To The Daily Sun,
This letter is to correct some misconceptions in Bristol Selectman Joe Denning's recent letter in response to my letter about Bristol desperately needing new leadership.
Selectman Denning claims Bristol residents are happy with town services. With all due respect, it seems Mr. Denning is just not listening. My letter did not say residents were not happy with the quality of town services. With a $5.4 million budget for 3,000 residents, about $1 million of which goes to police and about $1 million of which goes to the Fire Department every year, not to mention about another $1 million in warrant article funding requested this year, everyone should be ecstatic with the quality of services for the money Bristol has spent over the past 10 years.
My point is that we are spending more than most folks can afford. Ask the property owners who are now $700,000 in arrears in Bristol. Surely they would pay their property taxes if they could afford to.
I can tell you personally after talking extensively with residents for the past two years, many Bristol residents are not happy at all, but they are afraid to speak out. Many are afraid to vote (as unbelievable as that sounds in this place we call America). Many business owners feel ignored and fear retaliation which may cause their businesses to suffer if they don't "go with the flow" here. Many feel beaten down and have become apathetic feeling powerless to make things better. Many residents feel like "outsiders" no matter how long they have lived here.
We want leaders who embrace, include and represent everyone, even when they have differing viewpoints. We cannot evolve without open honest respectful discussions. We certainly don't need leaders disparaging honest hard-working educated residents who bring concerns to the Select Board by labeling their ideas as "crazy" or "imagining things."
Comparing Weare, N.H.'s budget to Bristol budget is not crazy. It is enlightening. Weare is a lake community with a state beach, like Bristol, but they seem to get three times the bang for their taxpayer buck. The Town of Weare has 66 employees while Bristol employs 32 full-time and 53 part-time (85) and growing. Weare has only 1 percent of its population living below the poverty level compared to Bristol's 7.8 percent, so surely we could learn something by researching Weare's government style in more depth.
If you don't like comparing Bristol to Weare, how about our neighbor Holderness whose budget is only about $3 million and enjoys a low tax rate of $13.50 also with 1.7 percent living below poverty level. Both Holderness and Weare enjoy significantly higher family median incomes than Bristol as well. Just go to http://www.nhes.nh.gov/ and you can compare Bristol to any town in New Hampshire and decide for yourself.
We need open-minded trustworthy prudent representatives who treat everyone and their ideas with the utmost respect and concern, and that is why I am endorsing Paul Manganiello and Andy O'Hara for Bristol Select Board and hope that you will too.