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Vast array of citizens support a budget committee for Shaker

To the editor,
On March 8th, 2013, the citizens of Belmont and Canterbury will be asked to vote on Article II, an article submitted by petition, to establish a budget committee for the Shaker Regional School District. The petition was supported by a vast array of community members including several current and former school board members and district employees.
Currently, the superintendent and business administrator compile a preliminary school budget which then goes to the board's finance committee. The building principals and other administrators present to the finance committee, articulating their respective needs. The finance committee is comprised of three board members, the superintendent and business administrator. This committee and those who go before it have devoted a lot of time and energy at producing a budget, a budget that reflects the needs of the district and not necessarily the wants.
The entire board then has the opportunity to deliberate the proposed budget and make the necessary adjustments so that a budget that balances the needs of the schools with the communities' ability to pay is put forth to the voters. It seems simple enough, but despite the efforts of the board, it can be confusing to those not intimately involved in the process.
With a budget approaching the twenty-one million ($21,000,000) mark, doubling the amount of people involved with its development could help to create a better understanding of what is involved in running a district. It would foster greater transparency and provide a level of checks and balances in the development process that may not be present now. I believe that a budget committee would complement the current budget process by providing valuable oversight, which in turn will erase the many misperceptions that exist and increase voter confidence that their money is being spent wisely.
Richy Bryant

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 00:24

Hits: 314

Petitioned warrant articles would keep Market Basket from building

To the editor,
A flyer has been mailed to residents of Plymouth urging voters to approve three petitioned warrant articles which would amend the zoning ordinance to prohibit development on the land across from the intersection of Highland St. and Tenney Mountain Highway. This effort has been ongoing for several years. It began when abutters objected to the siting of a Lowe's store on this parcel. After a lengthy hearing process and extensive studies, the Planning Board and Zoning Board each concluded that town ordinances permitted the proposed development and that it was consistent with the Master Plan. The planning and zoning boards were sued in the Superior Court which upheld the boards' decisions. This decision was appealed by the Batchelders to the N.H. Supreme Court, which upheld the Superior Court order in May, 2010. This final court order paved the way for the development to proceed, but Lowe's was no longer interested.
More recently, the Planning Board has approved two projects on this site which are underway. It is likely that further economic development on this parcel may occur in the near future, and Market Basket is very interested in building a store on this site. The individuals who fought the Lowe's project do not want this to happen, and are trying to change the rules in the middle of the game by amending the zoning ordinance. They make erroneous arguments in support of these articles.
One is that the town's future water supply will be put at risk. This is not true. The Plymouth Water and Sewer District has searched unsuccessfully for water in this area in the past, and is now looking elsewhere.
Another is that the flood hazard will be greater. This is not true either. State and federal laws require that the net effect of any development be flood neutral. The developer proposes to bring fill from the side of the site near the river to the area nearer the road, just as they are doing with the present sites. This proposed movement of fill, partially from the Environmentally Sensitive Zone, was the basic issue which led to the lengthy litigation, now resolved.
We also need to be aware of the unintended consequences of these articles. Though aimed at the McGinley land, these articles, if approved, will also severely limit the ability of anyone else on the north side of the highway to do anything with their land, as the articles seek to prohibit the movement of any earth within 500 feet of the river.
The land in question is a prime site in an excellent location. Market Basket is not interested in being anywhere else. They also want to be welcomed in the community, and are not interested in becoming embroiled in a legal battle. We have a choice with this vote to welcome a substantial new member to the community which will bring about 300 jobs to town. I believe it is time to put the issue concerning this land to rest by voting no on the three petitioned warrant articles. If you have any questions about this, feel free to call me.
Selectman Mike Conklin

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 00:16

Hits: 921

Now, there's no doubt in our minds, wind power is the way to go

To the editor,
Yes, there are things we don't like about wind power, but it seems to have a lot more going for it than any other heating methods. We had been on the fence about it until we read articles about it in the current issue of "Sierra", a magazine that concerns itself with what is good for the planet, and the people living on it. After reading the articles on wind power — and from what we know about alternate heating methods already — there is now no doubt in our minds that wind power is the way to go.
Bob & Brenda Akerman

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 00:12

Hits: 332

It appears this delegation is bent on taking complete control

To the editor,
At the recent Belknap County Convention, the representatives voted 11-6 to repeal the commissioners' budget recommendation and instead adopt its own budget, made up largely of payroll cuts. Personally I was not surprised by the outcome of the vote since the Republicans hold the majority and part of their ideology is to reduce government.
What bothered me most wasn't the vote. It was the reaction of a select few in attendance who applauded this vote. I'm not sure if these people knew what they were clapping about? I assumed they did. I don't believe the fact that people who are about to lose their job, wages, and benefits therefore is something to be applauding about, do you?
I also do not understand the reasoning behind these cuts from the convention? During previous convention meetings, many of the Republicans in attendance continue to say "if the people in Belknap County are struggling then so should county employees."
It has been said that "speculation is a poor form of politics." In case these individuals forgot the recession was five years ago and I'm not sure where they are getting their "struggling" facts from? It is well-known that personal income can be a good indicator of an economy expanding. According to the census.gov website over the past three years the median household income for Belknap County has increased from $60,734 to $62,436, yet people can't afford an average increase of $25 out of a $1,700. Another interesting fact from this site was the poverty level for the county increased from 9.3 to 10.4 percent. It's estimated that Belknap County has 60,288 residents (census.gov) so of those residents 6,250 live in poverty. Are these the struggling people the delegation is referencing? For some reason I doubt that. As I did not hear any of these legislators mention an increase in poverty, nor any attempts to combat it!
Instead it appears as if this delegation is bent on taking over complete control of the county, to the point of removing line item authority from the elected commissioners. Why? The whole point of having a convention and commissioners is to make sure our county government maintains accountability and transparency. Where is the accountability and transparency when one political party has taken over all the authority and predetermines what they are to do in private meetings behind closed doors? Theoretically they answer to no one! Sure one can say, "they have to answer to the voters" but do enough people really pay attention? I'd question that, as some of these elected officials appear to be out of their league and unqualified to represent the public.
Going forward I challenge the character, leadership and integrity of some members from this delegation, to write policy that benefits our entire county. So far I have not seen or heard of one piece of legislation that will make our county better. Instead we have seen a majority determined to take power and control, implement sequestration and austerity measures that are proven not to work. Look at Europe over the past five years. Many countries there implemented austerity measures and it sent them into a double-dip recession. If we are still in a recession, as many reps on the delegation believe we are austerity is not the answer!
I'll close with a quote from a friend I recently had in conversation, "There's an old but true saying; 'When you're in a ditch, don't keep digging."
Charles Smith

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 00:09

Hits: 341

Lou Kahn is outstanding example of vols who work for Meredith

To the editor,
Lou Kahn has contributed to the quality town that Meredith is today through his volunteer stewardship on the Planning Board and the Capital Improvement Committee and his generous contributions to conservation and recreation causes (a major conservation easement and a significant donation to Childs Park in memory of his late wife, Bobby Smyth).
He brings extensive knowledge of preservation and conservation efforts and is committed to maintaining the quality of life we all treasure. He is also experienced in analyzing complex issues and can sort through the difficult prioritization and allocation of resources, as he has as chairman of the CIP Committee.
He is an outstanding example of the many volunteers who work for our community and would be an excellent addition to the Meredith Selectboard.
Jack Carty

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 00:04

Hits: 344

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