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Alton town government expenses have increased year after year

To the editor,
As a candidate for Alton Selectman, I am writing to give some information about my goals. I will take the time necessary to fulfill the responsibility of managing the affairs of Alton sensibly and objectively while actively working in a professional manner with other Selectmen on the Board.
My experience includes over 30 years in business holding technical and management positions including vice president of a private company for many years. Education includes a Masters Degree in Business Administration. As a resident and homeowner of Alton for 25 years, my wife and I have parented six children of which four have attended and graduated from Alton public schools.
Alton town government expenses have increased steadily year after year. The current appropriation budget for the Town of Alton is 6.5 million dollars, of which about 2.8 million dollars, or 43 percent, is spent on general government, administrative type expenses. The "General Government" accounting category, including executive, personnel administration, legal and insurance expenses, was $1,383,527 in 2001. The current General Government selectmen's appropriation for 2013 is  $2,809,545, more than doubling in 12 years. With only a 13 percent increase in population, these administrative type expenses have increased an average of about $120,000 per year. The "Executive" appropriations category alone is $519,725 for 2013.
A reduction in high administrative costs could reduce taxes and allow additional money for Alton services such as streets and roads.
Some people say that the tax rate is low in Alton compared to other towns. However, a lower than average tax rate does not give an excuse to spend more than necessary.
As selectman, I will investigate and address expenses with other Alton Board of Selectmen members.
Planning of capital improvements will allow for responsible allocation of money to Capital Reserve Funds. Alton spent about $318,000 in 2012 for planning and zoning expenses associated with privately owned land activities such as subdivisions and business plans. Planning Board members and full time planning employees watch over private property owners with hired professional surveyors and engineers to ensure that they comply with regulations.
Yet, little time is dedicated to planning for Alton government-owned property such as roads and equipment. Instead, for example, the Highway Department uses an arbitrary dollar amount of $750,000 for road improvements based on what "seems to be a good number".
As selectman, I will insist that the Board of Selectmen work with department managers and utilize existing personnel to plan for roads, machinery, and equipment. This will avoid large surprise requests for capital money, reduce confrontations and increase employee morale, while avoiding the "squeaky wheel" and "crisis" forms of management.
In order to manage effectively, selectmen need to take the time to communicate with all town departments to allow for good decisions and planning. More disclosure and communication of selectmen matters to the public is needed through impartial, complete and timely released meeting minutes, quarterly financial reports, and periodic newsletters. Strict adherence to the "Right-to-Know" law is essential. I will support using the Town of Alton's website and other means to encourage private donations and volunteer work for senior citizens and charity organizations to help the community. Donations to Alton senior citizens will be made from money I receive as selectman.
If you want a conservative and responsible representative overseeing Alton and your municipal tax money, take the time to vote on March 12, 2013 for me, Robert W. Daniels as selectman.
Please feel free to call me at 875-7070 with questions or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Meet me at the Alton Senior Center at noontime on Friday March 8, 2013 or at the Alton transfer station on Sunday March 10th or outside the Alton voting booths on March 12, 2013.
Robert W. Daniels
Alton
 
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