To The Daily Sun,
An open letter to the citizens of Belknap County:
We are very concerned about the budgetary process that has been directed by Rep. Worsman and staunchly followed by a majority of the Belknap County Delegation. The majority of this biennium's delegation is acting without regard to your need for county services or fiscal responsibility.
As a reminder, these services include the Nursing Home, Department of Corrections, County Attorney, Sheriff's Department, and Registry of Deeds. There are other services provided by the county as well. In order to coordinate these services and to manage the $60 million that flows through the county each year and over 260 employees, we employ finance, human resources, administrative, and facility professionals.
You have elected the commissioners to manage this organization, to provide stewardship over county assets and infrastructure, and to do this in the most efficient and effective means possible. We are constantly mindful of the tax burden on county citizens. We meet with your town and city officials regularly to keep them updated and informed about county business and to explore new ways of working together to make your tax dollars go further. We welcome and encourage your participation at all of our meetings. (Check www.belknapcounty.org for dates and times.)
There has been a lot of bad information carelessly stated and left unchallenged. We have relentlessly followed a strategically managed plan for consolidating and optimizing the provision of county services, maintaining the facilities, and reducing the tax burden. This has been successful and beneficial.
The current delegation (These are the members of the N.H. House of Representatives from Belknap County. You elected them to represent your interests in the state political process.) under the guidance of Rep. Worsman, seeks to undermine all of the thoughtful work that has been put in place and to blindly and arbitrarily cut taxes. The fact is that the county is spending no more than was spent in 2008 to operate and provide quality services. The commissioners have accomplished this by careful dialogue with professional managers — year round, on a bi-weekly basis.
If the commissioners' recommended budget were adopted the average county tax rate would go up by 5 cents. That means that if your home is assessed for $300,000 you will pay an additional $16 in taxes. This is not desirable, but necessary if we are to continue providing the same level of services.
The county has contractual obligations that must be paid. We have identified these and the associated costs, only to have Representative Worsman "thank us for our input." Your representatives are acting without any regard for legal ramifications, which will only result in you having to spend more money on legal defense and ultimately paying the original cost plus fines. Rep. Worsman refuses to be held accountable for any of consequences that she has had to listen to. In fact, trying to speak at her meetings has proven quite difficult. The convention has adopted no rules of order, and therefore they often appear to be crafted and/or changed as Rep. Worsman deems necessary.
We encourage you to attend one (or more) of these meetings to see the representation you are getting. There are serious and financial implications to managing the county. The delegation's primary job at the county is to provide a reasonable and responsible level of funding. Considering their lack of participation in county affairs, you would think they'd be interested in hearing from the people responsible for the outcomes, and perhaps those of you who pay the bills.
Belknap County Commissioners
John H. Thomas, Chairman
Edward D. Philpot Jr., Vice Chairman
Stephen H. Nedeau, Clerk
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 11:34
To The Daily Sun,
You may have been hearing about a Community Rights Based Ordinance — or RBO — being pursued by a number of Newfound towns on their March 2014 ballot. So, what is an RBO? To put it in a nutshell, it is a local Bill of Rights; a binding law, enforceable by the selectmen, and residents.
First and foremost, you have to understand this is not Land Use Zoning, which is regulatory law. A Rights Based Ordinance is based on rights — not "regulating" anything. Rather it establishes our right to preserve the rural character of our town, determine the kinds of energy projects town residents want — not what the state mandates — access to clean, unpolluted water, protect our ecosystems and advocating for nature's right to exist. It established our right to govern by consent -- elevating our rights above "claimed" corporate rights — which allows us to say "no" to industrial wind turbines on our ridgelines.
Citizens of Alexandria Rights Effort
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 11:33
To The Daily Sun,
Gilmanton is a small town with a small Fire Department. We need a fire chief who is multi-tasked, a respected manager, a morale builder, and is able to follow directions and have intelligent discussions with his supervisors, the Gilmanton Selectmen.
Because most of our town departments are small it is cost-effective to have the manager multi-task. Our road agent operates equipment and works along with his crew. Our police chief is on call and carries out multiple duties within his department. Our town clerk, along with her other duties, waits on customers.
Our fire chief at this time has two full-timers and six or seven part-timers and he doesn't want to do any firefighter's duties. He wants to sit at the desk and be the administrator. This is not cost effective.
The selectmen gave the chief a directive to work on-call for two 12-hour shifts a week and do administrative tasks for 16 hours a week. He has refused to comply and claims that the selectmen are micro-managing him. He met with the selectmen on Jan. 29 and struck an agreement about hours and staffing. He shook hands with the selectmen and said it's a deal. The very next day he reneged on his deal.
My thinking is that if a man has credibility and integrity, his handshake is as good as a signed contract. He said that when he was called to the selectmen's office for the meeting he had no warning and felt that he was cornered and somewhat blindsided.
It seems that our fire chief only feels comfortable at selectmen's meetings when his mom and dad, neighbors and friends are there to support and direct him. These are the same people who initiated Warrant Article 30, which has no authority whatsoever over the selectmen's decisions.
Fire Department activity has changed very little over the last 10 years, but the budget has more than doubled: Calls in 2003, 395; calls in 2013, 434; budget for 2003, $259,811; budget for 2014, $586,034.
The new work schedule for the fire chief is scheduled to start on March 1. I hope that he cooperates and that he also starts working with the selectmen to make his department more cost-effective.
Please vote no for Article 30 on March 11. Show your Selectman that you support them and appreciate their cost-cutting efforts.
Gilmanton Iron Works
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 11:30
To The Daily Sun,
Congressman Henry Waxman of California is stepping down from Congress after 40 years. That is 20 terms. I wish John McCain and Mitch McConnell would step down. They too, have been there far too long.
Here in New Hampshire it is time to see "how things are done" with a new face from another part of the state to be the next District 1 Executive Councilor. In a recent Letter to the Editor, George Maloof said, "Since they don't make Republicans the way they used to." What does he mean? I bet he likes Republicans who want to pass as "moderates."
If I were a candidate for this seat in District 1, I would apologize for some of the councilors and their poor choices for commissioners and department heads in the last 10 years or more. Someone in government should have gone to jail for the part the council and others played in the FRM scandal where some folks covered their eyes to what happened to the trusting people who gave money to FRM believing they were "regulated."
I was a Republican in 1974 when I ran for the Statehouse and I am sure that Ray Burton had already served one term before that time. Whereas, I have very little faith in the Republican "Party" in New Hampshire and nationally, I find that statement intriguing. Is Mr. Maloof suggesting that the Republicans should vote for a Democrat because he is from the North Country? I suggest that perhaps folks in central and eastern New Hampshire might like to have someone who will also include them as part of his constituency, and I am one of them.
Mr. Maloof, I await your answer.
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 11:26
To The Daily Sun,
There are some in the own of Bristol who would have you believe that the Selectboard is spending money on frivolous things and just want to raise your taxes on whatever whim we are feeling at the moment. They take every opportunity to take a matter of policy or procedure a personal issue and attempt to show the town in a negative light. Bristol has a lot to offer and every attempt should be made to spotlight the positive issues as well.
There are those who will tell you that we don't need to spend as much as we do for police, fire and highway for a town of 3,000 residents. The biggest question that leads to is when was the last time there were only 3,000 people in town? Best guess estimates for even a winter weekend is 5,000 to 6,000 and how many during the summer weeks and weekends? Twelve thousand?
A few vocal resident have made clear their desire to cut the police budget in half, to contract out ambulance service and to return to a volunteer, on-call fire department. They believe we do not need to invest in capital equipment like fire engines and cruisers and would like to sub a good portion of our police coverage to the state and county. Do we really want to wait for a cruiser to come from Woodsville?
Make no mistake, I want to find efficiencies and savings in these budgets and have made efforts to do that as a budget committee member and selectman. I don't wish to pay anymore taxes than needed. However, I think it is the height of irresponsibility to think we can slash these public safety budgets and keep residents and visitors safe and sound.
Please remember to vote March 11 and to come to town meeting on the 15. Hope to see you all.
Shaun Lagueux, Selectman
Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 11:07