Voters to decide North Branch bond
by Lauren Harkawik
Nov 07, 2017 | 2734 views | 0 0 comments | 102 102 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A processor at the North Branch Fire District’s sewer treatment plant.
A processor at the North Branch Fire District’s sewer treatment plant.
DOVER - On Thursday, November 9, North Branch Fire District voters will decide whether to take out a $4,700,000 bond for repairs to the district’s equipment. Voters will also be asked whether certain town buildings should be exempt from sewage fees and whether the fire district should set up a capital reserve fund to finance future repairs. Voting will happen by Australian ballot from 10 am to 6 pm at North Branch Fire District #1, 78 Dorr Fitch Road. The Prudential Committee will hold an informational meeting about the vote on Thursday, November 2, at 7 pm at Dover Town Hall.

The warning for the vote includes three articles. Article 1 pertains to the bond in an amount “not to exceed” $4,700,000, which will be “subject to reduction from available state and federal grants-in-aid and other financial assistance.” The purpose of the bond, per the article, is to “construct wastewater treatment facility upgrades, additions, and betterments.”

According to draft minutes of a special meeting held by the Prudential Committee on October 26, the committee approved a motion to increase the minimum usage charge for gallonage in the district from $30 to $60 semi-annually, with the bond being calculated with that minimum. A handout that will be made available at the November 2 informational meeting projects cost increases with both the minimum charge hike and the bond. For a property owner using 10,000 gallons of sewage, the projected increase is $68.94.

Article 2 asks whether voters will exempt certain Dover town properties, including the fire department, police department, town offices, and elementary school, for the remainder of 2017. Prior to the fire district’s annual meeting in March, those town properties were exempt. However, following an amendment introduced from the floor at NBFD’s annual meeting, only the Dover Historical Society and the West Dover Church are exempt for 2017-2018.

In June, Prudential Committee member Tom Ferrazza was asked by the Dover Selectboard to reconsider the decision. At the time, Ferrazza said he had taken an informal poll of Prudential Committee members and they didn’t have a problem with the matter being voted on again, but it would need to be voted on when the bond went to vote in the fall.

Article 3 of the warning asks if the fire district will set up a capital reserve fund to finance future plant upgrades, repairs, and meters. “The goal is to never have to take out a bond again,” said fire district administrative manager Linda Holland.

According to Holland, the capital reserve fund would be financed from hookup fees and would be accompanied by an update to an ordinance that relates to the replacement of meters in the district. “People would no longer have to pay for their own meters,” said Holland. “North Branch would replace a broken meter.”
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