Rochester residents vote down money transfers, want lower taxes

By Tanner Harding | Oct 17, 2016

Rochester — With their tax bills fresh in their minds, residents voted not to pass back-to-back articles that would transfer money from free cash at Fall Town Meeting.

One agenda item asked voters to transfer $32,000 from free cash to fund future contract settlements and another asked them to transfer $67,000 to the town’s stabilization fund, which contains money the town has set aside for things like snow and ice removal.

After voting down a request to transfer money for the Town Hall Annex study due to a fear of a rise in taxes, residents continued to vote “no” on money transfers.

Resident Woody Hartley spoke up, asking why the town needed the $32,000.

Town Counsel Blair Bailey explained that it was for union contract negotiation.

“This allocation is to put aside money for when those contracts are settled and signed, so money is available to make those payments and we don’t have to go back to Town Meeting and ask for money retroactively,” he said.

However, resident Dave English thought that the money could be better put to use.

“If you have access to that money, why don’t you lower our taxes?” he asked.

Residents made similar comments during discussion of the stabilization article.

“When we vote for these items and that money is paid off, why do you keep it and just try to figure out where to spend it next?” resident Dennis McCarthy asked.

Selectman Richard Nunes told him that there isn’t really any way to cut resident’s taxes.

“If there’s ever money to give back, we will,” he said. “Expenses are going up not down. There’s nobody here cheaper than I am. There just isn’t money to reduce your taxes.”

The contract settlement article failed to pass by a vote of 89-47. The stabilization fund item, which needed a two-thirds vote, failed by two votes, 80-43.

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