Loudon passes keno the second time around at town meeting 

  • Loudon residents vote at town meeting on the Loudon Elementary School on Saturday.  LEAH WILLINGHAM / Monitor staff

  •  Moderator Sharon Drake and members of the Loudon select board sit in the Loudon Elementary School during town meeting on Saturday.  LEAH WILLINGHAM / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/16/2019 5:02:47 PM

The town of Loudon narrowly voted to green light Keno at town meeting Saturday morning, even after several residents expressed concerns about gambling.

Keno passed 82 to 79. It was the second year in a row that taxpayers voted on it.

“It will bring in customers, it will help increase our sales,” said Hungry Buffalo restaurant owner Clarisse Kersh, who spoke in support of Keno. “It also allows us to hire more employees within the community.”

Former state Rep. Mike Moffett said the program is a smart mechanism to fund full-day kindergarten without turning to taxpayers to carry the burden.

The current legislation around Keno stipulates that all New Hampshire towns and cities will get at least $1,100 a year per full-day kindergarten student, regardless of whether or not that municipality has passed Keno.

“This is a way of raising funds without raising taxes, which I know a lot of us are in favor of,” Moffett said.

But Loudon resident Curtis Root said funding for full-day should come from the state, not from a form of gambling.

“To tax people who don’t understand that the odds are against them when they gamble as a means to generate funds for education, it’s not the proper way to do it,” Root said. “I certainly don’t think we should be encouraging gambling.”

Aside from the gambling component, resident Lisa Laughlin said she could not support Keno because she fears the future of Keno revenue is uncertain.

After expenses and prize payouts, the profit for Keno amounted to $1.5 million of net profits in its first year, and $2.3 million in its second, according to the state Lottery Commission. Those profits – exacerbated by several rejections of Keno in major cities and towns like Portsmouth and Concord – are far below the estimated $11 million needed to provide the minimum additional adequacy under the Keno bill.

There is also legislation moving through the State House this year that would repeal the relationship of funding for kindergarten based on Keno revenues.

“Keno has not hit its target goals,” Laughlin said. “It’s not doing as well as it was projected to do.”

In addition to passing Keno, Loudon also passed another article that failed last year. Article 12 will offer those in the Loudon Village area who wish to make improvements to property a one- to five-year period of relief on paying increased taxes on that property.

“If somebody has a building that doesn’t have the best appearance, that doesn’t have a real use, that’s in danger of becoming dilapidated, if somebody wants to revitalize that building, this gives them a small incentive,” said chairman of the economic development committee Tom Blanchette.

The purpose of the initiative us to encourage people in the village to make improvements on their property, which will in turn improve the aesthetics of Loudon’s downtown, Blanchette said. Those who want the tax incentive will need to approach the select board prior to starting the project to gain approval to enter the program. The tax relief will not kick in until the project is completed.

The town also passed warrant articles to buy four town vehicles: an ambulance, a 10-wheel dump truck, a police cruiser and a 4x4 pickup to be used for sanding and plowing.

The total budget passed without warrant articles included was $4.7 million, up 4 percent from last year.


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