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Meredith: Voters reject Keno, approve land swap to enhance downtown parking

Union Leader Correspondent

March 15. 2018 11:13PM
Meredith residents signal their vote during their annual town meeting held Wednesday. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

MEREDITH — Voters authorized selectmen to negotiate a land swap to improve parking in the downtown, and approved buying a property on High Street to expand parking for the public library but rejected allowing Keno in the community.

By a ballot vote 116 no to 34 yes, residents defeated a petitioned warrant article to permit the bingo-like gambling game to be played in establishments that have a liquor license.

Those speaking against the article cited the addictive nature of games of chance, the negative elements that can be attracted to gambling and the fear the state would adopt legislation to deposit the revenue in the general fund instead of using it to pay for full-day kindergarten.

During Wednesday’s town meeting, residents approved an operating budget of $14,207,000. Selectman Ray Moritz who was re-elected on Tuesday said $525,000 in unreserved fund balance would be applied to reduce the amount to be raised by taxation. As a result, the tax rate will remain $5 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, the same as last year. The budget includes a 1.5 percent salary increase for town employees as well as merit pay pool.

Residents agreed to pay $325,000 to Sandra and Hayward Price for a lot and small house at 10 Highland St., and to fund the purchase by transferring $163,500 from the downtown parking expendable trust fund and a matching amount from the undesignated fund balance.

In response to questions, Moritz said, it will cost about $30,000 to have the house razed and about $120,000 to create a parking lot and pave it.

Voters also agreed to authorize selectmen to negotiate an exchange of property in which the town would convey to VLIEG of Meredith LLC the town parking area at 323 Daniel Webster Highway adjacent to the former Aubuchon hardware store and in return would receive the laundromat property located across the street.

The swap would promote the redevelopment of the former Aubuchon building which is becoming an eyesore and in exchange VLIEG would raze the laundromat, pave and stripe a parking lot on the property. Selectman Nate Torr said the vote would give the board the authority to make the exchange but doesn’t mandate it.

In other spending, voters approved adding $275,000 to an expendable trust fund for replacement equipment for the Department of Public Works; adding $275,000 to the Waterfront Infrastructure Expendable Trust Fund; adding $100,000 to an expendable trust to purchase the trailers used to transport solid waste from the town’s transfer station and to add $75,000 to the Recreational Facilities Improvement ETF.

Residents ratified a collective bargaining agreement with the State Employees Association of New Hampshire, the union that represents members of the Department of Public Works and the water and sewer departments, that calls for $36,455 to fund this year’s increase in salary and benefits.

Resident John Perry stepped to the microphone to praise the efforts of DPW employees over the course of this winter’s wild weather, concluding by saying, “let’s give them a couple of bucks.”

A proposal to discontinue a portion of Black Brook Road was tabled after Town Manager Phil Warren said that the original petitioner had represented that all abutters favored the measure, but that the town has since been contacted by a lawyer informing Warren that was not the case.

Voters additionally agreed to designate a 198-acre parcel of land off Barnard Ridge Road known as Page Pond II as a Town Forest, action that will allow the Conservation Commission to manage the property and receive any revenues generated from timber sales.

Before adjourning, residents recognized Duncan McNeish for 34 years of service as a library trustee, Steve Nedeau for acting as town moderator for 10 years and Bev Lapham for his continued community involvement, most recently as a member of the board of selectmen.

Politics Local Meredith Nottingham Local and County Government

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