Jaffrey voters approve Internet bonding plan at drive-in Town Meeting

  • Jaffrey voters held a drive-in Town Meeting at the Hope Fellowship Church on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Jaffrey voters held a drive-in Town Meeting at the Hope Fellowship Church on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Jaffrey voters held a drive-in Town Meeting at the Hope Fellowship Church on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Jaffrey voters held a drive-in Town Meeting at the Hope Fellowship Church on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Jaffrey voters held a drive-in Town Meeting at the Hope Fellowship Church on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Jaffrey voters held a drive-in Town Meeting at the Hope Fellowship Church on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Jaffrey voters held a drive-in Town Meeting at the Hope Fellowship Church on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Jaffrey voters held a drive-in Town Meeting at the Hope Fellowship Church on Saturday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/25/2021 10:45:37 AM

Jaffrey residents were eager for the prospect of high-speed internet during voting at the drive-in Town Meeting on Saturday, unanimously agreeing to a $1.2 million bond for fiber internet infrastructure.

Jaffrey repeated last year’s solution to COVID-19 social distancing with a meeting held in the Hope Fellowship Church parking lot, with residents listening to the meeting over their car radios and voting by holding colored cards out their car windows.

The first article of the day was a bond to run fiber Internet to every household in town. The article originally requested a $2.5 million bond, but was amended to $1.2 million during Town Meeting, to match a proposal submitted by Consolidated Communications. The bond will not be paid back through tax dollars, but by an $11 monthly user fee for those who sign up for the service.

The bond required a three-fifths vote to pass, easily surpassed by the 116-0 ballot vote taken by residents who attended Saturday’s meeting, after no questions from the crowd.

All other articles on the warrant this year also gained easy approval from Jaffrey residents, in most cases, with a unanimous showing of green “yes” cards.

Voters easily approved the proposed $6,494,493 budget, which is down this year by about $97,000 compared to the previous year.

Budget Committee Chair Norman Langevin told attending residents that while the budget is lower this year than in 2020, warrant articles, if all approved, are expected to increase the tax rate by an estimated 91 cents, which would set the next year’s rate at $10.46 per $1,000 of value.

In separate articles impacting the town’s budget, voters approved 30-month employee contracts for both the police department and the highway employees. Both contracts include set wage increases through 2023.

Voters also approved starting a capital reserve for road paving, and seeding the fund with $575,000 for the first year.

Selectman Jack Belletete said this year’s request is the first of a 10-year plan – with similar requests planned for the next decade – to comprehensively tackle the town’s road system. Belletete said the roads have become a “priority” for the board, and the town has developed a plan for addressing the worst roads.

Jaffrey currently has a $7.65 million backlog of paving projects that will be addressed over the next decade.

In other infrastructure improvements, residents also agreed to use $220,000 from the town’s capital reserves, which will be matched with $880,000 from the State Bridge Aid fund to repair Nutting Road Bridge, which is currently red-listed and in need of repair.

Residents also agreed to reduce the classifications on two Class VI roads to “trails” to help preserve wetland and water sources adjacent  to the roads, which have been damaged by lack of maintenance and off-roaders on the roadway. Sherwin Hill Road from Squantum Road to the Rindge town line is now a Class A trail, and Carey Road is now a Class B trail.

Voters also approved multiple requests to add funds to the town’s capital reserves or trust funds, and multiple requests to support community aid groups. Voters only made one amendment to the requests, reducing the proposed funding for the nonprofit Reality Check from $12,278 to $11,873. The Reality Check funding request is made based population, which was updated with the most recent census.


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