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Mason Select Board reduces $10K raise for road agent

MASON — The 120 or so residents who attended Mason’s Town Meeting on Saturday morning voted to pass the entirety of the proposed warrant, including several articles asking for new equipment for police and fire services.

The town passed the budget, after amending a proposed raise for the Road Agent. Originally, the budget proposed a $10,000 jump in the road agent’s salary, from $51,000 to $61,000. At Town Meeting, the Select Board proposed to adjust that amount to a $1,500 raise, or three percent, after hearing concerns from residents during the budget process. The board proposed to use the other $8,500 to increase the budget for part-time employees at the Highway Department. After accepting those amendments, the 2013 budget for Mason is 1,699,543.

Police equipment was the focus of several articles on the warrant this year. One article requested $4,000 to allow the department to purchase new firearms. At Town Meeting, Police Chief Barry Hutchins proposed to amend the article from $4,000 to $3,670. The amount was based on a more accurate quote he had received for the purchase of seven new firearms, one for each of the department’s three full-time and four part-time members.

The current firearms used by the department are 17 years old, and the officers are starting to see mechanical failures on the firing range, said Hutchins. The $3,670 price also includes attached flashlights, night sights and holsters for all seven weapons, and takes into account the trade-in value of the department’s old weapons. The voters accepted the amendment and passed the article. The town also approved adding $9,000 to the police cruiser capital reserve fund.

The Fire Department will also be seeing new equipment this year. The town approved a $17,500 article to purchase new protective safety gear for the Fire Department, and a $4,225 article to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatus bottles.

Voters also passed an article to add $10,000 to the capital reserve fund for an addition to the fire station.

“If we do this, if we do need to expand or update the Fire Department, we can,” said Select Board member Pete McGinnity. “I think this is the proper financial way to do it, put a little away each year, so if we need to, we don’t hit the town all at once with a big cost.”

The town passed a $50,000 article for road repairs. They also authorized $14,815 for the capital reserve for the highway barn and garage, with the money to be taken from the 2012 fund balance. Road Agent Fredrick Greenwood clarified that the same amount of money the department requested for the reserve fund was equal to what had gone into the general fund from the sale of scrap metal and old equipment in 2012.

The town also authorized the Select Board to convey the property rights for four parcels of town-owned land. The intent of the article is to allow the Conservation Commission and Select Board the authority to grant a third party the right to hold conservation easements on land owned by the Conservation Commission. It would give the town the right to temporarily convey the property to an organization, such as the Society for the protection of N.H. Forests, for the sole purpose of having a conservation easement placed on the land, with the intent that the property would then be conveyed back to the town.

The town created a revolving fund so that income generated by the Recreation Department will be able to used by that department for recreation activities, such as Old Home Day, instead of being deposited in the town’s general fund.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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