Conway voters ok school budget, but reject teacher's contract
CONWAY - Voters approved the town's operating budget of $9,686,674 and the school district's operating budget of $33,137,099 on Tuesday by healthy margins of around 600 votes for each article, but the largest vote spread was garnered by a center that serves the Mount Washington Valley's older population.
It's been a long budget season, and it's not over for the Conway School Board. The 2013-2014 operating budget is up from 20112-2013's $32,543,306, but down from the school board's original recommendation of $33.5 million. That figure was amended downward at the deliberative session, with few objections from the school board, and now the board must find cuts in its budget.
The board has estimated that tuition revenue will go down $633,125 for the next school year, so even without increases in spending, property owners will face higher taxes. The school board has discussed where those further cuts will come from.
Voters also approved a three-year police contract, which did not include any increase in benefits or costs to the town. They turned down a two-year teachers' contract, which would have cost property owners more than $200,000 in each year it was in effect. Voters defeated a special article for $12,000 to continue Tin Mountain Conservation Center programs at the elementary schools.
The Gibson Center for Senior Services request for $35,000 to support its Meals on Wheels, congregate meals, transportation and program services was approved with an 1164 yea, 198 nay vote.
The hotly contested race for the open Conway Public Library Board of Trustee seats went to William Marvel and Mark Hounsell. The two residents, who ran as a team, were the most outspoken in their criticism of the board's attempt to restructure the staff, and repeatedly called for the chair of the seven-member board to step down.
The win was decisive, with Hounsell receiving 626 votes, Marvel 596, and the nearest of the other three candidates, Alexa Kimberly-Bryant, getting 441 votes.
Incumbent Selectman Howard "Crow" Dickinson lost his bid for reelection in a three-way race. Carl Thibodeau is the new Conway selectman. Dickinson, who served Conway for many years as a state legislator, was hospitalized in the summer of 2012 and spent a couple of months recovering before returning to his selectmen duties.
"Turnout was light," Town Clerk Rhoda Quint said Wednesday.
She added that she thought the library trustee and selectmen races would bring out more voters. As of the 2012 general election, Conway had more than 6,267 on its checklist, giving it the largest voting bloc in Carroll County. About 1,400 of those voters showed up Tuesday.
Quint expects recounts for the three-way contest for two school board seats, in which Lynne Bryon received 694 votes and Joe Lentini 701. Assured of a seat is Mark Hounsell, who got 802 votes. She also expects a recount for a budget committee seat, where eight votes separate winner Dick Pollock and Terry McCarthy.
The Conway Police Department's request for $6,000 for equipment to destroy surplus drugs and drug evidence was approved. Not approved was $50,000 for an emergency shelter generator.