May 5, 2023
Election Day set for May 16
By Gregory T. Federspiel
Town Election Day is Tuesday, May 16. Voting takes place all day at the Memorial School starting at 7AM and going until 8PM. Alternatively, voters may request a ballot by mail up to May 9th. Absentee ballots are also available either through the mail or by stopping by the Town Clerk’s Office. Absentee ballots are available in person at the Town Clerk’s Office up until noon on Monday, May 15th.
A sample ballot and instructions regarding absentee or mail-in voting are available on the Town’s web page under “Town Meetings and Elections”. Voters will be deciding on eight elected positions and 1 ballot question regarding the approval of a debt exclusion to pay for new turf fields at the Highland and Brook Street fields.
The eight positions and candidates are:
Housing Authority: Elizabeth A. Heisey
Library Trustee: David K. Lumsden
Town Moderator: Alan Wilson
Planning Board (choose 2): Christopher Olney, Martin E. Flood, Donna L. Furse, Susan Hanson-Philbrick
School Committee: John Binieris
Select Board (choose 2): Karen Bennett, Ann W. Harrison, John Round
(In all cases, write -in candidates are an option as well.)
The ballot question is a follow-up to the approval voters gave at the Annual Town Meeting this past April for the replacement of the synthetic turf fields at the Middle-High School and the Elementary School. Both Highland Field and Coach Field need to have the materials replaced as the surfaces and underlying cushioning are worn out and will present a safety hazard if new material is not installed. Both fields are well passed the typical 8-10 years of useful life. As part of the specifications for the new fields, the School District is requiring that the materials that are to be used must be certified to be PFAS free.
Manchester’s share of the needed bond to pay for the two field comes to a maximum of $796,740. A yes vote on the ballot question will allow the Town to exclude the resulting annual debt payments from the limitations of Proposition 2 ½ , thus the “debt exclusion” moniker. By approving a debt exclusion for the temporary period of the needed bond payments, voters are targeting the Town’s regular levy capacity to be used for operating expenses and other capital needs. As typical of most towns, ManchesterThe Town has regularly approved debt exclusions for larger capital projects such as the new schools, larger water and sewer projects, and other special infrastructure needs. Non-school debt has been steadily declining as we have been using cash for capital projects for over ten years. A significant drop this year in the annual payments for the middle-high school means that even with this new debt for the fields the Town’s annual school-related debt payments are also declining.
Each field will cost about $800,000 to replace. Because Coach Field is used extensively by non-school programs, the Town of Manchester pays for half of the replacement costs directly. Voters also approved this share at the Annual Town meeting, utilizing in large part funds received through Park and Recreation program fees. This leaves a total of $1.2 million that is divided between the two towns according to the School District’s apportionment formula, resulting in the nearly $800,000 noted above as Manchester’s share of the District’s cost – 66%. The Town of Essex will be deciding at a later date how they want to pay for their share of approximately $400,000 (use of cash on hand, a debt exclusion, etc.)
Be sure to vote either early via mail-in/absentee voting or at the polls on May 16th!