I’ve been concerned for years about the amount of revenue that the town needs to generate to have the best of everything. We’re a small town; we don’t really need to have the best of everything. And I think we could sharpen our pencils and cut down on a lot of the things that we have — that people seem to think we need, but we don’t really need them. I think we should just get by on what we have — your basic needs, not your wants — and live without frills.
I’ve been asked by a lot of people to run for office because they think I may have some input on that. So I figure it’s finally time that I give that a shot and get involved in the town government a little more than just being an outspoken critic of it most of the time. I’ve been a self-employed businessman for 35 years. Prior to that, I was a school teacher, and worked on school budgets. I have a Bachelor’s degree in social science (which has something to do with government). And I’ve always managed my own budget over these years, being self-employed.
If elected, my priority would be to make sure that we’re getting the most bang for the buck — make sure we’re not wasting money, make sure we’re not getting things that are just nice to have whereas we could just get by with what we need.
We’ve got to look at the library addition. Basically, your fundamental “need” in this town is looking forward instead of looking back. I see that most of the people that are pushing for a library addition — that want to spend a bunch of money for a library — are 65 years old or older and they’re kind of building a library that’s not going to be used like libraries were in the past. And therefore: Do we need that?
As for the police department facility, there’s some need there — there’s also a lot of want there, and I think we have to find a line between the wants and the needs. Obviously, there’s probably going to be some mandated needs there. They’re going to need something. Do they need a whole new facility? I don’t think so. I think they could probably renovate and add on to what they have. And we’d probably suit the needs.
You know, we’re still a small town of 2,500 people. We don’t need everything that other towns need. We don’t want everything that other towns need.
I believe that the biggest mistake the town ever made was buying that big firehouse. Because that has just set us off in a direction in which people say, “well, they got that,” and the next people want what they want, everybody wants their share. We didn’t need a big firehouse, we could have used a firehouse and a public safety building in one. That wasn’t wanted.
We have to look at all these things and say, “you know, we can’t keep doing this. We have to cut back.”
I would say add on to what the current police department, even though everybody’s saying there’s not enough room for this that or the other thing. I would think they could make it a little bit bigger than what it is now and get what they need — maybe not everything they want. I think they could make do with the current space with an addition instead of a whole new building in a different location on a different piece of land. Maybe we return some of those lots of land that are supposed to be libraries or police stations back onto the tax rolls.
My long-term vision for Tuftonboro is: I would like it not to change much. It hasn’t changed that much in the last forty-five years. Although, in the last eight years it seems as though there’s a lot of people from elsewhere that want things to be like they were elsewhere instead of like they were here — and they came here because it was nice here — but now they’re trying to change us to there. We’re a small New England town in New Hampshire that is not like everywhere else and we don’t need to be like everybody else.
For instance, I don’t think that we need a new, $600,000 fire engine just because the existing one is 20 years old and due for change. There is a maintenance line in the Fire Department budget. How that vehicle can be worn out after having been maintained impeccably — and it looks beautiful — and why it needs to be replaced now, I don’t know. It probably doesn’t need to be replaced.
Some people would say that, “Well, the new ones have computers,” and this, that, and the other thing, the latest whistles and bells. I don’t think we need all the latest whistles and bells. We need a fire truck, that if you go to a house that’s on fire you can use to put the fire out. The current truck is probably fine. And most towns, most small rural towns, would probably love to have that existing truck and if we replace it with a $600,000 truck, what’s going to happen to that existing truck? Where is it going? Are we going to sell it? Or are we going use it still, because it’s still usable? And if it’s still usable, why don’t we just use that and not buy a new one. We bought a new plow truck in 2015 to replace an old one that we were told was in poor condition. And that supposedly decrepit one we that “replaced”? It’s still in service.
Unfortunately it may not be possible to keep the budget from increasing. Maybe we can keep it to increasing by only one 1%. Maybe some years it could actually decrease. People have to have a desire to make it go down, to make it be level. It could probably be held fairly flat. It doesn’t have to go up 8% or 9% every year, because after three years that’s 25%. Since 2012, the operating budget has gone up from $2.8 million to $3.7 million — that’s unsustainable.
The population is not growing; my income’s not going get any bigger. I think that the budget could be kept level, or very close to level. In order to do that, though, you have to go back in and look at each and every individual budget request and say, “you know, you tell us we’ve got the best employees — they do a great job; we compensate them well — can’t you shave 5% off each item?” That’s only fifty dollars on the thousand — see if we can’t do it. Instead of thinking about, “well, we want more, more, more.” If ou can’t knock 5% off, knock 2% off. But try! Try and get those smaller. IBecause we always over budget — there’s always money left over. Do what you can; Make it work, if you can. If you can’t, I mean there’s some things we can’t control. There’s a lot of things we can control by trying a different plan or a different agency or different server. Try.
I’d appreciate your votes on March 13th for budget committee.
More so than that, everybody that reads this: go vote! We need need you to go vote, we need you to go to town meeting to vote.
If we can get 50% of the voters to turnout, things will work out well.
Town Meeting is March 14th — It’s Wednesday night, 7 PM.
Let’s jam the place so the fire department has to come down and tell us there are too many of us.