Loudon tries and fails to reduce town budget and capital reserve funds


Monitor staff

Published: 03-21-2023 8:03 PM

Amendments were made, green cards flashed and secret ballots were cast at Loudon’s town meeting on Saturday morning as each warrant item was carefully deliberated, considered and voted on by town citizens who reluctantly approved any articles that would raise property taxes.

Over the last year, the town lost seven employees to better-paying towns and cities in the region. This year, a large focus of the proposed operationing budget – which is 8% higher than last year – was to increase wages and benefit packages for town employees by as much as 11% to improve retention.

Resident Terese Bastarache, with the support of other residents in the crowd, made an amendment to reduce the budget by 10% from a proposed $5.7 million to $5.1 million, which was voted down.

“We are looking pretty good overall budget-wise as a town, and I think we need to be judicious and understand the people paying property taxes are struggling right now,” she said.

“I’m here on behalf of the people that can’t be here today because they are working their third jobs to keep a roof over their head. With the cost of inflation, I am asking you to be as fiscally responsible as you can be.”

Many spoke against the amendment and voted to adopt the original warrant, but many amendments followed, with Michael Moffett proposing a 25% cut from all proposed Capital Reserve Fund amounts, decreasing the proposed amount from $1.03 million to $774,750, which was also voted down. Instead, residents voted in favor of the funds by secret ballot.

Many argued that if the funds were not approved, the town would have to pay all at once when it came to equipment purchases and repairs.

“These numbers were brought to us by people that spend hours on the Capital Improvement Plan, and I don’t believe anyone in this room thought we’d be in the situation that we are in,” said Selectman Jeff Miller.

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“These accounts are so that we don’t have to foot an additional large amount of money when we’re supposed to get equipment. Down the road, we will pay for it, and nothing is getting cheaper. If we don’t pay for it now, we’re going to pay dearly at the other end.”

Residents also voted to approve a loader for $175,000, a dump truck with a plow and sander for $215,000, a police cruiser for $60,000, an ambulance for $290,000, a new ballot counting machine for $10,000, paving along sections of Loudon Ridge Road, Clough Hill Road and Currier Road for a total of $690,000, the replacement of guardrails on Lower Ridge Road bridge for $375,000 and the replacement of Loudon Ridge Road bridge for $375,000.

The overall tax impact for the approved items and the recently approved $46 million school budget won’t be won’t be finalized until November once state revenue and property assessments are finalized, Miller said.