Enfield Considers Beach Buy

Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Voting for Enfield’s town officers and the Mascoma Valley Regional School District budget and officers will take place from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Whitney Hall. Residents may vote on the remaining articles on the Town Meeting warrant, including the town budget, at a floor session beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 17, at Enfield Village School.

Enfield — Voters will be asked to approve a $6.4 million municipal budget and the purchase of a new town beach at Town Meeting this year.

Enfield officials are hoping to buy two lakefront properties to continue the development of Mascoma Lakeside Park, which some hope will become Enfield’s second town beach.

The park, which opened on Main Street in summer 2016, is owned by the state Department of Transportation. The state recently declared the roughly 2.5-acre property as surplus, paving the way for its potential sale.

Purchasing the land would enable Enfield to construct new facilities and expand access on Mascoma Lake, according to Town Manager Ryan Aylesworth. Officials have estimated it would cost about $350,000 to acquire the park and maintain it into the future.

Even if the article on the town warrant is approved, Aylesworth said, taxes won’t be used to support the property’s sale. A private fundraising campaign already is underway, he said.

If voters approve the sale, Aylesworth said, the article simply would give the Selectboard the authority to hammer out a deal with the state.

“I think that the importance of that park in terms of what it can do for the town — attracting and retaining residents, economic development, quality of life, sense of place — (makes it) a really important article before the town,” Aylesworth said.

Voters will be asked to approve a $6.4 million operating budget, a 3.4 percent increase over 2017’s.

Aylesworth said that includes a 2 percent merit-based salary increase for staff, as well as other fixed costs, such as health care and retirement increases.

If the budget is approved, town officials estimate the tax rate would increase 20 cents per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value, or 2.7 percent.

That would amount to a $50 tax increase for a homeowner with a property valued at $250,000.

The proposed tax increase partially is the result of a shortage of town-owned properties expected to go on the market in 2018, Aylesworth said. Enfield has sold several marketable surplus parcels in recent years, which help prop up revenue, he said.

Voters also will be asked whether the lottery game keno should be allowed in Enfield. There are two bars in town that could host the game, which was established to help pay for full-day kindergarten programs, according to state officials.

School districts will receive revenue generated from the game regardless of whether their communities vote to allow it.

Several warrant articles will ask residents to decide whether to lease new town vehicles and make improvements to infrastructure.

One article calls for the town to raise $215,000 to lease a police cruiser and dump truck over seven years. Both will be paid for using the town’s capital improvement program fund, and a two-thirds vote is required to OK the vehicles.

A two-thirds vote is needed to approve $117,500 in spending for several infrastructure improvements, which also will be paid using capital reserve funds.

The money would be used to repave Crystal Lake Road ($58,000), insulate the fire station and Shedd Street garage ($20,000), rebuild the basketball court at Huse Park ($15,000), repave the Whitney Hall parking lot ($15,000), replace a trailer at the transfer station ($6,500) and upgrade the locks at the Community Building ($3,000).

Residents will be asked to spend $76,000 on a warrant article to fund a strategic governance project and new financial software. Officials said money for both those initiatives cannot come from the town’s capital improvement program capital reserve fund.

Another article would appropriate $395,968 to that fund, a $26,200 increase over what voters approved last year.

However, that total amount would be reduced by $76,000 if voters approve the article to pay for the strategic governance project and software.

Other articles on the warrant ask residents to appropriate $25,000 to an employee and retirement benefits trust fund, $30,000 for a wastewater study, and $2,400 for cemetery maintenance.

On the ballot, Selectboard Chairman Fred Cummings is running for another three-year term on the board. He’s facing a challenge from Katherine Plumley Stewart.

Timothy Lenihan, Cecilia Aufiero and Mike Diehn are running for two open seats on the Zoning Board. Erik Russell and Diehn also are running unopposed for three-year stints on the Budget Committee.

More details on the warrant and proposed budget can be found at www.enfield.nh.us/Pages/EnfieldNH_Manager/meeting/2018.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.