The following is an article by Town Administrator Greg Federspiel
As I write this week’s article, the polls are open for the state primary. Predictions are for a very low voter turnout but Manchester voters historically have demonstrated a relatively high participation rate in voting – hopefully this trend of high civic engagement will continue! I am a strong believer in the importance — and the power — of the vote.
Two more voting opportunities are coming up this fall. We will have a fall Special Town Meeting on Monday, Oct. 15. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium of the Memorial School. The main attraction will be a vote on whether to build a new elementary school on the site of the existing Memorial School. The School District, along with its citizens based School Building Committee, has prepared an extensive amount of information regarding the condition of the existing elementary school as well as the process that has led to the proposal for the new school. Details about the layout and costs for the project can all be found on the School District’s website. Please take the time to educate yourself on the proposal.
The bottom line for Manchester: approval of the project as presented would require a new $1.7 million annual debt payment for 30 years. If funded 100 percent through a new debt exclusion vote, taxes will need to be increased 6.5 percent to cover this new debt. For the owner of a median priced home of $735,000, the increase in taxes will be $530 a year (about $72 per $100,000 of valuation.)
A few other articles are likely to be on the warrant, including a proposal to reduce the size of the Finance Committee from nine to seven. A town bylaw prescribes the number thus the bylaw must be changed if we are to alter the number of committee members. A seven member committee is more the norm and easier to keep a full complement. In the past there have been unfilled vacancies and struggles to have a quorum so the committee can meet. The Finance Committee has three members appointed by the moderator and the others appointed by the Board of Selectmen. No change is proposed regarding the number the moderator appoints while the Selectmen would now appoint four instead of six members to the Finance Committee.
A few other Town Bylaws may be up for amendments as well. Town Clerk Christina St. Pierre has some revisions to recommend regarding the streamlining of various parking and dog licensing violations as well as the keeping of public minutes. The Selectmen will be finalizing the warrant for the Oct. 15 Special Town Meeting at their meeting on Sept. 17.
If the question regarding the new elementary school passes by a 2/3 majority on Oct. 15 and at the Essex Special Town Meeting the next day, both towns will vote again on the funding of the project at the same time as the State Elections, scheduled for Nov. 6, on a separate ballot.
More information will be available on the school vote as well as the other articles to be considered for the Special Town Meeting Oct. 15 in the coming weeks. Watch for updates on the school’s and town’s web sites as well as other sources. But mark your calendars now – the meeting on Oct. 15 will be a very important one.