Freedom – March 10, 2009 – By a more than 2 to 1 margin, Freedom voters today rejected Article 4, the proposed purchase of land near the Ossipee Lake Road for the eventual consolidation of town services; and by the same margin, approved a competing article, Article 26, authorizing a feasibility study to detail all options and costs for upgrading town facilities.
In an unusual twist, however, arranging funding for the feasibility study may prove to be a challenge.
After the votes on the competing articles were counted, Town Counsel Susan Slack told the meeting that Article 26 was flawed because it authorizes that the study be funded by the Municipal Land and Building Capital Reserve Fund. According to Slack, that fund’s only purpose is to purchase land.
Asked by a member of the audience if they were aware of the flaw in the warrant article prior to the vote, Slack and the Board of Selectmen confirmed that they were.
Citizens also authorized that $14,300 be spent to help fund another round of milfoil control in Danforth Pond, with additional funding to come from Danforth Pond property owners, Ossipee Lake Marina and Danforth Bay Camping Resort. The town’s contribution plugs a financial hole that developed after the state last fall announced it would not be able to co-fund the project.
Freedom also voted to establish a Heritage Commission, which will be a volunteer group charged with preserving the community’s character through conservation of historic buildings and sites and other means.
Did anyone at the meeting ask the selectmen a follow up question – like when did you know Article 26 was flawed? Aren’t the selectmen supposed to have the town lawyer review the warrant articles before they are published and voted on? So, did they? And when did they know it was flawed? And doesn’t the town lawyer have a responsibility to the PEOPLE of the town to make sure that when they vote at town meeting their votes will stand? Could any other group of public officials be so patently obvious in their behavior? Someone at town hall need to explain what happened here, but I’m not holding my breath.
I attended todays meeting and I had a question that I am sure someone would be happy to answer for me, Why would the town OK the creation of the $150K Municipal Land and Building Capital Reserve Fund, fund it and then vote down the whole reason why it was created? It would seem to me that the opposition/rules to this should have been there before $150K of our tax dollars were collected? The damage is already done and now our $150K is sitting in some bank making no interest and now additional tax dollars are going to be spent on this project to comply with Article 26? Plus I’m still trying to figure out why town employess that don’t “have the summer off” get to pay a lower % for health issurance than other town employees? Very good meeting today.
To answer Dan’s question.
The issue of Article 26 being flawed came from the audiance (gentleman standing behind me) and not the selectmen, then confirmed by legal. It seems that the Land and Building Capital Reserve Fund was created for the sole purpose of buying property and building on it and not what Article 26 was asking for (makes sense and I hope I got that right). So it sounds like Freedom will now have to come up with the additional funds for article 26. I’m going to have to switch my registration – you guys keep coming up with new ways to spend my tax dollars. Thankfully the well didn’t run dry before article 14 passed and a special thanks needs to go to Bruce Howllett, Danforth Bay Campground and Ossipee Lake Marina.
I also attended the town meeting and we were sandbagged…The selectmen and counsel knew there were problems and TRIED to tell us after discussion was closed…Long story short, they want a new building at the expense of the taxpayers, now up to four million, and cannot understand why with this economy the citizens they work for don’t want it at this time.
Congratulations to all of those who attended. The front page of the Conway Sun shows a standing room only crowd at the meeting. Freedom lives up to her name. Can anyone give an overview of the results of the other warrant articles? Apparently the results missed last nights Sun deadline.
Mark: I was not at the meeting (I can’t vote) so thanks for your clarification on what happened. The question is still why did the selectmen and town lawyer did not make sure Article 26 was legally correct (if it really isn’t, which I question) before it went to town meeting. This smacks of the lawyer and selectmen working together to make sure if Article 26 passed it could be questioned or killed later or whittled down in some way. That will be hard to do given the overwhelming vote in favor of 26 and against 4, but this board has a history of doing things that favor narrow interests over the interests of the town. They may be frustrated by the vote, but the vote is the vote and it’s what the town wants them to do. We’ll see.
As to why people would vote to create a fund and then not spend it, with all due respect I have to say the answer seems obvious. That was then and this is now. The economy is in free fall and people’s savings and income have dried up, but taxes (including Freedom’s) are just the same as they were when things were rosy. If you can afford to pay for all of this and not worry, then you are far luckier than most. The selectmen are in the minority in thinking that in this climate it makes sense to buy land for a project that has no business plan or budget and may never be built. The vote was for common sense.
If anyone can answer freedom resident’s question, please feel free to list some of the other results of the meeting. We did hear last night that Neil Boyle won the selectman’s position over John Krebs.
To Freedom Resident:
You’ll have to wait a bit, but complete coverage of Freedom Town Meeting will be in next week’s “Carroll County Independent” — your best source for Freedom news. Coverage of the Freedom School District Annual Meeting (for anyone who’s interested) will be in tomorrow’s “Independent.” My favorite part of the meeting was Ted Acton’s speech upon receipt of the Boston Post Cane award; too bad that photo wasn’t printed in the “Sun.”
It makes more sense to buy the land now when it is cheaper, than to wait until later when it will only go up. It was a good location too, central. Now you get to waste tax dollars on consultants, is this Massachusetts? It doesn’t take a brain surgen to add up square footage and figure out what you need to park cars, thats what architects do and they do it when they design buildings!!