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Town Meeting preview: Newport to tackle wool mill cleanup funding

Published: 4/28/2021 8:44:05 PM
Modified: 4/28/2021 8:44:03 PM

Hot topic: Voters in Newport, N.H., will be asked to continue efforts to clean up the former Hartford Woolen Mill during Town Meeting voting next month.

An article on Newport’s annual warrant requests $500,000 to help remediate the nearly 4-acre property on the Sugar River. Newport Town Manager Hunter Rieseberg said officials want to one day see the site used for passive recreation, such as fishing.

The mill, which dates back to the 19th century, was purchased by Christi Ambargis in 1960 and was most recently used to collect oil for a fuel-blending project. When Ambargis died in 1996, the property was transferred to his widow, who relinquished it to the town for back taxes. An effort funded through federal grants between 1998 and 2003 saw storage tanks and hazardous waste removed. However, Rieseberg said, the site still has contaminated soils.

He said about $400,000 for the proposed cleanup would come from additional grants while the town’s share of $100,000 would be paid through surplus funds.

Budget: The Selectboard is proposing an $11 million budget for the 2021 fiscal year, an increase of about $800,000, or almost 8%, over the town’s current spending plan. Rieseberg said the budget proposal includes no new positions or programs. If approved, he said, it would reduce the town’s share of the tax rate by 10 cents per $1,000 of valuation. That would amount to a roughly $25 decrease in property taxes on a home valued at $250,000. If voters reject the budget, a default spending plan of $9.7 million would take effect.

Noteworthy articles: Voters will be asked to approve a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the Newport public works union. If approved, the deal would save taxpayers more than $31,500 next year. It would then cost $11,500 in the next fiscal year and an additional $11,300 the year after.

The town also is requesting approval of two bonds. One would allow Newport to spend $1.3 million for land acquisition and the construction of water system upgrades on Unity Road. Repayment of that debt would come from the water fund and would be budgeted next year.

Another article asks for $700,500 to reconstruct three roads. Money for the project would come from Newport’s paving budget over the next three years, meaning construction isn’t expected to require new taxes. Both bond requests require a 60% vote at the polls to pass.

Contested races: Keith Sayer and Bert Spaulding Sr. are running for a three-year seat on the Selectboard currently held by Todd Fratzel.

When and where: Voting for all articles will take place by Australian ballot from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11, at the Towle School, 86 N. Main St.

— Tim Camerato




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