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Don't give up opportunity to participate in traditional school meetings

To The Daily Sun,

Petitioners of SB-2, or official ballot voting, in Shaker Regional School District might want to think twice about this request.

Plymouth just passed its $13,744,619 budget with virtually no discussion and fewer that a dozen members of the public in attendance. This is the process that was once touted by a Plymouth resident as the greatest thing since sliced bread but has turned out to be an exercise in public ignorance. Members of our seven towns go to the ballot box knowing little or nothing about what's in this year's budget. All they know is the bottom line.

If they had been present in a traditional school meeting setting, they would have learned about the new wood boiler, the $375,000 grant from the NH PUC to help pay for its construction and other projects to increase energy efficiency. They would have had a chance to discuss changes in staffing and ask questions about new programs. Then they would have had the chance to modify, even increase the budget, based on the information gleaned from the give and take of a proper meeting.

You may get annoyed because the employees come to the town or school meeting to support their part of the budget but who's to say they won't do the same thing at a SB-2 meeting? Bring 30 of your friends and you can make dramatic changes by adding or deleting parts of the budget at SB-2 and you're stuck with a choice of an up or down vote in March.

So, I suggest you stick to the traditional process. Don't give up the opportunity to share and participate in the traditional form of school district meeting.

Fran Taylor

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We're supposed to vet these non-profits ourselves, so here goes

To The Daily Sun,

For the 4,100 registered voters in Alton, who were unable to attend the deliberative session on Wednesday night, Feb. 3, this voter wants to share some disturbing information learned that night.

During discussions on the requests for financial assistance from the many non-profits, I asked the selectmen and the Budget Committee if they reviewed the financial statements and/or operating budgets of the nonprofits, before the boards made their recommendations to the taxpayers. The answer was, no. It is up to the voters to figure out if these nonprofits are being good stewards of our tax dollars. So, what does that mean for those of us who look at the recommendation of these two boards on every warrant article? Are we being misled?

The task before us now is to vet these agencies our selves. As your representative, in my work as a Belknap County delegate, this is what I learned from my review of some of these nonprofits.

Art. 28 Community Action Program: This is five programs combined. Three are good programs: meals on wheels, senior companion, and rural transportation. I question if prenatal and family planning, which make referrals to other programs like Planned Parenthood (and we all know what they do), are worthy of our tax dollars.

Art. 33 New Beginnings: A nationwide program with no financial statements to review; it seems like a redundant program.

Art. 34 Genesis Behavioral Health: They gave six top staffers over $196,000 in raises in 2015 alone. Total salaries for the six employees is over $1 million, Genesis has more than $1.3 million invested in stocks and bonds. Gross revenues for 2015 is in excess of $17 million, and the lion's share of revenues is taxpayer funded. Remember, these numbers are just for Belknap County. Also, this just in from The Laconia Daily Sun on Feb. 6: Genesis to purchase privately owned portion of Laconia parking garage if, the city repairs it.

Art. 35 Caregivers of Southern Carroll County: this service is already supported through Community Action Program.

Art. 36 CASA: This program has $456,352 in stock market investments and gave its employees 8 percent pay raises in 2015, not to mention their non-professional volunteers give advice to the courts that affect families' lives.

Art. 37 Appalachian Mountain Teen project: Last year two privileged Alton youth participated in their program and this organization gives money to lobbying groups.

Art. 38 Child & Family Services: Here again, we support these services through the Community Action Program.

Art. 39 Life Ministries: This is a new request this year and all but one selectman voted not to recommend but, the reality is, it should not have been put on the ballot because it is a violation of our rights under the United States Constitution's Art. 1 and the New Hampshire Constitution Part First-Bill of Rights, Art. 5, referring to separation of church and state.

So please, even if you feel compelled to support all the other nonprofits, if this one passes at any amount, we may be faced with thousand or tens of thousands of dollars in lawsuits. Well, this is the information I was able to find to share with everyone and if you have information to share, you can do so, through the support of our great local papers. Sharing information will help us all make informed decisions.

Raymond Howard Jr.
State Representative, Belknap District 8


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