Antrim Town Meeting passes all articles, pays tribute to Robertson

  • Moderator Arthur Merrill, Select Board members John Robertson, Michael Ott and Donna Hanson and Town Administrator Russell McAllister. —STAFF PHOTO BY ROWAN WILSON

  • Fire Chief Marshall Gale speaks on articles regarding the Fire Department. —STAFF PHOTO BY ROWAN WILSON

  • John Robertson speaks to the town as he leaves his position on the Select Board after five terms. —STAFF PHOTO BY ROWAN WILSON

  • Antrim residents rose for a standing ovation after Select Board member Donna Hanson speaks about longtime colleague John Robertson. —STAFF PHOTO BY ROWAN WILSON

  • Jim Plourde speaks on the Highway Department articles. —STAFF PHOTO BY ROWAN WILSON

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/31/2023 11:21:47 AM
Modified: 3/31/2023 11:20:50 AM

After a two-week postponement due to the aftermath of March 14 snowstorm, Antrim held its Town Meeting on Wednesday, passing all articles and discussing community matters.

Articles included a ballot vote taken at the beginning of the meeting, seeking an additional $600,000 for replacement of the main water line and connection of the new town well to the distribution system. Voters had approved borrowing $2.1 million in 2021, but due to inflation and material availability, the anticipated cost has increased to $2.7 million. The article stated that the town is also eligible to receive $989,280 in principal forgiveness under the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which would leave a total bonded amount of approximately $1.76 million. The vote required a three-fifths majority to pass. 

Town Meeting passed an operating budget of approximately $4.7 million, about a 5.5 percent increase over the current year.

“Most of it is costs outside of our control,” said Select Board member Donna Hanson, explaining that electricity costs are up and the Planning Board is past due to update the town’s master plan, which is in the works and in the budget for the coming year. 

Residents also approved using $330,000 from the Fire Department Capital Reserve Fund to purchase a fire truck to replace the current 1993 Freightliner. Fire Chief Marshall Gale said the department is hoping to explore the possibility of purchasing a demo or used truck. He said it’s “more economical to the town,” and with current market volatility, there’s a two-year lead time to buy a new basic fire truck. He said some larger cities automatically rotate trucks out on a regular basis regardless of condition, and Antrim could acquire a truck in good shape that would fit the needs of the town well.

Town Meeting approved purchase of a $180,000 backhoe to replace the current loader and a $42,000 Kubota tractor for the Highway Department, which Road Agent Jim Plourde said he hoped to buy as a backup for plowing sidewalks since the current machine is basically obsolete. He also said he hoped to put a warrant article on next year’s warrant requesting a sidewalk snowblower.

Erika Alusic-Bingham asked why he didn’t just request the new snowblower this year if that’s the primary need, and Plourde responded that it would fit into the town warrant next year better because it’s about $180,000. 

Voters also approved the state-mandated readoption of a veterans tax credit of $500 that now includes currently enlisted service members who have served for at least four years. If the article hadn’t passed, the credit would have been reduced to $50. 

Tribute to Robertson

Moderator Arthur Merrill explained that the polls were required to stay open for one hour, so after the warrant articles following the ballot vote were all passed in about 35 minutes, residents took the microphone to talk about things not warrant-related, starting out with acknowledgment of longtime Selectman John Robertson, who lost his seat to Bob Edwards in the election.

Robertson served five terms on the board, including as chair several times in the last three years.

“I just want to thank John Robertson for his many, many years of service,” said Hanson. “I’ve seen John, over those years, do so much. It was wonderful to work with you all these years.” 

Town Administrator Russell McAllister and Edwards also thanked Robertson, who received a standing ovation.

Regarding the snow, Edwards said the weight it particularly difficult, and that many people came out and helped their neighbors.

“This recent storm was one of the most challenging,” he said. “It was an example of the community coming together. We’re a vibrant community.”

Residents took the microphone one by one to share information about the town, events and projects and kept the conversation moving until the hour was up.

Planning Board Chair Mark Murdough said the planning and community boards are holding community vision events April 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. and April 15 from 9 a.m. to noon on the second floor of Town Hall to “capture input from residents on the master plan revision.”

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