In Warner, residents celebrated community members, while approving an 18 percent increase to budget 

  • Warner town residents line up for a paper ballot vote at their annual town meeting on March 29. Michaela Towfighi—Monitor staff

  • Warner residents give a standing ovation for Nancy and Ray Martin. The 2022 Annual Report is dedicated to the longtime Warner couple. Michaela Towfighi—Monitor staff

  • Residents line up outside town hall for the annual town meeting in Warner. Michaela Towfighi—Monitor staff

  • Residents opened town meeting with a rendition of “happy birthday” on the kazoo in honor of Warner’s 250th anniversary, which is happening in 2024. Michaela Towfighi / Monitor staff

  • Clyde Carson received a plant in honor of his 14 years as a member of the town select board in Warner. Michaela Towfighi—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/30/2023 5:26:08 PM
Modified: 3/30/2023 5:25:56 PM

Warner residents will have reason to celebrate in 2024, as the town prepares for its 250th anniversary. And in honor of the upcoming year of town pride, residents kicked off the annual meeting with a celebratory tune: a rendition of happy birthday on the kazoo. 

That wasn’t the only point of town pride at the three hour long meeting – where residents approved all their warrant articles and passed a $4.3 million operating budget – as the town recognized the service of longtime residents. 

Moderator Ray Martin started to choke up when thanking the town for dedicating this year’s annual report to himself and his wife, Nancy. Ray has served as town moderator since 1998, and took the stage again Wednesday night to orchestrate the meeting. Nancy has spent two decades on the Warner Conservation Commission, as well as time on the planning board, the budget commit tee and economic development committee. Their combined resume hits many parts of what makes Warner, Warner.

“I want to thank the town, we want to thank the town. We are very humbled for the dedication,” Ray said. “We share that with everybody, everybody in town.”  

Clyde Carson, who served 14 years on the select board before stepping down this year, was also given a plant to commemorate his service to the town. 

Despite not sitting up on the wooden stage at Town Hall with other select board members, Carson still took the microphone to introduce residents to Warner Community Power. 

Community power, which allows towns to pool residents’ accounts into a single group to buy electricity, promises lower rates compared to default services offered by large corporations, like Eversource. 

In Warner, 80 percent of residents use Eversource as their supplier, according to Carson. With community power, all plans that use Eversource would be automatically enrolled in Warner Community Power. Those who want to use a third party provider, or continue with Eversource, could opt out without penalty. 

“We'll be talking about spending some money, this is about saving some money,” he said. “You may not want to do this, but if you vote in favor of it, your neighbor has the option to do it.” 

Residents adopted community power by a vote of 135 to 67. Warner joins over a dozen other communities in implementing community power. It will launch in the town in 2024. 

Electricity was one of many rising costs felt by town residents this year, along with food prices and fuel, said Sam Bower, a select board member. But while it was a challenging year for many, Warner residents continued to come together, he said. 

“But despite the challenges, our community grew. New people and new businesses moved to town. We made strides towards protecting our waterways and our forests,” he said. “We had passionate discussions about access to housing while continuing to protect our own character that is so precious.”

Despite the rising costs Bower acknowledged, residents voted to approve a $4.3 million budget, which was an 18.84 percent increase from last year. This translates to a $405 increase in taxes for homes valued at $300,000. 

“The increase in the operating budget can be partially credited to the rising costs of hiring employees,” said Michael Cuttings, the chair of the budget committee. “Driving by a McDonald’s and seeing what their starting salary is for hourly employees is a reminder for residents the increased cost of hiring today,” he said. 

“Throughout the United States we've had a considerable problem with employment,” he continued. “What is happening is it's costing us more to hire people now than it did last year or the year before that.”  

Earlier this year, the select board also voted to cover 100 percent of all full-time town employee health benefits, dental and disability pay.

Town residents also voted in favor of raising money for a new roof at town hall, new vehicles and equipment for the fire and police departments and money for highway re pairs. 

And in a petitioned article, proposed by  r  esident Jim Brown, the town will discontinue their plans to build a sidewalk and path that would have connected the town village with Exit 9, along Route 103. 

“Placing a large multi-use path on the flats area on 103 would change the face of Warner from being a small town,” he said. “Rock walls removed, old growth trees on this part of 103 cut down – this multi-use path would eliminate the small town feel.”

Brown, who lives directly along the proposed walkway, feared his front door was too close to the path. The proposal, which included a crosswalk with a pedestrian activated blinking light to cross, would have also illuminated his backyard with unwanted red flashes, he said. 

With the rising costs of inflation, cutting spending on developing this path would be one way to save on future labor and repair costs he said. 

The idea for a multi-use path connecting the village with Exit 9 was first discussed in 2004, when the state hosted a design charrette for residents to have input in the development of the highway area, according to resident Arlon Chaffee. 

The town also created a corridor committee last year, to study the implementation of a path from the village to Exit 9 and elicit town input, Chaffee said. 

“The full presentation at an upcoming Select Board meeting, which is coming soon, with public input sessions for cause after that, includes exploring a no build option. Nothing is cast in stone,” he said. “Let's not foreclose ongoing community discussion.”

However, residents sided with Brown on tight margins, to halt the construction of this path on a 104 to 96 vote. 


Michaela Towfighi is a Report for America corps member covering the Two New Hampshires for the Monitor. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy and journalism and media studies in 2022. At Duke she covered education, COVID-19, the 2020 election and helped edit stories about the Durham County Courthouse for The 9th Street Journal and the triangle area's alt-weekly Indy Week. Her story about a family grappling with a delayed trial for a fatal car accident in Concord won first place in Duke’s Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. Towfighi is an American expat who calls London, England, home despite being born in Boston.

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