To The Daily Sun,
Maintaining the quality of life and fair sharing of cost in our community structure is a very delicate and complicated process. Our Town Planner and Assessing departments in the town of Alton have become very proficient entities in the last six years, through the efforts of our present department heads. The effort to achieve a fair tax sharing structure for all Alton residents and helpful service for all who seek to build or improve their property within the present laws and ordinances of town and state that is valuable to us all. Having and experienced Town Planner on staff enables the average citizen to get the help necessary in developing their planned project legally and with respect for neighbors and the environment we cherish in Alton, without needing to hire expensive consultants and legal counsel. At the same time the Town Planner enables the volunteer Planning Board to be a strong and effective force when dealing with those who might seek to push through projects that would hurt the lifestyle and environmental quality of life that we enjoy here in Alton.
The assessor's office has achieved a high reputation for fair assessing both locally and statewide in creating a fair sharing of the tax burden approved by the voters. In recent years our assessor has received high marks for his professionalism and accuracy from the state inspection office.
If Alton remains competent department heads, we will both save the tax dollars by avoiding legal costs while creating a stable and fair local structure, which we can all be proud of. Let's not turn something that works well for us into a broken, ineffective system that fosters conflict and costs us more money. The best way to limit intrusion of state and Federal interference in our local and personal affairs is to retain quality local government staff. Effective local small government trumps unwanted outside control.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:16
To The Daily Sun,
By proposing the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance for Workforce Housing the Alton Zoning Amendment Committee and the Planning Board are trying to protect the town. They are proposing regulations for workforce housing that a developer would need to meet if he/she would propose such a project.
Protections and safeguards would be provided in the following ways for the town by adopting the ordinance:
1. The burden of proof that Alton is not providing its fair share of workforce housing in the county is placed on the developer when an application is made for workforce housing. The developer will need to document the need for additional workforce housing units in Alton. This burden of proof for the developer would not be required if there is no ordinance.
2. Any developer making application for a workforce housing project will need to demonstrate that Alton's land use regulations make it impossible to create new units that are affordable to working families. This would not be required in the absence of an ordinance.
3. The ordinance would control where and how workforce housing would occur in Alton. In the absence of such an ordinance, developers would determine where and how workforce housing would occur in town.
4. Workforce housing in the ordinance is limited to the Rural and Residential Rural Zones. Without the ordinance, a developer could propose a workforce housing project anywhere and in any zone in town.
5. The developer proposing a workforce housing project will need to submit information detailing costs and revenues associated with the project to justify any relief requested from Alton's Zoning Ordinance.
6. Under the ordinance, projects are limited to a minimum of 20 percent and a maximum of 50 percent of the units being reserved as workforce housing. Without an ordinance there are no limitations.
7. The developer of workforce housing, under the ordinance, must make a binding commitment that the workforce housing units will remain affordable. Without an ordinance there is no such obligation to make such a commitment.
With the current market, reasonable opportunities for workforce housing may currently exist with the existing housing stock in Alton. However, as the real estate market rebounds and prices escalate, the disparity is likely to increase between household incomes and affordable housing prices. This is likely to lead to a time in the future when the existing housing stock in Alton no longer provides reasonable opportunities for workforce housing.
The Alton Zoning Amendment Committee and the Planning Board are trying to be proactive and plan for the need to address the workforce housing issue when development pressures are slow and they have the time to apply themselves to addressing the issue. If development booms again, they will not have the time to tackle the issue. If the town has not adopted an ordinance establishing regulations for workforce housing in advance, it will be too late once a developer submits an application for workforce housing. The town will be left without he protections and safeguards noted above.
Alton Town Planner
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:13
To The Daily Sun,
A library is one of the cornerstones of a healthy community, together with schools and churches. Those in the Gilmanton community that are familiar with the resources and programs that the Year-Round Library provides are more than likely to say that our library is important. It reflects the diversity, character and the needs of our wonderful town, while at the same time building community and supporting local culture in exciting ways.
Most know where the library is located, but unfortunately, some have formed negative attitudes toward the library based on rumor and "he said, she said" conversations. Because of these ongoing misunderstandings, these individuals are unfamiliar with all the services the library offers. The people I've talked to, representing both sides of the Year-Round Library issue, who have visited and may have used the library, say they have had a positive experience and observed that it was "a welcoming, friendly place," a "nice, pleasant space to be." People will often times go to the library looking mainly for information, but they will find each other there.
Although the Year-Round Library collects a percentage of its operating revenue from fund-raising activities, private sources, and grants, these revenue streams can never fully support the many functions the library performs. I would ask the Budget Committee, selectmen, and most importantly the voters of Gilmanton, to please make a commitment to our library and to the many services it provides for all.
Our Year-Round Library communicates to the public our underlying values: That strong community connections, information, education, and shared community space matter.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:00
To The Daily Sun,
The Town of Gilmanton operates on a budget that is approved by the voters. When a department budget comes in for less than what was budgeted, the monies go to the undesignated fund balance. In previous years the undesignated fund balance has been used to keep taxes level. Here is the point: saving $34,000 in the Fire Department budget is significant.
When you look at the county budget, the majority of the increases are related to salaries and benefits. The hard facts are that the Affordable Care Act has not decreased expenditures on health insurance. What we are looking to do in Gilmanton is place two part-time firefighters in the shifts and reduce the budget by $34,000 in benefits. This is happening nationally. There is nothing mean about this. It is a opportunity for savings. On Jan. 29 the chief agreed. Look at the minutes of Jan. 29, available on-line or at the Academy.
Warrant Article 30 has been amended to tell you, the taxpayer, how many full-timers you need to pay for. Vote "no" on Article 30.
Selectman Don Guarino
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:56
To The Daily Sun,
In the important election on March 11, I will be voting for Joe Kenney for executive councilor. You should vote for Joe, too. As he demonstrated when serving as a selectman, representative and state senator, Joe Kenney's priority is what is best for the people of New Hampshire, not what's good for the special interests.
Part of the executive councilor's job is to oversee spending on contracts over $10,000. Joe's habit and commitment is to ensure that the taxpayers get the best value for the money that government takes and spends. Joe's focus is whether a project is really needed and, if so, to ensure it is done most efficiently.
If you think taxpayer money should be used to benefit special interest groups or friends, then Joe is not your guy. Joe thinks it is more important to reject unnecessary projects than to bring them in "under budget."
Part of the executive councilor's job is to help citizens with problems with government. Because of Joe's experience in the New Hampshire Legislature, Joe knows the contacts and the levers to pull to make sure that government is responsive and treats citizens fairly.
Joe is a strong advocate for the New Hampshire Advantage which enhances the quality of our lives and entices people and businesses to bring their wealth, spending, and new jobs to New Hampshire. Joe's life demonstrates a commitment to low taxes, maximum freedoms and opportunities, and commitment to our beautiful state and its people.
Joe opposes wind turbines (which increase electricity prices and only exist because of taxpayer provided subsidies) and the Northern Pass. If you want enormous towers running through our state and windmills on top of our mountains, then you should support Joe's opponent.
Another function of the executive councilors is to appoint and confirm court justices and department commissioners.
It is the Legislature's responsibility to write our laws. Joe will only support judges who understand their responsibility to enforce the laws consistent with the Constitution, not to change laws to conform to the judge's wishes. Joe will fight for commissioners who are committed to providing services as efficiently and effectively as possible.
If you want good government that provides needed services at the lowest possible cost, if you want maximum freedoms and opportunities, if you want to protect the beauty of our state, if you are interested in what is good for New Hampshire citizens as a whole rather than the special interests, then you will join me on March 11 and vote for Joe Kenney for executive councilor.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:53