Dublin residents ratify road repair vote

  • Dublin resident Allan Pinney argued against ratifying the vote to raise $225,000 for road repairs, as the town already had the money needed because of an insurance payment and state approval to overspend the town’s operating budget.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Dublin voters ratified a prior vote to raise $225,000 via taxation to repair roads damaged by an August storm on Thursday at the Dublin Fire Station.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • With about a dozen newcomers to the second special town meeting on Thursday, Dublin Moderator Timothy Clark allowed for 20 minutes of debate, though only one resident made comments.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, November 30, 2018 11:53AM

Dublin voters ratified a prior vote to raise $225,000 via taxation Thursday night to repair road damage from an August storm.

Approximately 65 voters filed into the Dublin Fire Station on Thursday night for the meeting, which lasted just over 10 minutes.

The voice vote was ultimately passed, but not without some dissent.

“What we need to think about is our neighbors,” Dublin resident Allan Pinney said, prior to the vote. “… a lot of your neighbors can’t afford this.”

The town of Dublin was left in need of money after flash flooding during a storm on Aug. 17 damaged a number of town roads including Old Marlborough Road, Old Troy Road, Burpee Road, and Windmill Hill Road.

While the town’s tax rate has yet to be set, Selectman Peter “Sturdy” Thomas said there will be an 85 cent increase per thousand dollars property valuation on the county portion of Dublin residents’ tax bills and a $2.16 local education increase. There will be a 34 cent decrease in the state education of the bill, Thomas said.

It was said by Pinney Thursday and by selectmen at a prior meeting that the $225,000 agreed upon Thursday will impact the tax rate by around $1.

The need for a second special town meeting was needed after the town incorrectly noticed the first one.

Thomas said the first special town meeting – held at the fire station on Nov. 8 – was noticed on Oct. 18 at the post office, town hall, the town’s website, and at Dublin General Store, but had not been posted at the fire department.

The meeting was posted in the Nov. 1 copy of the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, but it needed to be posted by Oct. 25 in accordance with state law, Thomas said.

“Because of this, the meeting from Nov. 8 must be ratified 21 days later to rectify the improper notification,” Thomas said. “Proper notification has been done for this meeting.”

With a three week gap between the two meetings, Thomas said, the town petitioned the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) to access $225,000 from the unreserved fund balance – surplus funds retained by a municipality – to begin road work early.

“No sooner than it was granted, the snow came,” Thomas said.

Because of the DRA approval, money for the road work would come from the 2018 budget, even if voters didn’t ratify the vote Thursday.

Thomas said at a prior select board meeting that if the vote wasn’t ratified and if the unreserved fund balance had to be used, the town would have to raise money during the 2019 Town Meeting to recuperate the unreserved fund balance as the town has a policy to maintain it at a rate of five to eight percent of the town’s annual operating budget.

Taking $225,000 from the town’s unreserved fund balance would leave about $76,000 left in the fund, well below the mark of about $300,000 the town would like to maintain.

It is currently unknown whether the additional road work will be completed this year or if it will be delayed to early 2019, due to the weather. Road agent Roger Trempe told the Ledger-Transcript in November that it would take about two weeks to complete the work, which for the most part will focus on affected gravel roads.

Roads are currently passable, but there is concern that winter wear and tear – including plowing – could further damage the roads.

With about a dozen newcomers from the first meeting to the second, moderator Timothy Clark allowed for up to 20 minutes of debate, though Pinney was the only one to speak.

Pinney argued against ratification because the town already had approval from DRA and because the town is receiving a $50,000 check from the town’s insurance company for the damages.

“We have the money, this is what the unreserved fund balance is for – just such an event,” Pinney said.

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com.