Freedom Holds Hearings on Budget and Bond Articles

Freedom – February 18, 2010 — At last year’s Freedom town meeting voters approved an article to create a committee to come up with solutions for the town’s municipal buildings. The Article 26 Committee has met regularly since last April.

The committee took its name from the 2009 warrant article that authorized the group to hire a consultant to do an assessment of the buildings, to see if the buildings could be expanded to meet the town’s needs, or if instead of  improving them it would make more sense to purchase land and build new facilities.

The committee was charged with coming up with a professional estimate for both options. Those options will now be put before voters at the 2010 town meeting.

Voters will be asked to raise and appropriate the sum of $2.7 million “for the construction and original equipping” of a safety building, housing both the fire and police departments, built on the present site of the fire station on Village Road.

The second bond article tackles the town office facilities. Article 8 on this year’s warrant seeks to raise $1,070,000 to build a new town office building at 33 Portland Road, or to raise and appropriate $454,000 if voters select to site the offices with the fire and police facility.

In either case, the town would need to purchase land. Both articles must get a two-thirds majority vote to pass. Voting will be by ballot.

Only if those articles pass will voters get a say of the site for the town offices. Article 9 asks voters which site they want the office facilities, on Portland Road, or, if Article 7 passes, too, with the safety facilities on Village Road.

There was little discussion on these warrant articles at the town’s budget hearing, held Feb. 11 at the Freedom Town Hall. About 25 residents attended the budget hearing.

If approved, the town will bond the projects, borrowing over $3 million regardless of which town office options are chosen. The required bond hearing was held Tuesday night, Feb.16.

The proposed budget for the municipal’s operating budget is 2,182,954, up $110,741 from the 2009 appropriation of $2,072,213.

Much of that increase, over $41,000, is in health/dental insurance costs for town employees. The Freedom Police Department budget went up $37,406, including the jump in health/dental insurance.

Among the special articles on the warrant are two articles addressing the exterior of the Freedom Town Hall. Article 14 would raise $15,000 to repair and paint the building, Article 15 calls for $42,000 to put vinyl siding on it.

The Heritage Commission recommends Article 14. Town roads merit special attention. Articles 19 through 22 would raise $30,400 to seal town roads, $80,000 for repaving, $12,000 for road crack sealing, and $10,000 for the purchase of crushed gravel.

The voters will be asked to raise $52,200 for a new highway truck, a Ford 2011 F550 one ton with a plow, with $17,500 of that from new taxes, $34,700 to be taken from the Highway Capital Reserve Fund. The funds would also buy a body for the town’s 2006 one ton truck.

If approved, Article 24 will raise $27,758 to go towards the rest of the engineering costs for the bridge over Danforth Bay Outlet on Ossipee Lake Road. The cost will be offset by a grant from the New Hampshire Bridge Aid Program.

“It’s in dire need,” Selectman Jim Brown noted, “just don’t hit the guard rail or you’ll be swimming.”

The Selectman did not recommend (1-2-0) passage for the petitioned article to raise $3,000 in support of Carroll Country Transit. The regular route would not go through Freedom, though there would be a demand response component. Selectman Chair Les Babb did not feel the town would benefit in the long run from signing on to the program.

Voters will get the chance to voice their opinions, and give their approval or disapproval to all the articles, at town meeting on Tuesday, March 9, 9 a.m. at the Freedom Town Hall. Polls for town elections are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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