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Stop Ashland Selectboard from taking more taxpayer power away

To the editor,
On this voting day I'd like to just take a few minutes to warn and advise Ashland voters concerning a few articles on this year's ballot.
First, please vote YES for Article 3 to adopt the operating budget...the default is higher...if it had not been for additions made that day from the floor the proposed operating budget would have been much lower, but it is still lower than the default. This board seems to have no concern for our taxpayers' shallow pockets. Where do they think we can come up with all this money for a town of 2200 with 12 miles or so of roadway? Our only recourse is in the voting booth folks, and though we don't have a choice for the Selectboard candidate this year for obvious reasons, there are other articles we have control over.
Don't be fooled by wording or the last minute insertion by the board of a "slap in the face' article (26) concerning the Budget Committee. This board is trying to dismantle the committee, which is our lifesaver, and I personally wish to thank every one of them for the upwards of 800 collective hours they put in this year, combing the budget to save OUR money. A board of three selectmen, especially this board, is hardly capable of putting in enough hours to take over the budget process, much less our town's business affairs as we have seen these past two years! Do not help dismantle our Budget Committee. This committee truly takes the taxpayers' feelings and our rights, to heart. These selectmen have already, and sadly, shown us they have been, admittedly, "spread too thin". How do they think they can adequately do a good job putting the budget together? Vote No to Article 26.
Article 11: How stupid does this board thinks voters are? Evidently very much, seeing as how this article wants you to say the board can raise any fees they want at any time. This is not the time to give any board, but especially this board, any more power than they already have over our money. This article, if passed, could mean you paying $100 for a dog license, $1,000 for a building permit, $500 for a wedding license, $200 to rent the Booster Club for a day and so on, if they want to. Do NOT be fooled by the little addendum added below the article that says they will hold a public hearing before any fees are raised. WHAT A JOKE! The selectmen have the final say in all town business, for or against us, and as we've seen these past two years it is ALL against us! Do not let them raise any fees whenever they want! Do not let them laugh all the way to our coffers as they have done these past two years with no thought to the taxpayers of this little town. Vote NO on Article 11!
In my opinion, the five-man boards of 2008-11 were moving the town forward with the mind-set of "Let's Change" and not "No Change". The town was starting to heal from the foibles of the former administrator (I apologize sincerely for that huge mistake) and then we were pushed back to a three "yes man" board. Obviously, every board makes mistakes, but with a five-man board there is a much better chance of reasonable decisions being made on behalf of taxpayers. Five–man boards can offer very different points of view, offer the diversification we need, answer every question the public has whether in agreement or not with their own political views and who can restore "public comments" to the Selectboard agendas!
Stop this board from taking any more of our taxpayer power away. We need a five-man board! Vote yes to article 25. Restore our town to sanity! Give us back caring folks who will gratefully be liaisons to local, regional, and state committees, which we have not had these past two years. We need a board who will honestly get us funding and grant monies and who will do everything to keep the businesses we currently have happy, not nit-pick them to death every chance they get. There are monies out there. We have lost out on funds this year due to lack of representation by this board. These three also have not been able to attend most town ceremonies, charettes, seminars, local and regional meetings, etc. If they do not have time to represent us at these things, they have no time to handle our budget process, and no time to do things a five-man board can do. They only have time, evidently, to raise our fees whenever they feel like it, public hearings or not! That's what they want. Don't let them get away with any of this!
Give us back representation; give us back honesty, diversity and most of all, a voice in our government. Return us to the 'transparent government' policy taken from us these past two years. Please vote YES to Article 3 on the budget, Vote YES to Article 25 and bring our board back up to five members, Vote No on Article 11 to raise any fees, and vote No on Article 26 to abolish the Budget Committee.
Get out today and VOTE! It's the only way your voice can be heard right now!
Leigh Sharps
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