What is fraud anyhow?
We hear the terms “fraud” and “fraudulent” thrown around a lot, but it is likely that many, if not most, people do not really understand the full meanings of the terms.
In the law, fraud is (1) the intentional misstatement of; (2) a material fact; (3) with the intention that the person or persons to whom the statement is made rely on the misstatement; (4) actual reliance on the misstatement by the person or persons to whom the misstatement is communicated; (5) a change of position by the person or persons to whom the misstatement is communicated; and (6) damages suffered by the person or persons to whom the misstatement is communicated.
Sound very lawyerly doesn’t it? Well, it is!
So how about a real life example of frauds perpetrated on the voters in some of our towns, including my little town of Gilford.
When a town or city in New Hampshire assesses and collects property taxes to fund an approved budget, but portions of the expenditures set forth in the budget are not actually spent during the budget year, the resulting “leftover” tax money is referred to euphemistically as the budget “surplus,” as if it was magically created by the elites who actually run the town or city.
But most intelligent people know that government does not actually produce or manufacture anything of material value- other than, perhaps, loads of paper and hot air.
It would seemingly be very inconvenient if such leftover money or “surplus” was rolled over into the next year to reduce the taxes that need to be collected in that year. But that would be too easy and logical. Everyone loves a slush fund– except those who are paying for it.
So we end up with a situation in which town warrant articles seeking approval of the voters for expenditures outside of the ordinary operating budget are often described by the drafters of the articles as “this sum to come from surplus fund balance and no amount to be raised from taxation.”
And if the monies are to come from a previously established reserve fund, which has been created with– you guessed it- tax monies collected in the past—the description often reads “This sum is to come from the XYZ capital reserve fund and no amount is to be raised from taxation.”
What a bunch of nonsense!
This is the worst kind of fraud- fraud perpetrated by those we elect to provide good stewardship over our tax monies.
If the money was raised by taxation, it is tax money,plain and simple, no matter whether it is being raised in the current year or was raised in prior years and left unspent.
After years of complaining by this writer that the language is misleading and fraudulent, only some, but not all, of the upcoming warrants for the Gilford election to be held on March 10 now read “this sum to come from surplus fund balance and no amount to be raised from new taxation.” [emphasis added]. But several of the warrant articles still contain the old, clearly fraudulent, language.
It is apparent that the drafter of such warrant articles, presumably the Town Administrator, and approved by the 3-member Board of Selectmen, must think that the voters are really stupid.
We are only stupid if we let this kid of outrageous behavior continue unabated.
The only way for the voters to keep themselves from being defrauded, time and time again, is to replace those members of the Board of Selectmen who approve such fraudulent language and the Town Administrator who drafted the language in the first instance.