Durham voters OK increased budget

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DURHAM —Voters at town meeting Saturday approved a $2.44 million municipal budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, an increase of $7,642 over the spending plan adopted last year.

Of the total approved Saturday, $1.25 million will be transferred from various revenues and $1.19 million will come from local taxation, according to Budget Committee Chairman Allan Purinton.

The tax rate cannot be projected until after the school budget validation referendum on June 8.

After sometimes extended debate, townspeople voted 47-23 to approve the lower Budget Committee recommendation of $184,719 for officers’ salaries, which included no raises. Selectmen had proposed spending $187,051.

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A $62,100 common roads budget, which includes spending up to $23,500 for the purchase of a one-ton pickup, rather than renting equipment as is currently the practice. Also approved was $525,000 for road maintenance, which included spending up to $26,560 on a backhoe.

Voters agreed to finance up to $100,000 over three years for the purchase of a new forestry truck with the first year’s payment of $32,000 to be transferred from the Fire Department capital reserve account.

Residents balked at entering a new three-year contract with Pine Tree Waste for curbside collection of solid waste and recyclables, at a cost of $189,800 for the first year; $197,395 the next year and $202,327 the final year. They opted to go with a one-year contract.

A proposal to support the Regional School Unit 5 Building Committee spending $41,878 from the $306,324 owners’ reserve account in the Durham construction budget was debated at length and defeated by a hand-counted vote of 37-29.

After going along for the most part with Budget Committee recommendations, voters decided to go along with selectmen’s higher request for recreation, spending $3,929 instead of $1,689.

Other appropriations included: fire and rescue operating budget, $233,612; final lease payment on the new tanker truck, $25,917; assessing, $19,350; cemeteries, $4,200; county tax, $323,352; Runaround Park and dam, $8,355; conservation and River Park, $4,274; telecommunications, $23,396; fire station payment (eighth of 14 payments) $40,736; Eureka Community Center, $3,650.

The rate for deliquent taxes was set at 7 percent per anum.

Only 104 of more than 3,400 registered voters turned out for the four and a half hour meeting, which was moderated by Gary Wood.

A special tribute was given to late Selectman Wesley Bennett with his daughters, Billie Bennett and Bobbie Gregg, present to accept a plaque and a plant, and a legislative sentiment was presented by state Rep. David Van Wie.

Van Wie also presented a legislative sentiment to Allan Purinton for his 27 years on the Budget Committee.

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