February 8, 2008 
Town Deliberative Session uneventful


GOFFSTOWN - The town deliberative session on Saturday, Feb. 2, cruised through several warrant articles, concentrating on a $2 million bond for land purchases and two petitioned articles on water rights and taxes.
The $2 million bond is for the purchase of 27 acres of land at 70 Center St., owned by Joanna and Kilton Barnard.

It will cost $700,000 to buy the land and $500,000 to develop it into recreational fields. But the property, which abuts the town transfer station, could also become the site for a future municipal building, Selectman Scott Gross said at the deliberative session. Another $250,000 out of the bond is for conservation easements.

The remaining $500,000 originally was for another land purchase, but Gross said the town was not able to negotiate a deal in time for the March election. At the deliberative session, he proposed cutting the extra money but voters said the full amount was necessary for future land-related expenses, thus defeating his motion.

The full $2 million bond would cost taxpayers 19 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value in 2009. The lower one would have been 14 cents, according to Gross.

That difference of 5 cents is a small price to pay for the advantage of $500,000 if future opportunities arise, said Collis Adams.

“It is in the community’s best interest to look as far into the future as we can,” Adams said.

The session, which was attended by about 60 residents, sailed through several other significant warrant articles with little fanfare. Major items included $2.5 million for a municipal water system in the Lynchville and Danis Parks area and the $18.7 million operating budget.

Of that total, $16.6 million will be raised through taxes and other regular revenue sources. The remainder is for the sewer and ambulance operations, which fund themselves through fees, according to Selectman John Caprio.

The $16.6 million amount is a 12.4 percent increase over the previous budget, but $1.5 million of that amount is the result of not presenting the annual town road reconstruction plan as a separate article. This year, the work is included in the operating budget, Caprio said.

Two articles pertain to the Fire Department. One grants firefighters a contract, costing $73,078 in 2008. The previous contract expired in 2005 and salaries and benefits have remained frozen since then. The second article proposes two new firefighters, the cost of which would be shouldered by a federal SAFER grant, which stands for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response.

In the first year, the town would pay $60,088 for the new firefighters. The grant would carry the remaining $71,680. Over time, the town share would rise while the federal contribution would wane. By the fifth year of the SAFER program, the town share would increase to $140,660, with $12,665 from the federal government.

The proposal aroused little discussion at the deliberative session, in contrast to 2007, when a plan for 10 new firefighters was crushed by voters.

Total proposed spending for 2008 is $23,958,236, tallying the operating budget with the other articles. If all the articles pass in the March election, the town portion of the tax rate will be $9.16 per $1,000 assessed property value, an increase of 35 cents, according to Caprio. In 2007 it was $8.81.

Other than the land bond, most of the attention of voters was riveted on two petition articles with no immediate impact on spending or taxes.

Article 24 directs the Board of Selectmen to pass a new ordinance, which would require that any withdrawals of about 57,000 gallons of ground or surface water per day have to be approved by voters. The selectmen could pass such an ordinance, but could not enforce it until the state Legislature grants that authority to the town, according to Caprio.

Several voters said the measure would prevent outside corporations from draining local water resources, avoiding protracted battles that have occurred elsewhere.

“Not everyone is aware that across the state some towns have lost control of their water resources,” said Linda Leibig.

Article 25 asks voters to declare that the property tax is unjust and unfair and call on state elected officials to reject the pledge for no new taxes and have an open discussion about all options for raising revenue.

Caprio warned that the article is an effort to raise more revenues for the state, ultimately putting more of a burden on taxpayers.

Several other residents were wary of the sweeping language of the article. “I, as a citizen of Goffstown, don’t feel comfortable stating that the property taxes are unfair or unjust,” said Martha Fournier. “I haven’t done that analysis.”

Fournier proposed an amendment to the article, deleting the language describing property taxes as unjust and unfair. William Exner, the pastor of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, accepted the amendment, saying that the goal of the article was merely to stimulate an open discussion.


Reproduced by the Goffstown Residents Association.


Patriot Software Solutions
Inexpensive home & small
business software & web
design solutions...
Backyard Productions
Youth sports video & more...
292 Mast Road
Goffstown, NH










Copyright© 2007, Goffstown Residents Association.  All Rights Reserved.