadeboncouer as alternates to the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA).

• Two Raymond Police Officers, Cpl. Brian Stice and Officer Ryan Stanton, will receive Life Saving Awards from the New Hampshire Police, Fire and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) Foundation.

•  Raymond Police conducted a Fatal Reality Drill in conjunction with the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, held before prom to make students aware of the consequences of drunk driving.

• Police Chief David Salois said his department has made 66 more opioid arrests than last year and he is meeting with first responders to review the changes in policies and protocols necessitated by the drug carfentanil, which kills on contact.    

• The Memorial Day parade will go on as usual at 10 a.m. Monday, May 29, rain or shine.

• The Shared Resource Committee meets Thursday, May 25.

• Wheeler said the Town is working to put together a surplus equipment auction at the end of June. He said there will be an inventory and bid list and people can view the collection of items to be auctioned, ranging from bikes to old computers, and bid on them. The bids will be opened at the selectmen's meeting following the auction.

• The next board of selectmens meeting is June 5 with a public hearing on the $44,000 taxabatement request from Leisure Village owner Emile Bussiere Jr.


Selectmen: Pay As You Throw Bag Cost to Rise July 1st
By Penny Williams   5-19-17 

Raymond residents will be paying more for their Pay As You Throw trash bags, following a public hearing and vote by the Board of Selectmen on Monday, May 15.

Several residents attended the hearing. Public Works Director Steve Brewer summarized the reasons for raising bag prices from $2 to $2.35 for a five-pack of large bags and from $1.50 to $1.80 for the small bags. He explained that there is a shortfall of  $64,484.69 between the revenue from the bags and the cost of trash collection and disposal. The proposed increase would generate $61,190, almost covering the shortfall.

Residents Carol and Wayne Watjus spoke in favor of increasing the price but thought the money budgeted should be put into an account to fund a second truck for the town. They also suggested that the program's financial status should be publically assessed quarterly.

Resident Eileen Fitzgerald told the Board of Selectmen to find a better way of communicating with residents when issues such as this come up. She suggested announcing the matter in the On the Common town newsletter, which is published quarterly, and said people should be informed about what they should be recycling.

Following the hearing, the board discussed the question and then unanimously voted to increase the bag prices effective July 1. A postcard will be sent to all residents announcing the price increase.

The selectmen also discussed the status of Well #4. Brewer said that while seven construction vendors attended the mandatory pre-bid meeting, only two bids were received, and as this involves money from the state, it is the state that will be selecting the low bidder if that bidder is eligible.

The bids were $2,285,285 and $2,166,00 and the bidders were not named. An additional $500,000 had been requested for the project, but while Brewer thought it had been approved, he said he has not received written confirmation. In the meantime the SAU (School Administrative Unit) easement at Raymond High School and a second easement with a private homeowner are in progress for the well, and are expected to be in place before construction starts, probably in two to three weeks. The board must now look for savings to make up the difference.

In other business:

Building Inspector and Health Officer David Hall provided the board with a video of the 10 abandoned mobile homes that need to be removed at Leisure Village.

Hall said Leisure Village mobile home park owner Emile Bussiere Jr. is willing to underwrite the complete cost of removing the 10 dwellings if the town will abate the $44,000 in taxes owed. He already has permission of five former owners to take down their mobile homes and clean up the lots where they were located. Hall and the park owner are trying to find the other five owners and get permission to remove the mobile homes.

Bussiere will have to clean up all the vacated lots, put in cement pads and ensure that septic, water and power are all good. His plan is to put 10 newer mobile homes on those lots.

The cost if the town had to do everything itself would exceed the abatement of the taxes by quite a bit, especially if asbestos is found, Hall said. Just getting rid of each mobile home and clean-up would run between $8,000 and $10,000 without asbestos complications, he explained. The new mobile homes would be no more than 5 years old.

The board decided to hold a public hearing on the abatement of the $44,000 owed in taxes, and set the hearing date for June 5.

• Developer Elmer Pease said his Exit 4 easement language will be ready to go, once the attorneys and the state agree upon adding a paragraph. His plan calls for commercial development, with no residential component, and would encompass developing one or more distribution centers similar to the Walmart distribution center in town.

Pease said the facility would be an E-commerce Business Park called Granite Meadows Business Park, with distribution bays similar to Walmart. He is hoping to find a developer-owner or several distribution businesses, up to four at 100,000 square feet each. These businesses would be direct distribution from the site with delivery to homes.

Pease said he expects to have the final permit in hand within the next 30 days and then would be going to the Planning Board.

The codicil language conveys and grants a third-party right of enforcement to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) on the deed restriction for the Riverside Park parcel at Map 27 Lot 10. The property was restricted as a condition of the DES Wetlands Permit to Pease.

As a letter from Mark West, New Hampshire certified wetland scientist, dated April 27 and sent to both Town Manager Craig Wheeler and Pease states, this language is typically used where mitigation includes a deed restriction rather than a conservation easement.

“Without a third party right of enforcement, the NHDES would not have the power to provide the permanent protection of the resources protected on the site for which they are giving mitigation credit,” West wrote. “This would only be triggered if there was a significant violation of NHDES Wetlands Bureau regulations on the property. The Deed Restriction is held by the Town of Raymond….This request by NHDES is simply a way of providing some insurance of permanent protection.”

The board voted to approve adding the paragraph as a codicil to the property deed by a 3-2 vote, with Wayne Welch and George Plante opposed.

• Deputy Chief Paul Hammond, surrounded by his family, was sworn in as Interim Fire Chief for the Raymond Fire Department.

• The board received Brewer's report regarding bids for the Wight Street tannery clean-up ordered by the state. Two bids were received - one from Exeter Environmental Associates and a second from Stonehill Environmental.

The latest testing of the area, a Brownfields site caused by burial of tannery hides, detected an increase in chromium. New wells will have to be dug to monitor the groundwater at the site. While the town has already completed the remedial work required, groundwater monitoring must continue,

The board made no decision on the bids.

• Town Manager Craig Wheeler said the Town is still trying to hire a full-time Finance Director, but with the salary the Town is offering, he is not getting much response. He has also not been able to hire a part-time account clerk to assist in that department.

• Brewer said the Onway Lake culvert project is moving forward slightly ahead of schedule, but noted that work was interrupted and slowed by the recent rains.


Raymond Selectmen: Public Hearing Planned on Trash Costs
By Penny Williams   5-1-17

A discussion on Pay as You Throw trash and recycling costs continued Monday night, May 1 at the Raymond Board of Selectmen meeting, with a public hearing on the subject set for later this month.

Public Works Director Steve Brewer, as requested at the previous Board of Selectmen meeting, had posted information about trash costs on the town Web site. In his presentation, he explained the relationship that connects trash collection, trash and recycling disposal, and Pay as You Throw bag revenue.

The 2016 Pay as You Throw bag revenue was $321,000, of which 15 percent was for the manufacture of the bags while 85 percent was the net bag sale in the amount of $274,149.08. He said projections for 2017 call for an increase of 6 percent in the disposal tonnage and therefore a 6 percent increase in bag sales, which would render an estimated net revenue from bag sales of $297,297.80.

The 2016 trash cost was $348,038.12, of which 34 percent -  $118,502.86 – was for disposal and 66 percent - $229,535.26 – was trash collection.  For 2017, he said the total cost would increase to $361,782.42, and when net revenue is projected against the net total collection and disposal cost, there is a shortfall of $64,484.69. Given this scenario, he suggested raising the cost of the bags to meet the gap.

Brewer recommended adding 35 cents to the cost of large bags, bringing their cost from $2 to $2.35 each. For small bags, he recommended adding 30 cents, bringing them from $1.50 to $1.80. This increase, he said, would yield $61,193.00 and would almost meet the potential gap.

The board noted that there are only two options to handle the shortfall - raise the price of the bags so users pay the shortfall, or have the taxpayers cover the increased cost. Selectmen Wayne Welch and George Plante said users should cover the cost through increases in bag prices, but selectman Jack Barnes said he hated to see the bag prices rise. Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood said there has been no increase in bag cost since the program began.

The board decided a public hearing should be held on the bag cost matter and asked that it be on the agenda for May 15.

Resident Rani Merriman suggested that another solution is to push for increased recycling and asked Brewer how much of an increase in recycling would be needed to offset the gap. He did not have an immediate answer.

In other business:

• The board discussed the latest information regarding the Brownfields monitoring of the former tannery property off Wight Street, contaminated by burial of hides from the tannery. The latest testing results from the state show an increase in chromium. New wells will have to be dug to check the groundwater within 30 days, according to the state.

The company handling the monitoring for the Town estimates the cost for installing the new wells at $6,840. While the town has already completed the remedial work required at the site, groundwater monitoring is required to continue, and the rise in chromium has been identified by the Town's vendor, Exeter Environmental Co.

Barnes noted that Raymond was told the site was clear in 2013 and as far as he is concerned, the state should pay for the current deviation. The board noted that the holes will have to be drilled and the groundwater checked, but the town could seek recovery of the cost.

After a brief discussion, the selectmen decided to get a second bid on this work from Weston Environmental.

Resident Carol Watjus said the town should look to the Rockingham Planning Commission for grant assistance and more bids for the work should be sought, as well as reimbursement from the state. The board noted the work on the new wells must start quickly.

• Brewer announced that he has lifted the watering ban following the latest drought report from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. However, he cautioned residents to continue to conserve water because if conditions change, the ban could be reinstated voluntarily or by mandate.

• Brewer reported that work on the Town’s new well at the high school is moving along and a pre-bid meeting had been held, which seven contractors attended. The bids are due May 9 and then the information from them will be sent to the state, where the bids will be reviewed. The state will select the low bidder. He described the scope of the work and said he would have information on a necessary easement by the next meeting. He expects the work to begin when school is out.

• Brewer noted that the Onway Lake Road culvert replacement work has restarted. The contractor began work April 25 and has an estimated completion date for late July, but after some discussion with the contractor, Brewer said the project should be completed closer to the beginning of July. They are already getting the site ready, he said, adding he thinks the contractor had built in too much of a time cushion.

• In discussing the Town’s financial status, Town Manager Craig Wheeler addressed resident comments about the town and school district sharing the same financial director as a potential cost saving. He said the two entities use different software, which do not mesh. While a potential sharing is under discussion, they have not been able to come up with any concept on how it would work.

Merriman asked if using a consulting firm or a headhunter to hire a finance director for the town has been contemplated. She was told that going that route is expensive but had been considered.

• The board liked the idea of getting proposals from the 10 or 12 organizations the town contracts with for services for Raymond residents. The board approved seeking proposals from other vendors that could supply the same services and then selecting the best proposal from a cost-effective perspective. The board approved developing an RFP (Request for Proposals) for this.

• Merriman said she thinks the Board of Selectmen and the School Board are out of touch with the townspeople and their concerns. She questioned why a police building costing $6.8 million to $8 million was justified and said there should be a much more cost-effective way to address department needs. She claimed that across the state the average police building is coming in at $2.2 million. Voters turned down a bond request for a new police station in March.

Concerning the Lamprey River Elementary School addition, which was also turned down by voters in March, she questioned both putting an addition in the flood plain and the need for the addition, given what she called dwindling enrollment. The proposed addition site is not in the flood plain, however; the current school is in the floodplain. She suggested starting a Capital Reserve building fund.

• The Memorial Day parade will be held on Monday, May 29 at 10 a.m. Dave Peno, Vice Commander of American Legion Post 90, invited scouts, military or others who wished to march to do so but to dress appropriately. There is no rain date, and cemetery and other events will go on regardless of weather. There will be a POW-MIA (Prisoner Of War-Missing In Action) ceremony at the Town Common at the conclusion of the parade, and he encouraged all veterans to attend, saying he could find no World War II veterans left in Raymond.

Barnes noted this parade and ceremony are not political events.

• The board introduced Kirsten Rundquist Corbett, the new Dudley-Tucker Library director. New Raymond Firefighter Jackson Crosby was introduced by Acting Fire Chief Paul Hammond, and Richard Lamar was sworn in as an alternate for the Historic District Commission.



Board of Selectmen Hear About Police Detail Fund
By Penny Williams 4-24-17

Police Chief David Salois discussed the Special Detail Fund with the Board of Selectmen at its Monday, April 24 meeting, pointing out that officers’ pay, when taking part in a Detail, does not come from the taxpayers.

He explained that the hiring business or organization bears the whole financial load of the Special Detail costs, which are $72 per hour, and of which officers receive $40.25. The hourly sum includes $10 for the cruiser fee; the rest is for administrative costs, all born by the company hiring the Detail. He noted that whether an officer or only a flagger is required is determined by Town Ordinances and policies.

The money from the Details goes into a revolving fund the Police Department can use for equipment and for paying for a cruiser. Salois said the department took part in 242 separate Details last year, which accounted for 1,319 hours worked, with an average hourly rate of $43.19 for officers. He noted there is a police union-determined differential for hourly wage for officers working a Detail, depending on whether they get the hourly rate or the rate plus time and a half, and there has been no change in the rate for this year.

He added that the fund presently has a balance of $40,453.61 and has paid for the motorcycle lease this year, given the Town's budget situation.

Public Works Director Steve Brewer discussed the possibility of raising the cost of the Town’s Pay As You Throw trash bags. He said trash tonnage is rising but recycling has leveled off, and with trash tonnage increases, the cost of waste disposal for Raymond is increasing.

Brewer said the bag sales are not closing the gap between the cost of disposal and revenue. He said what Raymond charges for the bags is about in the middle among several towns that he contacted, and suggested that an increase in the cost of the bags, perhaps raising the cost of the large bags by 10 to 20 cents, with similar increases for the small bags, might bring in sufficient revenue to close the gap.

Selectman Greg Bemis said an increase in bag prices would be a weekly reminder to people purchasing the bags of the fact that once again they are seeing increased costs.

Brewer said he would return to the Selectmen with additional information.

Resident Rani Merriman told Brewer that his information was difficult to understand and that the cost comparison between the revenue from bag sales and the cost of disposal, as well as trash and recycling information, should be posted on the Town's web site.

In other business at the April 24 meeting:

• Carol Watjus spoke out during public comment to express her views of the recent Shared Resource Committee meeting.

Watjus, chosen by the Board of Selectmen as an alternate on that committee, claimed the intent of the meeting was to learn where Raymond residents want to spend their tax money. She said the meeting was supposed to hear from the public, but noted the representatives of both the Board of Selectmen and School Board did most of the talking, and their direction was to determine how to pass warrant articles for a new police building and elementary school addition, rather than finding out what residents want to see happen. Both the police station and elementary school bond articles failed at the March election.

She said she was upset over the decision that only the core committee members could vote and said she wanted the committee to take "a fresh look at things," not arbitrarily decide that the most pressing issues are a new police station and school addition.

Watjus, who came in last among six candidates for selectmen in the March election, also said the committee should focus on how the School  Board and Board of Selectmen can share resources to save money. And she took issue with a statement from that meeting that the two boards work together successfully.

"From what I see, the School Board does not even agree with the BOS (selectmen) on this meeting," she declared.

Regarding a survey the Shared Resource Committee decided to create, she called the election's message the survey's response. "Listen to the people," she said, adding that the best solution would be for her to form a committee of residents to work things out themselves, and invited interested parties to join her.

Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood said the Shared Resource Committee on which he sits was serious about encouraging more of the public to participate and said their ideas and concerns would be taken into account.

Selectman Jack Barnes, who is also a member of the Shared Resource Committee, told Watjus he hoped that she and her husband, also an alternate to that committee, would attend the group’s Thursday, May 11 meeting. He said that although she can’t vote, her input is needed, as it is from all Raymond citizens. And he noted that 50 percent of the laws promulgated by the New Hampshire Legislature come from ideas, suggestions, and concerns brought forward by citizens.

• The board heard a recommendation from the Raymond Ambulance Company for an extension of its present contract. Following discussion, the selectmen voted to extend the contract for four years, but noted that at the next renewal, the contract should be put out to bid.

• The board approved a communications tower contract for the maintenance of the two tower areas, one at Lane Road and the other at 108 Main St. The board said the contracted cost usually runs between $8,000 and $10,000 annually. The board approved the contract and signed it.

Merriman asked if this had gone out to bid and if Raymond has a bid process. She was told there is a bid process that includes exceptions, and this is one of the exceptions, as there are only one or two firms available to do this type of work.

• The board approved a Household Hazardous Waste Day on Sept. 30, to be held with other municipalities.

• Wood announced there was to be a retirement celebration for Fire Chief Kevin Pratt on May 6 at 2 p.m. at the fire hall, at which time the Town would be making a presentation to Pratt.

• Wood announced that the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) class is concluding and a celebration would be held at 12:35 p.m. Monday, May 15. The board agreed to a proclamation for the event.

• Town Manager Craig Wheeler said he would have information regarding filling the vacant Financial Director position at the next meeting


‘Raymond Rapid Response Team’ to Promote Business Development
By Penny Williams 4-20-17

Raymond Community Development Director Ernie Creveling introduced to the Board of Selectmen on Monday evening, April 17 a Rapid Response Team he has put together to be available to talk with representatives of companies that show an interest in coming to Raymond.

He said the team would have the marketing skills and resource information necessary to talk with interested business and industry owners. Current members of the Rapid Response Team are Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood; Greg Sevinsky, general manager of the Walmart Distribution Center in Raymond; Brad Reed, owner of I.C. Reed & Sons, Inc.; George Vernet, owner of the Raymond Shopping Center and Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery; Town Manager Craig Wheeler; and Creveling. He said one additional citizen would be added and announced.

Creveling said the committee could respond as individuals or in pairs to inform interested parties about the advantages of locating in Raymond. He said the committee would be making quarterly reports to the selectmen.

The selectmen expressed their approval and said the team will be good for existing businesses in Raymond as well, and unanimously approved the formation and appointment of the Rapid Response Team.

In other business at the April 17 meeting:

• Public Works Director Steve Brewer said he needed to tap the Well System Investment Fund for $12,505 to clean well # 3. He said some work was done last year but it needs to be finished, and he selected the low bidder, Weston and Sampson, a firm that has done work for Raymond before. The board unanimously approved his request.

• Brewer also said there is a need for maintenance work on the aeration tower in the Water Treatment Plant. He said scaffolding will have to be erected because it is 25 feet above ground level. The company that exchanged and replaced the tubes last year will clean out the tubes and do the power washing.

He asked for $10,000 from the fund to address this project - $4,800 for the scaffolding and power washing and a contingency fund of $5,200 to cover any unexpected breaks or issues that may need to be attended to while the cleaning is in progress.

He assured the board that if the $5,200 is not used, it will be returned. The board unanimously approved this request as well.

• In an update on the Onway Lake Road culvert repair, Brewer reminded the selectmen there was an issue with the contractor last fall and negotiations on the matter have just wrapped up, providing the town with an on-site monitor of the contractor and work being done that will be paid for by the insurer.

He said the resumption of the project would now be scheduled and he thought it would require 10 to 12 weeks for completion. When he has a definite schedule, he will post it on the town website at www.raymondnh.gov. Until the work is completed, a detour remains in place for Onway Lake Road.

• Wheeler presented a summary of the Revenue and Expense report as the staff continues to work on adjusting items for the default budget. He told the board that building permits are a little ahead of last year but auto registrations and permits are a little behind.

• Concerning the vacant Finance Director position, Wheeler said 33 applications had been received, which were narrowed down to seven, with interviews for the top three. However, both of the top two candidates have withdrawn, and he is preparing to interview the third finalist.

• Rani Merriman and Douglas Vogel were appointed full members to the committee combining School Board and Selectmen with citizens. Carol and Wayne Watjus were named as alternates to that committee, which is charged with prioritizing needs of the two entities.

• Teri Welch was appointed to the Conservation Commission as an alternate and Jan Kent  was re-appointed as a full member. Carolyn Matthews was re-appointed to the Lamprey River Advisory Committee and Stephen Feher was appointed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

• In response to a Right to Know request from resident Dana Hanson, Wheeler said Hanson had modified her requests and he had provided her with time card information of the employees driving town-owned vehicles and had informed her that the emails she wanted she could get off the town website.


Raymond Selectmen, School Board to Work Together on Prioritizing Town Needs   By Penny Williams    4-12-17

A rambling discussion, punctuated by comments from residents in the audience, took place when the Raymond Board of Selectmen met with the Raymond School Board on Monday, April 3 to discuss how the two boards might work together to prioritize community needs and take advantage of efficiencies. The discussion was brought to an abrupt stop when resident Doug Vogel said he would give the boards five minutes to come up with a plan and if that didn't happen, he would form a community committee to take over the effort.

This brought the discussion to some conclusions. It was decided that both boards should have two representatives and four community members sit on the proposed committee, which should be in place by April 19. Interested residents should contact the Town Office with their letters or emails of interest in serving.

The decision was made that the Boards would meet April 20 at 7 p.m. at an as yet undetermined location to get the committee started.

Representing the Board of Selectmen on the committee will be Jonathan Wood and Jack Barnes. Representing the School Board will be Joe Saulnier and Janice Arsenault.

Numerous comments were made about what the committee should do. A previous committee met during 2015 and submitted a report but never got back together with the Board of Selectmen during 2016.

 People speaking both on the boards and from the audience said that if an effort were made, efficiencies could be found, such as sharing a finance director. Several people wanted the Town to prioritize its needs and not merely move ahead with the same projects voters have said they don't favor.

One resident asked if a space needs evaluation, such as was undertaken by the police department, had been done by the school district, to which School Board Chairman John Harmon responded that the district had been investigating the need for facilities expansion for 10 years, making improvements along the way. However, the boards basically agreed that it was unrealistic to put forward both big ticket projects - the elementary school expansion and the new police department, both defeated at the polls in March - at the same time.

Resident Gary Brown said it is time for the townspeople to tell the boards what they want. He said a new police station is necessary but the school expansion is not needed. He also questioned what has been done to bring businesses to town to increase revenue, a theme echoed by several speakers.

Resident Ed French said developing revenue-producing business is what the town should be focusing on and added that town government should be "looking outside the box."

Harmon said the focus of the committee should be on sharing resources. He said that if the focus of the committee were to look at the two building projects that were defeated in March, that was an entirely different direction and should have a separate committee.

The two boards struggled with the concept of one committee vs. two. Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood said he thought the first thing that needs to be done is for the committee to develop a list of priorities.

Several residents complained that Raymond is at fault for not collecting back taxes and that people owing back taxes shouldn't be allowed on boards and committees.

Members of the audience said waste exists and needs to be reined in. Another resident asked why the facilities bond proposal called for renovating and expanding the elementary school when it is in a flood zone.

The current Lamprey River Elementary School is in the flood zone but has never been flooded, even during the two years when Raymond had 100-year floods, Raymond School Superintendent Ellen Small told Raymond Area News. She noted that the proposed addition is not in the flood zone, and the proposed renovations include flood proofing the existing building with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) approved materials.

At the school board meeting held prior to meeting with the selectmen, school board members discussed whether to move forward with seeking voter approval of the elementary school renovation and expansion plan. Harmon said was important to have a position before the next combined meeting.

The board said that not to continue would result in a loss of momentum, and the school’s problems would not be going away. Members said the building project needs to continue but the board should prioritize what to do after further discussions with the selectmen. No decision was made on how to proceed.

After the school board members left the meeting, the selectmen said that both topics - resources, efficiencies and combined efforts, and the two defeated building projects - should be the subjects of the single committee. Barnes said, however, that the list of efficiencies and resources should be prioritized first, before the building projects were discussed.

The decision was made to start the conversation with the committee's creation at the April 20 meeting of the school board and board of selectmen.


Board of Selectmen Meetings 3-20-17 and 3-27-17
by Penny Williams    3-30-17

Jonathan Wood will chair the Raymond Board of Selectmen for the coming year. Jack Barnes will serve as vice chair.

Wood will also serve as selectmen’s representative to the Planning Board and the Business and Economic Development Committee, and will be alternate representative for the Highway Safety Committee and Friends of Raymond Recreation Committee.

Barnes will be selectmen’s representative to the Budget Committee, Historic District Commission and Scholarship Committee, and will be the selectmen’s representative in negotiations and an alternate to the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) Committee.

Selectman Greg Bemis will represent the selectmen on the CIP Committee, Friends of Raymond Recreation Committee and Scholarship Committee, and will be the alternate for the Cable Committee, Historic District Commission and Planning Board.

Selectman Wayne Welch will serve as representative to the Highway Safety Committee and alternate for the Budget Committee and the Raymond Business and Economic Development Committee.

Newly elected selectman George Plante will be representative to the Cable Committee and Raymond Business and Economic Development Committee, and will serve as alternate for negotiations.

At its recent meeting, the board discussed an action plan for dealing with the default budget. Voters shot down the Operating Budget in March, and Town Manager Craig Wheeler said he and his staff are working to overlay the default budget over the proposed operating budget, but the bottom line is the town will have to deal with $8,300,144 ($7,468,819 for the default town operating budget and $831,324 for the water department budget), rather than the proposed $8,527,969.

Wheeler said there needs to be a painstaking effort of going line by line to see what the new line amount is under the default. He said he hoped to have everything worked out in the next two weeks, and noted that some payments would be arbitrarily delayed until fall, when the Town would have a better handle on both revenues and expenditures.

A proposed new police station was also defeated at the polls in March, and Wheeler said the committee that worked with the Police Department on the building proposal would continue meeting, with Barnes and Wood remaining on that committee.

In other business:

• Wheeler said he has received several applications from highly qualified candidates for the Town's Financial Director job. The deadline for resumes was March 31. He said he was putting together a committee to review the resumes and reduce the candidate pool to two or three persons to be invited in for an interview.

• At the board’s Monday, March 27 meeting, Police Chief David Salois gave letters of merit to Corporal Brian Stice and Officer Ryan Stanton for their handling of a suicidal incident on Election Day morning.

• Wood announced a joint meeting with the School Board will take place at the April 3 Board of Selectmen meeting. He said the School Board has already chosen two representatives who will, over the course of the year, meet with selectmen representatives in a sub-committee role to discuss and work on resolving any issues of concern. The Board decided to wait until the April 3 meeting to select its representatives.

• Wheeler said resident Dana Hanson has submitted several Right to Know requests from the town. Wheeler said her requests were for: all records for town vehicles including fuel and mileage for the year 2016 and year to date 2017, all employee time sheet records for the year 2016 and year to date 2017, and all resident emails collected by the town.

Wheeler said he plans to respond to Hanson's requests consistent with the state statute."















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