New Ipswich voters say no to police station project

  • Audrey Griffis of New Ipswich casts her vote on March 12 at the Mascenic High School gym. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Audrey Griffis of New Ipswich casts her vote on March 12 at the Mascenic High School gym. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, March 13, 2019 11:34AM

In one of the only articles not to pass during Tuesday’s ballot voting, New Ipswich voters said no to a proposal to buy and renovate the police department facilities.

If passed, the proposal would have purchased the building and land where the current police department is located, renovated the existing building and constructed an addition of a garage and secure holding area to detain arrestees.

The warrant asked for a $700,000 bond, and to use $500,000 of the town’s unexpended fund balance to pay for the project. Because it was a bond request, by law the article would have needed a two-thirds majority to pass. With a 392-494 vote, the article didn’t gain a simple majority.

In an interview Wednesday morning, New Ipswich Police Chief Tim Carpenter said the department will continue to look for a permanent solution the department’s dilemma of having a police station that is too small. But said he doubts the town will try the same proposal again since it didn’t gain the majority of Tuesday’s voters.

“I don’t foresee this plan coming back,” Carpenter said. “We thought this proposal was just and would have been palatable to the voters. Now, we’re in uncharted territory.”

Carpenter said the option presented this year is likely as low a tax impact as a new police department is going to get, because of the proposed use of money from the unreserved fund balance.

However, he said, this will not be the last time voters have to decide on a police department option.

“These problems aren’t going away,” he said. “It’s a discussion we’re going to have to have and it’s something that’s going to have to happen sooner rather than later.”

Other articles on the warrant

Voters passed almost all other articles on the warrant this year, including the $2.44 million budget.

The budget was one of the narrowest decisions, with 461 for and 422 against.

Voters continued the trend of passing both requests for funds to reconstruct and pave town roads. The two articles equal a total of $600,000, and both passed easily to continue the town’s road reconstruction plan. The town also voted to accept $150,000 in state grants for highway work.

A proposed increase to the town’s tax credit for military-service related disabilities failed 401 to 468. The article, if passed would have doubled the optional tax credit from $2,000 to $4,000.

However, the town did pass other tax credit increases, including increasing the veterans’ tax credit from $500 to $750 and adopting a tax credit for actively serving combat personnel.

Also defeated by voters was an article to change the purpose of the town’s 250th celebration expendable trust. The funds left over from the town’s anniversary celebration would have been used for “town enhancement” instead. While the majority said yes to the article, in a 525-343 vote, a two-thirds majority is required to change the purpose of a trust fund or capital reserve account.

Town offices

There were no contested races on the ballot this year.

Incumbent John Veeser will be returning for a new term on the Select Board. Bernard Hamill will be filling the remaining one year of the Select Board position left vacant by former board member Jay Hopkins, who resigned shortly before this year’s filing period.

Woody Meiszner and Bentti Hoiska both were elected to their respective seats on the Trustee of the Trust Funds.

Planning Board incumbent Elizabeth Freeman was re-elected to her seat, and Planning Board alternate John Shaumloffel was elected as an official member of the board.

Several seats did not have anyone running for them and will be decided by write-in votes, including a Board of Assessors seat, the Town Treasurer, and two Cemetery Trustees.

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