To The Daily Sun,
I would like to thank Loring Carr, for giving me the opportunity to prove to the voters of District 8 that, I am a true conservative.
In Carr's Oct. 20 letter to the editor, Mr. Carr failed to mention the fact that the Cemetery Trustees were trying to conserve what was left of the cemetery expendable trust fund. The trust fund had been used to offset the cost of maintaining and operating Alton's numerous municipal cemeteries. For 20 years the taxpayers of Alton, never funded the cemetery operating budget through taxation and the trust fund was nearly depleted.
Yes, the cemetery budget increased due to the selectmen-approved COLAs and employee benefits. All these costs were listed in cemetery budget line items so the taxpayers could review the trustees total budget. Under the selectmen's budget, the full-time sexton was removed from the cemetery budget. However, the selectmen appointed other town employees to do the sexton jobs. The selectmen ordered the Highway Department to dig graves, Parks & Rec staff for maintenance and mowing, and the Finance Office for taking minutes and providing clerical work. Plus five to 10 hours a week we trustees had to be there to lay out graves and meet with funeral directors, duties normally performed by the sexton.
The other town departments had to use their budgets to finance the work of the cemetery and there was no way for the taxpayers to know the real cost of the cemetery operations. In my estimation, there was more money spent than the trustee's proposed budget. But, with so many cost items not being accounted for, who knows? The bottom line is the three trustees, with myself included, through our conservative actions, saved the trust fund from collapse.
And FYI, I find it interesting that in the 2015 Alton Cemetery budget proposed by you, Mr. Carr, and the other selectman, I see a line item for the return of a full-time cemetery sexton.
Raymond Howard, Jr.
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