To The Daily Sun,
Bristol taxpayers do you feel your taxes are too high? According to two elected members of our town government you need look no further than the Newfound Area School District's $21.8-million budget. These two town government members expressed just that sentiment at recent Budget Committee meetings.
In an attempt to set the record straight, I pointed out to one that fortunately Bristol belongs to a seven-town school district, and we are just one of these communities paying our share and our amount of payment to the school district, and our town budget were in fact pretty close in cost to the taxpayers.
Please note Bristol's school district apportioned amount according to the FY2013 MS-24 worksheet from the New Hampshire Department of Education Bureau of Data Management is $5,987,906.
It is also worth noting that the Newfound Area School District's operating budget number for last year was $ 21,775,989. The total proposed operating budget for our consideration this year is $21,802,569 which is a total gross operating budget increase $26,580 over last year.
The Bristol budget as recommended by the Budget Committee in FY2013 was $5,371,156. The FY2014 Budget Committee budget to be presented to the taxpayers at the Town Meeting this year will be $5,466,274 for an increase of $95,118. This increase is a much larger number if you compare it to the actual FY2013 Year-End expended amount which was $ 5,241,113. This basically leaves a surplus of over $200,000 of unspent money to be added to the town's unexpended fund balance.
This $200,000-plus is the amount mentioned in letters you may have read in several local papers recently. If this were a once-in-a-while occurrence I would congratulate all responsible for prudent spending. Some might think that this money might mean there would be extra money for unforeseen issues. But there is a vehicle for such occurrences as the town maintains an unexpended fund balance.
According to NH RSA 32:1 "The purpose of the Budget Committee is to assist voters in the prudent appropriation of public funds."
As stated by some running for elected positions in the town of Bristol, there seems to be a move afoot by some "radicals" to pretty much destroy our town by reckless spending cuts. I can assure you this is not my intention as a Budget Committee member. I, like several fellow members, attempted to address the budget vs. expenditure overages by proposing cuts to allow potential taxation dollars to remain in the hands of the taxpayers. Radical, doesn't seem so to me. We are concerned committee members doing what we are charged to do under the RSA noted above. I felt that this money should be back out into the local economy doing some good instead of sitting in the town coffers.
Because I see this belief in both Paul Manganiello and Andy O'Hara, I wholeheartedly endorse their candidacy for the Bristol Select Board. They will offer and even-keeled, common sense approach to Bristol's business. I also support David Carr and Kevin MacCaffrie for Budget Committee.
William "Bill" Cote
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:27
To The Daily Sun,
When I read my letter in print today supporting Joe Kenney, I was horrified to see that I had spelled Joe's name wrong. My apologies to Joe and to his family. My only excuse is that I had a lapse of memory due to my age (86 years).
I hope Joe will forgive me. But however you spell Kenney (Kenny, Kenney), he is still the best candidate for the Executive Council for District 1 and he certainly has my vote. Good luck Joe Kenney.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:20
To The Daily Sun,
Maintaining the quality of life and fair sharing of cost in our community structure is a very delicate and complicated process. Our Town Planner and Assessing departments in the town of Alton have become very proficient entities in the last six years, through the efforts of our present department heads. The effort to achieve a fair tax sharing structure for all Alton residents and helpful service for all who seek to build or improve their property within the present laws and ordinances of town and state that is valuable to us all. Having and experienced Town Planner on staff enables the average citizen to get the help necessary in developing their planned project legally and with respect for neighbors and the environment we cherish in Alton, without needing to hire expensive consultants and legal counsel. At the same time the Town Planner enables the volunteer Planning Board to be a strong and effective force when dealing with those who might seek to push through projects that would hurt the lifestyle and environmental quality of life that we enjoy here in Alton.
The assessor's office has achieved a high reputation for fair assessing both locally and statewide in creating a fair sharing of the tax burden approved by the voters. In recent years our assessor has received high marks for his professionalism and accuracy from the state inspection office.
If Alton remains competent department heads, we will both save the tax dollars by avoiding legal costs while creating a stable and fair local structure, which we can all be proud of. Let's not turn something that works well for us into a broken, ineffective system that fosters conflict and costs us more money. The best way to limit intrusion of state and Federal interference in our local and personal affairs is to retain quality local government staff. Effective local small government trumps unwanted outside control.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:16
To The Daily Sun,
By proposing the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance for Workforce Housing the Alton Zoning Amendment Committee and the Planning Board are trying to protect the town. They are proposing regulations for workforce housing that a developer would need to meet if he/she would propose such a project.
Protections and safeguards would be provided in the following ways for the town by adopting the ordinance:
1. The burden of proof that Alton is not providing its fair share of workforce housing in the county is placed on the developer when an application is made for workforce housing. The developer will need to document the need for additional workforce housing units in Alton. This burden of proof for the developer would not be required if there is no ordinance.
2. Any developer making application for a workforce housing project will need to demonstrate that Alton's land use regulations make it impossible to create new units that are affordable to working families. This would not be required in the absence of an ordinance.
3. The ordinance would control where and how workforce housing would occur in Alton. In the absence of such an ordinance, developers would determine where and how workforce housing would occur in town.
4. Workforce housing in the ordinance is limited to the Rural and Residential Rural Zones. Without the ordinance, a developer could propose a workforce housing project anywhere and in any zone in town.
5. The developer proposing a workforce housing project will need to submit information detailing costs and revenues associated with the project to justify any relief requested from Alton's Zoning Ordinance.
6. Under the ordinance, projects are limited to a minimum of 20 percent and a maximum of 50 percent of the units being reserved as workforce housing. Without an ordinance there are no limitations.
7. The developer of workforce housing, under the ordinance, must make a binding commitment that the workforce housing units will remain affordable. Without an ordinance there is no such obligation to make such a commitment.
With the current market, reasonable opportunities for workforce housing may currently exist with the existing housing stock in Alton. However, as the real estate market rebounds and prices escalate, the disparity is likely to increase between household incomes and affordable housing prices. This is likely to lead to a time in the future when the existing housing stock in Alton no longer provides reasonable opportunities for workforce housing.
The Alton Zoning Amendment Committee and the Planning Board are trying to be proactive and plan for the need to address the workforce housing issue when development pressures are slow and they have the time to apply themselves to addressing the issue. If development booms again, they will not have the time to tackle the issue. If the town has not adopted an ordinance establishing regulations for workforce housing in advance, it will be too late once a developer submits an application for workforce housing. The town will be left without he protections and safeguards noted above.
Alton Town Planner
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:13
To The Daily Sun,
A library is one of the cornerstones of a healthy community, together with schools and churches. Those in the Gilmanton community that are familiar with the resources and programs that the Year-Round Library provides are more than likely to say that our library is important. It reflects the diversity, character and the needs of our wonderful town, while at the same time building community and supporting local culture in exciting ways.
Most know where the library is located, but unfortunately, some have formed negative attitudes toward the library based on rumor and "he said, she said" conversations. Because of these ongoing misunderstandings, these individuals are unfamiliar with all the services the library offers. The people I've talked to, representing both sides of the Year-Round Library issue, who have visited and may have used the library, say they have had a positive experience and observed that it was "a welcoming, friendly place," a "nice, pleasant space to be." People will often times go to the library looking mainly for information, but they will find each other there.
Although the Year-Round Library collects a percentage of its operating revenue from fund-raising activities, private sources, and grants, these revenue streams can never fully support the many functions the library performs. I would ask the Budget Committee, selectmen, and most importantly the voters of Gilmanton, to please make a commitment to our library and to the many services it provides for all.
Our Year-Round Library communicates to the public our underlying values: That strong community connections, information, education, and shared community space matter.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:00