It is now Town Meeting / Deliberative Session time here in NH where town budgets are being proposed and voted upon by town citizens (no, not just City Councilors, select boards, Town Councils, aldermen, and the like – I really do mean ALL the registered taxpayers in a given town). My hamlet just did their Deliberative Sessions (Town and School Board) where each Warrant Article on the ballot is discussed, perhaps amended, and voted upon to put it on the official ballot for March’s actual vote. Apparently, Ms. Jenkins was none too happy with my actions to vote on these Articles in a secret ballot as opposed a voice vote, a hand raised vote, or a stand up vote. Nor is she all that keen that some of us want to start spending less in town (that’s considered to be “not supportive”). Of COURSE, I had a response that I sent in as a Letter to the Editor:
“What do I believe” Meg Jenkins asked? First, I believe she recognizes as truth what Terry Stewart wrote: a majority of the Deliberative Session attendees are those receiving a benefit from the town (all other things being equal and no “excitable issues” on tap). After all, her Letter did not disavow his observation.
I believe that she may be having a minor Leo Sandy moment of holding two opposite views simultaneously. She first writes “but still have the privacy of voting in secret”acknowledging that SB2 gives voters the ability to vote without the intimidating coercive feeling that can happen in a traditional Town Meeting. She also decries that same ability during a Deliberative Session as being “spitefully put forward” so that “people will get tired of the process and leave”. Sure, the latter was done during the old Town Meeting format by special interests that actually wanted to accomplish that result. However, as the person who requested paper balloting, I can assure Ms. Jenkins that my aim was only to provide that “secret ballot” environment – the exact purpose that she first lauded.
I also believe the Ms. Jenkins cannot provide any quantitative proof that by moving the fiscal year to May would materially affect appropriations after the first move to May. I also believe that while a new fire truck is needed, that time is not now. The operative phrase is not “pound-foolish” but “fiscally-responsible” to fix that backup role fire engine that relatively seldom goes out of the barn (according to Chief Carrier’s own words) and keep from putting a mere eight year old engine into that backup position. THAT would be pound-foolish, I believe.
The Town does need to provide services but I also believe that I am part of the almost 50% of the Budget Committee Mr. Stewart mentions that maintains we could easily have similar services but at a lower cost (and so do Barbara Aichinger and Stuart Savage, so please vote for all of us for Budget Committee).
Lastly, I believe Ms. Jenkins believes the fantasy that if Gilford gives property tax $ to a charity of her choice from someone’s property taxes that this entity will get 10 X that amount from “free matching funds”. Does anyone really not believe that this grant money simply comes from other folks taxes (and in return, our tax money ends up as their free $$)?
And do believe that the real issue is not the money but the process of taking away others’ Freedom of Choice as to how they direct their charitable giving. Forcing people to give to your charity choice via their property taxes is neither charitable or “enforcing a moral obligation; it’s fiscally involuntary servitude. Property taxes are for specific, enumerated Town activities for which we can hold Town employees accountable. I guess Ms. Jenkins believes their fiscal means justifies her goal and that their Freedom to Choose for themselves doesn’t matter.
Meg Jenkins’ Letter:
To the editor,
Disclaimer, I am a Gilford School District employee who attended both the town and school deliberative sessions this year. As a taxpaying resident (since 1986) I am also entitled to speak out on the issues at hand.
“Since the deliberative sessions are 99-percent attended by direct recipients (employees and spouses) of each respective budget, it’s not a mystery how spending cuts to “their own kingdoms” are easily restored.”
According to Mr. Stewart in his letter on Feb. 14, I apparently am one of the 99-percent who attended the session which is a part of the SB-2 process. The process that is designed to level the playing field, and allow folks to have discourse and conversation regarding the issues, but still have the privacy of voting in secret. The process those who campaigned for SB-2 wanted. (Personally, I miss Town Meeting, where decisions are made at the meeting, but until the Town Meeting format is returned to, I will continue to attend/participate in the deliberative session).
I believe one of the reasons there is low turnout at the deliberative sessions is that the flavor of the meeting has changed. I also believe that, while it is perfectly legal to have paper ballots on votes, the option to do so, is spitefully put forward just because it is there, and in hope that people will get tired of the process and leave. I believe that voters in this town, who have children in our schools (and many who do not), value the education the children receive. I believe that people recognize that somewhere along the way, someone else paid their taxes so WE would all be educated, working and participating in town affairs today. I believe that people recognize we need a new fire truck and we would be penny wise and pound foolish to delay the inevitable. I believe that we cannot operate efficiently, on either the town or school side, with money appropriations taking place in May, as it will impact the bidding and hiring process, and put us at a distinct financial disadvantage.
And, as I stated at the meeting, I believe we need to protect our citizens and pay for a fraction of the services that our townspeople receive from Community Action Program (fuel assistance), New Beginnings, and Central NH VNA and Hospice to name a few.
What do you believe?