LONDONDERRY — In a few hours last Saturday morning, only 67 of the town's 19,000 registered voters approved sending millions of budgetary items and spending proposals to the March ballot.
The town's deliberative session was held at Londonderry High School's cafeteria, drawing a small crowd to do the business of the day.
That included sending a proposed town operating budget of $37,616,176 to the ballot with no discussion.
Prior to the start of the meeting, Town Manager Kevin Smith gave his eighth annual State of the Town address, telling residents the town was seeing growth, economic success and expansion of business and new businesses calling Londonderry home.
He heralded town staff working hard to make smart choices when handling the budget and also said successful development projects were in the pipeline either to be approved or started. He also credited the new and improved Apple Tree Mall, new businesses at Crossroads Mall and other businesses taking a chance on Londonderry.
"We really do live in a great community," Smith said. "And I'm blessed to be in a job that I love."
Once the meeting began, articles were moving forward quickly.
Town Moderator Tom Freda took a moment to address the sparse crowd, saying that in a little over an hour in, 67 people had voted on $38 million with little to no input.
"Frankly, without a peep," Freda said.
The list of articles includes $265,553 to be received from the state, highway grant money, to use for reconstruction projects in Londonderry; $650,000 to be placed in the Roadway Maintenance Expendable Trust Fund; $28,000 for geographic information systems capital reserve fund to be used toward the town's five-year flyover schedule for detailing the community's properties and landscape.
Another article supports the expansion of the Pillsbury Cemetery, asking voters to approve $75,000 to be placed in a cemetery capital fund.
Another article asks voters to approve $265,000 to pave the Town Hall parking lot, with funding to be taken from the town's unassigned fund balance with no tax impact to voters.
There are also five union contracts on the town's warrant.
The keno article is one of two petitioned articles making the ballot this year. Last year, a similar keno article lost by only 32 votes.
Resident and Londonderry state Rep. Al Baldasaro said bringing keno to town would be a "win/win" for everyone, especially the local American Legion that could use proceeds from the gaming to support veterans, scholarships and other community activities. He hoped this would be the year voters would say yes.
But Christine Patton, also a member of the Budget Committee, spoke out again this year against approving keno.
"I don't want gambling brought into this town," she said.
A second citizens petitioned article deals with a resolution to take action on climate pollution directing, if approved, the Town Council to send written notice to Londonderry's state legislators, the governor, congressional delegation and President Donald Trump, saying the town calls upon its elected state and federal officials to enact carbon-pricing legislation in the form of a carbon fee and dividend approach and a carbon cashback program to protect the state from the costs and environmental risks of continued climate inaction.
In addition to the town's business, Londonderry citizen and volunteer of the year were named. Bob Ramsay, longtime head of the Traffic Safety Committee, was named Citizen of the Year while Paul Margolin took top volunteer honors.