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February 13, 2019 top stories
Board finalizes
budget, warrant

NORTH HAVERHILL—The Haverhill Cooperative School Board finalized a budget and meeting warrant on Monday night that will go before voters at the annual district meeting in March.
In all, the district has proposed over $14.8 million in total spending for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which is a 4.2 percent increase over the current year.
The proposed spending plan would, on paper, increase the amount to be raised in property taxes by over 9 percent. But that would likely be reduced with a projected fund balance, or surplus.
With the anticipated surplus applied to reducing the amount to be raised by taxes, SAU-23 Business Manager Kathy Ducharme estimated that local education taxes would rise 5.1 percent, or approximately $1.27 per $1,000 in valuation.
“I’m disappointed to have presented an increase like this,” said school board chair John Rutherford. “But this is the first big increase in a while.”
In part, the increase is attributable to a $450,000 surplus that was used to offset property taxes during the current year. The projected surplus to be used in 2019-2020 is closer to $200,000, according to discussion.

Piermont budget shows increase

PIERMONT—Neither freezing rain nor icy roads could deter 20 residents from attending the public hearing on Feb. 6 at the Old Church Building where the town’s selectboard presented the proposed 2019 town budget.
Proposed town expenditures excluding all warrant articles as well as the Grafton County tax assessment amount to $1,055,383 an increase of $25,187 over 2018.
Selectman Colin Stubbings reviewed each town department’s account during the hearing and answered questions from the audience. While there are decreases in most accounts, the largest increases are in the executive account reflecting administrative salaries, health insurance, Social Security and Medicare contributions, and legal fees. The zoning account reflects anticipated costs for developing a new Master Plan for the town.
The purchase of a compactor for the transfer station on Bedford Road at a cost of $18,235 was discussed.
According to Wayne Godfrey, transfer station manager, a compactor would reduce hauling costs. He has applied for a grant to help pay for the purchase with the balance to come from the recycling/transfer station expendable trust fund.

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Panel proposes
business improvements

NORTH HAVERHILL—A new report flags cell phone coverage, broadband service, and workforce training as among the key priorities in improving Haverhill’s business climate.
The report was produced by the Haverhill Entrepreneurial Encouragement Committee, which was formed in the aftermath of the Better Haverhill public forum held in April 2018. Residents at that forum stated that business development and business support should be among the high priorities for the town.
Committee member Kevin Shelton said the panel has been meeting monthly since its formation and has conducted 18 surveys of town businesses, representing a cross-section of the diverse business community in town.
HEEC members finalized their report in late January and have attended recent school board and selectboard meetings to outline their findings, calling on policymakers to take action on some of the infrastructure and labor challenges facing the town.
In the seven-page report, HEEC presents a series of recommendations to both the selectboard and the school board.

VSP conduct search in NH

MOUNTAIN LAKES—Vermont State Police crossed the Connecticut River for an investigation over the weekend.
The search happened over the course of multiple days in the Bath section of Mountain Lakes, the neighborhood that straddles the Haverhill-Bath border near Swiftwater. In particular, the search took place at a residence on Cemetery Road or nearby Goose Lane.
A public information officer with the Vermont State Police told the Caledonian-Record that VSP had “a tip” there might be some evidence connected to an ongoing investigation, but offered no further comment.
In November, Vermont police conducted a search of the Connecticut River near No Man’s Island between Woodsville and Wells River. It was widely speculated that the search was part of the investigation into the shooting death of Michael Pimental, a Waterford, Vermont man whose body was found in a Northeast Kingdom driveway in October.
The same day his body was found, Pimental’s girlfriend, Krystal Whitcomb, was detained by police following a traffic stop in Benton. Michael Hayes, the man operating the car, was arrested on New Hampshire state charges.
Hayes, Whitcomb, and her father Shawn have all been indicted on federal weapons or drug charges in Vermont.
According to sources, the search had nothing to do with the disappearance of Maura Murray, who vanished in nearby Swiftwater on Feb. 9, 2004. That investigation is being led by New Hampshire authorities.
Dozens of family members, friends, and supporters marked the 15th anniversary of the Massachusetts woman’s disappearance with a candlelight vigil on Saturday evening in Swiftwater.

Curtis, Julie, and Fred Murray raise candles during a vigil on the evening of Feb. 9 to mark the 15th anniversary of Maura Murray’s disappearance. The candlelight vigil off Route 112 in Haverhill drew many members from nearby communities who have supported the Murray family over the years.
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