Hanover Selectboard to finalize warrant for Town Meeting

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 04-12-2024 8:00 PM

Modified: 04-15-2024 12:51 PM


HANOVER — Voters will have an opportunity on Monday to discuss articles on the proposed town warrant, including new collective bargaining agreements for three employee unions, amendments to the town zoning ordinance and a petitioned resolution to support an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Selectboard will hold a public hearing on Monday night to vote on a final warrant for Town Meeting, which is slated for Tuesday, May 14 in the Hanover High School gymnasium. The polls for ballot voting will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the in-person business meeting will start at 7 p.m.

The public hearing is scheduled for Monday, April 15 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

Town officials are proposing a total budget of $35.6 million, including a main operating budget of $31 million and $4.5 million in separate warrant articles, for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The additional spending articles include a request to use $2 million from capital reserves to fund equipment, vehicles and facility improvements requested by town departments.

The total budget includes $17 million to be raised by property taxes, including $12 million for the general fund and $5 million for fire department services — which is taxed separately. The remainder of the budget, such as water and sewer services, is funded by user fees or other revenue streams.

If approved, the budget would increase the municipal tax rate by about 6%. The new town tax rate would be $4.67 per $1,000 of assessed property value — equivalent to $2,335 on a $500,000 home.

Voters also will be asked to authorize three new collective bargaining agreements with police, fire and public works employees.

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A two-year contract proposal with town firefighters would increase total salaries and benefits by $189,000 in the second year, including a one-time salary adjustment of 2% and a combined 4.5% cost of living increase.

“We are pleased with the tentative agreement we have reached with the town,” Ebben Whitehair, president of the International Association of Firefighters, or Local 3288, said in an email. “It represents progress towards our collective goals of fair compensation and competitive benefits. We are excited to continue negotiating a successor agreement with the town.”

A three-year contract proposal with police department employees would be a $584,000 total increase in salaries and benefits by the third fiscal year. A three-year contract proposal with public works employees would be an increase of $596,000 in total salary and benefits.

Attempts to reach Hanover Police Sgt. Chris Swain, president of the Local 3657, by phone and email were unsuccessful.

Six articles on the warrant will be decided by voter ballot, including the election of public officers and five questions seeking to amend town zoning laws.

Voters will be asked to elect two candidates to serve three-year terms on the Selectboard. Joanna Whitcomb, the lone incumbent, is seeking reelection against two challengers, Jarett Berke and Kari Asmus. Board member Nancy Carter, whose term expires next month, is not seeking reelection.

The proposed zoning amendments include allowing a maximum building height of 55 feet in the downtown center — a 10 foot increase — and removing a regulation that restricts building’s maximum square f ootage.

“As construction prices continue to increase, it has become clear that added height and more square footage in the downtown will make redevelopment more desirable,” a written overview of the warrant states.

The Selectboard will also decide on Monday whether to add a petitioned article to the warrant asking voters to support a resolution calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and the West Bank and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.

The article is being petitioned by Hanover resident Sharon Racusin, a member of the New Hampshire and Vermont chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a grassroots organization of Jewish Americans who seek to reform Israeli’s policies pertaining to Palestinian communities and land.

“This war has taken an emotional toll on so many of us that we have to find a way to channel our grief,” Racusin said in an email. “While our congressional delegation moves at a snail’s pace more than 30,000 lives are gone, those who are living have no home and captives are still being held. ... So, like other communities, we are writing these resolutions for our towns and cities to make sure our collective cries are heard to stop this war and work towards peace.”

Racusin submitted the requested article with a petition of support signed by 116 town residents to the Town Clerk’s office on Tuesday. A minimum of 25 signatures was needed for the Selectboard to consider a petitioned article.

The Lebanon City Council passed a similar resolution, 5-4, at a meeting on April 3.

Patrick Adrian can be reached at padrian@vnews.com or at 603-727-3216.

CORRECTION: Hanover’s proposed budget is expected to result in a municipal tax rate of $4.67 per $1,000 of assessed property value, which would be equivalent, in total, to $2,335 on a $500,000 home. The budget’s effect on taxes was incorrect in a previous version of this story.