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Haverhill Voters Approve Budget, Elect Chasse to School Board

Haverhill — Voters approved a municipal budget that will increase spending by about $300,000 to $3.8 million, but only after a debate that indicated some weren’t happy about it.

“I want to make it clear that this is getting outrageous,” said resident Peter Saladino. “We’re going up and up and up.”

The approximately 100 voters who attended the meeting at the middle school approved the budget by voice vote.

The increase is due to having less surplus to offset taxes, Town Manager Glenn English told voters in the town report. Last year, the town applied $200,000 from surplus; this year, it used only half of that.

Chairman Wayne Fortier said that the Selectboard had “toyed with the idea of floating a bond for $1 million” to fund road repairs, but decided to wait out of concern for expected increases in the school budget.

He said the board would take up the issue of capital improvements in its first meeting after it reorganizes.

“We’re at a critical juncture,” he said.

Haverhill voters approved allocations to three capital funds: $20,000 for vehicles, $2,000 for buildings and $60,000 for fire vehicles.

They approved a $150,000 expenditure to replace a Page Road culvert on the North Branch, which is slated to be funded in part by a $95,000 grant.

In order to continue an agreement with Newbury, Vt., to provide household recycling services to Haverhill residents, voters unanimously approved an appropriation of $16,500.

Residents supported additional appropriations for White Mountain Mental Health Association, Alumni Hall Visitors’ and Performing Arts Center, North Country Home Health and Hospice, the RSVP program, Horse Meadow Senior Center, Tri-County Community Action program, Burch House, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and Ammonoosuc Community Health Services.

Town officials estimate the budget and additional appropriations will drive up the town tax rate by 70 cents to $7 per $1,000 of property value. That change would mean that the owner of a home valued at $200,000 would pay approximately $1,400 in taxes.

About 650 voters, “twice as many as usual,” cast ballots this year, Town Moderator Douglas McDonald told the crowd.

Only one election on the school and town ballots involved a contested race. Todd Chasse won an at-large school board seat, beating Donald LoCascio 342-235.

Also by ballot, residents rejected an article that would have changed the town’s ordinance regulating sludge disposal by a vote of 431-124.

Haverhill residents will gather again at the middle school on March 20, at 7 p.m., to consider a budget and bond for the Haverhill Cooperative School District.

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