Belmont firefighters are shown clearing hydrants following one of the winter storms to dump on the Lakes Region. Voters approved collective bargaining agreements with town workers. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)
Voters back contracts with Public Works, emergency responders: SB2 stays
By DAVID CARKHUFF/THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
BELMONT — Voters embraced three town departments hardest hit by last week’s nor’easter.
The town passed collective bargaining agreements with employees in the fire, police and Public Works departments, during Thursday, March 16, voting. They also approved both fixing and selling the Belmont Mill.
Voting was delayed from the previous Tuesday due to a nor'easter which created havoc across the Lakes Region.
Selectman Ruth Mooney said she was happy to sign the labor contracts Monday, March 20, during a selectmen's meeting. The board members signed the agreements and said copies and originals would be sent to the employees.
"They deserve it," Mooney said.
Article 18, for the collective bargaining agreement with Belmont Public Safety Employees Union Police Unit A, the police unit A, passed 423-283. The Public Safety Employees Union Fire Unit B agreement passed 436-273. The Public Works Employee Union agreement passed 398-279.
"The people very much supported them," Mooney said.
When fire and police personnel waited outside the polling place Thursday night, they showed signs of exhaustion, Mooney recalled. Likewise, Public Works crews worked long hours clearing roads after the March 14 nor'easter.
"These guys did a phenomenal job," Mooney said.
"These guys, they got my vote. I wouldn't want to do it," she said, noting the snow plow crews and emergency responders had a "rough week" responding to snow-clogged roads and motor vehicle crashes.
The selectmen as a board wrote a letter praising the three departments in the wake of last week's storm.
Combined, the three contracts will cost the town $457,510 in increased costs, based on a three-year overview in which the salary costs are compounded each year. However, the town estimates the costs differently, year to year, rather than against today's existing budget, for a three-year estimated cost of $226,488.
According to the town, the collective bargaining agreement with Belmont Public Safety Employees Union Police Unit A carries a first-year cost of $48,260, and increased year-to-year costs of $126,328 over three years.
According to the town, the collective bargaining agreement with the Public Safety Employees Union Fire Unit B costs $18,040 in the first year, and $59,892 over three years. And the town estimates that the collective bargaining agreement with the Public Works Employee Union costs $18,415 in the first year, and $40,268 over three years.
In other business:
• A slate of Shaker Regional School District articles passed with voters. These included Article 2, the collective bargaining agreement with teachers, 418-373; Article 3, permission to call a special meeting for the collective bargaining agreement if needed, 435-359; Article 4, the operating budget of $22,475,634 for the school district, 581-221; Article 5, $75,000 to be added to the School Facilities & Grounds Expendable Trust Fund, 561-244; Article 6, $10,000 to be added to the Technology Expendable Trust Fund, 593-209; and Article 7, authorization of voting places, 602-189.
• Shaker Regional School District voters decided to stay with the SB2 form of town government. Article 8, a petition to rescind SB2, or official ballot voting, failed 308-495. Advocates for SB2 said voters could more readily go to the polls during daylong voting rather than face a limited afternoon or evening of deliberating and voting as combined under a traditional Town Meeting.
• In town voting, Claude "Sonny" Patten won a single selectman's seat with 335 votes. Brian Watterson finished with 252 votes, Ronald Cormier received 94 and Richard Pickwick received 24 in the race. Patten and other elected officials were sworn in Monday at the selectmen's meeting. Others sworn in included newly elected library trustees Mary-Louise Charnley and Gail Thomas, who ran unopposed on the ballot for three-year and one-year terms, respectively; Craig Clairmont and Norma Patten, two of four candidates elected to Budget Committee, with 492 votes and 488 votes, respectively; and Planning Board member Kevin Sturgeon, who won one of two seats with 402 votes. Not present for the swearing-in were Susan Harris and Peter Wells, who won Budget Committee seats with 497 and 462 votes, respectively, and Peter Harris, who received 462 votes for Planning Board. Harris and Patten also were elected to the Zoning Board.
• An article for the All Veterans' Tax Credit passed 600-106. Article 9 adopted new provisions of the veterans' tax credit, after legislators removed a date restriction for times of service. This change could add 195 credits in Belmont, and the veterans' tax credit cost could climb from $235,300 in 2016 to $335,500, nearly a 30 percent increase, according to the budget.
• Voters endorsed either the restoration or the sale of the historic Belmont Mill building.
Ballot Question 6, asking voters if the town should renovate the Belmont Mill, passed 440-267. Ballot Question 7, asking voters if the town should demolish the Belmont Mill, failed 170-522. Ballot Question 8, asking voters if the town should sell the Belmont Mill, passed 383-320.
The Belmont Mill, an 1833 brick structure originally constructed by the Gilmanton Village Manufacturing Company was restored and rededicated through community efforts in 1998 and currently additionally houses several community service facilities.
In January 2015, selectmen estimated the cost of renovations at over $1 million.
A warrant article calling for the Belmont Mill's renovation was defeated by Belmont voters in March 2015. The proposal called for dedicating $3.36 million — most of it in bond funding — to refurbish the building and move town offices there.
Belmont Town Clerk Cynthia DeRoy, right, issues the oath of office to newly elected officials on Monday. Those sworn in included, from left, newly elected library trustees Mary-Louise Charnley and Gail Thomas, Planning Board member Kevin Sturgeon, Craig Clairmont and Norma Patten, two of four candidates elected to Budget Committee, and Claude "Sonny" Patten, who won a single selectman's seat. (David Carkhuff/Laconia Daily Sun)
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