Enfield — At the close of a short and sweet Town Meeting on Saturday, at which voters passed the budget as proposed and approved leasing several new municipal vehicles, residents rose to their feet and gave a rousing round of applause for outgoing Town Manager Steve Schneider, who will step down at the end of the month.
Schneider, who has been with the town for 11½ years, will become the director of the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission.
“Steve Schneider has been an outstanding town manager,” Selectboard Chairman John Kluge said. “He has really helped keep things together here. Look how easily our Town Meetings have moved forward. That is a sign of a town that is moving forward together, and Steve Schneider is owed a great deal of thanks for that.”
Resident Bob Cusick prompted the ovation by updating those in attendance on where the town is in its search for a new manager. Cusick is a member of a committee tasked with aiding in the search, which is working with Meredith, N.H.-based Municipal Resources Inc., a consulting company. Fifty-three candidates applied for the position, Cusick said, more than the town anticipated.
That pool is being whittled down, and the plan is to have a new manager named at the end of April. Assistant Town Manager Alisa Bonnette will act as interim town manager.
“No matter how good the next town manager will be, they have some very big shoes to step into,” Moderator David Beaufait said. Asked afterward how his time in Enfield was, Schneider didn’t skip a beat.
“Amazing. It was everything I thought it would be,” he said. “It is a great community.” And he plans to stay. He and his wife will stay in their home near Mascoma Lake, he said.
First Responders Honored
Town Meeting opened with a brief presentation from Richard Martin, emergency medical services chief, who recognized and thanked first responders from Enfield and the surrounding communities for saving a 68-year-old Enfield man’s life in July.
Randy Chapman, the former Lebanon police chief, drove by resident John Kelly’s house and saw him lying in his yard. Knowing something wasn’t right, Chapman jumped into action, Martin said.
Kelly was suffering from anaphylactic shock after being stung by yellowjackets, and first responders saved his life, Martin said.
Kelly went up and personally thanked the first responders who were in attendance at the meeting.
Voters acted on six warrant articles during the deliberative session and passed all by large margins.
There were no hot-button issues on this year’s warrant, and perhaps that was what resulted in the smallest crowd Kluge said he has seen in nine years.
Budget, New Vehicles Approved
Voters approved a $6.4 million budget for 2017, an increase of about $150,000 over last year’s approved spending. The municipal tax rate is expected to increase by 14 cents per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value, which amounts to $35 in new taxes for a home assessed at $250,000.
Voters also approved $200,000 for a lease-purchase agreement for several new municipal vehicles. The vehicles — a police cruiser, a fire support vehicle, an 11-ton mini-excavator, a 25-ton low bed trailer and a roller — will be purchased with money from a reserve fund, so they won’t affect the tax rate. The article was the only one voted on by ballot, and it passed, 86-18.
In a separate article, voters approved adding $367,983 to the capital reserve fund. Voters also approved discontinuing a reserve fund for library equipment and depositing $2,000 from surplus into a cemetery maintenance fund.
Unlike a few towns in the Upper Valley, Enfield went ahead with ballot voting on Tuesday, despite the snowstorm.
Beaufait, the moderator, made it pretty clear on Saturday that he intends to stick with that approach.
“As long as I am moderator, short of a declared true emergency, we will have Town Meeting and town elections,” he said.
Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3248.