Dunbarton town meeting 'very smooth'

Last modified: 3/9/2011 12:00:00 AM
Dunbarton passed a $1.89 million budget last night at a town meeting that doubled as a public relations forum for a visiting Pakistani delegation.

The two largest expenditures included $485,000 for the highway department and $315,442 for the police department. The overall budget is about $70,000 more than last year's budget.

Only one amendment interrupted the meeting's rhythm, a $20,000 request that was trimmed in half to pay for a revaluation of town property.

About 130 voters attended town meeting, about twice as many as last weekend's school district meeting drew.

"It was very smooth," said Les Hammond, who was re-elected for his 19th year as a selectman in an uncontested race. "I always enjoy sitting here listening to what people's concerns are and how we work them out here. This is the last bastion of true democracy."

An amendment to an article seeking to raise $20,000 and deposit it in the capital reserve fund for future revaluation sought $10,000 from the town's surplus.

That amendment was voted down, replaced by a $10,000 bill to be raised by the town.

Hammond was pleased the money would remain in savings.

"Right now, the Legislature is in session and there are really tough financial problems," Hammond said. "I can't help but believe some of that will come to us. I would look to have a safety valve there for whatever we may have to deal with."

Elsewhere, an amendment to the town's code of ethics passed, expanding guidelines to fight discrimination.

"We think the ordinance is an education for town employees and should be consistent with state law," said Katharine Daly, who won re-election to the ethics committee in an uncontested vote.

George Bruno, former ambassador to Belize in Central America during the Clinton administration, escorted a delegation of 12 Pakistanis to the meeting. They are in the state this week to learn about emergency preparedness.

The leader of the delegation, Ahmed Kamal, received a standing ovation before thanking the crowd. He was given gifts, including a town report and maple syrup from local trees.

The delegation coordinated relief efforts during flooding in Pakistan last summer, which covered one-third of the country and killed 2,000 people.

"They have graced us with their presence this week," said Bruno, who lives in Manchester. "There would have been more tragedy and more destruction had it not been for their professionalism. It's an honor to have escorted the delegation during their week-long visit to the United States."

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com.)

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