Fire chief loses out on stipend increase again
Hope — Town meeting voters once again denied Fire Chief Clarence Keller an increase in his stipend Monday, June 16.
When it came time to vote on the amount to be raised from property taxes, Budget Committee member Bill Pearse Jr. moved that the item for general administration be reduced by $1,500, from $42,400 to $40,900, and the item for public safety be cut by $1,000, from $101,915 to $100,915. Pearse explained that $1,500 had been included under general administration for filing cabinets, and there was already money for that purpose in the capital reserve line item, therefore the amount in general administration was not needed. Later John Jensen, also on the Budget Committee, explained that, in view of the fact that the selectmen and school board members were forgoing their stipends for the year, the committee felt that public safety stipends should be held at their previous level, eliminating the $1,000 raise for Keller that had been previously approved by both the selectmen and the Budget Committee.
The article passed as amended, raising a total of $376,115 from taxes.
All the other articles passed as well, with only one other amendment.
Earlier in the meeting, which was moderated by Tom Ford, voters had considered an article to set the due dates for property taxes and the interest rate on late tax payments. Selectman-elect David Bosken said the proposed interest rate of 7 percent was unreasonably high and wondered if a lower rate could be set. Town Administrator Jon Duke (who does not live in Hope, but had been allowed to speak by a vote of the meeting) replied that he agreed the rate was high, but it was the minimum set by the state.
Once the money-related articles had been approved, Ford asked voters if they would like to move for blanket approval of the rest of the articles with a single vote. Discussion of each article would still be allowed, he said.
The meeting approved a motion for a blanket vote, and discussion of the remaining articles proceeded.
Under an article giving the Board of Selectmen the authority to accept or reject donations of personal property and gifts of money to various town accounts, Brian Powers Sr. proposed to amend the article to prevent the Board from accepting donations or gifts that would cause future encumbrances on the municipal budget.
During a break in the meeting, Town Clerk Rosie Bowman swore in newly-elected office holders who were present. They included incumbent Selectman Wendy Pelletier, who was re-elected, and Selectman David Bosken; Budget Committee members Jean Ettlinger and Joe Berry; and School Committee member Alina Smith.
In closing, Ford invited residents to give themselves a round of applause for turning out. He said the much larger town of Camden had drawn only 40 people to its town meeting, while he counted 58 voters at Hope's meeting.