Milford gravel plan stirs opposition

MILFORD – The town budget is more than $13 million, and there is a $5.4 million article for library expansion, but a proposal that has no immediate tax impact could steal the show at the town Deliberative Session later this month.

Selectmen would like voters to give them the authority to mine and sell gravel from the town property known as Brox, and they are getting some opposition from the budget committee and a citizens group.

The expected revenue would help with the town’s nearly $8 million worth of capital needs, said board Vice Chairman Mark Fougere last week, including a long-delayed expansion of Wadleigh Memorial Library.

“That’s the main reason I am pushing this issue. We are still climbing out of the recession,” and the town has not seen property values go up or new industrial development, he said. This is a way to generate some revenue and help offset taxes.

The earth material in the southern half of Brox that the town would like to sell is estimated to be worth a little more than $1 million, according to a recent study by Fieldstone Land Consultants, in what they call phases 1 and 3. Phase 2, mining the area south of Heron Pond, has been dropped from consideration.

Last year, the budget committee did not recommend a warrant article asking for the re-
authorization, and voters rejected it.

Brox Environmental Citizens opposes the plan, saying gravel excavation would destroy the land’s natural beauty and harm the environment.

Voters will have a say at the town Deliberative Session, scheduled from 9 until noon, on Saturday, Jan. 31, in the Town Hall Auditorium when they can discuss and amend the articles. Voting day is March 10.

Also on the warrant:

? A $13.7 million town operating budget for 2015. The 2015 spending plan is a 5.8 percent increase over the 2014 budget. The default budget is $13.66 million and does not include 2 percent merit salary increases. The budget has an estimated tax impact of 46 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value.

? A library building bond for $5.4 million that needs a 60 percent vote to pass and that would have a tax impact, beginning in 2016, of $32.70.

? A $792,000 west Elm Street water main extension, also needing a 60 percent vote, that would be paid for by water users.

? A $216,000 storm sewer video bond, and 20 percent of that debt would be forgiven by the state Department of Environmental Services. It also needs a 60 percent vote and its estimate tax impact, beginning in 2016, is three cents.

? $430,000 to replace the Jennison Road bridge. Eighty percent would be paid by the state.

? A five-year lease purchases of a dump truck and a sidewalk tractor plow.

There are also the annual articles for social services ($35,000), the conservation lands fund ($20,000), summer band concerts, fireworks, the pumpkin festival, Labor Day parade and the Souhegan Valley Transportation Collaborative bus.

Re-opening Jones Road to eastbound traffic is Article 22 and has no dollar figure attached to it.

There is another article, for $16,820, to cover the cost of a Teamsters Union collective bargaining agreement.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, or
kcleveland@cabinet.com.