Selectmen set goals for the year
By STEPHEN BEALE
The voters have had their say, now the town must carry out their wishes.
On Monday, March 17, the Board of Selectmen poured over the results of the March 11 town election. The message the public sent about the Fire Department was clear: the town can expand it as long as it does so in small steps, not giant leaps.
Previous attempts to hire 18, then 10, new firefighters went down in flames at the polls. But this year, voters said they were OK with two, as long as the federal government shares the cost through a Homeland Security grant. In addition, firefighters got a new contract, and the department now has $420,000 in the bank so it can buy a new truck, a tanker and tanker pumper in a few years.
The town operating budget that passed also has money for a study on the need for central fire station, according to Nick Campasano, the new chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
Even the call force, which has seen declining numbers in recent years, could be on the upswing. The department might draw in some new call firefighters at an upcoming recruiting school. “That’s very encouraging,” Campasano said. “I’d like to see that trend continue. I think we’re seeing a resurgence of the call force.”
Another priority is the proposed code of conduct for town officials and volunteers. The code is not a response to an existing issue. Instead, Campasano said it will pre-empt future problems.
The code of conduct, which was drafted by a citizens’ committee and revised by selectmen, requires that town board and committee members disclose any potential conflicts of interest, recuse themselves from any matters where there is one, avoid unfair personal use of town property and not misuse confidential information.
A town official also cannot accept gifts of $50 or more at any one time — a total of $100 in a calendar year — from a person or company that has business dealings with the town. In all, the new policy sets about a dozen standards of conduct. The code is available on the town Web site, www.goffstown.com. Selectmen held a hearing on it March 24.
Campasano said he wants the board to continue in the direction it has been going, maintaining openness, communication with residents and fiscal responsibility, as well as making sure the town provides effective services for the community.
One disappointing election result for selectmen was the defeat of a $2 million bond for buying land and conservation easements. Town officials had said the bond was critical for long-range planning.
“I think we need to regroup and figure out where we go from here,” Campasano said.
Voters did approve another bond in the amount of $2.5 million for a municipal water system for the Lynchville and Danis parks area. A similar proposal was unsuccessful last year, even though the cost of the system will be limited to user fees levied on 235 homeowners who will be using it.
Campasano said the town now will begin planning for the installation of the water system.
Reproduced by the Goffstown