BURNHAM — The Town Office will not be moving to the former Burnham Elementary School, voters decided in a referendum held Friday.

The result was announced Saturday afternoon at the annual Town Meeting as 127 against and 54 in favor. A total of 187 voters turned out for that decision and to re-elect Selectman Stuart Huff, 118-61, over challenger Brent Chase.

Roger Huff and Arlene Miles were re-elected as road commissioner and treasurer, respectively, unopposed.

With the school building issue decided, voters later reduced the amount to maintain the building to less than half of the $15,000 that had been proposed, approving $7,000 instead. Similarly, an article to fund a redesign plan for the building was defeated through a vote to take no action.

Cemeteries were a concern for local voters this year – in funding maintenance, searching for existing or vacant grave sites and simply finding a cemetery the town can’t locate but for which it has a deed. After a lengthy debate, voters approved funding of $4,000 to rent a ground-penetrating radar unit to verify plots in the town cemeteries.

“My heart is right in my throat each time I take a spade to the ground,” Sexton Carleton Croft said. He said cemetery plot lines have not been maintained, and he has had unfortunate results when preparing graves.

Croft also asked that the town hire a surveyor to study a deed from 1834 to determine the location of a cemetery. Selectman George Robison said the lot may be close to an existing cemetery or it may be miles away, but nobody could tell after a few days of study. Similarly, voters approved funding to survey Mount Road Cemetery to correct lot lines. Some voters proposed using the radar funds simply to fund a new land purchase to expand an existing cemetery and were told adjacent land was unavailable. Eventually, voters voted to appropriate no money for an expansion plan.

Attempts were made throughout the three-hour meeting to hold expenses at 2011 level expenditures. Few were successful.

Voters also defeated an article to make the road commissioner and treasurer positions three-year terms rather than one-year terms.

“How would you get anyone out to vote if they only have one person (selectman) to vote for? Look what we’ve got today,” one person quipped, pointing at the 30-plus people attending Town Meeting.

Voters also appropriated $5,200 to upgrade the town’s computer system to expedite motor vehicle registrations.

Before the meeting, Town Clerk Carolyn Hamel said municipal appropriations were down by $2,300, but with the funding approved on Saturday she wasn’t certain how much of an increase there would be, given that some funds were not included in the town warrant before the meeting.

She also said it would be difficult to gauge the meeting’s effect on the annual tax rate until school assessments and the county tax are known.




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