To The Daily Sun,
The voters in Alton who are likely to go to the polls on March 11 should be aware of three articles that will be on the paper ballot for them to fill in the oval for either "yes" or "no." To me the three are totally irrational and should receive a "no" vote.
Articles 42, 43, and 44 were placed on the ballot by a petition gotten together by a cadre of ultra-conservatives who reside in Alton and have every right to have their propositions on the ballot for more than 4,000 registered voters to agree with them — or not.
Article 42, if approved, would have the Town of Alton "not pay the estimated membership fees of $7,000 to be a member of the Lakes Region Planning Commission" (LRPC). My understanding of this is that the ultra-conservatives believe the LRPC to be a foil of the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency, and is imposing federal mandates on local communities all the way down to towns in New Hampshire.
Admittedly I have not spoken to every member of Alton's Planning Board. Those I have checked with are of the view that Alton's annual dues to LRPC make it all the more possible for Alton to manage its own destiny. LRPC supplies regional data and analysis which equip our local planning board to blend LRPC's big picture information with what the board has on the table for Alton. Thusly, Alton comes out ahead of the game.
Article 43 would eliminate the position of Town Planner and Article 44 would do away with the Tax Assessor.
How crazy is this? Sure, the ultra-conservatives are of the conviction that smaller government is better. A lot of people are of that conviction, and in some case-by-case applications it may be true.
But not in Alton.
Study the warrants: Doing away with the Town Planner would eliminate "$64,040 per year plus benefits" from Alton's payroll. With the job still needing to be done, however, will call for something on the order of $120,120 to retain a consultant to do what our everyday employee does while knowing the community so much better than an outsider could ever hope.
Similarly, Article 44 would discharge the Town Assessor, who has a salary of $68,599, plus benefits. Who, then, will be doing the assessing? Certainly even the petitioners are not going to be happy with drawing a number out of a hat as to what their property tax is going to be. To farm the job out, the warrant article -- as amended at the Town Deliberative session — estimates that it will cost at least $95,000 a year to out-source the assessing of Alton's real estate.
The Alton voter going into the booth on March 11 should be questioning whether she or he wants to pay more taxes to implement a philosophy of downsizing government?
Costing more to get less.
Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 11:23
To The Daily Sun,
Next month there will be a very important election held in Bristol, and the voters are fortunate to have a number of candidates, and viewpoints to consider when they take to the polls.
I will be supporting three candidates in particular: Rick Alpers and Shaun Lagueux for Selectboard and Don Milbrand for the Budget Committee. I make these choices based on their years of experience and unselfish efforts on behalf of the townspeople of Bristol, with Rick and Don serving on the Selectboard and Shaun with the Budget Committee.
Over the past year I have been somewhat concerned that a few people have been loudly suggesting that the town of Bristol is in horrible shape, as if it were a rudderless ship drifting toward the rocks. I couldn't disagree more.
I have seen firsthand, serving on the Selectboard from 2006-2010, our elected officials working together to make Bristol a place people are proud to call home. You only need to look around.
Starting with a newly rejuvenated downtown, moving northward to a new and priceless library addition, passing a fire department with the only 24/7 fully EMT certified ambulance service in the Newfound region. Going a bit farther to the town office you will find employees, from the town administrator on down, who are as dedicated and professional as can be found anywhere. We are fortunate to have them.
All of this, of course, does not happen by accident. It takes leadership. So it begs the question: Is this really a community whose elected officials are resistant to change and lack common sense as some have suggested?
Recently a published letter stated that "our town budget has doubled in the nine years that Rick Alpers was a selectman." That statement however is not supported by the facts.
I believe the voters understand that a budget is not set by one selectman, but rather it is a combined effort of the Budget Committee whose duty requires them to offer a municipal budget for the legislative body, (voters) to approve at town meeting. A quick check of the town reports over the nine year period when Rick Alpers was a selectman shows that the average budget during those years was $5,593,000 with actual expenditures averaging $4,840,000. The highest adopted budget was in 2007 at $7,669.000 with actual expenditures of $5,054,000 in that year, and the lowest was in 2004 with a budget of $3,800,000 and expenditures of $3,563,000. Interestingly, the 2008 budget came in at essentially the average mark over that time at $5,994,000 and then steadily declined from 2009-2012. This is the same time span that Rick Alpers and Don Milbrand were serving on the Select Board and Shawn Lageuex was the Budget Committee chair.
It is quite a remarkable feat to be able to reduce the budget, or even hold the line, considering the spiraling cost of everything, especially healthcare costs, while maintaining essential services that taxpayers have a right to expect.
Rick, Don and Shaun are honest, hard-working guys that deserve our vote.
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 11:42
To The Daily Sun,
The following letter was addressed Laconia School Superintendent Terri Forsten.
I am sure you will receive numerous calls and e-mails like mine today. And I almost didn't bother, knowing that you will be hearing from so many angry, concerned parents. But I am going to because my children were put in harm's way unnecessarily.
I have three children that are your students, and two more to come. Two of my boys were on L-4 yesterday afternoon. That trip would have been tremendously safer at 1 p.m. than at 5 p.m. when they were finally picked up from Woodland Heights School. And their usual 20 minute ride to Academy Street, turned into an hour and 15 minute nightmare. My younger son is in kindergarten, he is just 5 years old. I repeat: 5 years old. I will be forever grateful that he was with his older brother, and a close neighbor friend who was there to hug him, and keep him calm. This attention was needed by him because he was absolutely petrified during this ordeal, to the point of almost throwing up the entire ride.
I had to hear from my 10-year-old son that every time the bus slid on the roads, the younger children were crying, and screaming out of fear. And that at one point they all put their little heads bent over, resting on the seats in front of them, so that if they crashed, they wouldn't hit their heads.
It makes me sick to my stomach to hear these stories coming from their mouths. No child should ever have to be in fear of a place where they are supposed to feel safe. Your choice to not call school out early yesterday resulted in putting numerous children, and the bus drivers safety, and potentially their lives, at risk.
I am curious as to what your thought process was at 11 a.m. ... noon ... 1 p.m. as you watched this storm progress, and heard every surrounding town calling their schools to release the children — some as early as 11 a.m. You should be ashamed of yourself and your lack of action. And I commend all the drivers who were put into this ridiculous and unnecessary situation.
Mr. Emond, I am copying you in this letter because I want to thank you for bringing my son, Michael, and neighbor, Selia, the rest of the way, once their bus became stuck. On flat roads... I am so very thankful that you were there to help.
We as parents — I assume I speak for more than just myself — do not want your apology. Nothing you can say will take back the fact that you endangered the lives and emotions of our children.
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 11:38
To The Daily Sun,
An open letter to the citizens of Belknap County:
We are very concerned about the budgetary process that has been directed by Rep. Worsman and staunchly followed by a majority of the Belknap County Delegation. The majority of this biennium's delegation is acting without regard to your need for county services or fiscal responsibility.
As a reminder, these services include the Nursing Home, Department of Corrections, County Attorney, Sheriff's Department, and Registry of Deeds. There are other services provided by the county as well. In order to coordinate these services and to manage the $60 million that flows through the county each year and over 260 employees, we employ finance, human resources, administrative, and facility professionals.
You have elected the commissioners to manage this organization, to provide stewardship over county assets and infrastructure, and to do this in the most efficient and effective means possible. We are constantly mindful of the tax burden on county citizens. We meet with your town and city officials regularly to keep them updated and informed about county business and to explore new ways of working together to make your tax dollars go further. We welcome and encourage your participation at all of our meetings. (Check www.belknapcounty.org for dates and times.)
There has been a lot of bad information carelessly stated and left unchallenged. We have relentlessly followed a strategically managed plan for consolidating and optimizing the provision of county services, maintaining the facilities, and reducing the tax burden. This has been successful and beneficial.
The current delegation (These are the members of the N.H. House of Representatives from Belknap County. You elected them to represent your interests in the state political process.) under the guidance of Rep. Worsman, seeks to undermine all of the thoughtful work that has been put in place and to blindly and arbitrarily cut taxes. The fact is that the county is spending no more than was spent in 2008 to operate and provide quality services. The commissioners have accomplished this by careful dialogue with professional managers — year round, on a bi-weekly basis.
If the commissioners' recommended budget were adopted the average county tax rate would go up by 5 cents. That means that if your home is assessed for $300,000 you will pay an additional $16 in taxes. This is not desirable, but necessary if we are to continue providing the same level of services.
The county has contractual obligations that must be paid. We have identified these and the associated costs, only to have Representative Worsman "thank us for our input." Your representatives are acting without any regard for legal ramifications, which will only result in you having to spend more money on legal defense and ultimately paying the original cost plus fines. Rep. Worsman refuses to be held accountable for any of consequences that she has had to listen to. In fact, trying to speak at her meetings has proven quite difficult. The convention has adopted no rules of order, and therefore they often appear to be crafted and/or changed as Rep. Worsman deems necessary.
We encourage you to attend one (or more) of these meetings to see the representation you are getting. There are serious and financial implications to managing the county. The delegation's primary job at the county is to provide a reasonable and responsible level of funding. Considering their lack of participation in county affairs, you would think they'd be interested in hearing from the people responsible for the outcomes, and perhaps those of you who pay the bills.
Belknap County Commissioners
John H. Thomas, Chairman
Edward D. Philpot Jr., Vice Chairman
Stephen H. Nedeau, Clerk
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 11:34
To The Daily Sun,
You may have been hearing about a Community Rights Based Ordinance — or RBO — being pursued by a number of Newfound towns on their March 2014 ballot. So, what is an RBO? To put it in a nutshell, it is a local Bill of Rights; a binding law, enforceable by the selectmen, and residents.
First and foremost, you have to understand this is not Land Use Zoning, which is regulatory law. A Rights Based Ordinance is based on rights — not "regulating" anything. Rather it establishes our right to preserve the rural character of our town, determine the kinds of energy projects town residents want — not what the state mandates — access to clean, unpolluted water, protect our ecosystems and advocating for nature's right to exist. It established our right to govern by consent -- elevating our rights above "claimed" corporate rights — which allows us to say "no" to industrial wind turbines on our ridgelines.
Citizens of Alexandria Rights Effort
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 11:33