First Published: 1999-03-07
DURHAM — Selectmen say the tax rate is likely to increase by 3.9 percent following Saturday's town meeting.
Although the town's operating budget will drop from last year, increased school costs will raise the property tax rate from $15.55 per $1,000 of valuation to $16.15.
About 285 residents filled Town Hall and debated nearly every spending article. A minor proposed increase in the amount the school spends on books and periodicals prompted three separate votes the last by secret ballot -before the request was finally approved, 103-96.
"People were very evenly divided on most things this year," Town Clerk Connie Footman said. "We'd have a show of hands, then we'd have a standing vote, and it would be so close we would have to go to a written ballot."
Much of Saturday's debate was focused on solid waste issues. Residents approved formation of a solid waste advisory board to help selectmen on the issue. And they allocated money to start a fund to build a transfer station in the future.
But they rejected a $5,000 request by selectmen to move recycling bins from their current location near the Eureka Community Center across the street to a spot next to the fire department. The plan would have included construction of a fence.
Selectmen said complaints about trash in the area and a report that the Community Center well had been contaminated underscored the urgency of their request, but townspeople refused to spend the money. The Durham fire chief noted that the station's well might be similarly threatened by the plan.
Voters were less motivated to go to the ballot booth Friday, where most offices attracted only one candidate and sometimes none. Mark Blake won an open seat on the Board of Selectmen, Philip LaFlamme won an open School Committee seat, and Milton Simon was re-elected to the School Committee. Jane Blais and William Blais attracted 24 votes in their successful write-in campaigns for School Committee and Budget Committee, respectively.
title: Spending touches off much debate
Citation: "Spending touches off much debate & Truck, library, computer link win support" Newspapers.com, Portland Press Herald, March 7, 1999, https://pressherald.newspapers.com/article/portland-press-herald-spending-touches-o/127778003/