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Git ‘er Done: TODAY 3/12/2013!

March 9, 2013

With just a few days left until we vote, we have heard from our School Board and our Board of Selectmen — or at least one of them.  The school board is the governing body of a system that has produced a decade of SINI test results and a generation of declining performance.  It’s deliberations are so repulsive that the minutes of one meeting were sealed for 99 years.  The BoS has behaved no better.  Petty, personal vendettas dominate their minutes.  The chair’s vision is clouded by disdain for two town employees he cannot control.  Another member is awaiting trial for assault and doesn’t even attend meetings — which is probably a service to the community.

Now the rest of us get a say in how the community is managed and I encourage everyone to submit a thoughtful ballot.  Polls are open from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm Tuesday 3/12.  Here is a link to a sample ballot.

We get to vote for representatives to the TRSD School Board and Budget Committee — sort of.  As it happens, Nancy Steenson is unopposed in her quest for a second term on the school board and no one wants to serve on the budget committee.  I’m going to write myself in for both positions.  I have never recovered from Ms. Steenson’s ‘We need a PR firm’ rant at the undocumented workshop during which the school board schemed to redirect ‘surplus’ education funds to planning an unapproved high school construction project.  No, Nancy, we are not cheap bastards and we are not susceptible to a PR campaign.  We want good schools that produce good results for as little cost as possible.

There are eight TRSD warrants on the ballot.  Article 2: the $64,418,761 Default Budget is $3,657 less than the Proposed Budget.  That is after Jack Sapia added $150,000to the operating budget  — for lawnmowers — at the deliberative session (for the children, I’m told).  I’m not going to vote for either.  Let someone else approve a budget that prioritizes lawnmowers and batting cages over books and teachers.  I’ll leave that box unchecked as a protest against a fraudulent process that generates default budgets greater than proposed budgets year after year.  Article 3:  I will not vote for any warrant that is tagged ‘No Tax Impact’ while taking or not returning money to the taxpayers.  If you put $200,000 in a bank account instead of refunding it to taxpayers, there is a tax impact.  Taxes raised to pay for things not paid for with the $200,000 in that account, are, in fact, additional taxes.  Article 4 funds the teachers contract.  With a bottom line budget, the new contract should be part of the budget.  If the teachers contract costs more than the community is willing to spend, then the SAU should maybe reconsider new lawnmowers and batting cages, right?  Or maybe forego a bonus for a superintendent for achieving goals and objectives as yet undefined?  Or double dip raises for the highest paid employees of the school district?  Article 6 lets the SAU retain surpluses.  These surpluses will be drawn when the SAU misspends the bottom line budget.  If you do not think this will result in increased spending, you must have moved to town after the Performing Arts Center and No Tax Impact Kindergarten projects.  In both cases, the SAU deliberately understated, overspent, and left a big pile of poop on our tax bills.  More than 2% of our school budget goes to managing that budget.  If they cannot plan a year in advance, maybe we need to hire new planners.  Articles 5 and 7 truly have no negative impact.  Article 8 is a citizen’s petition to put the SAU budget on the ballot as a warrant.  The SAU board rubber stamps the SAU budget each year.  It is rolled into the school budgets without meaningful debate or consideration.  As a consequence, the highest paid employees of the community routinely get across the board raises — given the perpetual SINI status of the schools, these raises are not based on merit.  This year some SAU employees received TWO raises.  If you would like to have a say in how things work in the Ivory Tower, vote yes on Article 8.

If you were unable to attend Candidate’s Night, you can watch a recording of the event on VIMEO.  I recommend you invest an hour in watching this meeting as those appearing will be spending your money next year.  If you are not invested in the Animal Control matter, you can check out after the first half hour, but I recommend you hang on until the end.  The chair of the Board of Selectman and his surrogates repeatedly ask one of the candidates for Animal Control Officer, “All things being equal, would you rather spend $6,000 for a service or $12,000?”  I’d like to see him put on his big boy pants and ask this of all town cost centers…

  • Would you rather build and maintain a local salt storage facility on property that could be generating tax revenue or share space in a Plaistow or Sandown facility for less?
  • Would you rather have a community center on 111A or vote at our expensive school and entice a job creating, tax paying business to occupy the prime real estate on Main Street?
  • Would you rather build and support a new police station or share services with Plaistow or Sandown?
  • Would you rather have…

We need first responders in town, but there is no reason not to share administrative services and other nonessential functions with nearby communities.  People who drop their kids off in Plaistow each morning and shop at Wal-mart should be able to ride that far to borrow a book or use a computer.  Does anyone still think it’s a good idea for the BoS to show movies on Day Field?  BoS nonpublic, “Let’s gather all the kids on a mosquito infested field at dusk and beat them up.  All opposed?  Unanimous!”

We need less government.

There is no need to discuss any of the candidates because the only contested race is for a position that will not be funded.  There are eighteen warrant articles on the ballot.  Article 3 allows residents to move, remove, build, or alter stone walls on their property as long as the action is compliant with state law.  Makes sense to me.

I’m a small government guy.  I don’t understand why our school district needs eleven libraries, four police departments, four fire departments, four animal control officers, or four salt sheds.  I don’t understand why we have to rent a place to hold our deliberative session and election when the schools we pay so much for are vacant at these times.  I think the ‘community center’ should be sold and I would prefer less government to more vehicles and buildings to support a growing government.  So, I will vote no for the following warrants…

  • Article 2013-4 Operating Budget
  • Article 2013-6 Fire Dept. Capital Reserve Fund for Future Fire Dept. Vehicle Purchases
  • Article 2013-10 Highway Sand/Salt Storage Building Capital Reserve Fund
  • Article 2013-11 New Police Station Capital Reserve Fund
  • Article 2013-13 Colby Memorial Library Trust Fund for a New Library Leach Field
  • Article 2013-14 Municipal Mosquito Control Expendable Trust Fund
  • Article 2013-15 Danville Town Hall Revolving Fund
  • Article 2013-17 Purchase of a New Ambulance
  • Article 2013-18 Purchase of Town of Danville Highway Vehicle

and yes on…

  • Article 2013-16 Dissolve Elected Animal Control Officer Position

I do not think the Fire Department should be able to generate or allocate revenue outside the budget process, so I will vote against…

  • Article 2013-7 Net Funds generated from Billable Incidents

I do believe the town has a responsibility to maintain its roads (at least the ones that are in use), bury its dead, and protect its fire fighters, so I support…

  • Article 2013-5 Protection of Personnel Equipment Capital Reserve Fund
  • Article 2013-8 Cemetery Capital Reserve Fund
  • Article 2013-9 Long Pond Road Culvert Capital Reserve Fund

I really don’t care what happens to the interest accumulated by the library.

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