Surry Mountain

Surry's town meeting warrant includes an article about town-owned land on Surry Mountain, near the Dort Road trailhead (pictured).

SURRY — Elections and the annual town and school district meetings are scheduled for this coming week, after being postponed due to the pandemic.

Residents can vote on town and school district officers Tuesday from 2 to 7 p.m. at the town hall. The school district meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. in the same place, followed by the town meeting at 7:30 p.m.

The town meeting warrant includes a proposal to make 115 acres on Surry Mountain a town forest, managed by the Surry Conservation Commission.

The town acquired the land by tax deed in 2019. The previous owner was unknown, according to a tax collector’s deed on file with the county.

The forested land is on the northern end of Surry Mountain, near the Dort Road trailhead, and adjacent to another 50-acre town parcel.

It’s part of a larger block of public land and private conservation land that includes the 140-acre French-Harris Memorial Forest, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers holdings and a 1,300-acre preserve on the mountain’s eastern side acquired last year by The Nature Conservancy.

Under state law, a town can establish a town forest to “encourage the proper management” of natural resources. It can be managed by an appointed forestry committee or, as Surry is proposing, the local conservation commission.

Other warrant articles include the proposed $597,474 budget for general municipal operations, up 22 percent from the $489,148 budget approved last year, and $55,000 in appropriations to capital reserve funds.

The biggest driver of the operating budget increase is boosting the road improvements budget from $25,000 to $100,000.

Budget committee member Bruce Smith said the town usually budgets $100,000 for roads, but reduced it last year to ease the pain of rising property taxes.

Despite total proposed appropriations being higher than what voters approved last year, the budget committee expects the municipal share of the property-tax rate to go down, according to figures in the town report. Money from the town’s unreserved fund balance will go toward lowering the amount raised by taxes, Smith said.

The school district’s proposed budget for 2021-22 is $2,763,831, an increase of 5.8 percent from this fiscal year.

The total amount to be raised from local property taxes is expected to rise by 11.6 percent due to a decline in state tax and grant revenue, according to budget numbers included in this year’s town report.

As is typical in New Hampshire, local education taxes make up the largest share of Surry’s tax rate by far — $20.56 per $1,000 last year, compared to $2.05 for the town government.

Paul Cuno-Booth can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409, or pbooth@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @PCunoBoothKS.