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Inter-Lakes proposal to retain unspent funds is a scary idea

To the editor,
A conundrum has arisen in the Inter-Lakes School District that I just can't figure out, no matter how many meetings I attend or questions I ask. In full disclosure, however, I admit that I'm not great with numbers and formulas.
The proposed budget, if everything is passed at the Annual District meeting on Wednesday, March 6, includes $138,609 for the Support Staff agreement, $562,761 of operating budget increases and $499,319 of operating revenue decreases, for a net assessment increase of $1,200,689. No, that's not even the conundrum — when has the school budget ever not included big increases, despite declining enrollment?
What has me most bothered right now is the page in the packet entitled, "WHAT DOES THIS BUDGET MEAN FOR MY TAX BILL?" Evidently, it is projected, that for every $250,000 of property value owned in Meredith, the school taxes will increase by $197.24. For the same property in Center Harbor, the tax bill will go down by $27.57 and folks in Sandwich will see a decrease of $124.95 for every $250,000 assessment.
In looking through the last 15 years of annual reports, I can't find a time when the residents of only one town paid for all of the increases — there have been various combinations of two towns paying up and one getting a decrease, but the burden has never been put on one town. You're welcome, Sandwich and Center Harbor! This begs the questions, "Why?" and "If there is a surplus returned to the towns at the end of the year, will it all go to Meredith?" I bet not.
Also, a big concern is Article 7 on the School District Warrant: "To see if the District will vote to authorize, indefinitely until rescinded, to retain year-end unassigned general funds ...at 2.5 percent of the current fiscal year's net assessment..." This means that if there is a surplus, this year more than $400,000, it can be put into a fund balance, collected indefinitely and used in the future to pay for emergencies or reduce the tax rate.
I think that is one scary idea. it would probably be fine if we were a one town district, because towns retain general funds all the time, but it could create a real unfair balance within a school cooperative, especially for the timing of future returned money to reduce a tax rate. The Inter-Lakes School District has Expendable Trust Funds already in place for emergencies, wish list encumbrances already come out of end of year surplus funds, and usually something left over has annually been given back to taxpayers. We don't need Article 7.
Please come to the meeting on March 6 at 7 p.m. in the I-LHS gym for information and voting, and also to welcome our new superintendent and say goodbye to long time board member Jack Carty!
Karen Sticht

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 02:03

Hits: 435

The President's plans are reasonable – tell Congress to act

To the editor,
It is time to support the President in his battles for social justice and his efforts to help the middle class. We need to contact our senators and representatives and call for a vote. The president needs our help!
We need an immigration policy that will get eleven million people paying taxes to the United States and get them contributing to our society. President Bush and President Obama agree on this issue. Let's get it passed!
It is time for sensible gun laws. There are several issues that need to be voted on as soon as possible. Congress is having an undeserved ten day vacation. We need to tell them we want a vote on the gun issues!
The president has a reasonable plan to get America back to work by increasing manufacturing jobs and repairing infrastructure. Tell Congress we want action!
Nine dollars is a reasonable minimum wage. It would put the income for a 40-hour week over the poverty line. It would encourage people to choose work rather than handouts. It would give people hope for a better life.
The president needs our help! Take the time to send the e-mails and make the calls to our senators and representatives. Perhaps you could talk to them in person at their local offices. Tell then we want votes on these issues. Remember the opposition may be very loud but there are more of us. We are the majority and we need to make our voices heard!
Paul Bonneville
Lochmere (Tilton)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 01:58

Hits: 265

Ashland BOS has imposed a gag order on the general public

To the editor,
The motion picture "Network" produced one of the most memorable lines we hear even today: "I am as mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore". This expressed my feelings when we learned the Ashland SB-2 meeting was not videotaped. There are many reasons a voter could not attend the meeting. Sickness, work or, even, indifference could stop voters from attending. It does not mean those who did not attend are not interested in watching their fellow citizens participate in the Democratic process. We again ask, why not? Why wasn't the meeting on PB Cam?
Is this yet another attempt by the chair of the Ashland Board of Selectmen to distance the voters from the machinations of that board? At the December 3rd BOS meeting, Madame Chair Jeanette Stewart, issued her infamous edict that the taxpaying public would no longer be allowed to verbally question any action of their elected officials. To skirt the law, all questions could be submitted in writing to the BOS and would be answered two weeks later at the next BOS meeting. An ineffective and inefficient remedy at best. At the December 3rd meeting, Madame Chair stated "she was following the advice of the town TA (town administrator), Paul Branscombe". We find this very difficult to believe that Mr. Branscombe, whose mother country gave the world the Magna Carta (a blue print for our own Declaration of Independence) and whose personal hero is Winston Churchill, would advocate such tyranny in his adopted country. If he did so advise the madam, Ashland would have been better served if the TA quoted Lord Acton: "power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely".
We would like to bring to the reader's attention the "progression of suppression" since Ms. Stewart became chair after the March, 2012 election. Soon after the election, she told the voters that no question about past activities would be allowed, "the Board is too busy with present matters". Shortly after, Madam Chair moved the BOS work sessions to a time (8:30 a.m. weekdays) and place (conference room at the Town Hall), not convenient for the general public. Then she announced, the public would not be permitted to speak at any work session. This "gag" order was then extended to all BOS meetings, as stated at the BOS meeting December 3rd. At the December 17th BOS meeting, during the signing of the manifest, two adult women were in a quiet conversation at the back of the library. Madam Chair stated "would you like to leave? If not, please don't say anything. From that moment, all citizens of Ashland can be "seen and not heard". The oppression was and is complete.
Abuse of power is not limited to Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, or Saddam Hussein. However, it can be yielded just as ruthlessly by a priest, police chief, and, yes by a "Madam Chair".
Ashland is now a town that has no voice in dealing with our problems or concerns. We are not a 'Banana Republic'. We are small town America. Things have to change!
We are asking all who read this letter for your help. We intend to contact our state representatives to help restore our Freedom of Speech in our town. We will ask them to submit an amendment to the Right-t- Know Law or, if necessary, an RSA that mandates all selectboard agendas to include public comments and concerns, so the tax payers can have a say in their government.
If any reader has suggestions or even further concerns to convey to our state Legislature, please use these pages of a free and unfettered press (letters to the editor) to print your concerns. We will pass them on. If you have a computer there is a wonderful blog called "Ashland Speaks" that is also free an unfettered which could also take your comments.
This is not liberal vs. conservative, blue vs. red, or Democrat vs. Republican. It is not even an Ashland issue. It is an American issue. It is a Freedom of Speech issue.
Thank you. We are a member of the silenced majority
Joe & Sandra Coleman

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 01:53

Hits: 369

Gilmanton has chance to establish an Agriculture Commission

To the editor,
Over the past few months a group of Gilmanton citizens have explored the benefits of establishing an Agricultural Commission in the town. The first task was to find out exactly what an agricultural commission is and why it would be a good idea for the Town of Gilmanton.
The legislature has authorized towns to establish Agricultural Commissions in RSA 674:44-e. If approved by the town at Town Meeting, the selectmen appoint members who then work to implement the purposes of the commission.
First of all, it is important to understand that Agricultural Commissions do not have any enforcement powers or regulatory authority. Their role is to advise other town boards and advocate for farming.
Agricultural Commissions serve as an information bridge between farm businesses and the non-farm public. For example, the Planning Board may draft an amendment to the town zoning ordinance regulating signs. The Agricultural Commission can advise the Planning Board of potential impacts on farm businesses, and recommend ways the ordinance could be written to assist farm businesses, such as allowing temporary signs for seasonal crops.
Contributions an Agricultural Commission can make to farming in the community include:
— Advise and work with other boards and commissions on issues facing farming in town;
— Conduct inventories of agricultural resources;
— Conduct inventories of historic farms and buildings;
— Educate the public on matters relating to farming and agriculture;
— Serve as a local voice, advocating for farmers, farm businesses and farm interests;
— Provide visibility for farming;
— Give farmers a place to go for help;
— Help resolve farm related problems or conflicts;
— Help protect farmland and other natural resources.
The warrant article authorizing the selectmen to appoint an Agricultural Commission is #39 on the March 12 ballot.
Carolyn Baldwin

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 01:42

Hits: 443

I thought I was an honest American – turns out I’m a ‘gun nut’

To the editor,
Until I read Mr. Ververka's letter to The Laconia Daily Sun on February 9, I had no idea that I was a "gun nut". For over 40 years, I have managed to have a job, go to work, pay my rent and bills and simply thought I was an honest, working American who went about living my own life in a peaceful and honest way. In short, exercising my constitutional right to pursue happiness. But now, I learn that because I own firearms and have a permit to carry one, I must be a "gun nut".
Since as he used the term "gun nut" no less than three times, in his letter, apparently referring to firearms owners in general, I can only assume he thinks that anyone who owns a gun must be a nut.
What I found most interesting was his disbelief that criminals will find a way to get guns regardless of what laws are passed. With just a few minutes spent searching the Internet, I was able to find numerous reports from sources such as The New York Times, PBS Frontline, ABC News, and others that all disagree with his claim that it was a "ridiculous assumption" to believe that criminals can get guns and, in fact, the aforementioned reports state that it is relatively easy for a criminal who wants a gun, to get a gun, (hint: criminals don't care about the laws, that's why they are criminals).
For future reference, a little research goes a long way before writing to the newspaper.
Michael G. Shanks

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 01:37

Hits: 332

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