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Suncook Valley Regional Town Assn. Minutes 02/16/2011
Meeting Date:  February 16, 2011

Minutes Prepared By:  Bruce Dyke

In Attendance:  
        Jim Barnard – Town of Barnstead – Selectman
        Don Harty – Town of Epsom
        Bruce Dyke – Chichester Town Organization Committee
        David Jodoin – Town of Pembroke – Town Administrator
        David Kerr – Town of Barnstead – Selectman
        Mike Paveglio – Town of Chichester - Selectman
        Gordon Preston – Town of Barnstead
Location:  Chichester Grange Hall
Minutes Approved: TBA

1.      The meeting was called to order at 7:00pm by Bruce Dyke

2.      The draft minutes of the November 1, 2010 meeting were reviewed and comments/changes were solicited.  A motion was made by Jim Barnard to accept the minutes as presented and seconded by Gordon Preston.  The minutes were approved without further discussion by a vote of 4 “for” and 3 abstentions.

3.      The group discussed the potential of re-visiting options for group rates for electricity.  Bruce indicated that Lisa Stevens of BCEP contacted him and advised that BCEP had pursued options for better electric rates and recently switched to Glacial Energy (with a savings of just over 1 cent per Kwh).  Bruce contacted Ted Donahue of Glacial and confirmed that Glacial was interested in looking at possibly contract options for interested SVRTA towns.  Bruce will collect copies of recent electric bills from each town and pass along to Glacial.  Ted plans to explain Glacial’s programs and present contract options at the next SVRTA meeting.  David Jodoin reminded the group to include their town’s bills for ALL electric services (buildings, street lighting, etc).

4.      The group discussed the potential for reviewing cooperative rate options for Property & Liability insurance coverage, in hopes of realizing savings similar to what was achieved with the health insurance cooperative.  However, after further discussion, it was decided that any savings realized would have to be very substantial to offset current discounts most towns receive from LGC by bundling P&L coverage with health insurance coverage.  Since the level of savings was deemed to be unlikely to be achieved, this issue was tabled.

5.      Jim Barnard provided the group with an update regarding on-going discussion between Barnstead and the Belknap County Sheriff’s Dept. regarding the potential contracted police coverage for their town.  Initial estimates seem to point to $200k in potential annual savings by making that change.  Many details must still be worked out (once a formal proposal is received by the town).  The intent at this point is to pursue this more rigorously after town meeting, although the selectmen will likely look for general (unofficial) feedback from the town meeting participants regarding further pursuit of this matter.  Additional discussion among the group members concerning potential pros/cons of outsourced police/fire coverage took place, which included an update from David Jodoin regarding negotiations between Pembroke, Allenstown and Tri-Town Ambulance.  Mike Paveglio also discussed the need for smaller towns to look at better options for fire department coverage models and also described the current arrangement between Chichester/Loudon specific to ambulance coverage.

6.      Each town represented at the meeting gave a brief overview of their proposed budgets for 2011:

-       Barnstead:  Will present a budget that is up approx 1/3 of a percent and includes a 2% salary increase for employees.  It was noted that savings in the FD budget were anticipated for the upcoming year (now that it’s a town department) and further savings are expected next year.

-       Pembroke:  Is planning on a 2% COLA and up to 2.5% merit increases for employees.  Operating budget reductions have been made in several areas and some staff/hour adjustments have been made as part of “belt tightening” in certain areas.  The proposed operating budget is up less than one percent.  There is a large water/sewer project proposed in conjunction with rebuilding Broadway and related side streets, but will be covered by existing budget line-items that would offset the expected 3-year bond for the project.

-       Epsom:  The proposed operating budget reflects a 2.7% increase and continues to try to address increases in PD salaries that are below the average for area departments.  There are also warrant articles for a new fire truck and PD position.

-       Chichester:  The proposed operating budget is down close to 2 percent, but the town portion of the tax rate is expected to rise due to a reduction in revenues expected for the coming year.  No major warrant articles to be funded by tax revenue are expected for this year.

7.      Both Barnstead and Chichester noted that their use of low-risk prisoners from either the county jail or state prison has worked well and provides a good pool of labor for various projects at very minimal costs.

8.      Jim Barnard suggested that regionalized assessing be re-visited by the group in the future.  In addition Mike Paveglio suggested that fire department regionalization also be revisited in a future meeting.

9.      The next meeting will be held on April 13, 2011 at 7pm, at the Epsom Town Offices.

10.     A motion was made to adjourn the meeting by Gordon Preston and seconded by Don Harty and passed unanimously by the group.  The meeting adjourned at 9:10pm.  

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