To The Daily Sun,
Those of us who live in Ashland know all too well that we are one of the highest tax-burdened towns in the state. A $200,000 home in Ashland costs $4,874 in taxes, in Holderness $2,836 and in Bridgewater $1,886. Our infrastructure is in need of repair no question. There are many things that should be done but can we afford to put even more pressure on the families struggling to get by?
The good news is that Ashland has the potential to actually become one of the lowest tax-burdened towns in the state. The opportunity is there, we must decide if we are going to take it or continue to ignore it. I will tell you how in a moment, but first Ashland voters must come to realize that if we continue to do things the way we have in governing our town, the more likely things will stay the same and continue to get even more costly.
Leadership is the key. The time of bickering over trivial, unimportant things must end. The time to start running our town like a business is now. The time has come to focus on the big picture.
Here is an example of leadership: Two local businessmen knew things did not add up. To find out what was going on and fix the problem meant becoming selectmen. One ran one year, the other the next. This is what happened next: they found theft of town funds, they found Ashland in the hole for $2 million, they devised plans to get out of debt, and voters chose which plan to use. The person committing theft went to jail, and the selectmen recovered $600,000 from insurance claim. The town started a sewer project from town to River Street and to the other side of the covered bridge for future expansion, and also contracted with a new supplier for town electricity to reduce rates and save money, and further contracted with an outside company to operate the town's water and sewer department, etc. All of this was done with NO commissioners and in one term. Others have provided the town with good leadership in the past. Good leadership is what we need.
How can Ashland become one of the lowest tax burden towns? We have a sewer treatment facility that we pay 100 percent to operate, but it is and has been running at only 15 percent capacity. That's right, we have 85 percent of our plant that is not being utilized. At 15 percent we are generating about $500,000 in sewer revenue. If we think outside the box and work really hard we have the potential to generate about $3.3 million per year.
Now, this is theoretical and would involve other expenses along the way but once developed, any funds not needed for the sewer department could be transferred to the town to offset taxes. (The town raises about $2 million through taxation for town's portion of taxes.) The potential sewer customers are there who could use our services. We have to get the ball rolling to foster confidence and build relationships.
The current commissioners have done a good job. They even got a grant for $250,000 to apply to a receiving station. Great job! Other officials and volunteers have also gotten grants and should be applauded. But there is only one way we stand any chance at all of ever developing this incredible potential and that is voting "Yes" for the town manager plan of government.
A good businessman as town manager focusing on the big picture can get the job done.
Former Selectman, Current Trustee
- Category: Letters
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