New Ipswich: Voters say no to spending

  • Baked goods fundraiser at Mascenic Regional High School for voting day in New Ipswich last week. Staff photo by Brandon Latham

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/21/2017 7:14:09 AM

Residents turned out to the polls in New Ipswich to send a clear message against high spending.

They passed a shrunken operating budget, and blocked two high-cost articles that would have funded building a town-owned police facility and purchased a new engine for the fire department.

Town officials will now need to formulate a plan for the police facility, with the future of the current location uncertain. The department is housed in rented space on Turnpike Road that is currently up for sale.

“We have to hope that the building doesn’t get sold, or that the new owner doesn’t want to do anything different with it,” Selectman David Lage said. “In the meantime they’re trying to make due.”

The former dentist-office at 670 Turnpike Road is owned, according to the New Hampshire Tax Kiosk, by A.F. Alfred Corporation, and is shared with Bellows-Nichols Insurance and Fred J. Giamo, DMD, which manages it. The sale is being handled by Peterborough’s Petersons Real Estate.

“I don’t know where they are on that,” Lage said.

He said that the next step would be a conversation among the selectboard to plan a contingency.

The bond for a new building built behind the town office would have been for $1,980,000 over 20 years.

The fire engine, an up-to-code pumped the department pushed for, was to cost $475,000. Of that, $120,000 was to come from New Ipswich taxation.

Another fire-related article failed as well, which was to establish the now-appointed (as opposed to elected) fire chief position with a term limit of 100 years, and set the parameters for forming a hiring committee when chiefs resign.

Three department articles did pass. One is for continued funding for updated protective gear. The second established a revolving fund for other entities to pay into when hiring the New Ipswich Fire Department on details. The third will pay for a $26,000 exhaust system in the department building to protect firefighters from carcinogenic diesel fumes. Labor officials deemed the second floor of the department unfit for work because of the exhaust problem, and the new system will allow further use of second-floor offices.

Most other articles passed, including changes to the zoning ordinance regarding protected wetlands and a groundwater overlay district. Additional sums for wellness and ambulance payments, road repairs and other annual business passed.

The budget, which is $2,419,346, passed by a vote of 578 to 242 despite being endorsed by zero of the three selectmen. New Ipswich’s budget committee was created two years ago to lower budgets, and it has. The default budget $2,440,869, and selectmen’s recommended budget was $2,434,336.

Among the most controversial subjects, an article allowing for property tax exemptions for residential solar energy systems up to $25,000 passed by a vote of 495 to 326. The limit was added at the deliberative session to what would have been an open-ended petition.

Voters were limited in electing officials, as all races for open offices were unopposed. Jay Hopkins was elected to the board of selectmen. The board’s next meeting is tonight, Tuesday, March 21.


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