Impossible to Cut Spending?

Helen Hartshorn is running for reelection to the Budget Committee. At last week’s Candidates’ Night, she said:

A couple of years ago, we did talk on the Budget Committee . . . about keeping the spending flat, and it just didn’t work, because with inflation, with salary increases… Then there was also the salary consultation that was done. It just didn’t work to keep these things flat. And I just don’t think that’s a realistic approach to it.

Tyler Philips, a former member of the budget committee, asked: “Are you committed to controlling those costs that are controllable?” Many costs are not within the control of the town, given that “we get more and more costs pushed at us from Concord,” he noted. “But would you be agreeable to keeping a cap on controllable costs?”

I added to his question, by asking: “What are the controllable costs?”

Helen replied: “That’s just too broad a question.”

I tried again: “Can you name an area in which we do have controllable costs where you would be willing to make them level?”

Helen: “I will work to keep things as reasonable as possible, and that’s about all I can pledge you.”

I emailed Helen today to ask her again, “What are the controllable costs, the areas where the town can keep spending level or even reduce spending?”

If she replies and gives me permission to post her words, I will share them with you.

Candidates Night February 20, 2018

Timestamps available:

0:03:15 Candidates for uncontested positions
0:05:45 Candidates for Budget Committee
0:31:13 Candidates for Board of Selectman

Budget Information (2018)

The selectmen proposed an operating budget of $3,742,305.24. The budget committee proposed $3,742,055.24. The budget committee’s proposed budget is what will be voted on at Town Meeting on March 14, at 7:30PM.

The following documents may help you assess the proposed budget:

In addition, you may find the Planning Board’s Master Survey quite useful. The survey was sent to 2,133 households, and 1,076 were returned. The results are here: Master Plan Survey.

Here are a few charts from the survey:

Public Hearing on the Budget (2018)

The committee had a “pre-meeting” at 6PM for about ten minutes, then suspended until 6:30 for the public meeting. Discussion of the operating budget begins at 10:37 in the video. Discussion of budgetary warrant articles begins at 57:10.

Max Ledoux Acts Like a Jerk

Speaking in his signature slow-as-molasses, nasally rasp at the Budget Committee’s public hearing on the proposed budget, Max Ledoux told Carla Lootens on Tuesday night that he didn’t think she was a “nice person.” This rude remark came after Carla attempted to steer the meeting back toward budget matters following a lengthy and pointless comment from Max about the town’s 10-wheel plow truck, which broke down recently as well as got stuck in a ditch.

“We’re here to talk about the budget. You know I love you, Max, but …” said Carla, trying to be nice.

“Well, I don’t think that’s true,” Max then said.

“I’m being nice, Max,” replied Carla, to laughter from others in the room.

“You’re not a very nice person,” said Max.

“Hmm?” Said Carla, not hearing.

“I don’t think you’re a very nice person,” said Max, which is not a very nice thing to say.

“Max,” said Carla sternly, “we’re here to talk about the budget, please.”

“OK,” muttered Max. Like a jerk.

 

Representative Karel Crawford Votes for Income Tax

Karel Crawford — who represents Tuftonboro, Moultonborough, and Sandwich in the state legislature — voted February 8 for a 0.67% income tax on New Hampshire workers in the form of HB 628. Karel voted for HB 628 even though the majority on the Commerce and Consumer Affairs had voted the bill “inexpedient to Legislate,” which typically kills a bill when it comes to a full vote on the house floor.

As a result of Karel’s vote, the income tax bill was referred to the Finance Committee instead of being permanently tabled.

The income tax in HB 628 would create a state-run family paid-leave insurance program. It’s being sold as “optional,” because workers would be able to opt-out — But only if they download a form from a state-run web site, sign it, have it notarized, and submit it to both the state and their employer before commencing employment. Sounds totally optional.

Tuftonboro’s other two state representatives, Glenn Cordelli and Bill Marsh, both voted against the income tax on February 8. Bill had voted, along with Karel, for a previous version of the income tax bill on January 9. All three representatives are Republicans.

Jack Widmer Misleads on Glenn Cordelli

Speaking on Saturday, Tuftonboro Treasurer Jack Widmer misleadingly stated that state representative Glenn Cordelli (R-Tuftonboro) had co-sponsored a bill that would have raised the school tax rate in Tuftonboro.

“That particular bill, unfortunately, was co-sponsored by Clay [sic] Cordelli, our state representative,” Jack said.

Although Glenn initially put his name on the bill as a co-sponsor, he withdrew his support when the final text of the bill was made available. In fact, he not only voted against the bill in the Education Committee, Glenn was the one who made the motion to kill the bill.

From page seven of the February 2, 2018, House Record:

HB 1452, relative to equalized property valuation used to apportion expenses in cooperative school districts.

INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.

Rep. Glenn Cordelli for Education. There are 33 cooperative school districts. Each has an existing and differing agreement on the apportionment formula to determine the amount to be paid by each town. While this bill raises the valid discussion of the formula of attendance vs. town equalized valuation, it would not be appropriate for the state to intercede in these local agreements. Vote 19-0.

When informed that Glenn had voted against the final bill, Jack tried to dismiss that fact by saying: “My feeling about that is, and not to get into an argument about it, but, my feeling is, you don’t put your name on a bill unless you know what you’re putting your name on.”

This seems petty to me. There are many reasons to co-sponsor a bill initially, before the text of a bill is finalized. What I think matters most is the final vote.

The fact of the matter, no matter whether Jack tries to brush it aside, is that Glenn voted against the bill.

Here is Jack’s entire presentation on Saturday (discussion of education bills starts around the 7:00 mark).

Watch the entire library information open house here.

UPDATE:

It turns out Jack gave wrong information about the potential tax affect of taking out a loan for the library addition and renovation. Paul Matlock corrected the record on the adjoining post:

There is an error in the presentation. When asked, Jack reports that the tax rate could be as low as 2.5 cents per thousand which would mean a $200,000 house would pay only an extra $5 a year. After the meeting, I started wondering about this. Jack has since confirmed that the added tax would be 10 plus cents for the principal payment with the finance cost added to this. My estimate is up to 14 cents per thousand, meaning that that 200,000 house would pay an extra $28 a year.
Sorry for the confusion.
Paul Matlock
Library trustee