To The Daily Sun,
A penny here and a penny there...
"You've heard this one before I'm sure when someone is trying to sell a big project... Or purchase in town or the school district (or Carroll County for that matter): 'It's just a few cents increase on your tax rate.' The problem is that everything is just a few cents, but when you add it all up, cents quickly become dollars."
This was written by Paul Punturieri and published on his blog on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, before he became a selectman. He continues, "the moral of this story is that it's easy to justify that the burden to taxpayers for — insert, the latest big purchase, soccer field? gymnasium? new hire? — it's just a few dollars. How come though we never hear "If we don't spend the money, the taxpayers will save a few dollars?"
When Paul ran for selectman two years ago, I voted for him because I thought he was fiscally conservative. I expected that trait would remain true. However, I'm disappointed because now he's for the newly proposed gym/community center. If Article 2 passes at Town Meeting it will cost taxpayers $6.5 million and counting. After all, the cost is only 29 to 24 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation if we go for the 10-year bond or 21 to 16 cents for the 15-year bond — just pennies.
In 2011 the town retired the bond for the Life Safety Building at $483,000 annually. It was rolled back into the budget three years ago. In other words, that is what local government is counting on: raxpayers so accustomed to paying the extra tax increase they will continue to do so. Instead of reducing taxes, government, including local government, encourages taxpayers to take on and keep the level of debt. Always increases, never decreases.
This is the same logic that will be used to encourage taxpayers to "roll over" the school bond/debt, at this year's Town Meeting. Instead of retiring the 2018 school bond/debt, taxpayers are expected to approve $6.5 million for another facility and continue paying the same debt level.
Keep in mind, it's not just the $6.5 million that is of concern, but also the projected annual operating cost of $162,050. The yearly costs to staff and maintain the facility, in perpetuity, will not remain static, they will only continue to increase. This will raise the proposed recreation budget to $497,458, nearly a half a million dollars, for a Recreation Department.
Four of our selectmen are recommending this approach and will argue the proposed gym/community center will cost taxpayers nothing extra. Selectman Josh Bartlett is the only one of our five selectmen that is willing to stand with the taxpayers and voted not to recommend the proposed facility.
The UNH Feasibility Team Report 2015 says, "It is clear from the UNH report that the majority of respondents did not favor building a new facility. A vocal minority, however, did." This is the same vocal minority that attends Town Meeting year after year and votes for this kind of tax increase.
I have not seen accurate data, nor am I convinced that there is a need for another gym. Also, why wasn't consideration given to modernize and rehab the Lions' Club as a Community/Senior Center?
When is the last time retirees and those on fixed incomes got a raise? Well, here's your opportunity. Mark your calendars and plan to attend Town Meeting in the Moultonborough Academy auditorium on Saturday, March 12, at 9 a.m., and vote "No" on Warrant Article 2.
Give yourself, not local government, a raise.
- Category: Letters
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