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Chris Mega's wife is a teacher in our Inter-Lakes School District

To the editor,
Meredith's local elections are only a few days away and so far it has been a very quiet campaign season. This may lead some voters to think there are no real substantive races or issues on this year's ballot and therefore no compelling reason to vote on March 12th. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In the race for the seat representing Meredith on the Inter-Lakes School Board, there is a real choice. The 2013-2014 school budget and proportional sharing formula results in the people of Meredith now being responsible for 73.5 percent of the almost $20 million budget. Meredith property owners will see a $1.36 million increase in their school taxes for the 2013/2014 school-year. This magnitude of contribution requires a representative who can impartially evaluate the concerns of all constituents and fully participate in the Board's deliberations and actions. That person is Mark Billings.
Mark is a successful business executive, entrepreneur, conservationist and critical thinker who has a passion for our children's education. Mark has attended most, if not every, board meeting over the past few years and he is not afraid to express viewpoints on ways to maximize student achievement, analyze budgets and cost effective solutions, while seeking to balance sometimes competing interests. Mark will be a true independent reasonable voice for Meredith constituents.
Mark's opponent for the seat is Chris Mega. Chris also has an exceptional background and talent. However, it is my opinion that there is a significant impediment to Chris' candidacy. Chris' wife is a teacher in our school district. Chris points out that if he were elected, he would recuse himself from any School Board decisions where there is a real or perceived conflict of interest. That sounds good in theory, but I submit that the very nature of a close and loving spousal relationship creates an inherent bias and viewpoint. Meredith's representative cannot have a perceived appearance of partiality.
One must also consider that more than three-quarters of the school district operating budget consists of salaries and benefits paid to school employees. How often will Mr. Mega have to ponder whether he has a real or perceived conflict of interest? Meredith deserves full time representation on the Inter-Lakes School Board, and Mark Billings is the person to fulfill that role and responsibility.
Richard R. Gerken

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 March 2013 01:45

Hits: 611

Convince more people to recycle & forget about buying prison site

To the editor,
It is interesting to note that the two members of the Laconia City Council who strongly favor PAYT over stronger policies for recycling don't seem to be interested in helping low income people or retired people. Both of these men have jobs which make them middle class taxpayers who can well afford to purchase the PAYT bags.
These are the same council members who want the city to spend $2 million to purchase the former state prison site even though there is no guarantee the city will receive federal funds to rid the site of the contamination which exist there. From talks I have had with council members if the federal funds are received, and the site cleaned up, the council will then sell the land it doesn't want to keep. Why should city taxpayers be in the business or buying and selling land?
The other added burden is that the state will have to find a new location for the sexual offenders housed in the facility on Green Street across from the ball field. That is another burden for taxpayers.
What the council should do is convince more people to recycle and forget about buying that state prison site.
Gordon D. King

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 March 2013 01:42

Hits: 416

Meredith, please support the most qualified, Billings & Kahn

To the editor,
I support Mark Billings for the I-L school board. Mark does not have any conflict of interest and his volunteerism to many town committees has shown his real interest in helping the community be a better place to live and work.
His opponent Chris Mega is married to a district teacher.
One of Mr. Mega's main concerns is the Ed Tax Credit. He maintains that it has an adverse fiscal impact on public schools. After reading a letter from Gregory Hiller of Northfield in The Sun on March 7, the letter showed how the bill contains a fiscal safety net for the school districts if too many students leave one district. One of Mr. Mega's main concerns was losing so much money on each pupil that leaves less money for the district. Did you also know that one of our present school board members has two children in a private school?
As a retired custodian at the elementary school I would like you to know I think the world of all of the teachers and aides that I had the privilege to work with. To me this issue isn't about teachers.
Mr. Kahn has given back to Meredith with his public service on the Planning Board, chairman of the Capital Improvement Planning Committee, Trustee of the Trust Funds and town moderator. I was truly surprised that a supporter of Jane Greemore berated the gift of Childs Park in Meredith Center and the reason was questionable and self serving. What a slap in the face.
After attending a meet the candidates night at the community center I couldn't understand why Mrs. Greemore couldn't explain the waste in the town budget. She was asked three times about the waste and finally on the third time she stated she hadn't had time to read next years budget!
After mentioning this to a few of her supporters, they all said "she had a long day". If that is the case then what is she going to do after a long day, as a selectman?
I know Jane loves Meredith and I respect her and Bob and are very lucky to have their business for sharpening.
Please support the most qualified candidates, Mark Billings and Lou Kahn.
L. Michael Hatch

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 March 2013 01:39

Hits: 360

Hope Gilford finds work of Belknap-Merrimack CAP worth supporting

To the editor,
As voters go to the polls to determine how tax dollars will be spent. Community Action Program, Belknap/Merrimack Counties, Inc. (CAP) is asking the voters of Gilford to support article 22 in the town warrant and appropriate $8236 to support the local area center office located in Laconia. Last year CAP programs provided Gilford residents with $647,555.61 of services returning $78.63 of service to Gilford residents for each dollar spent in support of the Laconia area center. This request is not for any social service program but solely for the operations of the area center. Staff salaries are the major budget expense.
The area center serves the residents of the city of Laconia and the five surrounding towns. We ask the city and each town we serve to share the expense of maintaining the office so that, when residents experience a hardship and find themselves unable to obtain basic needs such as food, shelter or fuel, the area center staff will be there to help them access resources for these basic life sustaining elements.
CAP works in partnership with local town and city welfare offices to assist residents in need using resources OTHER than local tax dollars. We are awarded contracts by the State of New Hampshire to administer programs to provide basic necessities to New Hampshire residents. We are also entrusted with grants from many businesses and individuals to provide needed assistance to residents seeking help in their time of need. All of the private funds donated to our agency are used exclusively for assistance. No administrative costs are provided, therefore we ask for the city and towns to share, with other federal and state funds, in the support of the area center so that staff will always be available to assist families and individuals in need.
Last year the staff visited 49 homebound elderly residents to provide nutritious meals-on-wheels. They provided over 98 residents with over 700 meals from the emergency food pantry. Over 240 Gilford households were provided with $192,255 in Fuel Assistance and over 280 Gilford households receive a discount on their electric bill because of the work of the area center staff. Over $152,745 was spent weatherizing 35 Gilford homes and $1848 was provided to residents facing a utility shutoff. Without the CAP area center these residents would have sought assistance from the town welfare office and local tax dollars for assistance which the town is required by law to provide. CAP provides other resources and not local tax dollars to help the town meet its legal commitment. As a Gilford resident I encourage town officials to seek out resources other than my tax dollars to provide assistance to local residents.
I hope the residents of Gilford find the work of the staff of Belknap/Merrimack Community Action Program worthy of support from their town.
Judy Scothorne

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 March 2013 01:35

Hits: 464

Gilford, join me in voting for my friend Pat LaBonte for Fire Engineer

To the editor,
I am writing today to encourage Gilford voters to join me in casting a vote for my friend, Pat LaBonte, for Fire Engineer. Pat, a lifelong resident of Gilford, has honorably served this town in various positions for nearly 50 years. He served as a budget committeeman for a total of 15 years (since the mid-1960s), three terms on the Board of Fire Engineers (1979–1988) and three terms as a selectman (1989–1998).
Pat recognizes that changes need to be made in regards to how the Board of Fire Engineers operates to ensure the board remains relevant into the future. Pat is NOT the candidate that was hand selected by the current chair of the Fire Engineers, there is no expectation the he will be a rubber stamp for the chair. You can expect Pat to correct problems not just hid them, or make excuses. Unlike the current board, Pat would never endorse a policy change that is designed to shield the Fire Department from any oversight. Pat would hold people accountable and not reward incompetency. Pat understands that the purpose of the Fire Engineers is to represent the taxpayers of Gilford while simultaneously ensuring that Gilford Fire and Rescue provides essential services to the community. Meanwhile he will vigilantly ensure that taxpayer funds are not wasted and all equipment that the taxpayers have entrusted in the Fire Department's care is properly maintained to ensure a maximum level of readiness, and equipment life span, as well as return on investment. Pat has a proven track record of tackling problems head on and not simply giving lip service.
Pat Labonte has always fought for the interest of the taxpayers, which is exactly what is badly needed on the Board of Fire Engineers. Please vote Pat LaBonte!
Kevin Leandro

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 March 2013 01:31

Hits: 360

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