Sign up now for Gilmanton town offices; Town Meeting is Saturday

By Gail Ober - Laconia Daily Sun

GILMANTON – With today as the last day residents can sign up to run for town offices, there are still two positions with no candidates for the Budget Committee and and one one-year position for the selectboard with no candidate.

Town Clerk Tax Collector Deb Cornett said as of Thursday incumbent Selectman Donald Guarino has signed up for re-election, Rob Burdette is running for Trustee of the Trust Funds, J.R. Stockwell is running for Cemetery Trustee, Deb Chase is running for Library Trustee, Mark Sisti is running for Town Moderator and Glen Waring is running for Town Treasurer. Cornett said the Town Clerk/Tax Collectors Office will be open until 5 p.m. today for election sign-ups only.

When voters go to Saturday's deliberative session of Town Meeting at 10 a.m. at the Gilmanton School, they will have 24 warrants to discuss.

Of the more controversial, petitioned Article 3 asks voters to eliminate the use of Class A and Class B bio-solids or sludge in Gilmanton. The Planning Board does not recommend this article.

Article 4, which is also by petition, asks voters to authorize the selectmen to enter into a three-year agreement with the Gilmanton Year-round Public Library in the amount of $150,000 with $50,000 to be raised by taxes in 2016. This article needs a 3/5 majority to pass and is recommended by both the Selectboard and the Budget Committee.

Article 5 is the general appropriation budget of $3,576,702. If this budget passes, the default budget will go into effect at $3,536,569. The Budget Committee and the selectmen both recommend its passage.

Articles 6 through 15 ask voter to appropriate money for various items including a Fire Department command vehicle, a new police cruiser, a six-wheel dump truck, a compactor for the transfer stations, a generator for the academy building, and money for municipal document restoration. Many of these expenditures are offset by money being held in respective capital reserve accounts and all are recommended by selectmen and the Budget Committee.

Voters are also being asked to rescind the provisions of SB2 or RSA 40:13, the Official Ballot Law. If passed by three-fifth of the voters, the town will return to the original Town Meeting form of government, where the warrant articles are voted upon at the meeting, rather than during Election Day.

There are two anti-nepotism articles for consideration on Gilmanton's ballot, both of which were added by petition. The first is Article 23 which, if passed, will prevent individuals for serving on the Budget Committee or the Board of Selectmen while a member of their immediate family or household member is a department head employed by the town of Gilmanton.

The second, Article 24, is also submitted by petition and asks voters to prohibit individuals from serving as members of the Gilmanton Budget Committee or Board of Selectmen while employed by the town or school district.

Both of these articles use N.H. RSA 31:39, a conflict of interest statutes,  to support the petitioners' requests.

Nursing home to hire receptionists seven days a week

LACONIA — Belknap County Commissioners have decided that the Belknap County Nursing Home needs to have a receptionist on duty seven days a week, as well as in the evenings until the front door is locked.
Currently, visitors to the nursing home can walk into the facility any time that the door is unlocked and make their way through the facility without checking in at the front desk of the business office, a situation which commissioners decided should not be allowed to continue, in part for security reasons.
"The cost is so low to have someone there. There's not really a great risk, but if something does happen it can be catastrophic," said Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton). Commissioners agreed that one of the duties of the receptionist would be too keep an eye on who is in the facility.
The nursing home has not had a receptionist for seven years, and last week the County Convention's Nursing Home Subcommittee heard from interim nursing home Administrator Bob Hemenway that the position is badly needed. Hemenway said that currently the people working in the business office face constant daily interruptions in their work to deal with visitors, which makes them less efficient at their jobs.
County Commissioners had already agreed to hiring a full-time receptionist from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday but Commissioner David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that he thought it might be important to have a receptionist on Sunday, which he thought might be the day that family members would most likely visit.
Belknap County Department of Corrections Superintendent Keith Gray noted that the nursing home is unique in that it is the only facility at the county complex where "people can walk in without pushing a button."
Commissioners agreed that it was a security issue as well as an office efficiency issue and decided to hire part-time workers to cover the 4  to 9 p.m. period seven days a week as well as on weekends. Currently there is someone at the front desk during the day on Saturdays but no one on Sunday, which would require another eight-hour part-time worker.
The commissioners decided to add $22,500 to the nursing home budget for the part-time receptionists and also have approved a $46,000 full-time receptionist position for the nursing home.

Shaker Regional voters to consider going to official ballot law

BELMONT — Eighty-three residents of the Shaker Regional School District have petitioned to have the school district adopt the provisions of the Official Ballot Law, or RSA 40:13, commonly known as SB2, which changes the annual School District Meeting to a deliberative session only, with voting to take place later along with the election of school officials.

If passed by a 3/5 majority of those voting at the polls on March 4, the Shaker Regional School District will follow the town of Belmont by joining the ranks of communities and school districts that have adopted SB2 as their form of town and school district voting. Canterbury, which is also served by Shaker Regional, is not an SB2 town.

"I want them accountable for every dime," said Belmont Selectman Jon Pike, who is leading the charge for SB2 at the school district. "I think this is a way for people to stop complaining about their taxes.

Pike and former Belmont Budget Committee member Ken Knowlton are still stinging from last year's School District Meeting, when voters flooded the meeting and added about $250,000 to implement full-day kindergarten at Shaker Regional when the administration and School Board wanted to wait until this year. Voters also added an additional $58,000 for a fourth science teacher after the School Board and administration said they could do without the position.

SB2 splits the annual meeting into two portions: the first is called a deliberative session and is where people gather in an official room and discuss and possibly change some of the items on a proposed school district budget, just like the typical School District Meeting. Any votes taken are simply to approve wording of the articles to be presented to voters.

The second portion of SB2 provides for a ballot vote, both on the proposed operating budget and any number of warrant articles that may or may not include money provisions.

Critically, to Pike, is that SB2 provides for a review by an elected Budget Committee and it is the Budget Committee's recommended budget that goes before the voters. Presumably, like the School Board, the Budget Committee would be composed of members from Canterbury and Belmont.

According to petitioner Norma Patten, this is at least the second time voters have tried to petition to move to SB2. She said it failed two years ago.

Patten, who said she is very supportive of the school district, said she is also encouraged by the fact that for the first time ever, to polls at the Belmont High School will be open for eight hours. Prior to this year, polls opens only a few hours before the annual School District Meeting began at 7 p.m.

"This way people have a whole day to vote," Patten said.

Polls for the Shaker Regional School District Election Day open at 11 a.m. and will end at 7:15 p.m. for Articles 1, 2 and 3, which are to elect School Board members, a district moderator and to vote on SB2. All voting will be at the Belmont High School. The annual School District Meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 4, at the high school.