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Nashua;54.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/skc.png;2014-09-17 09:29:36
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  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Town and school district moderator, Lynn Christensen reads the tally of votes for an article Tuesday, April 10, 2012, during town elections in Merrimack.


  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Dr. John Segedy reads while waiting for voters at the Matricola Upper Elementary School in Merrimack Tuesday, April 10, 2012
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Sign holders chat outside of the Mastricola Upper Elementary School during voting in Merrimack Tuesday, April 10, 2012
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    A voter heads to the ballot box after voting at the Mastricola Upper Elementary School earlyTuesday, April 10, 2012
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    A voter heads to a booth at the Mastricola Upper Elementary School earlyTuesday, April 10, 2012
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Town and school district moderator, Lynn Christensen reads the tally of votes for an article Tuesday, April 10, 2012, during town elections in Merrimack.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Dozens of donuts and pizzas later the votes are in and tallied Tuesday, April 10, 2012, during town elections in Merrimack.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Plans for upgrades at Merrimack wastewater treatment facility smells like roses to voters

MERRIMACK – Two town residents were elected Tuesday to the Merrimack School District budget committee, but the board remaining members retained their spots without entering their names on the ballot.

The committee, which reviews and finalizes the district’s spending plan, narrowly survived Tuesday as voters shot down a proposal to disband the board by a 14-vote margin.

Supporters of the move had introduced the proposal seeking to streamline the budgeting process and remove a level of bureaucracy, they said. But, opponents opted to retain the committee, defeating the matter by a 1114-1128 vote.

“I think it’s good for the school district,” said Andy Schneider, past chairman of the budget committee, who was elected Tuesday to the school board.

“Now, the district can look at whether we should keep (the committee) as it is, but the good news is, we can do that while the committee is in-tact. ... That’s much better for the district.”

The vote was by far the closest of the day.

Voters passed the district’s $65.5 million operating budget by a 1941-436 count. And they approved a pair of union contracts by similar wide margins.

Bill Cummings and Valerie Pellegrino earned spots on the budget committee, and Schneider, the former committee chairman, was elected, along with fellow newcomer Davis Powell to the district school board, defeating challengers Joseph Kearns and Gary Grupp for two open seats.

“I’m very excited to see what we can do as a board,” Schneider said after the results were announced.

On the town side, voters will equally generous.

Voters approved all six of the warrant articles on the town ballot, including the town’s $30.1 million operating budget proposal. The spending plan, which passed 1,531-657, is about $3 million, or 11 percent, higher than the $27.1 million default budget enacted last year by voters. But the proposed spending plan is less than 1 percent higher than actual town spending, which includes a series of capital projects not included in the default budget that were funded over the past year.

When it goes into effect July 1, the budget will maintain the town’s current tax rate of $5.24 per $1,000 of assessed value.

“The taxes have been fairly reasonable this year. I was very pleased with that,” said Don Botsch, a 42-year resident, who voted in favor of the budget proposal. “The town has done a good job keeping spending down.”

Of the other spending proposals, voters passed a pair of police union contracts, one for officers ($32,000) and one for the department’s dispatchers and secretaries ($2,900). They also approved two proposed upgrades to the town’s waste water treatment center.

The first article, a $4.2 million request, proposes to upgrade the plant’s 40-year-old pumping and electronic systems, among others. The second would provide about $2.9 million worth of improvements to the plant’s compost facility.

“The equipment is getting really old,” resident Ed Blaine said as he left the polls. “(Waste water) is something you don’t really want to mess with.”

Both plans will be funded through sewer user fees, not through tax dollars. But, some town residents still objected with the town’s spending plans.

“Upgrades need to be done when they need to be done, but we need to local at all government spending,” said Marc Snyder, who voted against the projects. “If there’s an increase, I’m just not interested.”

Of the contested town races, incumbent town councilors Tom Koenig and

Tom Mahon each earned another term on the town’s governing board.

Former Councilor Nancy Harrington also earned another term on the board, defeating Mike Malzone, Kevin Shea and Lon Woods.