Jaffrey voters approve bonds for sewer work and fire truck, approve extra expenses for water project

  • Residents gather at Jaffrey Town Meeting —PHOTO COURTESY ROBERT STEPHENSON

  • Selectman Jack Belletete speaks while Moderator Marc Tieger looks on. —PHOTO COURTESY ROBERT STEPHENSON

  • From left, Supervisors of the Checklist Vicki Arceci, Eunice Jadlocki and Carolyn Garretson help a resident check in. PHOTO COURTESY ROBERT STEPHENSON

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/14/2022 1:07:16 PM

Voters were resounding in their support for all issues on the Jaffrey town warrant Saturday, including approving bonds for a new fire engine and a sewer line replacement project.

Moderator Marc Tieger said in over 30 years of moderating Town Meeting, he has rarely seen a less-contentious one than Saturday’s, with most articles passing swiftly with little or no discussion, a circumstance Tieger called very unusual.

“There was no contention, no arguing or posturing. It was a very nice meeting to moderate,” Tieger said. “And to me, it’s a sign we as a town are doing something right.”

The meeting started off with two ballot votes for bonds. The first was for a $1.5 million project to replace and repair town sewer lines. The town plans to use $590,000 in grants and state and federal aid, with the remaining $910,000 to be taken out in bonds. The payments on the bond will be provided by sewer use fees.

Voters were strongly in favor of the article, passing it in a 76-7 ballot vote, easily within the three-fifths majority vote required to pass a bond.

Similarly, only a handful of voters objected to the second bond, for a replacement for the town’s Fire Engine One. Voters agreed in a 78-6 ballot vote – again, easily within the three-fifths majority required – to bond $400,000 and use a further $350,000 from capital reserves to purchase the new truck.

Voters also revisited an article to raise funds to purchase a new water source and build a shared treatment system with Peterborough. Voters previously approved funds for the project, but estimated costs have skyrocketed well over the initial anticipated costs, causing the town to return to voters with updated numbers. The total cost of the project increased by $4.3 million, with Jaffrey’s share being $1.5 million. However, the warrant, as approved by voters Saturday, requires that the balance be covered by grants, federal, state or other aid, and not from taxation. Should those grants not be enough to cover the additional cost, the article is null and void.

The funds for Cold Stone Springs, as well as all other articles, passed by voice vote and without any debate, according to Tieger.

“In my opinion, the town is running very effectively, and consequently, there was no dissension I could discern,” Tieger said.

Voters approved the $6.9 million budget by voice vote, as well as the $3 million operating budget for the water and sewer, which is paid for through user fees.

In a non-monetary article, voters supported a potential town solar project. Voters agreed to authorize the Select Board to enter into a long-term agreement with ReVision Energy, Inc., to lease land at the Jaffrey Landfill, specifically for the development of a solar array.

Sustainability was at the heart of another non-monetary article, one requesting the town, Select Board and Department of Public Works “support and encourage” the schools, Recreation Department and community to collaborate in creating a Community Food Production garden and Pollinator garden. The article was submitted by petition, and passed by voice vote.

In voice votes, voters agreed to purchase a new highway sweeper, using $240,000 in capital reserve funds, and $25,000 to repair the fire department’s tanker, also taken from capital reserves.

The town also agreed to establish a new capital reserve fund, specifically to fund infrastructure enhancements in the Stone Arch Bridge Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District. A TIF district is a set area of town, where any new taxable income generated by improvements or new construction is captured in a fund and used for further infrastructure improvements in the district. The town agreed to create a capital reserve for the funds for the Stone Arch Bridge district, and to put $40,000 from the Stone Arch Bridge TIF into it, as well as, in a separate article, to accept a financing plan for future improvements.

Voters also agreed to authorize the Select Board and Conservation Commission to place conservation easements on all present and future Jaffrey conservation properties or town forests.

Voters approved a variety of requests to add funds to town capital reserve accounts to save for future expensive purchases, or to be spent on projects this year. Voters approved $575,000 for the road paving reserve, $200,000 for highway equipment, $50,000 for the town office reserve for the eventual construction of a new building, $60,000 for the fire department capital reserve, $60,000 for the Downtown TIF District reserve, $5,000 for the land acquisition reserve, $5,000 for the trimming of cemetery trees, $1,000 for the gravestone restoration trust fund, $3,000 for the Meetinghouse Trust Fund, $15,000 for municipal buildings, $120,000 for bridge rehabilitation, $50,000 for the police cruiser reserve, $7,500 for the 250th celebration reserve, $25,000 for the recreation equipment reserve, and $10,000 for the retirement buyout reserve.

The majority of the rest of the warrant were small amounts requested by nonprofit agencies which provide services to Jaffrey residents. All passed by voice vote.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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