Saturday March 9, 2013

HINSDALE, N.H. -- There will be four contested races in town this year, with three residents vying for two seats on the Board of Selectmen in Tuesday's election.

Richard Schill, who is finishing his a three-year term, is seeking re-election and will compete with Wayne Gallagher and Joan C. Morel for one of the two three-year positions.

Town voters have been warned to meet at the Hinsdale Community Center starting at 10 a.m. to elect town officers.

Schill describes himself as a fiscal conservative. He said he joined the board to lower taxes and did exactly that. He says the tax rate has decreased from $26.39 to $24.79 since he was elected in 2010. Schill said he was able to buy the rate down using taxpayers' money in the unassigned fund balance line.

He told the Reformer he has stayed true to his values and has been going door to door in town asking residents for their votes.

Schill said he has never missed a board meeting since he was elected and does not collect his yearly $2,500 stipend. His family moved to town in 1955, and after he left to live in Massachusetts for 20 years, he came back in 1997.

The main issue before the Selectmen right now is the development of a new police station. The Hinsdale Police Department has been operating out of the same temporary facility since the 1980s, and the town recently acquired some Main Street property donated by resident Lewis Major. Adoption of Article 2 of this year's town warrant would raise and appropriate $1,087,636 for the construction project, with $75,000 coming from an expendable trust fund established specifically for that purpose and $239,636 out of the Wal-Mart Development Agreement Fund. The article needs a two-thirds majority to pass.

"As our single largest department budget, I have worked hard with our former police chief (Gallagher) now to find savings in his budget which was $417,475 in 2001 and hit $884,321 for 2012 ... a whopping 112 percent increase without police cruisers," Schill says in a flier promoting his candidacy. "I have also worked with our present police chief (Todd Faulkner), who this year asked for approximately $973,000 and two police cruisers and helped lower his budget to $917,526 with agreement for only one police cruiser.

"Police protection is vital," Schill continues, "but it must be kept affordable for our town."

Gallagher served as the town's police chief for 11 years, starting a few weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, until last year's Town Meeting Day. He said several people approached him and asked him to run.

He believes his 40 years of experience in law enforcement will come in handy in regards to the new police station.

"I work well with people as both a supervisor and a mentor," he said. He worked in East Providence, R.I., before moving to Hinsdale. "I think my experience doing that type of work would be beneficial here to the town."

He would also like to help bring commercial industries into Hinsdale and broaden its tax base. He has been on the town's planning board as well as the Rescue Inc. Board of Directors and the Hinsdale Community Development Corporation board.

Morel has never served on a board of selectmen but was the town administrator in Winchester for three years and believes that work has prepared her for the work that lay ahead in Hinsdale. She is now retired and says the most important responsibility of the Board of Selectmen is to be responsible with taxpayer money.

According to Morel, she worked with the Winchester Board of Selectmen when she was town administrator and carried out day-to-day town business, oversaw town employees and departments, acted as a liaison with engineers, attorneys, and local/county/state/federal agencies and coordinate and track federal and state budgets and expenditures.

She said she would like to cooperate and communicate with school officials to further secure the safety of children as much as possible, using available resources that are already available, and share spaces with the schools to more efficiently use all available areas for meetings and training sessions. If elected, she also hopes to end the practice of leasing of equipment when possible and get Hinsdale to consider partnering with nearby towns to share expenses for services such as assessing.

Morel said it is important to build a new police station with consideration to possible future expansion.

Clare Hudon, James P. Mitchell, George Benedict and exiting Board of Selectmen Chairman John D. Smith are running for two three-year terms on the planning board and Lynn McLoughlin and Tammy-Jean Akeley will compete for a one-year term as tax collector

Bruce Belville, James MacDonell and Lisa Borst are each running for one of two one-year terms on the Hinsdale Budget Committee.

Belville sat on the Board of Selectmen for six years and served as its chairman for one. He is currently on the budget committee filling the unexpired term of Richard Shaw. He said he has a lot of experience and the committee fits his schedule well because it lasts from the fall to February, and he grows perennial plants for his business, Meeting House Gardens.

"I'm very conservative. I don't like to spend money. But that doesn't mean losing programs," he said. "I'm there to watch the money."

Belville has also served on the conservation commission and the planning board.

MacDonell is also on the budget committee, having taken over for Bernie Rideout, who left when he was elected to the Board of Selectmen last year. He told the Reformer he hopes to continue asking tough questions about the town taxpayer money is spent.

"I want to keep taxes as low as we can while still having all the essential services," he said. Raised in New Jersey, he moved to Hinsdale in 2008.

Borst said she decided to run because she is concerned with how funds in are being spent in town, mainly in regards the yet-to-be-built police station. She said she supports the idea of a new building but the cost is a major concern to many residents.

She has never served in public office before but runs a state-licensed dog rescue shelter and used to run The Inn at South Newfane (Vermont) with her parents.

"Part of working on a budget committee is knowing how budget sheets work and how fund transfers can be executed to their potential," she told the Reformer. "I think it's about time to get involved. It's a terrific town -- it just needs a lot more transparency."

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.