To The Daily Sun,
Again I read how our county officials are fighting over who gets to spend our tax dollars. Our commissioners have proposed a budget that will raise the county portion of our tax bills 8.1 percent, and that does not include the absurd idea of spending $40 million-plus on a new prison.
Rep. Worsman and her allies are trying to cut it by about $850,000, which is about 2.5 percent of the approximately $30 million cost to run our county. If they are successful does this mean our taxes will only go up 5.6 percent? If that is the case we are not cutting nearly enough. All the towns are looking to raise taxes, too. So how much will our property taxes be going up?
This is getting ridiculous. When does it end? Here is a sobering statistic. The average Americans tax burden to support government at all levels is now about 30 percent of all gross income. Add to that insurance premiums and interest on loans and it is the triple whammy that is killing American families. Real change is needed and we need to elect officials that are willing to face the hard realities that this cannot continue. We can no longer nibble around the edges to cut government spending. We need to take big bites. We need to think differently — outside the box as they say.
Here are some real suggestions:
First, eliminate the position of county administrator. It is redundant and unnecessary and three counties in New Hampshire have already done this. The various department heads can report to the commissioners directly.
Second, the taxpayers should not be supporting government employee's Cadillac health care plans. They can go to Obamacare like the rest of us are being forced to.
Third, the taxpayers should not be paying for pensions. Pensions for the rest of us taxpayers are pretty much gone so they should be for government workers too.
Here is another thought. Taxpayers now support four levels of government: federal, state, county, and municipal. Perhaps we should consider making the county government go the way of the dinosaur. Take advantage of the economy of scale like business does and merge. Let the state take over the three major functions of the county, nursing home, jail, and courts, as the management infrastructure already exists to do it.
Perhaps we should end government-run nursing homes and let the private sector take it over. Care for the elderly is important in our society, but business always does things better and more efficiently. The cost for caring for our seniors should be born first by the individual, then by the family, then as a last resort the taxpayer.
Lastly, I just want everyone in Belknap County to know the truth about how our county is being run. I have written here in the past that our county administrator did not have the required credentials. She responded with a letter stating she did have a degree and listed her credentials. However she did not say what kind of degree she has earned, or where she got it or when. I am quite sure, and some of our state reps have told me I am correct, that when she was hired in 2008 she had none of the stated requirements in the job description. What she did have was being related to a popular state representative, and is known to have had close ties to a then-sitting county commissioner. I believe, as does everyone I asked, that she was awarded this position by virtue of being connected and not by any objective measure of credentials. Think about it. If she did not have these connections and had applied for this position she never would have gotten in the door for an interview. If I am wrong there is an easy way to prove it. Let's see the resume. If I am proved to be mistaken I will issue a public apology here.
Lastly, I have further evidence to show that she is not the only person in the county administration to be awarded positions by connections. Nepotism it seems is a way of doing business in our county, and our commissioners refuse to discuss it.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 12:20
To The Daily Sun,
I am writing to voice my strong support of Mike Cryans to serve as the next Executive Councilor for District 1.
I've had the opportunity of knowing Mike Cryans for over 30 years. Mike was born and raised in Littleton. His father, Andrew, was a Korean War and World War II veteran, and worked as a local carpenter. Mike's mother, Evelyn, who still lives in Littleton, was a homemaker. Together they instilled in Mike the value of hard work, giving back to the community, and the importance of a good education. A former teacher with deep roots in District 1, Mike Cryans has the background and values to serve us well on the Executive Council.
The Executive Council plays a unique and important role in New Hampshire state government. The five members of the Executive Council serve in concert with the Governor over the administration of key aspects of state government: approving nominations from the Governor of judges, commissioners, notaries public, justices of the peace, and commissioners of deeds; approving all state contracts with a value of $10,000 or more, and hearing requests for pardons, among other functions. It is therefore essential that those serving on the Executive Council demonstrate the highest level of public service and commitment to our state. In my view, Mike Cryans is the best person to serve in this important position for District 1.
Mike Cryans has served the people of Grafton County for the past 17 years as a county commissioner, acting side by side with the late great Ray Burton in a bi-partisan manner to do the people's work. Mike Cryans will bring a commitment to promote economic development in District 1, and to continue to be a strong advocate for education. I cannot think of a better person to represent District 1 on the Executive Council.
Please join me in voting for Mike Cryans for Executive Council on March 11. You will be glad you did.
Deborah R. Reynolds
Former State Senator
Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 12:10
To The Daily Sun,
Several months ago I wrote to Annie Kuster asking her not to vote for the ACA.
I just received a reply from her wherein she stated she did vote for the ACA and how great it is. I assume she took Nancy Peolosi's advice to vote it in, then find out what is in it.
I have heard of a great many people who have lost their insurance, their doctor, and hospital. They are confronted with high premiums and exceptionally high deductibles.
If anyone chooses not to buy insurance then they will be subject to a fine.
Okay, Annie, you tell these people how great ACA is.
This is just one of the many things this administration has forced on us. Where will it end?
Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 12:04
To The Daily Sun,
This letter is to correct some misconceptions in Bristol Selectman Joe Denning's recent letter in response to my letter about Bristol desperately needing new leadership.
Selectman Denning claims Bristol residents are happy with town services. With all due respect, it seems Mr. Denning is just not listening. My letter did not say residents were not happy with the quality of town services. With a $5.4 million budget for 3,000 residents, about $1 million of which goes to police and about $1 million of which goes to the Fire Department every year, not to mention about another $1 million in warrant article funding requested this year, everyone should be ecstatic with the quality of services for the money Bristol has spent over the past 10 years.
My point is that we are spending more than most folks can afford. Ask the property owners who are now $700,000 in arrears in Bristol. Surely they would pay their property taxes if they could afford to.
I can tell you personally after talking extensively with residents for the past two years, many Bristol residents are not happy at all, but they are afraid to speak out. Many are afraid to vote (as unbelievable as that sounds in this place we call America). Many business owners feel ignored and fear retaliation which may cause their businesses to suffer if they don't "go with the flow" here. Many feel beaten down and have become apathetic feeling powerless to make things better. Many residents feel like "outsiders" no matter how long they have lived here.
We want leaders who embrace, include and represent everyone, even when they have differing viewpoints. We cannot evolve without open honest respectful discussions. We certainly don't need leaders disparaging honest hard-working educated residents who bring concerns to the Select Board by labeling their ideas as "crazy" or "imagining things."
Comparing Weare, N.H.'s budget to Bristol budget is not crazy. It is enlightening. Weare is a lake community with a state beach, like Bristol, but they seem to get three times the bang for their taxpayer buck. The Town of Weare has 66 employees while Bristol employs 32 full-time and 53 part-time (85) and growing. Weare has only 1 percent of its population living below the poverty level compared to Bristol's 7.8 percent, so surely we could learn something by researching Weare's government style in more depth.
If you don't like comparing Bristol to Weare, how about our neighbor Holderness whose budget is only about $3 million and enjoys a low tax rate of $13.50 also with 1.7 percent living below poverty level. Both Holderness and Weare enjoy significantly higher family median incomes than Bristol as well. Just go to http://www.nhes.nh.gov/ and you can compare Bristol to any town in New Hampshire and decide for yourself.
We need open-minded trustworthy prudent representatives who treat everyone and their ideas with the utmost respect and concern, and that is why I am endorsing Paul Manganiello and Andy O'Hara for Bristol Select Board and hope that you will too.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 12:00
To The Daily Sun,
On March 11, voters in Ashland have an opportunity to make a good decision for Ashland's future. Warrant Article 3 is a bond issue for the purchase and renovation of the historic school building for the new home of the Ashland Town Library. The school has been beautifully restored, and brought up to all modern building, accessibility and life safety codes. With very little renovation, this building would usher in a new era for library services in Ashland.
The Ashland Town Library has been in existence for 142 years, the last 75 years located in the Scribner building at the corner of Main St. and Pleasant St. While it is a very good location, the library outgrew the space years ago. Parking has been an issue, as well as accessibility and life-safety codes. Books are stacked on any flat surface, and books that are still popular and useful must be removed when new books are purchased. There is very little space for quiet reading or studying, and no meeting space to speak of.
Libraries are a vital resource in communities large and small. Libraries level the technological playing field, providing access to technology and the internet for those who may not be able to afford personal devices. In the last three years, the circulation numbers have increased at the Ashland Town Library by 23 percent, and 16 percent more people have visited the library.
The old school was built in 1877-78, and served as a school for Ashland's children until 1990. It has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many Ashland residents have fond memories of their time spent in the classrooms of the building.
The building fell into disrepair until 2008 when it was purchased from the school district by Tri County Community Action Program. That organization spent $1.25 million to restore the building to its former glory, install up-to-date heating and cooling systems, and bring it up to modern code standards. TCCAP won a Merit Award for Excellence in Architecture Design for the work by Ashland architects Samyn-D'Elia.
By moving the library to the school building, the residents of Ashland will benefit in many ways. The proximity to the current elementary school means that children will be within a short walk of the library for in-school visits or after-school activities. The Children's Room would at least triple in size, allowing for more children to attend story times in a comfortable setting.
There would be room for all collections to be housed properly and allow room for growth. There are two rooms that would be designated for private study space, for tutors and others who need quiet space. There would be ample room for public computers. The current library has four computers in cramped quarters.
Teens would have their own space, and there would be a designated Special Collections area for local historic documents and rare books. There would be space for comfortable armchairs for quiet reading, and tables for group study space.
One of the best features of the school is the attractive third floor meeting space. This is a large open space, with great views of the town. This space would be available to town government and community groups, something that is sorely needed in town.
Of course all of this comes at a price. An offer has been made to TCCAP and accepted, for $850,000 to purchase the building. This is 68 percent of what they paid for the renovation, and provides almost move-in quality accommodations. Another $100,000 would be needed for minor construction (a circulation desk, security issues, and other minor adjustments), and furnishing the new building. What the town would get in return would be the pride of ownership of the beautiful and historic building, and a modern, up to date, well-situated library. We urge the voters of Ashland to vote yes on Warrant article 3.
Ashland Town Library Board of Trustees
Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 11:56