To The Daily Sun,
I am writing to address the recurring issue of local taxpayer money used to support "outside agencies." As Mr. Leandro stated in his letter of Jan. 25, town officials often do not feel taxpayer money should fund "charities." I would like to explain there is a difference between "charities" and "service providers."
Charities such as national organizations for various health organizations like the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Muscular Dystrophy Association and numerous other "charities" raise funds through varied solicitation methods that can be used for research as well as operations. It very well could be that local residents could receive some sort of assistance from these national organizations.
"Service providers" on the other hand are local organizations that provide various forms of direct support to local residents. In the case of my agency, Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Agency, our programs provide local residents assistance with basic life needs such as fuel, food, electricity and housing which the town, by law, is required to provide using local tax dollars. BMCAP accesses local, state and federal resources to provide these basic needs to residents, thereby saving tax dollars.
In the example Mr. Leandro uses about the house next to Mrs. Cooper being in desperate need of repair, the work being done then the bill sent to Mrs. Cooper. If that homeowner were referred to BMCAP, we would use other resources to repair and weatherize that home and return it to the tax rolls, not costing local taxpayers precious tax dollars. That is why a "service provider" actually saves taxpayer money. The funds we request to maintain the operation of our area center so there will be staff to provide this kind of assistance to local residence are far outweighed by the value of services provided to town residents.
Last year, Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Agency provided the residents of Gilford with $332,507; Laconia with $970,516, Belmont $447,345, Gilmanton $96,026, Alton $151,259, Barnstead $173,643, Meredith $679,316, Center Harbor $49,787 and New Hampton $169,245 in basic life services that the towns would otherwise have had to provide. This assistance was paid from resources other than local tax dollars. "Charities" have a totally different function in our society.
I respectfully request that each town approve the funding request in their town budgets and/or warrants to support Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Agency and understand the value of services provided to local residents by "service providers" is well worth the investment compared to the amount we request for support of the local area centers.
Community Services Director
Belkanp-Merrimack Community Action Program
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