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Urge your rep to support important work of Conservation District

To The Daily Sun,

As a long-time farmer in the county (now retired), I am writing this letter to send a valentine to the Belknap County Conservation District (BCCD) and those that support this worthwhile organization.

On Feb. 14, BCCD will celebrate 70 years of serving the people who live and work here. BCCD assists landowners, businesses, and municipalities in accomplishing their goals of providing needed fresh produce and fruit to the county's hungry, preventing soil erosion that could pollute our local waters, obtaining and leveraging funding from federal, state, local, and non-public sources for natural resource based projects, and providing environmental learning activities to children and adults of all ages.

Sadly, on the eve of BCCD's 70th anniversary the Belknap County Delegation is looking to cut the legs out from under this worthwhile county service. BCCD does receive taxpayer funding from the county to assist it in providing services. In 2015, the taxpayer contribution equaled only 66 cents on every $100 of your county tax bill. While BCCD's proposed budget for 2016 showed no increase in requested funding ($92,400), despite a 5 percent cut in funding in 2015, the delegation is proposing to cut the Conservation District's budget in half. This will leave the agency with only a part-time employee and a small office in the county courthouse. It eliminates the Conservation District's ability to hire local natural resource consultants it needs to help provide assistance to the public and gather field data to support grant funding requests. It also severely limits staff time to administer funding and volunteer efforts for the local food donation program, NH Gleans-Belknap County; curtails the Conservation District's ability to partner and support other organizations in their work; and greatly impacts BCCD's leveraging power to bring funds into the county from public (Federal and State) and non-public funding (businesses and/or private foundations) resources in the form of grants.

Currently, for every dollar Belknap County spends on BCCD, BCCD is able to generate $2 to $3 in services and products to disburse throughout the county. This will be in jeopardy should BCCD's budget be cut.

Here are some BCCD plans for 2016:

— To help Gilford control erosion on Gunstock Brook.

— To work with farmers and home gardeners in the county to feed the hungry by harvesting their produce and fruit and delivering it to local food pantries.

— To assist Laconia in promoting homeowner-initiated landscaping to lessen soil erosion and improve water quality in its urban streams.

— To assist the Lakes Region Food Network in strengthening the connections between local growers and local consumers (we all eat!).

— To assist Meredith in developing an ecology-based public attraction.

— To partner with multiple organizations and agencies, like the UNH Cooperative Extension, to further natural resource projects benefiting Belknap County.

I urge you to contact the Belknap County delegate who serves your community by Feb. 14 and voice your support for this worthwhile service. For a list of county delegates and more information on the work of BCCD please visit website www.belknapccd.org

Robert Harrington
Laconia

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Let me explain the 2 warrant articles dealing with the Gale School

To The Daily Sun,

Some taxpayers in Belmont may be confused about about the warrant articles submitted by the Save Our Gale School Committee. There are a number of flyers circulating, so we are going to make an effort to lessen the confusion.

Warrant Article 8 asks taxpayers for $122,878; the breakdown shows the total cost of the project, donations received, and what work will be done. This warrant article also moves the Gale School to the Concord Street location on a separate piece of land owned by the school district. (Whereas, the school district does not want anything to do with the building, this is the best option to ensure longevity, and allows the building to be sold off should the fate of the Gale come into question ever, or it could be leased by the district for additional revenue). This will make the Gale ineligible for the state/national historic registers. Grant monies and donations will be utilized to complete the inside of the building.

Being that the location of the building currently is causing an issue with private restoration efforts, without being moved it doesn't have a chance as the school district has no use for the building and does not want it. The tax rate impact for Belmont would be 15 cents per $1,000 on the tax bill and 11 cents per $1,000 for Canterbury taxpayers.

Warrant Article 9 asks taxpayers for $77,979. Again the breakdown shows the total cost of the project, donations received, and what work will be done. This warrant article keeps the Gale School in its current location. It is anticipated that it will cost less than the projected amount, and some funds could be refunded back to taxpayers. In this warrant article, the building use would be used for district purposes only due to the location, but it will be eligible for the state/national historic registers. Grant monies and donations will be utilized to complete the inside of the building. The Gale School could still at any future point be not wanted by the district, and future warrant articles could be brought forth to raze the building once again. The tax rate impact for Belmont would be 8 cents per $1,000 and 6 cents per $1,000 for Canterbury taxpayers.

The difference between the two warrant articles is $44,899. To demolish (Warrant Article 10) the building it will cost the district $70,000 to remove, $35,000 to build a storage facility to house everything in the building for a total cost of $105,000 taxpayers would be asked to fund $70,000. For more information visit www.belmontnh.net/GaleEducation.html

Diane Marden
Belmont

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