Antrim sets budget and warrant

  • Downtown Antrim Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/19/2021 12:11:45 PM

Antrim voters will decide whether to create a Community Board, dictate the fate of a number of Highway Department-related purchases and improvements, and authorize funds associated with replacing the town’s well this March, following the Select Board’s finalization of the warrant and budget on Feb. 8.

Town meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m. in the Antrim Memorial Town Gymnasium rather than the Town Hall. The change is meant to accommodate social distancing, according to Town Moderator Arthur Merrill at the Jan. 11 Select Board meeting. The gym will hold 121 socially distanced clusters, and participants who refuse to wear masks can be accommodated in the back of the gym.

The operating budget is $3,734,492 excluding water and sewer costs, up 0.5% from last year’s $3,716,384. The increase is mostly due to retirement -related costs, Town Administrator Donna Hanson said.

Article 1 asks voters to elect town officers and trustees.

Article 2 asks voters to amend the zoning ordinance in five places. The amendments clarify that building materials are regulated separately from excavation, remove some restrictions on accessory dwelling units, and endorse a comprehensive overhaul of the Shoreland Protection District section of the ordinance. The Planning Board ran out of time to satisfactorily rewrite the Shoreland Protection District section this year, Assistant to the Land Use Boards Ashley Brudnick-Destromp said, but they’re still working on the  rewrite in advance of a 2022 vote, regardless of whether the item passes this year, she said.

Article 3 asks voters to spend $2,685,000 and to authorize up to $2,148,000 in bonds or notes, and authorize the Select Board to apply for and accept relevant grants for water line improvements that will hook up the town’s new well and add a second main under the Contoocook River. Antrim’s existing well, which was installed in 1966, is well past its 30-year industry standard life expectancy, Water and Sewer Superintendent Matt Miller said. “The well has been cleaned 3 times in the last 6 years at a cost of $20,000 per cleaning,” he wrote in an informational pamphlet.

Water from the new well, drilled in 2019 on the same property, has low iron and less manganese, two metals that had been increasing in concentration in the old well, he said. The second pipe under the Contoocook will afford the town a backup if something ever needed repairs, he said, since that pipe is only accessible a couple times a year and the existing pipe was also buried in 1966. The well services 350 taps, and roughly 900 people, Miller said. $537,000 grant has already been preapproved from the NH Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust for the project.

Article 4 asks voters to spend $32,000 from the Town Government Buildings capital reserve fund on vehicle exhaust extraction systems for the Highway Department. The systems are meant to protect town employees and the public from carcinogens in vehicle emissions.

Article 5 asks voters to spend $100,000 from the unassigned fund balance to create an addition on the Highway Department building, including an office, bathroom and break room.

Article 6 asks voters to spend $65,000 from the Highway capital reserve fund on two compact rollers for the Highway Department, 10-ton and 2-ton respectively. 

Article 7 asks voters to spend $370,000 to fortify the following capital reserve funds: $65,000 to fire, $75,000 to bridge, $70,000 to highway, $30,000 to park and recreational, $100,000 to dam maintenance, $30,000 to town government.

Article 8 asks voters to establish a Police capital reserve fund, and add $20,000 to it. It’s for future IT needs, Hanson said.

Article 9 asks voters to spend $20,000 towards the next town revaluation, to be used through the end of the project or 2025, whichever comes sooner.

Article 10 asks voters to spend $5,000 from the Dam capital reserve fund to repair the Gregg Lake dam.

Article 11 asks voters to spend $4,436,972 (including $702,483 for the Water and Sewer Department) on the town’s general operating costs.

Article 12 is a petition article that asks voters to establish a Community Services and Care Planning Board (Community Board) to enhance the public health, community well-being, quality of life, prosperity, and safety of residents.

Article 13 is a petition article that asks voters to urge the New Hampshire General Court to fairly and effectively represent New Hampshire voters without gerrymandering when redrawing political maps with new census data.

Article 14 asks voters to hear reports from committees.

Article 15 asks voters to transact any other business coming before the town.

The Select Board recommends Articles 3-11, although Articles 3 and 5 were recommended 2-1.

A disagreement in cost distribution caused the split vote on Article 3, Hanson said. All three Select Board members agreed the project should be done, but Bob Edwards thought the water users and non-users should split the cost of the bond payment 50-50, while the other two favored the 60-40 cost split reflected in the article, she said.

Edwards also voted against  Article 5 because he wanted a long-term study done on the space at the highway department and transfer station, Hanson said, while the other two believed the addition would defer the need for major changes to the site for about a decade.

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