Three main issues on Francestown warrant
∎ Article 4 calls for funding the continuation of Pleasant Pond Road reconstruction with $180,000 from the capital reserve fund for future town road improvements. The construction would continue from the point where it ended last year, and go as far as the budget will allow in 2013. Residents at the Feb. 7 budget hearing voiced that the two closed town bridges were higher priorities for them, and asked if the funds could be reallocated for those repairs. A temporary bridge solution was brought up at the budget hearing, but was not backed by the Select Board. Since the warrant article is specific, it can not be amended to be used for the bridges. However, Select Board members said that the town’s operating budget could be amended at Town Meeting to include funds for a temporary bridge, which could cost as much as $70,000.
∎ Article 7 asks for an appropriation of $1.4 million of which the state will pay $1.12 million for repairs to the Woodward Hill Road and the Juniper Hill Road bridges. The rest would be raised through taxation. Woodward Hill Road bridge is currently closed to traffic until the summer of 2015 when state aid will fund repairs; the Juniper Hill Road bridge will also close for a significant amount of time without repairs. This article will cover repairs necessary for the bridges to reopen and remove them from the state’s red list. Select Board members said at the budget hearing that they were confident the town would receive the state aid, although there is a chance the program will be cut.
∎ Article 12 asks voters to appropriate $30,000 to the Building Improvement Capital Reserve Fund, of which $23,000 would be raised by general taxation and the remaining $7,000 would be taken from the undesignated fund surplus. Select Board member Abigail Arnold said at the budget hearing that this article represents the Planning Board’s acknowledgement that a lot of work needs to be done to town buildings, mostly notably the Town Hall. The Select Board and the majority of the Budget Advisory Committee did not recommend this article pass because they said it would increase the tax rate significantly.