Gorham voters approve all articles on town warrant
GORHAM - Gorham voters approved all articles on the town meeting warrant Tuesday night, but two articles took up the first hour of the three-hour meeting.The first was a proposal to increase the elderly exemption limit, based on assessed value, by $2,500. The new limits would be $25,000 for age 65 to 75, $50,000 for age 75 to 80 and $100,000 for 80 and older.Assessing Clerk Michelle Lutz explained these rates had not been adjusted since 1997, and elderly residents were losing their exemptions. She said she had calculated three properties would lose it this year, two next year and three the year after. Losing this exemption results in a big tax increase for these seniors on a fixed income.The second change was in the veteran's exemption. The town had been using the standard exemption of $50. A new statute allows an optional exemption of $50 to $500. The article was submitted by petition, and the petitioner picked $200, which would put Gorham in line with many other communities.Both eventually passed after discussion on what the articles were actually proposing and the cost to the town.Another article asked voters to give selectmen authority to sell properties taken by tax deed. That passed after an amendment that would require selectmen to notify abutters before selling the land, proposed by Suzanne Demers, passed.Demers also made a motion to decrease the operating budget by $105,232. That amount represents the increase in the amount that was to have been billed to Shelburne and Randolph for ambulance service, so it would have been offset by revenue from those two towns. Selectmen had reversed that decision the night before, however, and will not put the new costs into effect this year. The motion failed, however.A motion was made by Amanda Bradford to raise the amount of money to be put in the road resurfacing and reconstruction capital reserve account from $10,000 to $50,000. That motion failed.A motion was then made from the floor by Lisa Kardell to raise $1.4 million for road work in the Stoneybrook development. The condition of the roads has resulted in damage to several vehicles, residents of that area said. The amount of $1.4 million was above the 10 percent rule that limits the amount that can be raised from the floor over the budget, so townspeople were not able to consider that article.The remaining articles passed with little discussion and no changes.Lee Carroll, who served as moderator for 28 years, was given an engraved plate. Bruce Lary was elected to that position this year.