To The Daily Sun,
I am writing in response to a letter published on Jan. 21, written by Lauren Cooper of Gilford.
Mrs. Cooper lays out a passionate case for Gilford taxpayers to fund Genesis Behavioral Health to the tune of $21,000. As a longtime Budget Committee member, past chairman and current vice chairman, I have the privilege of understanding the process and logic behind our actions at a much higher level than someone who has just attended their first meeting.
I will not argue the role that Genesis Behavioral Health plays in the mental health community.
Each year when these petitioned warrant articles by third party agencies seeking funding come before the Budget Committee there are two short speeches given: One by the selectman's representative explaining that the selectmen prefer not to take a position on these issues and would rather leave it to the voters. They always unanimously vote to not recommend, only because the law requires that the ballot contain their recommendation. And I always give explain my position for voting against these funding request.
Must, if not all, of these third-party agencies do good work and are reputable organizations worthy of our individual donations. I have two issues: 1. Are we paying for services rendered and which town official authorized those services? The town does not budget for these services. 2. Is this a charitable contribution? If it is charity then it cannot be a taxpayer liability as well. We have far too many residents who are struggling to pay their property taxes to levy forced charity on them as well. Charity cannot be by force.
Mrs. Cooper seems to be taking the position the taxpayers should pay for services rendered without authorization. Suppose, hypothetically, that the house next to Mrs. Coopers was terrible disrepair and desperately in need of paint and landscaping, so much so that the home had become an eyesore and was endangering the value of Mrs. Cooper's home. The owner of the property hires a contractor to spruce the property up. Mrs. Cooper is happy. A month later the contractor sends Mrs. Cooper the bill for his work because the homeowner couldn't afford to pay. Is Mrs. Cooper still so enthusiastic about paying for services that she didn't contract for? I doubt it! Mental health services should not a taxable liability for property taxpayers.
That has long been my position. However, do not worry Mrs. Cooper, the voters of Gilford have historically been very generous and these funding request are almost always approved and I don't suspect these year will be any different.
A few corrections: The meeting that you attended was actually a budget hearing; the event on Feb. 7 is not a "public budget session," it is actually the first session of Town Meeting, otherwise know a the Deliberative Session. This is the process in which every warrant article is explained and officially placed on the ballot. Voting on these warrant articles is on March 14.
Although Mrs. Cooper and I will not agree 100 percent on every issue I do thank her for getting involved. More taxpayers should get informed and be active in the workings of town government. Thank you Mrs. Cooper.
- Category: Letters
- Hits: 378