Rindge approves internet bond at Town Meeting Tuesday

  • Rindge voters turn out on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Rindge voters turn out on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Rindge voters turn out on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/12/2020 8:25:40 PM

It was a landslide victory for those hoping to improve the internet in Rindge, with 85 percent of voters in favor of bonding for fiber service in town.

Phil Motta, the chair of the town’s TelTech Committee, touted signs asking for “Yes on 2” at the polls on Tuesday. 

“I’m really hoping we can get this passed,” Motta said. And he was confident the town had done its job on educating the voters about the proposal. 

“This town really needs better internet service,” said Sharon Rasku, while campaigning for reelection to the Budget Committee on Tuesday.

“It’s going to have a huge impact,” agreed Jeff Dickler.

The article, one of six similar proposals being voted on by towns across the state this week, has the town bond for $2.6 million to build fiber infrastructure in town, through a contract with Consolidated Communications. Every address in town, including those on dirt and private roads, will have the ability to sign on to internet speeds as fast as one gigabit per second for both download and upload. The bond isn’t paid back through taxes, but by a $9.50 monthly service fee by those who sign up for fiber service.

In addition to providing connections to residences, the deal also includes one-gigabit service to town buildings. 

It’s expected that the network will be built and operational within the next 18 months. 

Voters also approved the town’s operating budget of $4.18 million.

The fire department got the OK for two pieces of new equipment, a new fire rescue truck and continuing payments on the fire engine. The Highway Department also received approval for a new backhoe.

Several petition articles were voted down at the polls, including two which were aimed at slowing growth in Rindge. One would implement a growth management ordinance to limit the number of building permits issued by the town and the other implement an impact fee for new developments. The articles were deemed to be unenforceable as they were written by the town’s lawyer, though backers said they could act as a call to action for the town boards. However, both failed.

The town also voted down a proposed noise ordinance, in a 710 to 592 vote, and was not in favor of expressing support for a state or federal carbon fee program. 

One petition article which squeaked by in a 635 to 612 vote was a proposal to require the voters to accept new streets in town, instead of leaving that power with the Select Board.

Ronnie Hamilton, one of the authors of the article, said the town voted in 1994 to put the power to accept roads in the hands of the Select Board, and she wanted to see it back in the hands of voters. The article still allows citizens or the Select Board to ask for new roads to be accepted. 

Town Clerk Lauralei Knight and Tax Collector Carol Donovan will both retain their seats, after being challenged this year.

Knight held onto her seat as clerk in a 680 to 575 vote against Brenda Lashua, and Donovan fended off challenger Carol Cersosimo in a 802 to 462 vote.

Bob Hamilton will continue in his role as selectman, after being reelected in an uncontested race. 

Tom Coneys, a former member of the budget advisory committee, was a write-in winner to fill an empty seat, and he and Sharon Rasku will fill the two seats up for election this year.

 

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


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