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Bristol needs to decide what direction it wants to take in terms of biz development

To The Daily Sun,

I am running for Bristol Selectboard for two very important issues and a number of other general reasons.
Bristol will be making decisions on a long overdue expansion and construction of facilities for the police department and town offices. I bring six years of experience on the Selectboard, which included involvement in several substantial town construction projects.

When I started on the Selectboard, the first major issue I confronted with was decisions leading to the demolition of the former Mica building. I do not take the seizure of property by government lightly so I was a strong voice in protecting the rights and safety of ALL of the property owners involved. The Central Street Bridge construction was nearing completion. I helped work out issues between the design firm and building contractor to bring this project to a close. On the Smith River Bridge construction, I took the lead to talk to NHDOT and the Town of Hill's Selectboard. As a result, the Smith River bridge project was fully funded by NHDOT and the town of Hill ran 100 percent of the finances through their books making the bridge construction truly a zero impact on Bristol's local tax rate. I was part of the Selectboard during the challenging and successful downtown rebuild. I also gave advice and input for the library addition and was part of the decision making process for its construction. I was the leading proponent on the board for financing the library addition for a short 10 year term to keep the debt limit on the town minimized. I feel that my engineering background and previous Selectboard experience will help the town act on the planning that has been done by the recent space needs committee. With the right decisions, a sensible, cost effective and much needed solution for Bristol's PD and town office building needs can be brought to the town for approval.

The second prominent issue facing the town of Bristol that I am greatly concerned about is the recent high rate of employee turnover. The training and learning period for new employees is expensive and has a negative impact on services. Bristol has very high quality employees in all its departments and good leadership at the top is required create a good work environment and to retain such valuable assets.

Another important issue for the town includes the proposed 2017 budget. As a member of the Budget Committee, I helped bring a budget and set of warrant article recommendations that, as estimated per state guidelines, will keep the amount of money required to be raised through taxation equal that required in 2016. Modifications will as always be made at Town Meeting; however, this year's budget will be very tight and will require close oversight by the Selectboard in 2017. Cash flow will need to be especially watched to avoid the town falling back into the wasteful cycle of requiring short term loans to operate the town. During my past terms on the Selectboard, the need for this borrowing was eliminated and I do not want to see the town return to the practice.
The tax rate is always a key issue. Keeping the tax rate low is more than just cutting spending. It comes from creating a culture within the departments of good budgeting, watchful spending, and constantly looking for new and efficient ways of doing your job. These are fundamental skills I have used throughout my engineering career on many multi-million dollar projects. Again, leadership starts at the top.
An even better way to keep the tax rate low is to increase the base valuation. Bristol needs to address the issue of attracting and retaining businesses in the town. Here I think my personal and previous Selectboard experience along with my educational background is a valuable tool and asset for the community. Foresight and planning is an essential part of a good Selectboard. I would like to see the Selectboard take the input of the residents of the town along
with that of the town's businesses, boards and committees to develop a business plan. Bristol, as a town, needs to decide what direction it would like to follow in terms of business development and then execute the steps to take it in that direction.
I hope you, my fellow citizens, see value in these ideas and feel I am worthy of your vote.

Don Milbrand


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Government aid for college has driven the cost through the roof

To The Daily Sun,

If you're outraged about what a college education costs you will want to read this.
Since 1980 the cost of a college education has risen faster than inflation and far faster than family incomes. "Free college" as suggested by Bernie and Hillary is nothing but pure obfuscation and Band-Aid for the underlying problem.

From 1840 to 1978 inflation adjusted tuition rose at about 1 percent per year. The higher education act of 1965 initiated small grant programs, but it was Jimmy Carter in 1978 that exploded those programs. Since 1978 education costs have been rising at 3 percent per year. A better way to understand the impact of Carter's so-called "HELP". a college education today would cost half — that's right, half — of what it does if inflation had remained the same 1 percent it had for 138 years until Carter decided government would become a hero and he would get the votes for it.

Government aid programs to higher education are now 10 times the cost they were in 1970. Last year that tab was about $158 billion, all the while student debt has climbed to $1.3 trillion.

At more than 1,000 colleges and universities the majority of borrowers paid nothing back in the three years following graduation, while the number of student debtors over age 60 has quadrupled in just the last 120 months.

Research at the New York Federal Reserve suggests that in 2015 for every $1 of student aid 60 cents winds up as higher tuition fees. Student aid from government and states is seen as nothing but a slush fund to justify tuition hikes while the money lines the pockets of every one who works in higher education.

Let me break another inconvenient myth of student aid. More of it is needed to level the playing field to create more equality. That is pure baloney. The percentage of graduates from the bottom quartile has dropped. In 1970 it was over 12 percent. Today it is 10 percent from the bottom. That equates to more than a 16 percent decrease.

Worst of all, these aid programs have few performance standards, meaning there is little incentive to work hard after getting the money. As college enrollments have grown so have the number of graduates taking unskilled work as baristas, Uber drivers and retail clerks while the number to students failing to graduate and defaulting on debt is off the charts to record territory.

The federal governments entry in the student aid business has driven the cost of a college education to the moon. If you send a shopper off to buy a new car with bags bulging with gold coins strapped to their belt from government I guarantee the cost of cars will rise directly in proportion to the size of the bags. Neither will tuitions stop increasing until we stop strapping bags of gold coins to students. The coins have only increased their debt and that of taxpayers as well, while the average salary of a full tenured professor in America is $142,141.

It is no wonder educators never stop yelling for higher aid out of taxpayers hides. They are living high off the hog from it.

Tony Boutin

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