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Library study, facility improvements find support at Meredith meeting

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — Property taxes will increase under an operating budget and warrant articles approved by voters at the Town Meeting on Wednesday.

The hike will be 16 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation, or $32 for a $200,000 home.

All told, voters boosted yearly spending to $14.72 million, up from $14.02 million spent last year.

Selectman Nathan Torr said the budget includes a 1.5 percent wage increase for all city workers. There are also increases in health insurance and liability insurance costs.

"This is just due to the times being the times," Torr said.  "Things go up and that's the way it is."

Money measures approved included $13.84 million for general municipal operations and an additional $830,000 for Public Works, the Fire Department, waterfront infrastructure, solid waste and recreational facilities.

Voters also approved a $50,000 appropriation for a study into the feasibility of expanding and renovating the library in the Benjamin Smith Building, which lacks satisfactory handicapped access.

There have been previous studies of the building. A committee will be formed to look at the future of the building.

"We would hope that over the last eight years all the information that they have gathered through various studies and architects, the first thing on the table will be that pile of information," Town Manager Phil Warren said.

He said the study will look at ways of improving the building, and not the feasibility of moving the library elsewhere.

Voters also expanded eligibility for a $500 veterans tax credit. The credit will be available to any resident, or the spouse or surviving spouse of any resident, who had at least 90 days of active service in the military and was honorably discharged.
Census data indicates there are 450 veterans in Meredith. A total of 374 of them take advantage of the credit. That leaves 76 people who would qualify under the expanded eligibility, for a total potential cost of $38,000.

Voters also approved the purchase of 200 acres of land adjacent to Page Pond Community Forest for conservation purposes. No new tax money is to be used for this purpose. Instead, the land is to be purchased from the Winn Mountain Corporation for $1.12 million with grants, private donations and transfers from conservation funds. Hunting and snowmobiling would be allowed on this land. 

They also discontinued Leavitt Mountain Road as a public roadway from its start at Chemung Road to its termination within property owned by Linda R. Lee Revocable Trust 2003. This is about a half-mile of dirt road that is not maintained by the town.