Town elections are on Tuesday, May 16th. The polls are open from 7AM until 8PM at the Memorial School. On the ballot are various elected positions and ballot questions related to a new bond and related exclusion vote as well as a new capital expenditure exclusion vote. Please be sure to take the time to cast your vote! (Absentee voting is also available at the Town Clerk’s Office through noon on Monday.)
Eight elected positions are on the ballot. John Kenney is seeking re-election to the Manchester Housing Authority, a state affiliated body. David Shaw is running for a three year post as a Library Trustee. (Alida Bryant is not seeking another term.) Richard Rogers is also up for election as a Library Trustee for the one year remaining on the unexpired term created by the untimely passing of Tim Browne. (Mr. Rogers was appointed to fill the vacancy until this election.) Alan Wilson seeks to continue to be our Town Moderator while Andrea Fishe seeks another three year term as a member of the Planning Board. A second three year term is open (Loren Coons is not seeking re-election) and the vacancy could be filled by a write-in candidate. If not, the Planning Board and the Selectmen will appoint someone to fill the slot until the next year’s election.
Caroline Weld is running for another three year term on the Manchester Essex Regional School District Committee. Margaret Driscoll seeks another three year term as a member of the Board of Selectmen and Arthur Steinert is running to fill the three year slot vacated by Paul Barkley who is not seeking re-election after serving for six years.
In addition to voting for these elected positions, residents will also have three ballot questions to consider. Question 1 asks voters to affirm the April town meeting vote to move forward with a new $4 million bond to pay for improvements to our water and sewer systems ($2 million for each). This new bond replaces recently retired bonds thus the Town’s total indebtedness is not increasing. The funds are needed to replace aging pipes and other related infrastructure associated with our two water utilities. While we are making headway with needed improvements there is much still to do as recent broken pipes and pumps attest. A yes vote on Question 1 is contingent on a yes vote on Question 2.
Question 2 asks voters to approve excluding the debt payments for the new $4 million bond from the limits of Proposition 2 ½. This means that the needed funds to pay the annual debt payments can be raised outside the taxation limits imposed by Proposition 2 ½. The debt that has recently been paid off was also “excluded” debt that fell outside these limits. Thus the new debt payments will replace the old debt payments for no net increase in taxation. (Of course, taxes will not be lowered if the new debt is approved. If the new debt is not approved, total taxation would be lower.)
Question 3 seeks voter confirmation of another April Town Meeting vote. Excluded funds can be raised for debt payments or to raise cash for capital improvements. Question 3 asks voters to raise cash above our Proposition 2 ½ limit for one year to pay for purchasing our streetlights from National Grid (we currently make what amounts to “lease” payments) and convert them to LED lighting. The requested $300,000 will bring our total excluded taxation to a similar level to where we are today (again as a result of having paid off previously approved debt.) Thus, a yes vote on Question 3 also does not increase our amount of additional taxation. Owning our streetlights and converting them to LEDs will enable us to reduce our annual expenditures on streetlights by more than half. This effort will pay for itself in under five years, even less assuming we are successful in obtaining grant funds for the effort, which looks promising.
Your careful consideration of these questions and for picking our elected officials is most appreciated. Please let me know if I can answer questions you might have prior to voting. But most importantly, get to the ballot booth on the 16th!