Episode 48

May 07, 2024


Spotlight: 2024 Town Warrant with Selectboard Chair Athos Rassias

Hosted by

Alex Torpey
Spotlight: 2024 Town Warrant with Selectboard Chair Athos Rassias
Hanover Happenings
Spotlight: 2024 Town Warrant with Selectboard Chair Athos Rassias

May 07 2024 | 00:59:33


Show Notes

In this episode of Hanover Happenings I sit down with Selectboard Chair Athos Rassias to run through the Warrant for 2024 Town Meeting.


Athos and I discuss a little bit about his time serving on the Selectboard and involvement in Hanover's School Board and Finance Committee, why Hanover is such a cycling paradise, who is better Bruce Springsteen or Taylor Swift, and then we run through the entire ballot and Warrant and explanations for Town Meeting. Go one episode back for a budget overview, which we don't spend much time on in this episode.


Town Meeting is Tuesday May 14th at HHS. Ballot voting from 7a-7p, and the business meeting to begin at 7pm.


There is a public candidate forum open house discussion on May 9th from 5-7pm at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth, hosted by Dartmouth Civics, where you can meet candidates learn about Town government/meeting, how to get more involved, and ask questions of various Town staff and volunteers.


Additional Resources are available at Hanovernh.org/Townmeeting. This includes:


  • Town Warrant
  • Explanatory Information
  • Full Town Report
  • Layout for parking/walking to HHS
  • Voter registration information


You can find all budget information: hanovernh.org/budget.

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Okay, everybody, welcome to another spotlight episode of Hanover happenings. I am your town manager, Alex Torpy, and I am here with our select board chair, Athos Rossius. [00:00:11] Speaker B: Good afternoon, Alex. It's wonderful to be here with you. [00:00:14] Speaker A: Had a nice sunny day outside, got a good bike ride in. Now we're going to jump into the warrant. [00:00:19] Speaker B: That's exactly right. [00:00:20] Speaker A: I know that's what you were thinking about the whole time you were riding the bike. [00:00:23] Speaker B: No, biking is a time to meditate. And when you're riding solo, you're never alone, is one thing I read. [00:00:29] Speaker A: All right, so tell us a little more about that. I mean, you've been on the select board for many years in Hanover, and I think some folks know you as a bicycle enthusiast. We have a handful in Hanover, as I've learned. I don't know. Tell us a little more. [00:00:46] Speaker B: Well, the thing about living here is it really is a cycling paradise when you get out of the obvious winter period, where it's a skiing paradise. And we're getting into that right now, although most, many people. What is this? April? Late April. It's been nice cycling for about a month or so, depending on the weather conditions, the hill, the combination of the hills, the combination of low amount of traffic, and in general, reasonably nice combination of paved roads that are somewhat maintained. And now, of course, the newest and fastest growing segment of cycling is called gravel riding, which is a fancy way of basically saying riding on dirt roads. You can't call it a dirt bike because that name's already been taken by the motorized people. So it's a gravel riding paradise, really. Although you do have to worry about mud at this time of year. But it's becoming much more dry now, so those bikes are coming out more frequently. And, of course, there's mountain biking, too, which can't overlook that. There we have, right in town, we have a really nice resource for mountain biking up at the Trescott lands, the former lands for the Hanover Waterworks company, now owned by the Trescott Company, a combination of. Owned by the town, Hanover and Dartmouth College own equally. And there's a group of people maintaining these trails, and they are just spectacular. [00:02:23] Speaker A: That was the word. We went out there for one of our board meetings last year, and that was. That was pretty incredible. It was beautiful. [00:02:31] Speaker B: It's a great resource right in town, and people are becoming aware of it and using it, which is. Which is wonderful. [00:02:39] Speaker A: Yeah. Now, how long have you been on the board in Hanover? [00:02:44] Speaker B: I've been on the select board for a long period of time, much longer. Than I thought I was going to be on when I joined it. It's probably often happens. It's probably, I think it's. I'd have to go back and look at the records, but I think it's approaching 18 years. And prior to that, I was on the Hanover and Dresden finance committees. It's one, one group of people for both towns, and I was on that for about eight years or so prior to joining the select board. [00:03:16] Speaker A: Yeah. And then you stepped in as. You were selected as chair by the. By the select board after Peter left the board last year. So you've been the chair for about almost a year. [00:03:28] Speaker B: Almost a year coming up after this town meeting. Yes, I stepped into a. There are a lot of big shoes to fill. Peter Christie. We're talking about just a wonderful human, intelligent, thoughtful, good community, great communicator, and devoted so much of his time and energy to the. Being chair of this. Being on the select board initially and then chair of the select board later, that. Those were huge shoes to fill prior. And then I was also on the board when Brian Walsh, I know you, Brian has passed away. Unfortunately, you never got a chance to meet him. Alex, similar vein as Peter. Just can't say enough about them as leaders in municipal government and a lot of other people on the board as well. I could go back and name Kate Connolly, Bill Bashnag, all these are names you don't know that you weren't familiar with. But I've been on the board so long that I get to work with just a wonderful group of people. [00:04:39] Speaker A: And is there anything in your mind that, I mean, it's a long time and so many things I'm sure changed and, you know, 18 years is a lot of different. 18 budgets and 18 town meetings. And is there anything, you know, working with Peter over the years, you know, or anything that sort of sticks out in your memory as, like, I don't know, sort of special memories of things that you all were able to do on the board or in town? [00:05:06] Speaker B: Yeah, we went through, I mean, the town's gone through some very big changes and, you know, I'd be remiss, of course not. Talk about Julia Griffin, who was town manager prior to you, as you all know, and was our town manager for 26 years. That level of stability was important throughout a lot of periods, period of change. We went. I mentioned the, I just happened to mention the former waterworks company, for example, that came about through a big initiative to municipalize the town water system. It had previously been basically a private company owned by Hanover and Dartmouth, which a lot of towns have in their past as well. We felt it'd be much better to run a town run organization, and we've proven that to be true. To infuse more capital into the infrastructure, really, that's the best way to run the system. That was one huge move. I could think of so many others over the years where it was important to being in. You know, having been in the degree of town government that I've been in, it's what I've found to be most successful over the years is not that people have an agenda or a political motivation, but more have the ability to really help run the town. Obviously, the job of running the town is yours. You are the town manager, but with the assistance and sometimes guidance of the select board. The combination of those two really is what is successful people not having technic. What I mean by political agenda is that that's really to run the town. You need to run the town and get things done. We're going to talk about the warrant, for example, and there's so many important things on here that having a good relationship between the town manager and the select board is just crucial. [00:07:27] Speaker A: Agreed. Yeah. You mentioned, I mean, a lot of stability, a lot of board members over the years that Julia was here for and helped kind of tie everything, because a lot of these projects, as you know, it takes years sometimes to get a good project off the ground in our world. And even though a lot of times we might want something to be done tomorrow, think about Hanover's energy and solar array. These things take years to put together and involve so many different moving parts and people. It's like a pretty big. I mean, a lot of people, a lot of places talk about sort of team efforts, but at the municipal level, it, like, really has to be for anything to work. [00:08:15] Speaker B: Well, okay, I'm gonna use my new favorite quote, too. I think you've heard this before. You've heard, of course, that there's no I in team. Sure. Yeah. But you can't spell team without me. And the reason I love that so much is. I don't mean me at those personally. I mean, it's the individuals in there that really creates the team. You can't have a team without individuals. And getting people to work together towards a common goal is relies on people. [00:08:49] Speaker A: Right. That sounds like something that people might say at your work at the hospital, is that right? [00:08:57] Speaker B: Actually, I said that at work recently, and somebody on one of my close colleagues texted me and she said, is that a Taylor Swift quote, so I. [00:09:06] Speaker A: Feel like anything now that, yeah, I. [00:09:09] Speaker B: Said, no, I thought of that one taken over. [00:09:14] Speaker A: Although on the music front, you're more of a Bruce Springsteen than a Taylor Swift. Is that right? [00:09:18] Speaker B: I mean, I don't want. [00:09:19] Speaker A: This is, maybe we're getting too controversial for a town podcast, but I was. [00:09:22] Speaker B: A huge swifty for a while, but I've kind of gone back to my roots and yes, I've gone back to Bruce. [00:09:26] Speaker A: Well, as a former New Jersey guy, you know, I appreciate that. [00:09:29] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:09:31] Speaker A: All right. You want to jump into the warrant? I think what we wanted to do today was basically walk people through the warrant and the explanatory information so that folks know what they're kind of walking into. We're not going to get a ton into budget related stuff. We're basically going to read through kind of what will be in the town report that will be coming out soon. We've got other podcasts about the budget. We've got tons of budget documents on the website and memos and reports and summaries. Those are [email protected] budget. And if you want to find any of the written materials that we're going to be talking about, you can go to hanovernh.org townmeeting. And there will be information on the open house, which is on May 9 from five to 07:00 p.m. That is being hosted by Dartmouth Civics at the Rockefeller center. That will be an opportunity to meet the candidates that are running for office and to ask questions of boards and departments and committees. So if you have any questions about things that are on the warrant or generally about getting involved in town government, you can come to that. That's again, May 9, five to 07:00 p.m. At the Rockefeller center, hosted by Dartmouth Civics. We appreciate the students getting organized there and hosting that. And with that being said, we want to start on article one. [00:10:54] Speaker B: Sure. And we are, of course, just to explain the process a little bit. And this is very well explained. I'm not going to belabor the point, because most people are familiar with how town meeting day works. It is a whole day. There is an all day voting session from 07:00 a.m. To 07:00 p.m. In the Hanover High School. And there is a business session, is what we call it, starting at 07:00 p.m. And to vote on the all day voting, one goes to Hanover High or can have an absentee ballot. And to vote at the business meeting, one has to be present at the business meeting. So article one. And how many articles do we have, Alex? We have. [00:11:44] Speaker A: We've got a few less than last year. [00:11:46] Speaker B: So article one out of 23 is to vote for town officers and the town officers up for electricity. There are two select board. We have a five member select board, and we do not. Not everybody is up for election at the same time. So two members are up at this point for a term of three years. One moderator, that is the town moderator, whose function is to run town meeting to serve for a term of two years, one at the library trustee for a term of three years, one trustee of the trust funds to serve for a term of three years, one supervisor of the checklist to serve for a term of six years, and three cemetery trustees, one for a one year term, one for a two year term and one for a three year term. And then that's fairly self explanatory. And as you said, there is background information available on the website for those roles. And then we get into the articles that are voted on during the daytime hours. And these are exclusively put up by the. I should rephrase that. They are under the auspices of the Hanover planning board and they can be quite technical because the Hanover planning board or all planning boards deal with very technical issues. And so let's just read this. Well, amendment one proposes to amend section 455 to include a mix of use of permitted commercial and residential uses as an objective of this district. And then B, regarding 405 B in the OL district, permitted uses to allow for mixed use residential and commercial, and then add a footnote below the listed uses for the district, limiting residential use to 49% of the gross square footage of the building. Yeah, why don't you talk about this one? [00:13:48] Speaker A: So, and basically what I'm going to do here is read off the explanatory statements that are included in the town report and back up to the town warrant. These have been for the ones on the ballot approved by the planning board and our planning office, and then everything at the business meeting approved by the select board of my office. So the article two, which is amendment number one to the Hanover zoning ordinance. The amendment will add mixed office and one family, two family or multifamily dwellings within the list of permitted uses, but limit residential uses to a maximum of 49% of existing buildings. The amendment also adds a sentence to the objective stating that the availability of such services also supports residential units in the same buildings as permitted non residential uses. And for the full text of the amendment, you can find appendix a in the town report. And the March 19. So we could probably say this once for all of these, which is that all of these articles on the ballot were approved by the planning board on the March 19 public hearing. [00:15:01] Speaker B: Slightly different votes, but they were all approved. [00:15:04] Speaker A: All approved. Right. And if folks want more information about any of the planning related amendments, if you go to our website, you can also find the master plan, which was just recently completed and adopted formally by the planning board. And that will give you more context. And I don't know, Athos, if you just wanted for a moment, I know we're breaking our order here a little bit, but that was a multi year process. [00:15:31] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:15:32] Speaker A: Worth commenting on. [00:15:33] Speaker B: Absolutely. It was a huge effort by multiple, multiple people who spent hours and hours working on this. I don't remember the date of our last master plan, but it was well overdue to be updated. And it is an incredible document. I've read through, I think every word. It does take a while to read through. It is large, although it has also been so nicely presented, and it's presented well on the website, Alex, that one can sort of parse through it, go to parse that someone might be interested in or less interested in, and really pick and choose the topics that one wants to read about. [00:16:15] Speaker A: And what's that website? You've got it pulled up there. What's the website address for people? [00:16:19] Speaker B: Aha. Well, it's referenced off hanovernh.org dot. And they also have their own website called hanovermasterplan.com, which you get sent to from the front page of the hanovernh.org to hanover. Oh, excuse me, hanovernhmasterplan.com dot. It's really a good read and one has to, there's so many, you can't thank anyone in particular because this really is a case where the team pulled it together and held multiple meetings with allowing private citizens to comment, allowing interest groups to comment and pull together quite a, I was going to say masterful plan, but it is a master plan. And what the planning board is, the master plan is so big that one can't just say, okay, July 1 of 2024, we're going to have it enacted. This is something to guide the town's policies, the town development and investment in infrastructure over the years. And it does need to be updated, of course, over time, but we've just updated it. And what the plan planning board is doing here in many of their ordinances that, excuse me, many of the articles that they're proposing at town meeting is to start to address this, to start to pick a way at it and get things enacted. So we'll see that in some of the upcoming articles as well. So should we move on to article three, which has a lot of technicality to it as well? I'm going to skip all the sections that it's referring to, but it proposes to amend the definition of essential services and delete essential services as a use allowed by special exception in all district and c establish essential services as an accessory use in all district. And this was also adopted by the planning board at their March 19 meeting. Getting to the explanatory information on this, because the article itself is, as I said, technical and that doesn't really explain what it's trying to do. But this is replacing the language private institutional utilities with institutions to refer to the list of entities that can act, including public utilities and with municipal or government agencies. How would we explain this in a more understandable fashion? I think it basically. Well, Alex, can you address that? It's trying to. [00:19:23] Speaker A: So keeping to what's kind of in the explanatory document, basically, this is streamlining a process because we're deleting essential services as a use allowed by special exception in all of the zoning districts, and then establishes essential services as an accessory use. So it does streamline some processes. That's the main takeaway for that article. [00:19:54] Speaker B: So that was three. Now we're moving to four, which was very clearly addressing an issue in the master plan. And this is to propose increasing the maximum height of a building in the downtown center district, the D one, from 45ft to 55ft, and changing the delete the maximum gross floor area ratio for the D one. Just looking at the background document, it's very nicely written and this is much more understandable or easily accessible, I should say article, than the previous one. Very few buildings in the D one district have been renovated, rebuilt to maximize their height to the allowed 45 foot height standard. And as construction prices continue to increase, it's become clear that added height and more square footage in the downtown will make redevelopment more desirable. And the full text of this can be seen in appendix A in this section. So this is looking at, as I said a few minutes ago, looking at the future, trying to work with the master plan or the town really wants development to happen and try to make that accessible. Article five amends off street parking and just reading the proposal to allow for changes to the zoning ordinance, remove all parking requirements for specific uses, and to adopt objective standards for non residential and residential products projects. Excuse me, greater than three units as part of a site plan review regulation. These amendments shall become effective only upon the planning board's adoption of objective parking standards within the site plan regulations for non residential and residential uses equal to or greater than three units. And then there's a lot of sections which it's referring to where changes are made in the planning board ordinances. Our background information on that is very straightforward. This intends to provide the planning board with greater flexibility by administering the offsite parking requirements for residential uses with three or more units and non residential uses in the site plan regulations. And then the last one that comes from the planning board, which is voted on during the daytime session, is there. It's kind of confusing unless you look at the background information, but this article proposes to amend one of the particular sections to allow the main wheelock district the same sign and advertising permitting options as essentially the rest of the town. And they're listed here, the NP, the F, the GP, the RR, the Ro, the SR, and the GR districts. And when the main wheelock district was created in 2022, it did not include this is referring now to the background information did not include provisions regarding signage and therefore no signs were allowed in that new district. And this is to bring the signage regulations in line with essentially the rest of the town. I think that's a fair description of that one, Alex. [00:23:34] Speaker A: Sounds great. [00:23:36] Speaker B: And then we get into the business meeting agenda at 07:00 p.m. In the Hanover High Gymnasium, where there's going to be different seating this year. Do you want to talk about that, Alex? [00:23:50] Speaker A: Sure. So people can expect a relatively similar parking and entrance, and we'll post a little bit more information online and make sure we have signage up about how to get into Hanover high school. The seating will be a little bit differently arranged than last year, but probably nothing too much that people need to know ahead of time, just that we're all looking to make things. We got some feedback last year. I guess the main thing is that folks were not particularly comfortable in the bleachers in the high school, and so we do have slightly more comfortable seating this year and we've made a couple other changes that we hope people like, but we will also have feedback cards on tables and chairs. So if you had a good experience, a bad experience, anything like that, there will be some note cards that you can leave some feedback on and that will help us figure out how to do all of this in future years. [00:24:45] Speaker B: Wonderful. Looking forward to that. The business meeting agenda starts off with a throwback to our colonial times, I assume certainly predates me, which is. [00:25:01] Speaker A: By a few years. [00:25:04] Speaker B: And that is who to choose by a majority vote. The one advisory board of assessors, three fence viewers, two surveyors of wood and timber, and such other officers as the town may judge necessary for managing its affairs. I did have a colleague of mine, Hanover citizen, about ten years ago, maybe 15 years ago now, come to me and said, you know, the fence viewers, I'm having a little issue with. With a lot line. Is that. Is that what that person's for? No, we have. We have town. We have. We have professionals. [00:25:40] Speaker A: Call the planning department. [00:25:41] Speaker B: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Call the planning department. These are essentially honorary positions, which, I mean, who wouldn't want to be called a surveyor? Wooden timber. [00:25:51] Speaker A: Yeah, really? Fence viewer. Makes me think of Wilson from home improvement. [00:25:56] Speaker B: Indeed. [00:25:57] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:25:58] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:25:58] Speaker A: He was, like, kind of a fan. [00:26:01] Speaker B: And then article. Moving to article eight. This is one of our standard articles, which we've had on the warrant every year to see if the town will vote and raise and appropriate $22,592 for deposit into the Land and Capital Improvements Fund, an expendable trust. And to fund this appropriation, by authorizing the withdrawal of this amount from the assigned fund balance. The amount appropriated is equivalent to 50% of the total land use change tax collected in the fiscal year 2022 to 2023. And this is, as I just said a second ago, always on the agenda. This is the land use change tax occurs when somebody takes one's land out of. Of current use and puts it into a different use category. And this gets. That is how we fund this fund balance. [00:27:06] Speaker A: And half of this, the eight and nine kind of go together. And so this is based on the prior fiscal year's total, which is $45,183. And so half goes into the Land and Capital Improvements Fund and half goes into the conservation fund. [00:27:26] Speaker B: So article nine, to see if the town will vote and raise an appropriate $22,592, a similar amount as before, exactly. For deposit into the conservation fund. And to fund this appropriation, by authorizing the withdrawal of this amount from the unassigned fund balance, the amount appropriated is equivalent of 50% of the total land use change tax collected in the prior fiscal year 2022. 2023. And that is one of the main ways that the conservation fund, which is really important for town activities, is built up. I think that's pretty straightforward. I could probably move on. Article ten is also one that is always on our ballot, or has been for as long as I remember, to see if the town will vote to raise an appropriate $34,135 for deposit into the Municipal Transportation Improvement Fund, a capital reserve fund, and to fund this appropriation by authorizing the withdrawal of this amount from the unassigned fund balance, which is just basically how we get it there. This amount is equivalent to the total transportation fee surcharge for each motor vehicle registered in the town of Hanover, which is $5 per vehicle during the prior fiscal year 2022 2023. And that is allowed by a New Hampshire state RSA. I've forgotten the number, but it is something which we do every year, and this fundamental is used in various different ways. Background information does describe that with article eleven. And this is where we build up our capital reserve funds as explained in our well, what is a capital reserve fund? First of all, a capital reserve fund allowed by New Hampshire state law is a mechanism to allow us, meaning the town, allow the town to build up funds for particular items that we know are coming down the road. And you'll see what those are in 2 seconds that we're talking about here. But we have lots of different reserve funds, and it has allowed, this vehicle has allowed tax rate to be more stable so that one is not expending for huge amounts of money in one year and then five years later spending another huge amount of money. But in between, you don't have to spend that money because you've already bought the piece of equipment that is there. So just getting into these to see if the town. This is eleven. To see if the town will vote and raise vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $1,912,700 and authorize payment into existing capital reserve funds in the following amounts for the purposes for which such funds were established. The ambulance Equipment Capital Reserve Fund $128,000 the building maintenance and Improvement Capital Reserve Fund 216 700 $216,700 Dispatch Equipment and Dispatch Center Enhancements Capital Reserve Fund $21,000 fire department vehicle and equipment Capital Reserve Fund $162,000 highway construction and maintenance equipment Capital Reserve fund, $480,000 parking operations, vehicles and parking facility improvements Capital Reserve Fund $84,000 police vehicles and equipment Capital Reserve Fund $126,000 road construction and improvements Capital Reserve Fund $67,000 sewer equipment and facilities Improvements Capital Reserve Fund, $307,000 water trip treatment and distribution equipment and system Capital Reserve fund $321,000 you know, my fifth, oh, gosh, I can't remember. She was my fifth grade math teacher or my 6th grade math teacher. Misses Mulhouse and I went to Norwich Elementary School, now called the Marion Cross School, but wasn't called that then because Marion Cross was the principal. She, she always tested us on how to, how to say numbers. So, you know, there's never an and you know it's not. You don't say 216 and $1,700. It's $216,700. And I really appreciate that lesson to heart. Oh, yeah. I love. [00:31:48] Speaker A: I still think of her every time. [00:31:49] Speaker B: I read a complicated number. I think I'm digressing a little bit, though, and then moving on to article twelve to see if the town will vote to raise an appropriate $2,065,591 for the purposes listed below and to authorize funding these amounts for withdrawal from the listed capital reserve funds in the following amounts. So here's where we're spending money that we've already put into reserve funds, fire department vehicle and equipment Capital Reserve fund and we list. I'm not going to list the things that are here. There. Well, I'll list it for the first one, just to give an example. Metal door replacement phase three, fire car number two, heat pumps, thermal imaging camera, and that is for the sum of $314,102. I'm thinking too much about it. You have to set a roll up your mouth. But each of these next items also have very specific things that are listed. I think I'll skip through them, but I'll just read the overall reserve fund highway construction and maintenance equipment Capital Reserve Fund $583,000 808 $583,889 it's better if you just go with it. Parking operations vehicles and parking facility improvements Capital Reserve Fund $64,200 police vehicles and equipment Capital Reserve fund an even $100,000 road construction and improvements Capital Reserve Fund $138,000 water treatment and distribution equipment and system Capital Reserve Fund $292,400 sewer equipment and facilities improvement capital Reserve fund $573,000. [00:33:27] Speaker A: And one thing I'll add, too, is just for if folks want to go into any more detail about the capital items, this was the first year that we had a capital improvement program committee. So that was something that town meeting, we asked, town meeting last year that was created. And so that's a multi stakeholder group that includes a representative from the planning board, representative from the select board, representatives from the school board, staff representatives, a Dartmouth student representative, a finance committee representative. And so it's a multi stakeholder group that reviews the capital submissions and provides recommendations. So there are two different documents on the budget page on our [email protected]. Budget one is a several page long summary document. That was what the CIPC presented to the select board during the budget presentations and the other is the much longer, much more detailed full report. So if you want to get a little more information about capital savings or capital spending, you can go to the website and get that. [00:34:25] Speaker B: Thank you, Alex. And at this point we should, as we did with the planning board earlier, the select board voted on these articles on the 15 April and the votes are listed in the warrant. And then we have the collective bargaining agreements. The town of Hanover negotiates with three collective bargaining entities. Alex, do you mind? Well, their list right here for me. The American Federation of State County Municipal Employees Council 93, Local 138, excuse me, 1348. And that's in general the public works department employees. And that was in article 13. I'll come back to that shortly. We also have the International association of Firefighters, Local 3288. And last but certainly not least, is the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees Council 93, Local 3657, which is the police department, department employees. So articles 1315 and 17 pertain to collective barding agreements that the unions have approved and the select board has approved. Alex, do you want to talk about how we. The negotiation process just in very. [00:36:14] Speaker A: Yeah, I mean, so basically the town went through this very detailed retention and recruitment study last year where we had about 65 meetings with staff across all departments, union non union, soliciting feedback about employment here and about compensation, about benefits, all that sort of stuff and all of that. You know, we've talked about this a lot in select board meetings, but all of that resulted in sort of proposals that the town brought forward to each of the three collective bargaining units and to non union employees as well. And so what I can do is, so we have the amounts, it's been four or five years since there's been a multi year union contract at town meetings. So we just wanted to try and detail this out as much as possible. So two of the collective bargaining units have three year proposed contracts and one of them has a two year proposed contract. And what I will do maybe is read those amounts and then what went into each of those. And it's probably a little easier to read through some of this. So we definitely suggest picking up a copy of the warrant and the town report again, all available on the website. We did make a change last year to how these numbers were calculated in the warrant articles. The state requires very specific things, things be included in this calculation because what the warrant articles are basically doing is approving the cost of each union contract beyond what would exist if the contract wasn't in place. So this is really meant to be the cost of these contracts. And so I can start. I'll start with the Afscme 1348, which is public works. [00:38:01] Speaker B: And so that's Article 13. [00:38:02] Speaker A: Article 13, public works and several parks and rec employees. And so what is in that cost, which for the upcoming fiscal year is $171,768. The next fiscal year, $198,265 and the next fiscal year, $225,406. And so the costs are going up that way because there are phased in increases for a couple different things that I'll read through now. So one is a market adjustment for the ten lowest steps on our 22 step scale, and that's an additional $0.35 an hour for employees at those steps. And then there were two positions in our custodial department that were severely under the average market compensation that we collected through this process. And those positions got an additional twenty five cents a day hour. There is a 2.5% cost of living increase for FY 25. And the agreement with the unions and for non union staff is going back to a practice town actually used to do years ago, which was look at indexing the cost of living increase to the CPI. New England with no less than 1% or no more than 4% in a given year. So in FY 25 it's 2.5%. In future years it's no less than 1%, no more than 4%. In FY 25, there is our step system, which we are moving into a new merit based program. But in FY 25, all employees in each of the unions, and non union employees as well. I'll stop mentioning that because those aren't referenced here, do get their existing step increase, which for the membership of AFSCME 1348 is a 75 cent an hour increase. We did give unions the, as part of the discussions, the ability to do a flat rate increase which equalizes on the pay scale a little bit more, versus a perfect based increase. This was the only collective bargaining unit that did go with the flat rate increase. The other unions and non union staff are at the same 2% increase that we had in the past. There is a new differential put in place for an additional small amount per hour for people who work overnight on a midnight shift. There is an increase in on call pay. There is an increase in certain stipends and professional licenses that are covered. There is an update to the critical shortage pay policy that all departments have. There was a small increase in the clothing allowance and then existing programs that are continued, such as our hiring referral bonuses and our vacation sell back programs. The town also last year began paying 50% of the premiums for paid family leave for up to six weeks. This contract expands that six weeks coverage to the maximum of twelve weeks. And then there are phased in contributions to employees dental premiums, which right now the town does not contribute to. And in the first year of the contract, the town would contribute one third of the costs, the second year two thirds of the cost, and the third year third the full cost, which is at 85% of the total premium costs. This also increases the amount for employees that are electing a high deductible health care plan by increasing the HSA contributions the town would make. It also starts to slightly increase the opt out payments for employees who are eligible for town insurance but don't take it. And then all the associated payroll taxes and retirement burden. All the things I just listed out there and for each of the other unions that I'll do in a moment, those are all pretty detailed things that have a lot of, there's a lot of work and a lot of discussion that we've had about each of those items. And so I would just encourage people to the website if they have more questions about any of those things. And these are very similar to the benefits that are being provided to all of our non union employees as well. The next collective bargaining is with is for the firefighters, 3288. They have a slightly different contract. That is a two year contract. The cost of that in FY 25 is $117,085 and the cost in the second year of the contract is $71,459. That contract does not include any of the things that I just read out. It includes a 2% one time market adjustment for the union members. It includes a 2.5% cost of living increase this year and a 2% cost of living increase next year. This provides for the existing steps that employees are already eligible for and this provides a 20 hours vacation sell back that continues that program. The next, which is Article 17, is AFSCME 3657, which is our police employees. And for FY 25, that cost is $158,103. FY 26, $200,375 and the third year $225,210. And again, that includes the dental premiums that phase in over that period of time. So I'll run through those specifics, which is one is that there's no market adjustments for police union employees. The cost of living increase in FY 25, five is proposed at 2.5% future years same which is to be indexed no less than 1%, no more than 4% based on the New England CPI. The existing step and merit increase at 2%. A midnight shift differential for employees. Employees that work scheduled overnight shifts. An additional stipend for certain instructor positions at the police department. A new incentive for folks who have a military service background. Right now we have an education incentive for police employees. This allows people to to choose the education incentive or the military incentive, which is at 1%, so they're not eligible for both, but it's one or the other. And the goal there was to provide an incentive for people who don't have traditional education experience but do have the military experience. Updates to the critical shortage pay, which is available for all departments and covered by cost savings from prolonged vacancies and positions and continuing the existing hiring and referral bonus program and the 20 hours vacation sell back program and also expands the paid family leave from six weeks of coverage to twelve weeks of coverage and does the same phase into the dental premiums of 130 each year, as well as the other changes to the benefits that the other collective bargaining agreement had. Excuse me, which is an increase in HSA contributions for employees who elect a high deductible health care plan and an increase in people who opt out who are eligible. Both of those two things. There is a potential savings for the town, which is why those increases are put in and then all the associated payroll taxes. A number of the items that I write out also do include estimates of we have to assume how many employees will use different programs and those estimates are included in the cost of the warrant article. So I know that's a lot of stuff. I know we've talked about this a lot at different select board meetings, and we do have various memo that have been prepared for the finance committee as well. And if people want to read through any of that or more information or more background, you can find all of that [email protected]. Budget I'll also just add, if I may, that the even numbered articles here, 1416 and 18, are new this year, but they are something that our attorney advised us should be listed in our warrant every time we have a collective bargaining contract. Which just means that if the, if the warrant article fails for any particular collective bargaining unit, it allows the select board to call a special town meeting only on that warrant article, which saves the town the ability from having to petition the state for that. So that's something that you'll see on all of our warrants going forward is those articles when we have the collective bargaining contracts listed, and I think I will pass it back off to you. [00:47:12] Speaker B: Yeah, there's a lot of speaking. There's a lot of stuff. Yeah, well, there's a lot of work that went into that untold number of hours. And. And yes, that's where we are. And then we get to. I believe we've done 18 and we're getting into Article 19, which is to see if the town, per RSA 31. 91 98 a. Oh, it's always 91 a. [00:47:38] Speaker A: Right. [00:47:39] Speaker B: Will vote to raise an appropriate $25,000 into the town's annual contingency fund for the fiscal year 2024. 2025. This sum coming from taxation. Alex, can you address that one, just if you don't mind? [00:47:54] Speaker A: Yeah. So that's another one that was new on last year's town meeting. And the contingency fund is a statutory mechanism that we have access to. That is basically the preferred way, and it's the most transparent way for the town to build in, basically a buffer into our budget. As we've talked about in last year's budget process and this year's budget process, we have rebuilt a lot of budget accounts from the ground up, and in doing so, found a lot of accounts that were over budgeted. But that basically means that the budget is much leaner than it is in the, than it has been in the past. 25,000 is not a lot as far as having a buffer. But we wanted to at least sort of, kind of put that in there last year. We didn't think we could increase it this year because the tax burden was already pretty significant of the budget. But that is something that if we do go over in our budget, which we don't anticipate, but this really is the best practice to do, and the state allows us to put up to 1% aside that it all has to be reported on in next year's town meeting if we went over. So that's not something that we would expect to use. But it's just, again, like those other articles with the collective bargaining contracts, just a best practice to have. [00:49:13] Speaker B: How does this differ from the utilization of undesignated fund balance? [00:49:19] Speaker A: So the contingency fund is really the statutory mechanism for during the year, if you have a cost overrun to the bottom line of your budget, whereas the undesignated fund balance, you're sort of. It's tying between multiple years. We don't know what this year's fund balance is until the year ends, all the accounts close, and then the audit is completed. And so basically every year we're sort of working off the prior year's numbers, whereas the contingency fund is money that, in theory, you could access in the same fiscal year. [00:49:52] Speaker B: That helps. Okay. And then we get to article 20, which is our main budget article, to see if the town will vote to raise and appropriate $31,077,237 to pay the operating expenses of the town for the 2024 to 25 fiscal year. For the purposes set forth in the town budget. This sum does not include any of the preceding or succeeding articles. Now, that's a large number. [00:50:23] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:50:23] Speaker B: And it is. We are going to go in detail. We will explain that at, of course, during the, during the business meeting, we're going to have a discussion on that. But the best way to get information for all of this prior to town meeting is by [email protected] budget. And what will we find there? Alex? [00:50:47] Speaker A: So there's a whole array of different documents there. This includes the slides from our budget presentations. It includes various memos that Alan and I have produced for the select board and finance committee. Ellen is our finance director. So we produced a couple memos on different topics, including overview topics, and then going into detail on some areas where the select board of finance committee had questions. We also have the full Excel workbook broken out by TaB and with a summary sheet of all of our department's budget. So that's a practice that we started last year, which is, you can go online and look at the same workbook that Ellen and I have up on our computers when we're in our budget meetings. We have a fund balance tracking sheet. We have a new FTE tracking sheet. We have our debt service schedule. And if you think budgets are fun, a whole lot of other fun stuff. [00:51:35] Speaker B: There's a lot of information for those people who really like spreadsheets. And it's, I think it's pretty transparent. I think it's as transparent as really, as it possibly can be. [00:51:46] Speaker A: I think so. And we did. We know. It's so much information. In the episode on the podcast prior to this one, there is a relatively short summary of the budget where we go through the top twelve highlights that we talked about during the budget presentations. So if folks do want to listen to a short budget summary, you can go one episode back in the podcast. [00:52:06] Speaker B: And listen to that. Then we move to article 21. Shall the town continue the established practice of delegating the duties and responsibilities of the board of cemetery trustees to the select board pursuant to RSA 289 six, roman numeral two. And this does get a little bit confusing because we've also got on the, on the warrants a candidate running for the. I want to get the terminology correctly. Board of cemeteries trustee. And how do these two article. How does this interact? [00:52:51] Speaker A: Yeah, so let me try this. Let me do a little. A quick summary of this article. And then. And our moderator will speak to this at town meeting as well. And then I'll. I'll talk about how these two things interact. So, as you mentioned, there is a RSA 286. That any town with a town meeting form of government. May vote at town meeting. To not have a separate board of cemetery trustees. By delegating all the duties and responsibilities to either the select board or the town manager. The town of Hanover currently does not have a board of cemetery trustees. And as the town has been operating without a board of trustees. And delegating these duties to staff for years, it is now necessary for town meeting to vote on whether to continue this established practice. Or to create a board. This was prompted by. And will allow the select board and town manager. To work with Hanover Parks and recreation. Who currently oversee cemeteries, to consider, and if interested, allow natural and green burials. On recommendations from sustainable Hanover. Reducing the environmental impact of burials in Hanover. This article would formalize the existing practices, and by doing so, give the town the appropriate statutory authority. To act on any updates to policies or programs about town cemeteries. So that's what this warrant article would establish. But Athos, like you mentioned, we have a candidate for this. The board of cemetery trustees and our moderator will share this during the meeting. But basically, if a board is created, which would be that individual being elected. And the two other positions being elected, which would have to be by write in that if three members are elected and the board is established. And then when we get to article 21 on the business meeting, if town meeting votes to approve that article. Basically, the way we, our moderator and attorney, have interpreted the law is that for 90 days, there would be a board of cemetery trustees. And then this article, if passed, would supersede that. And we would then the responsibilities would be delegated back to the select board. So, basically, town meeting has a choice about whether to delegate the authority and responsibilities to the select board. Or whether to elect a board of cemetery trustees. And the way that town meeting would act would be by electing the individuals. If they wanted to establish the board and not delegate it. And then vote down the article. Or if they did want to establish the delegate the responsibilities of the select board. That would be a yes vote on article 21. So a no vote would create a board of cemetery trustees. And a yes vote would delegate those responsibilities to the select board. That's basically. That's the basic way to put it. And Jeremy will explain that at town meeting. [00:55:43] Speaker B: Yeah, great. Thank you. Jeremy is our town moderator, which gets us to article 22, a petition article. And I will read this to see if the town will vote to call on the United States government to support an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and the West bank in order to ensure the safety and right of to life of all people living in the region of Ilse, Israel and Palestine. Additionally, to stop the ongoing armed hostilities and human devastation, these voters asked the town of Hanover to urge the United States government to immediately end us armed shipments and military aid to the israeli government and to use its considerable influence to ensure the safe delivery of food and medical supplies to Gaza. The record of the vote shall be transmitted by written notice from town officials to United States Representative anniversary Ann Kuster from New Hampshire, United States senators Maggie Hasson and Gene Chaheen from New Hampshire and United States presidents, United States President Joseph Biden urging them to take action toward this end. And that will for petition articles. We traditionally have the petitioners speak to the articles at town meeting. These are presented without select board involvement. Select board did vote on April 15 to approve all of them by a vote of 40 against, zero abstain, and one member was absent. That happened to have been me. And with respect to article 22, the select board voted one against, three abstained and one was absent. There were zero votes for this article. And as I mentioned earlier, this will be discussed by the petitioners at town meeting. We anticipate that is usually how we, that is our standard operating procedure for petition articles, which gets us to article 23, which is probably the easiest one to understand, to transact. Well, no, not actually. It actually can be very complicated to transact any other business that may legally be brought before this town meeting. And that really, is that the, I don't know the exact regulation, but Jeremy, our town moderator, really has maintained that it is issues which are not substantial in nature, and he has ruled on that in the past. [00:58:19] Speaker A: Great. Well, Athos, thank you for talking through all of this and talking with us a little bit here. If people want to get more information about any of this, again, we've said it a few times throughout. They can go to our [email protected], there you can find the warrant town report, the explanatory documents. You can go to hanovernh.org budget to find all the budget documents. And you can go to hanovernh.org townmeeting to find information about town meeting, about registering to vote. If you aren't registered to vote and about information about the May 9 open house, where you can learn a little bit about town government and town meeting, meet candidates that are running for each of the positions we mentioned before and ask questions of our departments and staff and boards and committees. So I don't know if you have anything else, but we hope to see folks that are listening. [00:59:11] Speaker B: No, Alex, thank you for getting us together. I think that was, I hope that was helpful. [00:59:17] Speaker A: I think so. Thank you. And thank you, everybody, for tuning in, listening.

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