Raymond Town Deliberative Session Sends Almost All Articles Unchanged
By Penny Williams 2-17-17
When the Raymond Town Deliberative started Saturday, Feb. 11 at 10 a.m., a little more than three dozen residents were in the audience. And by the time the meeting adjourned just before 3:30 p.m., the audience was down to fewer than two dozen.
Three articles – the budget, a bond for a new police station, and an appropriation for a new well – were addressed first. There were 35 articles before the Deliberative audience and in the end, despite several getting a lot of attention and comment, only one article faced an amendment - Article 33, which proposes collecting an additional motor vehicle license fee of $5. The amendment came from the town attorney, correcting a mistake in word order that he said was made by his office. Several attempts were made by citizens to amend the article as well but they failed.
The article is taken directly from an RSA (statute) and as such defied amendment. However, resident Jane Bailey tried unsuccessfully to amend the article to reduce the additional proposed fee from $5 to 50 cents. Cheryl Killam then proposed an amendment that increased the specified exempt vehicles but upon advice of the Town Attorney, withdrew it because that the RSA language does not allow such a change.
In the end the article was forwarded to the ballot as amended by the Town Attorney, correcting the next to last sentence to read "Registrations for all-terrain vehicles, (as defined in RSA 215-A: 1, 1-b) and antique motor vehicles and antique motorcycles (as defined in RSA 259:4) are exempt from this fee."
Gary MacLean called the timing of the new fee collection – May 1 - unfair and Mitchell said the Board of Selectmen could, if the article passes, change the start date.
Proposed Police Station on Old Manchester Road
Article 14, a bond for a proposed new police station, drew the most attention. Police Chief David Salois presented a brief video and said if residents want to see all the slides and access all the information on the proposed new station, they could do so at www.raymondnhpolice.com.
The article calls for raising and appropriating $6,800,000 and to further raise an additional $25,000 for bond issuances and bond counsel costs. The article was approved by both the Selectmen and the Budget Committee, and the 2017 estimated tax impact would be $0.027. Starting in 2018 the estimated tax impact would be approximately $0.525.
The Board of Selectmen chose a 20-year level debt bond approach that would make each year's payment roughly the same. The estimated tax impact would work out to an estimated annual impact of $106 on a property valued at $200,000 and $159 on a property of $300,000 value. State Rep. Carolyn Matthews, R-Raymond reminded residents that these are estimates and would vary depending on revenues and the tax rate.
Salois and the architect for the proposed station explained how they had pared down the initial plan and noted that the current estimate for each year that implementation is delayed is almost a half million dollars. Salois urged residents to visit the Police Department Open House scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Resident Sue Roundy, who said she was a retired law enforcement officer, said she supported the proposal and described the lack of a properly ventilated and spacious evidence area as unbelievable. She called the entire building "appalling" and said the evidence area in particular is "sub-standard."
Several people asked what would be done with the existing building. The current police station is the bottom floor of the fire station. The plan at present is for the Fire Department to take over some of the bottom floor, and eventually some town departments would move there as well.
Resident Gary MacLean was concerned with constructing a new building rather than adding on to the existing building. The architect defended the decision, noting that adding on would end up being more costly and less effective and efficient, and would be smaller. The new building plan is for the long term, with everything geared to meet demands from a growing community over the next 20 years.
The bottom line emphasized by Salois, the Selectmen and the architect was that the present police building is not safe for the officers, the civilian employees or the town residents who have to visit the station.
Resident Susan Hilchey spoke in support of the police station bond, saying addressing the safety issue posed by the building's inadequacies has been a long time coming. Tim Mailloux also spoke in favor of it and encouraged anyone who hasn't visited the Police Department to take the tour on Feb. 18.
Article 14 was forwarded to the ballot unchanged.
Article 15, to design and construct a new well #4, asks residents to raise and appropriate $500,000, in addition to the money raised last year to replace Well #1 and to build Well #4.
Public Works Director Steve Brewer explained that Well #1 is almost completely replaced and once the final easements are worked out, the implementation of construction on Well 4 will begin, But despite securing the loan, costs have risen and a year has gone by, and the contingency funding isn't sufficient to ensure the job can be completed. If a major hindrance were to occur, the completion could be jeopardized – thus the request for the additional money.
Brewer said the money would not be used unless it is needed. The article was recommended by both the Selectmen and the Budget Committee and the estimated tax impact would be zero, as the bond would be repaid by using water revenues. It was forwarded to the ballot.
Tax Rate Breakdown
Article 16, the operating and default budgets, drew few comments. The Town Operating Budget is $7,637,732 and the Water Department Operating Budget is $890,238, making the total $8,527,969. The Town Default Budget amount is $7,468,819 and the Water Department Default Budget is $831,324 for a Default total of $8,300,144.
The overall budget is up 2.82 percent. The Selectmen and Budget Committee recommended the article, and the operating budget estimated tax impact is $5.953 while the estimated tax impact of the default budget is $5.770.
After a lunch break, Zoning Amendment articles 2 through 13 were taken up, with little discussion on Articles 2 through 10 except for Article 4, which amends the Special Exception Criteria Section. This concerns consideration of the zoning designation of the proposed location in determining whether a proposed use will unreasonably impact the quality of life, character or public health, safety, and welfare, and not requiring expensive property value assessments that don't add to the discussion. These articles were all recommended by the Planning Board.
Resident Kathy McDonald spoke to Articles 11, 12, and 13, which are citizen petitions and are not recommended by the Planning Board.
Article 11 would remove the multi-family category from allowed use in C.3 East and C3. West; Article 12 sought to remove hotels and motels from allowed use in C.3 West, and Article 13 sought to change the density in C.3 East and West from eight bedrooms per acre to three bedrooms per acre. These articles were proposed as a result of a proposed multi-family housing development at the corner of Brown Road and Route 102. McDonald said the demands of such a development on water, other town services, safety services, schools and social services would be huge and not in the best interests of Raymond. The articles were forwarded to the ballot.
Articles 17 (Scholarship Fund), 18 (Social Service Agencies), 19 (Mosquito Spraying), 20 (Capital Improvements) and 21 (Capital Reserve Funds - water revenues) were all forwarded to the ballot with little or no comment. They were all recommended by both the Selectmen and the Budget Committee.
Article 22, road reconstruction projects, asks residents to raise $300,000, and was recommended by both the Selectmen and Budget Committee and has an estimated tax impact of $.325. Even with this article, Brewer said he would not be able to bring the roads in Raymond up to the highest standards - to do that would take $9 million, he said.
Article 23 asks residents to approve $290,000 to purchase two public works vehicles and was recommended by both the Selectmen and the Budget Committee. It has an estimated tax impact of $0.314. Brewer pointed out that last year's attempt to get new trucks failed and his fleet is aging, with several vehicles completely out of service because they are too expensive to repair. He said he will continue trying to replace trucks every year until his fleet is renewed.
Article 24, Shim and Overlay Special Revenue Fund, is about accepting money from the state for road construction and has no tax impact. It was recommended by the Selectmen and the Budget Committee.
Article 25, Vacation and Sick Leave Union Fund, asks voters to approve adding $10,000 to cover the Town's liability, and Article 26, Vacation and Sick Leave Non-Union Fund, also seeks $10,000 for the same purpose for this fund. Both were recommended by the Selectmen and the Budget Committee and each has an estimated tax impact of $0.011.
Article 27, to discontinue the Air Handling System Highway Capital Reserve Fund (CRF), and Article 28, to appropriate to General Government Building Capital Reserve Fund from Fund Balance, are related. The Air Handling System CRF fund was established in 2001 and the present article deals with the unspent $9,231 remaining in the fund after the system was installed. The purpose of the two articles is to switch the remaining unused money to the Government Building CRF, where it could be used instead of just sitting unspent.
Article 29, Change the Purpose of the Clean Wells Capital Reserve Fund, would broaden the use of the fund and rename it Water System Infrastructure CRF. There is no tax impact.
Article 30 would change the name of the Paint Water Tank Towers Capital Reserve Fund to Water Storage Facilities CRF to broaden the use of the money. It has no tax impact.
Article 31 would change the purpose of the Bridge Maintenance Capital Reserve Fund to Bridge and Culvert CRF so the fund could address more needs. It has no tax impact.
Article 32 would change the purpose of the Police and Dispatch Equipment and Vehicle Fund Capital Reserve Fund to Police and Dispatch Equipment, Vehicle and Facilities Fund in order to broaden the use of the funds. It has no tax impact and was recommended by the Selectmen.
Article 34, Allocate the Land Use Change Tax to the Conservation Fund, drew a few comments. Originally 100 percent of the land use change tax went to the Conservation Commission but the voters later changed that and had all that money go to the General Fund. However, that made no appreciable difference toward lowering the tax rate and there are lands available to provide more open space for Raymond if the Conservation Commission had use of the funds.
The article seeks to have 50 percent of the land use tax change funds given to the Conservation Commission. Conservation Commission member Bernie Peer read an explanation and reason for the article, which is recommended by the Selectmen and has no tax impact.
The final Article, Article 35, was a citizen petition article concerning a drainage issue on Orchard Street. No details or costs were provided.
Brewer said he is aware of the situation but indicated any solution would be very expensive. The article asked for a “sum" without further definition as to an amount. The Town Counsel said it would have no impact. No petitioner spoke to the article.
Candidates Night is Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Raymond High School Media Center, with a snow date of Wednesday, Feb. 22. Write-in candidates are invited to announce their intentions to run for a position. The event is for town and school candidates.
To read a detailed description of what a YES vote versus a NO vote will mean visit the Raymond Voter Information Project Website.
To watch the town deliberative session on RCTV
click on Raymond Town Deliberative Session
Be Sure To Come Out and Vote on March 14.