DURHAM RESIDENTS vote during Town Meeting on Saturday.

DURHAM RESIDENTS vote during Town Meeting on Saturday.

DURHAM

Durham voters spent Friday and Saturday choosing leadership, whether or not to leave Regional School Unit Five and some 49 articles to be voted on regarding the town budget.

In the contentious RSU 5 issue, voters were loud and clear Friday in their support of remaining in the district, voting 595 to stay and 259 to begin the process of parting ways.

For town selectmen, incumbents Jeff Wakeman and Mark Blake retained their seats unopposed while Kevin Nadeau won by a strong lead to remain on the Budget Committee with 671 votes, followed by Mark Farrin with 62 and Rick Emmons at 57.

The 2016 budget was only whittled away marginally throughout five hours of voting Saturday at the Durham Community School.

The proposed budget called for $2,734,705 in spending, compared to the 2015 budget of $2,402,523.

The total budget passed Saturday was about $2.68 million, an approximate increase of 11.75 percent.

If passed as is, Glaeser said the projected increase in school funding would be 1.19 percent with no increase in town valuation.

Glaeser said the tax rate would increase between 10 and 16 percent, costing property owners an additional $180 to $276 in taxes per $100,000 of valuation.

Since the town had voted to halt the process to leave RSU 5, the mandatory $50,000 that would have to be raised to form a withdrawal committee was no longer at issue.

The town was also to vote on the approval to purchase a new engine for the town’s fire and rescue. An approval would not have immediately affected the budget and delivery on the vehicle to replace the 22-year-old engine currently in use would take about a year.

Still, the hefty price tag of $474,000 daunted voters whose split hand-raised vote forced a ballot vote resulting in 93 against the new engine and 76 for the vehicle.

Durham Chief Bill St. Michel said that the pump on the old engine is still passing required tests and although the town didn’t have to replace the engine, it would be the prudent thing to do.

St. Michel said the current engine is showing signs of deterioration and the vendor they had look at refurbishing it estimated costs at $290,000 with no guarantee of appreciably extending it’s usable life.

The most divisive vote of the day was over the proposed purchase of a new dump truck and snow plow package for $204,000. Again, the hand vote was too close to call, forcing a ballot vote with 78 for the purchase and 77 against.

Those against the new truck and plow voiced concerns over the overall cost and effectiveness of the town plowing versus contracting work.

The town also approved the grinding and repaving of approximately three and a half miles of pavement on Rabbit Road and Runaround Road with a price tag of $1.1 million.

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