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Raymond Town Deliberative Held Saturday Jan. 31
By Penny Williams 2-2-15

As winds whipped snow around and temperatures outdoors hovered well below freezing, the Raymond Town Deliberative Session took place Saturday, Jan. 31, in the Raymond High School cafeteria. It started on time at 10 a.m. and ended after 3 p.m., in spite of a power outage in the afternoon that led to running on generator power. Tempers were mostly kept under tight control, but emotions ran high, especially on a Conservation citizen petition.

Moderator Kathleen Hoelzel elected to skip Zoning Amendment Articles 2 through 5 until the end of the meeting.

An amendment was offered on Article 6, the Operating Budget. The article proposed a Town Operating Budget of $7,118,097 and Water Department Operating Budget of $839,982 for a total Operating Budget of $7,957,989.

The Board of Selectmen proposed an amendment to add $56,748 to the operating budget to cover what the selectmen consider the actual costs associated with the solid waste disposal Pay As You Throw program.

Selectman Jack Barnes suggested increasing the cost of bags bought by users for the program by 35 cents for large bags and 30 cents for smaller bags.

Discussion centered over which option would cost taxpayers less, increasing the cost of the bags or adding in the additional money to the budget.

Hoelzel wanted to have a secret ballot on the amendment but this was soundly squashed by the voters present. About 80 people, including town officials, selectmen and budget committee members and department heads were present, with roughly three to four dozen residents who steadily came and went.

Ultimately the proposed amendment failed and a second amendment was proposed that sought to add $28,000 to the budget bottom line to cover the cost of the solid waste disposal program, making the proposed Operating Budget $7,985,989. This was passed after more discussion.

Hoelzel moved Article 6 as amended to the ballot and an affirmative vote was taken to restrict any reconsideration. The Board of Selectmen voted to recommend the amended article.

Article 7, Collective Bargaining for Teamsters Union Local 633, had a bottom line of $32,062.54 for the current fiscal year for the estimated three-year contract of $120,469.93. An amendment was proposed to cover the three months of year 2018 that had inadvertently been missed, as the union contract calendar year is different from that of the town. The amendment added $10,283 covering the three months in 2018 to the overall estimated cost of the contract, increasing the bottom line to $130,753. The amendment passed and the Selectmen and the Budget Committee recommended the article as amended.

Article 12, Capital Improvements, with a bottom line of $190,000, came in for discussion and amendment as well. Selectman Bill Hoitt, speaking as a citizen, offered an amendment that increased the bottom line by $42,200, which under the amendment was added to the Fire Department Equipment and Vehicle Capital Reserve Fund. The amendment passed, increasing the bottom line of this article to $232,200, and the Board of Selectmen voted 3 to 2 to recommend.

Articles 17 and 18 concerned the Trustees of the Trust Fund’s request to seek authorization to pay for investment fees. Article 17 authorized Trustees to use money from the principle in invested trust funds to cover fees, while Article 18 asked voters to raise and appropriate $15,000 for that purpose. Despite extensive discussion over whether having both options would be confusing and which was the appropriate method of fee payment, both articles were moved to the ballot unchanged.

Article 21, a citizen petition from Peter Buckingham, asked voters "to make all contracts for Conservation Easements on town-owned land placed with outside entities limited to no more than 10 years and subject to a vote of the citizens to renew the contract."

Before the voters got to this hot button issue, however, a power outage occurred, and despite the fact that the school's generator kicked in immediately and ran everything except for the on-screen PowerPoint, it gave the attendees pause. A fire call also occurred and firefighters present left the session to respond.

Hoelzel then said there would be no final vote on the much discussed Article 21 until the firefighters returned, but she forgot this promise and took a vote. When she was reminded of her promise, she declared the vote in recess and took up the Zoning Amendment articles she had initially skipped. When the firefighters returned some time later, voting on Article 21 was resumed.

Brian Campbell offered an amendment to Article 21, changing the number of years from 10 to 100, but despite a long discussion this amendment ultimately failed, with people debating the wording, "limited to no more than" for the number of years.

Speakers spoke in favor of and in opposition to the article, with those opposed wanting the town's resources protected for the future. There were discussions on whether Conservation Easements were for perpetuity or could be limited, and Attorney Sharon Cuddy Somers, the Town’s legal counsel, said Conservation Easements were not all for perpetuity. When the firefighters returned, Campbell's amendment was defeated.

Discussion also focused on the inclusion of two pieces of property that voters have previously approved placing in conservation easements, Dearborn and Flint Hill, although conservation easements on them are not yet in place. Many speakers wanted the two parcels excluded from the Article's proposed restrictions.

An amendment to return to the original petition but to remove the "no more than" language and to add exclusion of Dearborn and Flint Hill properties was proposed by Selectwoman Colleen West-Coates, speaking as a citizen, and after some discussion, it passed.

That led to a heated discussion on whether changing the intent of the Citizen Petition was legal, and Hoelzel suggested this would end up in court.

Article 21 as amended was moved to the ballot.

To watch the town deliberative session on RCTV
click on Raymond Town Deliberative Session

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t remember what happened in 2016?

Refresh your memory by reading

Raymond Voting Results
from March 2016.

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Raymond Voter Information Project

Box 813, Raymond NH 03077
603-895-4084


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