Greenville residents approved $1 million in improvements to the town’s wastewater systems and a bond for a new fire truck in a swift Town Meeting on Saturday morning.
Residents approved all articles on the warrant unanimously or with only one dissenter during the session, which took less than two hours.
Residents had little to say on the budget, passing the total $2.4 million budget in eight sections with no comments or amendments.
Prior to the budget, voters took up the subject of a new fire truck for the town, which will be paid for through a $300,000 bond, plus $100,000 from the Fire Equipment Expendable Trust and $200,000 for unexpended fund balance.
Fire Chief Charlie Buttrick explained the new truck will be replacing a vehicle that is 40 years old.
“It has served us well; it’s time to retire it,” Buttrick said.
The new truck will be custom-built to fit Greenville’s undersized station and will be very similar to the most-recent addition to the fleet added in 2013, carrying the same amount of water and same number of people in the cab, according to Buttrick.
Because the article requires the town to take out a bond, it was required by law to be a secret ballot vote and have a three-fifths majority to pass. Voters well exceeded that requirement, with 56 yes votes to a single no vote.
Voters also approved $160,000 for a six-wheel dump truck and plow and $60,000 – which includes a $50,000 grant from the State Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery – for an all-terrain emergency vehicle, equipment and training.
In the only article that was amended on the floor Saturday, voters also approved using federal and grant funding to make improvements to the wastewater system, in a project that will likely cost about $1 million.
Town Administrator Tara Sousa explained to the crowd that for the last 12 years, the town has struggled with its wastewater effluent and meeting the requirements for levels for several chemicals, including aluminum and copper. The town has been working to correct the issue, and has managed to alleviate many of them through a chemical treatment program. The current levels have allowed the town, for the first time in many years, to be compliant with an Environmental Protection Agency general permit. Sousa said now, the town would like to formalize that chemical treatment program by building chemical feed systems into the plant.
The original article requested the full $1 million in funds, with the majority of the cost – about $750,000 – covered by federal funding, which has yet to be officially approved but is expected, according to Sousa. The town also plans to use $150,000 in grant funding from the New Hampshire Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
On the floor, Selectman Douglas Reardon moved to amend the article to a total cost of $900,000, and eliminate language indicating the town would use $100,000 in the grants received by the town in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
Sousa explained the total cost of the project remains the same, and the town still intends to use those coronavirus recovery funds for the engineering of the project, but the town received those funds last year, and the Select Board already has the authority to expend unanticipated revenue. Sousa said the state’s Department of Revenue Administration had recommended the town change the wording, but the ultimate intent and overall cost would remain the same.
The voters agreed to the amendment, and then passed the article.
In other articles dealing with the town’s water and wastewater systems, voters approved $430,633 for the running of the Wastewater Department and $317,407 for the Water Department. In addition, voters approved $25,000 for the Wastewater Expendable Trust and $75,000 for the Water Expendable Trust. Both budgets and trust fund revenues are paid for through user fees, not taxation. Voters passed all four articles unanimously and with no discussion.
Also on the warrant were several articles dealing with how the town can handle property, including an article requesting funds to purchase two lots on Main Street.
Article 16 requested $60,000 from last year’s unassigned funds to purchase 24 Main St. and 28 Main St., two vacant lots that abut property already owned by the town. Reardon said the intent is to turn the lots into additional parking for downtown.
“We’re slowly but surely trying to get back our downtown,” Reardon said.
Resident Deb Spratt said she was for the plan.
“It’s a great opportunity to recoup our downtown area. Parking is a huge issue. It’s desperate,” she said.
Resident Rick Miller agreed, saying when he served on the town’s Economic Development Committee, parking was the No. 1 issue cited by downtown businesses.
Voters agreed in an unanimous voice to vote to purchase the properties. Residents also agreed to adopt practices under state RSA on how the Select Board can dispose of liens or tax-deeded properties. The language under the law allows the board to continue its current practices, Sousa said, but the formal language of the state law was never adopted by the town.
Residents also agreed to allow the Select Board to acquire or sell land or buildings without coming to Town Meeting first, as long as there was first consultation withe the Planning Board and Conservation Commission and a public hearing process.
Voters also offered no objection to the addition of funds to the town’s capital reserve funds for future infrastructure improvements. The town agreed to use $20,000 for the Green Bridge Improvement Expendable Trust, with half of those funds coming from last year’s unassigned fund balance, and $10,000 for the Public Works Equipment Capital Reserve. The town also approved $10,000 for the Pool Repair Expendable Trust and $25,000 for the Fire Equipment Expendable Trust, and agreed to use fund balance to add $5,000 for the Police Cruiser Trust Fund.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or email@example.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.