New library, gravel plan, up for vote in Milford

MILFORD – A new public library building and a controversial plan to sell gravel from the Brox property will be on the town ballot for the election next week, while the school ballot will have cost items related to a new teachers’ union contract.

Tuesday, March 10, the second Tuesday in March, is the traditional “town meeting day.” But there are no actual meetings that day for towns that operate under the rules of Senate Bill 2, adopted by Milford about 20 years ago.

Instead voters decide all warrant article at the polls, which are open in Milford from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Milford Middle School. The meetings, where articles were explained and debated took place at deliberative sessions for the town and the school district weeks before the actual voting.

Wadleigh Memorial Library officials say a new building is desperately needed and there will never be a better time to bond the cost.

The town budget committee is split on the $5.4 million library plan, and selectmen voted not to recommend it 4-1, saying this is not the right year to take on more debt.

The budget committee voted 6-1 against the town operating budget of $13.7 million, saying that with a 5.8 percent increase and debt service costing more than $1 million this year, the default budget is sufficient.

But the item on the 26-article town warrant that has sparked the most controversy is Article 23, which asks that selectmen be allowed to sell earth materials from the community lands section of the Brox property. Selectmen say the revenue could fund badly needed capital projects, but the budget committee voted 6-2 not to support the article, with the majority saying there should first be a voter-approved plan for developing this portion of Brox.

A $792 million bond to extend the town water main west down Elm Street has the support of both the selectmen and budget committee and thus has a good chance of passing, despite the need for a 60 percent vote.

Also on the ballots will be the election of town and school officers. Five people, including incumbents Gary Daniels and Mark Fougere, are running for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. Two men, Gil Archambault and incumbent Mike Putnam are vying for Water and Wastewater Commissioner. Only one person, Ron Carvell, of the school budget committee , signed up to replace Peter Bragdon, who is retiring after many years on the School Board.

School voting

The school district warrant has only two articles this year: one for a $38 million operating budget and the other for cost items resulting from a three-year collective bargaining agreement with teachers that would cost $442,000 the first year.

The School Budget Committee is not supporting the budget and maintains that the $37.9 million default budget does not offer much of a choice.

The School Board says health insurance and other employee benefits are a major reason the tax rate for local schools would go up by 6.96 percent. The new teachers contract includes major concessions from teachers on health insurance, including a high deductible.