To The Daily Sun,
The Alton Town Warrant has three ill-conceived petition articles that should be rejected by the voters.
Article 42 would have the town not pay the approximate $7,000 membership fee to the Lakes Region Planning Commission (LRPC).
Of the 30 towns in the LRPC area, many have a similar mix of lakeshore versus non lakeshore land use as does Alton. It makes sense for our Planning Board to have easy access to data from all of these towns and knowledge of what approaches they have taken to similar problems. Your elected board members are responsible for using, or not using, such input to best meet Alton's needs. Why circle the wagons and operate in a vacuum?
The LRPC also sponsors the annual Hazard Household Waste (HHW) collections for member towns. For Alton and Wolfeboro, LRPC originally helped organize our successful two town HHW facility. LRPC also inventories and does traffic counts on area roads and provides the local prioritized input to the State's 10-year transportation plan.
In 2001, as chair of the Alton Planning Board, I spoke at the Town Meeting in favor of joining the LRPC, which passed. I just can't see how withdrawing now would be good for the town.
Article 43 would eliminate the employment position of Town Planner, replacing such with contracted hiring. I personally experienced periods on the Alton Planning Board with contracted planner support. Some were good, some less so. All were expensive, and their stays in the position limited in duration. Most never got to know the town and their approach to applications was never consistent from one contracted planner to the next. This makes life difficult both for applicants and board members. The Planning Board members are your elected officials, we should leave it to them to determine how best to meet their needs.
Article 44 would eliminate the employment position of Town Assessor, also replacing such with contracted hiring. I was a member of the Alton Board of Selectmen in 2004 when Tom Sargent was hired as full-time Town Assessor. Prior to that a revolving door of contracted "assessing agents" continually came and went, and they were expensive. None stayed long enough to get to know the town. None was able to get ahead enough to deal with town-wide imbalances. This often resulted in sudden revaluation changes and the ensuing long lines of irate taxpayers. Tom has gotten to know the town well and has stabilized the process with small annual changes based on prior-year sales. He also introduced on-line tax cards in Alton which vastly cut the office administration load.
I personally worked with Tom for several years when I was an Alton selectman, and I can vouch for his knowledge and integrity. Paying more money to return to the revolving door of expensive contract hires would be insane.
All three of these petition articles are bad deals for Alton and should be voted down.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 11:28
To The Daily Sun,
The Alton Teachers' Association is a part of the community that values public schools and learning, despite the many obstacles to successful education. Some of these obstacles include a gridlocked political arena, perpetually constrained time, and the challenges of a global economy.
Another important challenge is the aging infrastructure of the Alton Central School campus. The Alton School Board has been relentless in its attempts to begin needed upgrades. The town needs to come together and support the renovation warrant article so we don't, for instance, have to send the students home again for fear of the roof collapsing due to some snow as we did a few years back. It is also disruptive (at best) to have to move classes around the building when sewage-type odors are released into the already-overcrowded building's atmosphere. These are but a few examples of the unpleasant – possibly dangerous – events over the last several years directly related to the aging physical plant.
Time and again, a majority of the voting citizenry has delayed fixing this problem. And in spite of it, the educators of SAU 72 have continued to work with professionalism and integrity. We ask voters to support the proposed renovation.
We also ask voters to approve the new, two-year agreement for teachers, as the current one expires in June. It is supported by both Alton's Budget Committee and School Board. It asserts positive and predictable working conditions while being fair to both Alton faculty and citizenry. The Alton Teachers' Association encourages all voters to participate on March 11. We ask for the community's support so we may surmount together the many obstacles to successful education.
Richard Brown, President
Alton Teachers' Association
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 11:24
To The Daily Sun,
An open letter to Gilmanton voters:
Please vote "yes" on Article 30 which protects our current level of Fire Department services. Public safety matters. This warrant article is needed to stop the attacks by the selectmen on our Fire Department. We encourage you to send a strong message to keep our current mix of full- and part-time Fire Department staffing and not eliminate one of our full-time positions.
Here is what has happened. One selectman thinks he can run our Fire Department better than the fire chief. He has been relentless in attacking our chief about department scheduling. There have been no complaints about the chief's performance or the Fire Department.
We are fortunate to have a well run department. Even the selectmen said we have a good fire chief and department. Why do they want to micromanage our Fire Department when they don't have the training to do so?
How do we know their latest position is not sincere but an attempt to micromanage? On Jan. 3, behind closed doors, they passed a policy directing the fire chief to stop using part-time staff on Sundays. They put their recommended budget to bed and did not recommend cutting a full-time position to two part-time positions. A warrant article was submitted by the voters to support current staffing. In reaction to the petitioned warrant article, the selectmen all of a sudden do not have a problem with "part-timers" filling even more shifts, since they are now proposing to eliminate one full-time position.
The voters in 2004 added a full-time position. Let's not turn back the clock a decade on our Fire Department services. This is not an increase in spending, but level-funding.
Please protect public safety by voting "yes" on Warrant Article 30.
Bill & Terri Donovan
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 11:22
To The Daily Sun,
An open letter to the voters of Tilton:
I would like the honor of representing you on the Town of Tilton Selectboard.
I have been a proud resident of the Town of Tilton for the last 40-plus years and a retiree.
I sit on the the Town of Tilton Budget Committee and Winnisquam Regional School District and SAU 59 Budget committees, and have done so for the last three-plus years.
I have strong managerial and supervisory experience. I am a strong fiscal conservative and a strong historian of the growth of the Town of Tilton. I am a supporter of local businesses and their growth.
I would like your vote on March 11.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 11:19
To The Daily Sun,
Please join me in electing James Barnes for selectman.
I have just moved to the area, but in the time that I have known James Barnes, I have found him to be a very smart and caring person. He cares deeply about how his town is run. I feel that he will make a great selectman, making the right decisions on the behalf of Gilmanton.
He is someone who will look after Gilmanton and make sure that the town's people and betterment of the community come first. I would feel comfortable allowing him to make choices as my voice in public affairs.
Join me in pledging your support for an honest and hardworking man who is right for the job, James Barnes.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 11:15