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Lebanon Agrees to Hold Line on School Spending

Homer Adams laughs as he submits his ballot at the District 2 polling at the Lebanon United Methodist Church in Lebanon, N.H., on March 11, 2014. Also pictured is Martha MacDonald, center, and Judy St. Hilaire, left, the Ward 2 Moderator. 
Valley News - Sarah Priestap

Homer Adams laughs as he submits his ballot at the District 2 polling at the Lebanon United Methodist Church in Lebanon, N.H., on March 11, 2014. Also pictured is Martha MacDonald, center, and Judy St. Hilaire, left, the Ward 2 Moderator. Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »

Lebanon — For the second year in a row, voters on Tuesday denied Alan J. Patterson’s effort to return to the School Board, this time re-electing three incumbents during balloting that demonstrated solid support for a hold-the-line school budget of $39 million and rejected a plan to introduce foreign languages in the elementary grades.

In a race for three three-year seats on the School Board, unofficial results from the city clerk’s office showed Kathleen Berger leading the way with 766 votes, followed by Robert E. McCarthy with 758 and Richard Milius with 742.

Patterson, who served on the board from 2010 to 2013, tallied 666.

“I did a lot better than I thought I would,” said Patterson . “These were all people who had been on the board this time. The whole reason I ran was to mix it up a little bit.”

Patterson said that he took some satisfaction in the $39 million budget that the School Board put on the ballot — representing a $1.2-million cut from the spending package that the school administration had proposed.

The board ordered administrators to make the cuts in December, after 155 residents signed Patterson’s petition seeking to hold the budget close to the current year’s level of spending.

Milius, who had been appointed to the board in July to complete the term of a member who resigned, said that he “really had no idea going in how it would go.

“Of all four candidates, I’m the least known in Lebanon. I was very gratified that lots of people felt they could put their faith in me.”

While approving the School Board’s budget bottom line by a count of 828-481, and a warrant article of $79,000 to hire a math specialist for the elementary schools (687-623), voters defeated, 793-529, a warrant article seeking $163,600 to hire two teachers who would have introduced foreign language to students in the elementary schools.

Milius and Berger said that they heard more from constituents during the campaign about the languages and math-specialist articles than they did about the budget.

“They don’t want (the languages proposal),” Berger said while campaigning outside the Ward 1 polls at Kilton Public Library in West Lebanon. “The board was a little iffy on that and wanted residents to weigh in. It still needs some work. World languages really got people a little riled.”

Out of 9,195 registered voters, almost 1,400 came to the polls, according to the city clerk’s unofficial count. On a rainy day in 2013, about 1,000 city residents voted.

Poll workers said while they wished for a higher turnout, they were relieved that the election fell on a balmy, sunny day — just ahead of the snowstorm forecast for today.

“If it was tomorrow,” Judi St. Hilaire said at the Ward 2 polls at the Methodist Church on School Street, “people would be saying, ‘How do I get an absentee ballot?’ which would have been too late.”

On the city ballot, all three proposed amendments to the zoning ordinance won approval by more than 3 to 1.

One of them tweaks a regulation, which voters approved last year, that allows homeowners to build additions either for independent living space for extended family — a so-called in-law apartment — or for rentals.

The current rule requires owners to build all such “accessory dwelling units” behind the main house; the changes would give the Zoning Board more flexibility to decide where on the property the homeowner can place the addition.

Another amendment gives the Planning Board “discretion over the appropriate mix for the types and styles of residential units in a Planned Unit Residential Development and a Planned Unit Recreational Development.”

The third amendment requires a developer seeking Planning Board approval to go through a “conceptual review” for Planned Unit Development projects and for cluster subdivisions. The city planning office currently offers such reviews as an option.

In uncontested municipal races, incumbent City Councilors Nicole Cormen and Erling Heistad won re-election to at-large seats, while Georgia Tuttle was re-elected in Ward 1, Bruce Bronner in Ward 2 and Carol Dustin in Ward 3.

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