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Projects of questionable value are dominating the Moultonborough budget season

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

A look at the current Moultonborough Town Warrant would lead even the most uninformed to view its contents as a massive spending spree. With over $6 million in the “rainy day fund,”which exceeds municipal guidelines by about $3 million, the town is planning to spend at least $1.6 million of that balance on discretionary projects of questionable need. Voters should watch the February 8 budget hearing video.

Article 12 requests $250,000 “to determine the use” of the Taylor property that was the proposed location for a highly contested and ultimately soundly rejected Community Center in 2016. Now the BOS wants funds to “include the cost of any necessary engineering, design and development” so they can “move forward with implementing the determined use” that they — not the taxpayers — will decide on! The article gives lip service to community input, but states the BOS will determine the “final use”...currently unknown ... for the site. Who would ever consider providing a quarter million dollar blank check on a nebulous project, or agree that the BOS should ultimately unilaterally decide its use for us?

The real scheme, in my opinion, is that the BOS would like to circumvent the prior vote of Town Meeting by notifying users of the former Lions Club property that they should find another place for their activities, so the BOS can sell that property and claim that they now have a really pressing need for a new community center. All of this with the BOS claim that “we” have had a lot of time to decide what to do with the Taylor property, and now “we” need to make a decision. Really?

The honest solution is to spend $250,000 — or less — on rehabbing the former Lions Club building into a first-class multipurpose facility and finally stop the behind-the-scenes push led by a misguided few. 

Article 7 requests $670,000 for “sidewalks to nowhere” in the village. We now learn the specifications call for 3,000 linear feet of 6-foot-wide sidewalks. Where can anyone see the engineered plans for the project? Not on the town website. The town administrator projected illegible plans at the hearing, and it was clear that there was no planning involved, or coordination with the Village Vision Committee Report reps (endorsed at Town Meeting in 2015). Why are voters being presented with another proposal developed in a vacuum?

Next is Article 8, requesting $85,000 for a “multi-use tractor and attachments for snow blowing and plowing” to maintain the proposed village sidewalks on busy Route 25 (amended last Thursday from $185,000 – with $100,000 now moved to Article 13 for the Conservation Commission’s land purchase). The snow blower attachment will clear only 48 inches of the 72 inch wide proposed sidewalk, ensuring the town will need to make two passes to clear it after each storm and truck snow elsewhere. What are maintenance costs, labor costs, trucking costs, police detail costs? Folks need to remember that this sidewalk project is now approaching $1 million (originally represented at prior town meetings as costing no more than $400,000).

These projects are just two examples of what I consider a waste of valuable taxpayer money. Who is watching? Not the ABC or CIPC, which rubber stamp everything.

One last thing — why wasn’t the revised Feb. 8 Town Warrant posted on the town website in time for the hearing? Three days later, the outdated Feb. 6 version is still the only one there. How can you have a budget hearing when there was no detailed budget information available ahead of time?

Frederick Van Magness