DIXFIELD – Residents at the annual town meeting Thursday were told they could recommend changes to the budget, but the amounts on the June 9 warrant will be the selectmen’s recommendations.

“If (voters) want to change the budget that’s proposed, they’ll have to vote it down at the polls,” he said. “They can’t change the number at the town meeting.”

Resident Dan McKay was concerned that if articles were voted down at the polls instead of at the annual town meeting, selectmen wouldn’t know why.

“You have a chance to say why you will or won’t support it during tonight’s meeting, and the board will take it under advisement,” Puiia said.

“We’re here to let people speak,” Selectman Hart Daley said. “Anybody can speak up and say why they do or do not support an article, and we’ll take that advice under advisement, so if it doesn’t pass, we’ll have an idea why they were opposed to it.”

“So you’re assuming that if a budget item is voted down at the polls, they’ll want to reduce the number, rather than raise it?” resident Susan Holmes asked.

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Selectman Dana Whittemore said he would set up a table at the June 9 polls and do exit polling for residents who voted “no” on specific articles.

“This way, there will be no confusion on why residents may have voted a certain way on certain articles,” Whittemore said.

During discussion of Article 8, which asked residents if they wished to raise and appropriate $355,000 for the Police Department, Chairman Scott Belskis said the original request was $414,337.

“However, we carried forward $45,356 from the previous four years to pay for a police officer position that has been funded by a COPS grant,” Belskis said. “That lowered the budget to $368,981. After we made some additional cuts, the number going before the town is $355,000.”

Former police Chief Richard Pickett said, “I’d be remiss if I didn’t say something here. Four years ago, I stood here and told you that we got a COPS grant. We would get a fifth police officer for the town, and for three years, we wouldn’t have to pay a cent. On the fourth year, we would have to pay their salary. This is that fourth year.

“That $45,356 carryover is money that I saved in the budget over those three years, like I told you I would, so we could finance the fifth officer for the fourth year without using taxpayer money,” he said. “The carryover would be almost $52,000 if I had not taken $6,000 out of the account to pay for a survey that the selectmen requested.”

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One resident asked why the health insurance account had increased by nearly $30,000 over the past couple of years, while the wages had remained relatively the same.

Puiia said that after Pickett retired in January selectmen anticipated that his replacement would require the most expensive insurance: the family plan.

“We had to anticipate that they may need the most expensive plan, and had to add one insurance plan into the budget that we’re currently not paying for,” Puiia said. “Former Chief Pickett’s insurance was through the state, so we had to add some money back into the budget.”

Residents also:

* Elected Scott Dennett and Sharon Gilsleider to three-year terms on the Finance Committee.

* Elected Montell Kennedy for a three-year term on the Ione Harlow Scholarship Committee and the Water Advisory Board.

* Elected William DeVries and Maureen Houle to three-year terms on the Ludden Memorial Library Board of Trustees.

* Established a 7 percent interest rate for delinquent taxes.

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