Troy voters approve community center, nix study to withdraw from school district
By Kyle Jarvis Sentinel Staff
| Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014 3:00 pm
TROY — A long-planned community center project is moving forward after voters gave the OK at Wednesday night’s annual town meeting.
About 75 residents attended the 3½-hour meeting, or just under 6 percent of the town’s 1,284 registered voters, and left the proposed operating budget untouched, but sliced about $123,000 from other spending. They also decided not to undertake a study on the feasibility of withdrawing from the Monadnock Regional School District.
The Samuel E. Paul Community Center article asked voters to appropriate $235,000 for the project, with $10,000 to be drawn from the Youth Center Expendable Trust Fund, $46,000 from the Samuel E. Paul War Memorial Expendable Trust Fund and $179,000 to come from a private donation.
The $179,000 private donation for the community center was offered by Peter Paul of California, son of Samuel E. Paul.
“We’ve been working on this project approximately since 1986,” said selectmen Chairman Gideon L. Nadeau Sr. “I would encourage everyone to vote yes on this. This is our very last opportunity to get a community center that we can utilize for adults, children … this donation will not be available again, let’s not throw it away.”
Resident Gary C. Phelps asked selectmen how much it would cost to maintain the facility.
Nadeau explained that two warrant articles dealt with that very thing.
Those articles asked voters to discontinue the Youth Center Expendable Trust Fund, and to repurpose the Samuel E. Paul War Memorial Expendable Trust Fund to include maintenance and repair of the proposed community center.
“There’s still money left in those two funds, which we’re going to repurpose if you people decide to, and that will give us the funds to maintain the building,” Nadeau said. “When this building is completed, we’ve looked at it so it’s going to be as cost-free as we can possibly make it. The money should last us for at least five, six years.”
Another resident asked about personnel costs associated with the project, and Nadeau answered that janitorial services would be the only cost, adding that selectmen would likely propose closing Kimball Hall on Depot Street. That building houses the Troy Historical Society and other organizations. Closing it would divert roughly $5,600 in annual heating costs to other needs, such as the new community center.
Resident Richard H. Thackston 3rd spoke in support of the project.
“This is such an opportunity for the town … to continue to invest in your community,” he said. “Sure, there’s going to be responsibilities on an ongoing basis. We’re going to have to have a sidewalk, and we’re going to have to plow the sidewalk. But this is what it means to be a community. It’s like taking care of the town common.”
The facility would include two handicapped restrooms, a full commercial kitchen, room for up to 335 people and a partition divider in the main room so it can host two functions at once.
When Town Moderator Gary H. Sheldon called for a vote, not a single “nay” could be heard, leading to a round of applause from the audience.
Voters Wednesday also approved an operating budget of $1,421,387, down $39,418, or 2.7 percent, over the $1,460,805 budget voters approved last year.
They decided to pass over an article by petition that would have funded a study to examine the feasibility of withdrawing from the Monadnock Regional School District.
Thackston, a school board member, spoke against the article, saying that residents who are unhappy with the school district funding formula could be in for a rude awakening if withdrawal went forward.
A new formula went into effect in July for how much money each member of the six-town district pays Monadnock. It is now 75 percent student enrollment and 25 percent property value, compared to the previous 50/50 formula, which raised the amount Troy pays. Troy sued the Monadnock school district in Cheshire County Superior Court in December, and a decision is still pending.
Thackston told voters they’d have to buy Troy Elementary School from the district at a cost consistent, not with the value of the building, but with the amount equal to improvements made to the building over several decades, possibly as much as $2 million or $3 million.
“But my biggest concern is, if you don’t like the current bill, exactly how will it be better when you’re paying 100 percent?” he asked.
Selectman William T. Matson said perhaps a better approach would be for residents to get more involved in the district’s business and policies.
“Show up, tell them what you feel,” he said.
“They don’t care,” a voice was heard saying in response.
Resident Aaron K. Patt made a motion to pass over the article, and voters did just that.
Patt also had several other articles in his sights Wednesday night. Among the articles he led a charge to pass over, in an effort to reduce town spending: $15,000 for costs associated with tax deeding properties; $90,000 to bring the town hall into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act; $33,000 for sand sealing a portion of South Street; and $2,000 to repair carriage lamps on the town common.
Patt also successfully spearheaded a reduction in money to be placed in capital reserve funds, decreasing the proposed $10,000 for the police department to $5,000, and the proposed $20,000 for highways and streets to $5,000, bringing the total capital reserve fund deposits from $57,874 down to $37,874.
Article 11 asked voters to appropriate $12,000 for technology upgrades in the emergency services building and at town hall, but Patt suggested taking $3,000 from the town’s computer technology fund to reduce the amount to be raised through taxes, and his motion passed.
Patt also made a motion to reduce the $25,000 proposed to install new roofs on the highway department building and its salt shed to $21,000, after Public Works Director James E. Dicey said he could get by on that amount.
The motion carried without opposition.
Voters also passed over an article that would have changed positions on the budget committee from elected to appointed, and another that would have rescinded the industrial development authority group.
Margaret Heald, the treasurer for the Troy Senior Citizens group, asked residents to provide $500 for the group so it can continue to host breakfast functions and pay insurance costs, as opposed to giving the group nothing, which was recommended by both the selectmen and the budget committee.
That motion carried unanimously.
Michael Moore / Sentinel Staff: Troy moderator Gary H. Sheldon reads Article 3, the town’s operating budget, line by line, saying he was required to do so during town meeting Wednesday night.
Michael Moore / Sentinel Staff | Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:00 pm
Dan Warner looks over Troy’s annual report while standing in line to have his name checked off and receive a voting card prior to the start of the annual town meeting Wednesday night.