To The Daily Sun,
I have contemplated as to whether to address this or not for a few weeks. I have decided that I could not sit idly by without having the residents of Alton have some additional knowledge before we vote for the budgets on March 11.
A delicate balance is required in knowing we have many issues in town we are facing without saddling a huge cost on the shoulders of the taxpayer. Ignoring or delaying these issues is a penny wise and a pound foolish.
In regards to the town budget, you will see the choice to pass the budget under Article 19, or to vote no and have the default budget implemented. Although we have hard-working town employees who do an excellent job at what they do, I would urge those registered to vote to vote "no" on Article 19.
A strong and clear message needs to be sent to our Board of Selectmen that we do not believe town employees should get a 1.8 percent cost-of-living increase, when our senior citizens who rely on Social Security are only getting 1.5 percent. They need to know that giving some employees a 1.8 percent cost-of-living increase, step increase, full coverage of their health benefits, and holiday pay (when they have the holiday off) is an increase that, year after year, escalates for those in the state retirement system, which we also pay the increases in.
We need to have them understand that when faced with a future of having to deal with the need to replace a 39-year-old fire truck and highway trucks, we cannot pay $36,000 for four police cruisers, which when the lease is over, these four police cruisers will have close to 100,000 miles on them at a total cost of $136,425.00. And during those four years of paying $36,000, what happens to the other five cruisers in the fleet whose mileage continues to grow?
During discussions at the budget sessions, town officials assured the Budget Committee that they would explain to the public thoroughly the switch from putting the cruisers on a separate warrant, into the operating budget. Week after week I read the local newspapers and saw nothing.
We need to tell them that in 2010, when the town voted that they wanted to decide whether the selectmen get a cost-of-living increase, we didn't mean to just put it in the budget, but to separate it out in a warrant article.
We need to say "no" to giving the Town Attorney a cost-of-living increase, that an agreed-upon retainer fee is it. He is not a town employee.
Balancing the budget and trying to even out the needs of the towns while keeping our taxes down is a blend of give and take. It is a moment when we need to look at the overall picture and make sure we are looking out for all the citizens in town. It's when we need to understand that we as citizens, although we may not use some of the facilities in town, need to support functions and operations in town that make us better as a whole. But at the same time not turn a blind eye to those issues which may adversely affect us in the future.
I hope you will join me in sending a clear message on March 11 by voting "no" on Article 19.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 10:19
To The Daily Sun,
The Year-Round Library is Gilmanton's only full-service library offering books, periodicals, CDs, DVDs, as well as programs for all age groups. Computers are also available. The library matters to our town because the it also functions as a community center providing free services and activities.
Without the library the town would be giving up many services that are free to patrons including:
— A free library, including Inter-Library Loans, which is open 29 hours per week.
— Three friendly and professional library staffers who offer personal attention.
— Public programs featuring topics such as local wildlife, some offered with grants from the NH Humanities Council.
— Story hours with accompanying activities for moms and children encouraging literacy.
— Free meeting space for a variety of groups such as Crafters, Energy Share, and Book Club.
— Activities, including Lego Club, Magic the Gathering, and teen nights.
— Movies for seniors as well as after-school movies for children.
— Artist-in-the-library receptions and exhibits.
— The opportunity to communicate with local authors via Skype.
— Free internet access, and free Ancestry.com access.
— Seasonal events such as Summer Fling and Christmas Cookie Contest featuring Santa.
— Monthly newsletter update and website www.gyrla.org with calendar of activities.
Without town funding the library will close immediately. Please support the Gilmanton Year-Round Library by voting "yes" on Article 28 on the town ballot on March 11. Voting is at the Academy Building from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Please keep our library open.
Gilmanton Year-Round Library
Board of Directors
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 10:14
To The Daily Sun,
Regarding Alton Warrant Articles 19, 43 and 44:
The Alton Selectmen majority approved an Operating Default Budget of $6,743,391 for the March 2014 ballot.
A "no" vote on Warrant Article 19 approves the Default Budget that is an increase of $286,035 over the $6,457,356 amount voters approved by ballot vote in 2013. The Default Budget includes $133,408 for Personnel Administration plus other "adjustments." A "yes" vote will approve an increase of $354,679 over 2013. Voters are not offered a choice to keep the operating budget amount the same as voters approved by ballot vote in 2013.
Warrant Article 43 shows the town planner 2012 salary of $64,040. The 2014 budgeted salary of the town planner is $67,886, with benefits of about $20,950, for a total amount of $88,836. Alton also has a full-time planning secretary at a salary including benefits of about $42,000 for a combined amount of $130,836.
The town planner assists the planning/zoning boards. In 2006, there were about 200 Alton site plan applications, subdivision applications and new lots formed. In 2013, they have substantially decreased to only about 17 in year 2013.
People who want to make changes to their property, such as starting a business or subdividing, are often required to hire professional surveyors, civil engineers and lawyers. As professionals, they independently read and interpret the town regulations in order to represent their customers appropriately and produce documents that comply with the legal and technical requirements for submission to town boards for review and approval.
A recent editorial shows that some people think the town planner should be involved in Alton's housing, recreation, and industrial development. Do we need more housing market controls that cause foreclosures? Alton already has a Recreation Department with a budget of more than $90,000.
How has the town planner influenced industrial development in Alton?
Many towns combine positions such as a planner/building inspector.
Warrant Article 44 shows the town assessor 2012 salary of $68,599. The 2014 budgeted salary of the town assessor is $72,720 with benefits of $37,000, for a total amount of $109,700. Alton also has a full-time assessing secretary at a salary including benefits of about $42,000 for a combined amount of $151,700.
Alton has a population of about 5,200 people and 5,800 parcels for taxation, of which 1,300 are waterfront properties on Lake Winnipesaukee.
The Town of Wakefield compares closely with Alton with a population of about 5,100 people and 5,700 parcels for taxation, of which 1710 are waterfront properties.
Wakefield's total budget for assessing is about $127,000 per year, which includes $52,000 per year for assessing contracting services with Rodney B. Wood & Assoc. Alton's total budget for assessing is $176,000, including benefits.
Wakefield employs an assessing technician with a salary of $60,400 including benefits, much less than the Alton assessor with a 2014 proposed salary and benefits of $109,700. Wakefield's assessing technician also serves as the assessing secretary.
Some Alton town officials like to compare Alton with Wolfeboro, Meredith and Gilford. But these towns have over 1,000 more people, with town budgets of $11 million to $24 million, two to four times the amount of Alton. These towns are very different from Alton and are not good comparisons.
Do you want to see Alton's spending increase toward Wolfeboro? Or would you like to take steps to reduce or at least maintain the amount of spending?
As so often done in politics, some are trying to convince you that these Alton petition Warrant Articles are a personal attack against government employees. Our conservative state representatives are facing the same tactics as they try to get labor costs of county employees under control. Too many government officials think their primary responsibility is to support and protect government employees instead of truly representing the people by managing government affairs prudently.
Voting "yes" on Alton Warrant Articles 43 and 44 will require the Alton selectmen to seek lower cost alternatives to carry out the functions of assisting the planning/zoning boards and assessing properties for tax purposes.
Selectman Robert Daniels
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 10:10
To The Daily Sun,
Reality check after this gas tax was just raised because they don't use it for the purpose for which it's intended in the first place.
So, vote for Joe Kenney or face the resulting consequences of continuing this insanity of the liberal agenda, period.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 10:05
To The Daily Sun,
Voter turnout is critical to the democratic process.
Locally, I hope that the voters who have thanked Gilmanton selectmen for managing the town well will see fit to support them by defeating Article 30.
David Strang represents a new voice for a Gilmanton School Board which has a long history of nepotism and poor management. Please cast your vote for Dave Strang for the School Board.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 10:03