Municipal Affairs: 1910 - 1919

Chapter 12 -- Part 3

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Voted to raise 5 cents per $100 of valuation to be spent on sidewalks. The White Island committee reported that it was inexpedient to take any action. Voted $1,000 for work on the breakwaters and to ask the United States Corps of Engineers for advice on building breakwaters. Selectmen were instructed to enforce the automobile speeding laws, and the library building committee, having let the contract, was discharged. The valuation figure included eight automobiles valued at $2,050 and motorboats (probably two) listed at $400. This was the first listing for motorized vehicles, although Dr. Mack reportedly had a Maxwell in 1906.


Voted $500 to build 10 horse sheds behind the town hall; to instruct the selectmen "to procure a suitable hearse"; to paint the town hall inside and out; to spend $2,000 on breakwaters; to instruct the Hampton Beach Improvement Company to live up to the terms of its lease; to collect garbage at the Beach with a contract to the lowest bidder; to give the Redman Shoe Company a tax abatement for 10 years if legal to do so; and to appoint a committee to study a municipal electric plant. Apparently in 1911 the selectmen conducted some questionable financial transactions. Charges of wrongdoing were made, and Selectman Christopher G. Toppan resigned from the board. Part of this problem resulted from the selectmen's decision to exceed the budget in building the Beach sewer. At an April special town meeting to consider the problem, the townspeople approved a resolution stating that the selectmen had accounted properly for all monies spent during 1911 and giving them "a vote of thanks and of confidence in their ability and honesty," and expunging the special town meeting from town records. It was, however, duly printed in the town report and in the local newspaper. The meeting voted to establish a three-member Appropriations Committee, the first town budget committee; voted that the law on taxation of personal property be enforced; and voted that the selectmen "ought not to expend money in excess of the sum voted ..., nor for any other purpose other than that for which it has been appropriated, nor borrow money on notes of the town without first having authority to do so by a vote of the town." The resignation of Selectman Toppan was not accepted. The selectmen were authorized to furnish settees for town meeting, and to "secure a suitable hearse," but there is no record of an expenditure for that purpose until 1914 when James Cunningham was paid $575 for a hearse. Instead of being carried as a cemetery expense, the hearse and its maintenance was charged to the Board of Health.


For the first time in town history, the Appropriations Committee presented a budget to the town meeting. Another $1,000 was voted for breakwaters, and $500 was voted to remove a ledge in the highway next to Jenkins's Cafe at the Beach. Voted to instruct the state representative to secure a charter for a municipal electrical plant. A resolution was passed calling for all sewer assessment funds collected, whether in the hands of the town counsel or any town officer, to be turned over to the town treasurer, to be kept in a separate account, and "not to honor any order of the Selectmen out of such monies unless it pertains to the cost of maintaining the sewer, payment of interest on the sewer notes or reducing the principal of said notes." There were to be no extensions of the sewer without a vote of the Town. Selectmen were permitted to acquire five acres to expand the cemetery, to enforce speeding laws, to collect swill and garbage at the Beach, and to pay highway and public works laborers $2 per day. A new property assessment was made by the selectmen at a cost of $583.


Voted $600 for browntail and gypsy moth control, with $100 set aside for browntail control to be paid at a rate of 5 cents per 100 nests. Selectmen were instructed to make repairs to Glade Path, the path to Sargeant's Island (Island Path), and the path to the "Slough"; to take measures to break the Hampton Beach Improvement Company lease; and to take further measures to secure a charter for the municipal electrical plant.


Voted $2,500 for electric streetlights and instructed the selectmen "to make inquiry with a view of obtaining better terms for lighting the town than we have now." Voted $1,000 to lay out the Beach area known as the Pines; voted $500 for cement sidewalks in the center of town; voted to instruct the selectmen to buy a two-wheel, 40-gallon chemical tank for the fire department; voted to indefinitely postpone the matter of constructing a building for the fire department (although the Town had voted $500 to build horse sheds behind the town hall in 1911); and voted to use the Australian ballot (printed paper ballots, marked in secret) at town meetings. As of February 1914, the Town had leased 471 Beach lots and, together with the value of the land leased to the Hampton Beach Improvement Company (HBIC), the Town valued these properties at $131,700. The Beach income, including licenses for billiards and bowling, moving pictures, flying horses, and popcorn, sewer entrance fees, and land rents, including the HBIC, totaled $3,279. The Redman Shoe Company abatement was $58 on the land.


An attempt to elect three police officers, the highest vote electing a chief, was rejected, and the police appointments ("none but residents") were left, as had been the usual practice, to the selectmen. At the regular meeting, the Town at last made a contract with ther Works Company to lease up to 50 hydrants for 10 years at $40 per year, and selectmen were authorized to lease out two more blocks of land at the Pines and White Island.


The meeting voted $2,000 for breakwaters and $500 for a sidewalk from the library to the corner of Mill Road. A special town meeting raised the contingency fund for breakwaters to $10,000, authorized the selectmen to designate dumping places, approved a committee to procure a safe for the town clerk's records, and, after an appeal by Police Court Judge Abbott Joplin, raised the judge's salary from $100 to $150 per year. The value of 886 Beach lots, including 325 leased to the HBIC, was set at $167,475. The sum of $3,870 was spent on the HBIC lawsuit, which the Town lost.


Voted $800 for cleaning up backyards and garbage at Hampton Beach; $300 for moth control, "to be expended under the direction of one competent man"; to fix the Beach sewer according to the engineer's plans; $250 to improve sanitary conditions at the town hall and to provide emergency exits; $500 for use on Island Path and to open it to its full width; to remove all fences obstructing the old pathway on the south side of Boar's Head and to construct a walk for foot traffic. Finally, the meeting passed a resolution pledging the Town's "loyal adherence to the principles of vigorous freedom fundamental to the existence of the United States" and supporting the president in the World War I effort. The selectmen estimated that the increased property valuation for the year would be $100,000. The budget called for $38,617 to be raised by taxes calling for a rate of $1.60 per $100 of assessed valuation. An appropriation increase of $1,000 was estimated to raise the tax rate 5 cents per $100. The end of the fiscal year was changed from February 15 to January 31, and the town accounts in the town report were arranged much as they are today.


At the request of the governor and the New Hampshire Committee on Public Safety, time was taken at the meeting to consider the war effort and to appoint a committee to prepare a resolution for approval and to be sent to the governor. Thomas L. Perkins, Jotham P. Blake, and Wallace H. Stevens prepared a statement that said, in part, "We now heartily endorse the sentiments of those communications [from the various state agencies concerned with the war effort], and pledge ourselves to do all within our power to carry out the recommendations as presented, to the successful conclusion of the present war." This resolution was approved by the meeting, which, concerned with the war, acted only on articles necessary for town operations.


This meeting was again limited to necessary town expenditures, although the war had ended. A special meeting did appropriate $800 for two bronze plaques to be placed outside the library to commemorate the 115 Civil War veterans, 45 from World War I, and others from the Indian and Colonial wars and the War of 1812. This meeting also received a report from a committee appointed at the regular town meeting to study the street railway, which was in financial trouble and ready to cease operations. As a result of this meeting, and two other special meetings during the year, the Town voted to proceed with negotiations to purchase the troubled railroad.
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