The tax rate, pay hikes, waste and recyclable collection were also on the warrant.

DURHAM – After 215 years, the town held its last March town meeting Saturday.

Voters approved moving the meeting to the first Saturday in April to give officials more time to prepare budgets, the annual audit and town report. Elections will take place on the preceding Friday.

About 300 residents acted on 83 articles in just over five hours.

The end result will be an estimated 95-cent increase in the tax rate, according to figures prepared by Budget Committee Chairman Allan Purinton. He estimated the new tax rate will be $19.55 per thousand dollars. Last year’s tax rate was $18.60.

Voters gave the go-ahead for the First Responders to change licensing to become a transporting ambulance service. This came after objections and predictions by Alice McPeake that it would soon be costing the town $100,000 a year. She maintained it should be left with the private sector, as it is in most municipalities. The town currently contracts with Northeast Ambulance.

For the most part, voters followed Budget Committee recommendations, approving a $5,283,943 school budget.

An overwhelming majority favored authorizing the School Committee to explore the formation of a Community School District with Lisbon for grades nine to 12 and building a jointly-owned high school. The process will take several months and would need formal voter approval by both towns.

Three percent pay hikes were approved for town employees.

A three-year solid waste and recyclables curbside collection contract with Pine Tree Waste was approved at a cost of $119,920 for the first year, $122,619 for the second and $125,991 for the third.

The sum of $27,049 was transferred from cable television franchise fees to pay of the cost of operating the local public access TV station, town Web site and a monthly newsletter.

Five roads in subdivisions were accepted: Cottagewoods Road, Deervale Road, Turkey Ridge, Puritan Lane and Evergreen Lane. In the future, the only roads that will be accepted by the town will be those located in the Southwest Bend area growth district.

After a lengthy debate, and over the objections of some builders, voters approved a growth management and establishment of districts ordinance, limiting new residential construction permits to 45 annually.

There were some limitations on location and number per family. The permits are first come, first serve.

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