Selectmen Suspend Renaming/Renumbering Ordinance

The 2013 ordinance that required massive renaming and renumbering of streets in Bow has been suspended. New Selectmen Chris Nicolopolous made the motion to suspend which was seconded by Eric Anderson. The 5-0 vote follows a town meeting vote in March to change the selectmen’s ordinance.

The decision is to have the town manager and Bryan Westover of the Building Department redraft the 2013 ordinance to eliminate the automatic renumbering requirement if a building permit is pulled on a street. Currently the nine streets are on the renumbering list are:

One Stack Drive, Beaver Brook Drive, Chelsea Drive, Dunbarton Center Road, Crescent Drive, Tallwood Drive, Thibeault Drive, South Bow Road.

TOWN WORKER SAFETY COMMITTEE FINALLY REVIVED

To ensure a safe workplace for town employees, state law requires that employer and employee representatives serve on a joint loss management committee. RSA 281-A:64’s safety provisions call on the committee to carry out workplace safety programs and meet four times a year according to section 130-4 of the town ordinances. The committee met twice in 2014 to discuss panic buttons, fire drills, and a facility emergency action plan among other things.

No meetings were held in the two year period from June 2014 to June of 2016. Why the eight meetings for the two year period were not conducted is unknown.

The state Department of Labor visited the town recently because the town safety program was last updated in 2013. The law requires updates every two years. Changes to the plan were approved at the July 6 meeting of the Joint Loss Management Committee.

COMCAST CONTRACT ANNUAL REPORTS ARE MISSING

The town entered into a contract for the cable television franchise in the Town of Bow on July 1, 2011. That contract has now expired and the Town Manager is negotiating with Comcast as to whether the contract should or would be renewed and, if so, on what terms. Revenue from the contract is available with up to 5% of the franchise gross receipts from Bow with certain adjustments. Whether or not this makes sense depends on what has been happening in Bow with the old contract.

The 47-page contract contains in Exhibit E an annual report that is to be filed with the town. That report by Comcast would include customer service statistics such as the number of reports of system outages and the response time for such outages.

The annual report also requires Comcast to produce a summary of written complaints and a description of the resolution of those complaints.

After meeting with Manager Stack the Bow Times requested copies of those last five years of reports but Mr. Stack responded on August 2 that there have been no such filings and he will now attempt to obtain them. Section 9.13 of the Comcast contract with Bow says that Comcast would meet annually with the Board of Selectmen if they so requested it and that the company would submit the annual report on the anniversary dates of the contract. None of that has happened to date.

Tax Rate Declines After Town and School Meetings

The Public Safety Building passed at town meeting by a vote of 428-108. This was the culmination of years of discussion that began when the price three years ago was at $7,700,000.

The expanded solar exemption on properties was also adopted at town meeting to increase the tax break from half of the cost of installation of solar to all of the cost being given a property tax break.

The renumbering and renaming ordinance was amended by a vote of 80-79 and the town budget as approved is $40,000 less than the tax levy for the municipal budget four years ago in 2012.

At least $300,000 was saved by having the selectmen and budget committee support switching our dispatch center over to the Merrimack County Dispatch Center. The municipal budget went from $7,275,739 down to $7,084,139 – roughly a $200,000 reduction over last year’s budget. The school budget also declined from last year’s $17,887,682 to $17,523,664.

Thus while budgets historically had increased to 2014 the impact of new selectmen and budget committee members had its ripple effect in reductions from the height of spending in 2014 to several hundred thousand dollars less in spending in 2016. The tax rate last year was $28.54 per thousand and is now estimated to be down to $28.10 for this year.