Temple rejects SB2, bonds for fiber internet at Town Meeting

  • Temple board and committee members elected in March take their oaths of office. June 12, 2021 Staff Photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Temple Town meeting on the town common, June 12, 2021 Staff Photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Temple Town meeting on the town common on June 12, 2021 Staff Photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • Town Moderator Bruce Kullgren addresses the crowd at Temple Town meeting on the town common on June 12, 2021 Staff Photo by Abbe Hamilton—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/13/2021 11:53:12 AM

Temple passed its broadband internet article and once again rejected SB2 at a well-attended Town Meeting under a tent on the common on Saturday.  Two hundred and thirty-six voters attended the meeting, which ran a little over three-and-a-half hours.

All articles passed besides one asking the town to switch to SB2, a process that would change Temple’s method of warrant article voting, which failed 85 yes to 147 no. It garnered  an hour of discussion after Town Moderator Bruce Kullgren overrode an immediate motion by Gail Cromwell to table the article, describing such a motion prior to any  debate as “frivolous.”

Resident Jim Hagen said he could have benefited from SB2 in recent years. “For almost 20-something  years I could never make it to town meetings,” he said, “because of my work conditions.” He, and others with similar commitments, could have voted absentee, or otherwise made their voice heard if the town operated under SB2.

Resident Steven Concordia delivered prepared remarks supporting SB2, in part because he valued the ability to take time to develop an articulate argument, he said, something that may not be easy for everyone to do on the spot at a Town Meeting. “Are you one of those people, like me, that are afraid of public speaking? Maybe you are not up here speaking because you are afraid of alienating your friends and neighbors due to being on the opposite sides of a vote,” he said. “Are you afraid to confidently say your “Nay” vote when your neighbor in the chair next to you just spoke passionately about voting in favor? What if it was your spouse you disagree with? Are you still going to vote your convictions? Not me, some fear is healthy,” he said. Concordia rejected the idea that Town Meeting creates more informed voters. “Holding people hostage for hours to listen to me and other speakers say our piece does not necessarily make you better informed,” he said, “ especially when the vote is taken immediately afterwards.”

Resident Peter Martel previously lived in Bennington, including before the town adopted SB2, he said. “The truth is, after about two years, the numbers dwindled,” at the deliberative sessions despite early enthusiasm, he said, “and the meeting kept getting shorter.” This was because attendees realized the futility in speaking to a small minority of town a month prior to the vote, he said. He encouraged people to look at ConVal’s deliberative session attendance numbers, and to instead consider hybrid options to improve Temple’s Town Meeting process.

Resident Beth Fox spoke in opposition to SB2 as well. “Even though we disagree, we come together and decide,” at traditional Town Meeting, she said. She worked as Town Administrator in Swanzey before and after it switched to SB2, she said, relating the confusion and frustration she witnessed from residents after a couple deliberative session attendees managed to nullify certain warrant articles prior to the vote. She found the Town Meeting format preferable for the quantity and quality of attendance, despite the inconvenience of attending meetings, she said.

Broadband passes

Under the broadband bond that passed, fiber internet subscribers will pay a maximum fee of $14 a month, broadband subcommittee chair Jessica Hipp told attendees. Temple joined 25 other New Hampshire towns to vote on such a contract this year.

Article 2 asked voters to approve $1,862,543 to install fiber optic broadband internet town-wide. $710,435 of that comes from a bond, and  $1,152,108 comes from broadband provider Consolidated Communications. PASSED 213 to 9.

Article 3 asked voters to spend $1,230,558 on the town’s operating budget, which does not include expenses from separate articles. PASSED

Article 4 asked voters to spend $126,000 on Highway Department paving projects, and withdraw the remainder of the $248,000 project cost from the town’s Asphalt and Paving  expendable trust. PASSED

Article 5 asked voters to renew the Temple-Greenville joint police department agreement for another year. PASSED

Article 6 asked voters to spend $14,820 on a new police cruiser. That amount is Temple’s 39 percent share of the total $58,000 cost, with the rest to be raised from the Police Cruiser Expendable Trust Fund and the Police Detail Revolving Fund. PASSED

Article 7 asked voters to spend $38,382.48 to complete the final payment on the Highway Department’s backhoe. PASSED

Article 8 asked voters to spend $93,000 on a six wheel dump truck and sell or dispose of an existing truck as it best serves the town. PASSED

Article 9 asked voters to spend $45,000 on engineering, survey, and architectural work to further study relocating the Highway Department to the town land known as the Holt and Skladany properties, and create a new Highway Department Study expendable capital reserve fund to hold those funds. Voters would receive a report on estimated costs, financing, timing, and aesthetics at the conclusion of the study. PASSED 124 to 73

Article 10 was a petition article that asked voters to adopt SB2 protocol for Temple and allow official ballot voting on all issues before the town, rather than the current Town Meeting format. FAILED 85 to 147.

Article 11 asked voters to spend $7,000 so the town can conduct lot line adjustments on town-owned land. The adjustments would result in the town having two single house lots available for sale and retaining a smaller section of land as a conservation easement and trailhead. PASSED

Article 12 asked voters to place a conservation easement on 16.44 acres of town-owned land including the v-shaped field by the Historical Society schoolhouse. PASSED

Article 13 asked voters to increase the existing veteran’s property tax credit to $500, from the current $100. PASSED

Article 14 asked voters to increase the income limit on the existing tax exemption for the elderly to $30,000 from the current $13,400 for individuals, and to $45,000 from $20,400 for qualified married couples, and to increase the asset limit (which excludes a person’s house) to $50,000 from $35,000 for individuals and $75,000 from $35,000 for qualified married couples. PASSED

Article 15 asked voters to adopt a property tax exemption for people with disabilities that reduces their assessed property value by $25,000 if they met residency, disability, income, and asset requirements. PASSED

Article 16 asked voters to spend $3,000 on purchasing new vehicle radios for the Fire Department, only if the Fire Department secures a FEMA grant. PASSED

Article 17 asked voters to create a Temple Recreation Commission expendable trust fund for the Recreation Commission’s use in programs and events. PASSED

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