To The Daily Sun,
The voters in Alton who are likely to go to the polls on March 11 should be aware of three articles that will be on the paper ballot for them to fill in the oval for either "yes" or "no." To me the three are totally irrational and should receive a "no" vote.
Articles 42, 43, and 44 were placed on the ballot by a petition gotten together by a cadre of ultra-conservatives who reside in Alton and have every right to have their propositions on the ballot for more than 4,000 registered voters to agree with them — or not.
Article 42, if approved, would have the Town of Alton "not pay the estimated membership fees of $7,000 to be a member of the Lakes Region Planning Commission" (LRPC). My understanding of this is that the ultra-conservatives believe the LRPC to be a foil of the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency, and is imposing federal mandates on local communities all the way down to towns in New Hampshire.
Admittedly I have not spoken to every member of Alton's Planning Board. Those I have checked with are of the view that Alton's annual dues to LRPC make it all the more possible for Alton to manage its own destiny. LRPC supplies regional data and analysis which equip our local planning board to blend LRPC's big picture information with what the board has on the table for Alton. Thusly, Alton comes out ahead of the game.
Article 43 would eliminate the position of Town Planner and Article 44 would do away with the Tax Assessor.
How crazy is this? Sure, the ultra-conservatives are of the conviction that smaller government is better. A lot of people are of that conviction, and in some case-by-case applications it may be true.
But not in Alton.
Study the warrants: Doing away with the Town Planner would eliminate "$64,040 per year plus benefits" from Alton's payroll. With the job still needing to be done, however, will call for something on the order of $120,120 to retain a consultant to do what our everyday employee does while knowing the community so much better than an outsider could ever hope.
Similarly, Article 44 would discharge the Town Assessor, who has a salary of $68,599, plus benefits. Who, then, will be doing the assessing? Certainly even the petitioners are not going to be happy with drawing a number out of a hat as to what their property tax is going to be. To farm the job out, the warrant article -- as amended at the Town Deliberative session — estimates that it will cost at least $95,000 a year to out-source the assessing of Alton's real estate.
The Alton voter going into the booth on March 11 should be questioning whether she or he wants to pay more taxes to implement a philosophy of downsizing government?
Costing more to get less.