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Editorials published by the Goffstown Residents Association are written by various members and contributing non-members of the GRA.

Watch out for Article 16!

February 12, 2007

Since 2002, the Road Plan has been presented to the voters as a Special Article, independent of the DPW's ever growing operating budget.  Indeed, this year's Road Plan, as originally presented, was for over $2M until it was later reduced to $1.4M by the Board of Selectmen at the request of the Budget Committee to cover the $600K cost of correcting the Rosemont draining problems.  This $1.4M is in addition to DPW's $4.6M operating budget for 2007.  Total?  If the Road Plan (Article 15) passes, $6,000,000.00.

And since 2002, the voters have supported the Road Plan year after year , at least so far. 
But watch out for Article 16 on this year's town warrant - it is a very dangerous one.  It reads: 

"To see if the Town will direct the Board of Selectmen to include the Road Plan appropriation in the operating and default budgets beginning in 2008. (Recommended by the Board of Selectmen)". (Please note that not all the selectmen recommended it.)

If Article 16 passes, the right of every voter in Goffstown to decide on the Road Plan from now on is gone. 

Voters would no longer have a say in what DPW spends our money on, what pet projects are done, how many more roundabouts get built or how MUCH of our money is spent on these items.  It also would mean that DPW would have complete control of every cent of its $6.5M-$7M budget next year, which gets larger every year, and can spend it any way, and on anything, they like.

That's a heavy burden on taxpayers, and quite a large sum to be controlled by a single department head.

The argument in favor of Article 16 is that as more and more roads are rebuilt, the Road Plan will be supported by fewer and fewer voters, as those whose roads have already been rebuilt will not want to continue spending their tax dollars on someone else's road repairs.  Eventually, proponents say, the Road Plan will be voted down.

So to avoid this, DPW wants to roll the Road Plan back into their operating budget now to keep voters from having any say about it later.  Just take the voter's right to decide away from them now, they figure, before the voters decide to take the money away from us later.  

We say, if it is eventually voted down, then that will be the will of the voters. So what - respect it.  Honor it.  So what if the voters one day decide to halt DPW's grand plan mid-stream?  If one day the voters do decide to put the brakes on the Road Plan, the DPW can, and will, find other ways to get the roads repaired anyway, just as they did before 2002.  A good example of how DPW does this is their new excavator.  Last year, in a Special Article, DPW asked voters for $100K to buy themselves an excavator - above and beyond their $1.8M Road Plan and $4.2M operating budget.  But Goffstown's taxpayers voted it down.  No matter, though - DPW then sharpened their pencils and found the money elsewhere, and are now the proud owners of a shiny, new excavator.

We believed at the time, and still do, that buying a new excavator made much more fiscal sense that continuing the previous practice of renting one year after year.  But we also believed at the time, and still do, that DPW already had plenty of money in their $6M budget to buy one without asking for an additional $100,000.00.

And it turned out they didn't need that extra $100K after all.  Instead, they came up with a 'roundabout' way of finding the money elsewhere.

Don't give up your right to decide on the Road Plan - it's a right you already have.  Vote NO on Article 16, and keep what little control you already have now over how DPW spends your tax dollars.


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