HINSDALE, N.H. -- The town warrant is out of draft form and will be being posted for voters after a public hearing about all budgetary articles revealed no major heartburn from residents.
The Hinsdale Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee met on the second floor of the town hall building on Thursday evening to answer any questions members of the public had about the draft warrant. Most of the questions and comments centered on articles pertaining to equipment for the Hinsdale Police Department.
A townwide election of town officers (Article 1 of the town warrant) is scheduled for Tuesday, March 11, with polls at the Hinsdale Community Center opening at 10 a.m. The following part of Town Meeting, in which townspeople will vote on the warrant's articles, is slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Hinsdale Middle/High School gymnasium on Saturday, March 15.
Article 10 asks voters to authorize the selectmen to enter into a four-year lease for $72,000 to lease two Ford Interceptor Utility police vehicles and to raise and appropriate $31,748 for the first year's lease payment of $16,158 and $15,590 to set up the vehicles with the necessary equipment. The town will own the vehicles at the end of the lease. The article is recommended unanimously by the selectmen but the budget committee voted 5 to 4 not to recommend it.
Budget Committee Chairman Peter Zavorotny said Thursday committee members "felt that to buy two more police cruisers is an extravagance that we couldn't award." Lisa Borst uttered an enthusiastic "Thank you" after Zavorotny's comment.
Hinsdale Police Chief Todd Faulkner told the Reformer his department's arsenal contains four vehicles, including two aging Ford Crown Victorias that he said guzzle gasoline and cost a lot of money to maintain. He said the two Utility vehicles mentioned in Article 10 would phase out the Crown Victorias if the townspeople approve of leasing them. Article 12, which would authorize the selectmen to enter into a four-year lease for only one Utility vehicle and is unanimously recommended by both the selectmen and the budget committee, will be passed over if Article 10 is adopted.
But Faulkner said the most important component for his department on the town warrant is Article 6, which pertains to grant funding for a school resource officer (SRO). Adoption of the article would ratify the selectmen's decision and authorize the acceptance of a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant that would provide 60 percent of the cost to hire an SRO for 36 months with federal funding up to $125,000 during 2014, 2015 and 2016. The grant would come on the condition that the town fund the position the remaining 40 percent of the three years, as well as 2017, and have no reduction in the police force during the years of the grant.
Failure to adopt the article or adhere to the conditions would result in the town having to repay to the federal government all funds expended under the grant, which has already been implemented. Wayne Gallagher, a former Hinsdale police chief and current selectman, has assumed the duties of an SRO since he retired in 2012. He and Faulkner have said if the article passes Gallagher will be replaced by Officer Wayne Kassotis.
Faulkner said an SRO serves multiple roles, including providing protection to students and staff and acting as a confidant to members of the student body. He has said the SRO officer would be armed and would patrol both the middle/high school and the elementary school, though focus would be given to the middle/high school. Kassotis could wear a hard uniform (typical police attire) or a soft uniform (a polo shirt and dress pants).
Article 15, which would raise and appropriate $10,950 to repay the COPS grant funds, will be passed over if Article 6 is adopted.
Article 9 asks voters to raise and appropriate $40,000 to be added to the Fire Apparatus Fund. Zavorotny said the funding is being built to purchase a new Frontline firetruck, which he said are very expensive. Town Administrator Jill Collins said the Fire Apparatus Fund is "basically saving for the future." It is recommended unanimously by the selectmen and budget committee.
Article 13, which was also unanimously recommended by both boards, would generate $16,000 for new personal protective equipment for the fire department. Gallagher explained that periodically replacing the equipment with new technology is a legal obligation. Article 14 -- which would raise and appropriate $15,500 for the subsidized transit service from Brattleboro, Vt., to Hinsdale -- is back on the town warrant after briefly being removed by the selectmen, who changed their minds after hearing from Deerfield Valley Transit Association Executive Director Randall Schoonmaker on Monday.
Adoption of Article 2 would raise and appropriate $1,416,687 to reconstruct Monument Road from Plain Road to Meetinghouse Road and to authorize bonds not to exceed that amount in accordance with the Municipal Finance Act. A two-thirds majority is required for passage. Article 3 seeks to generate $3,501,166 for the town's generating operating expenses.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com; or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow Domenic on Twitter @dpoli_reformer