February 12, 2010

Is it really only a small group of voters?

To the Editor:

The turnout and voting at the Goffstown deliberative sessions disproves the statement that it is a “small group hijacking our community.” 

When was the last time that the school auditorium was filled for a deliberative session?  When was the last time that the voting was so close?  It would seem that there was a “small group” of 87 voters at the town deliberative session voting against “new spending.”  At the school deliberative session there were 174 voters against increases in the school budget.  Those are hardly “small numbers.” 

Perhaps the two residents slandering the growing list of leaders championing the “no new spending” campaign is the small group.  For many residents, “no new spending” in Goffstown is a big deal. 

There are people in Goffstown who say that a 5% increase in the total school budget is entirely reasonable and acceptable.  There are others who say that the increase is really brutal for those residents confronted with no increases in wages or social security, no pensions, no healthcare, no job and possibly losing their house when they have no savings.  For them, property taxes are a big deal. 

Many residents understand that since roughly half of the total school budget is derived directly from property taxes, the 5% total school increase must translate into a 10% increase for a local school property tax rate.  That 10% increase means that the school portion of the total town property tax will double in 7 years if that trend were to continue unabated. 

Other residents understand that the other roughly half of the school budget comes from other revenues and funds.  Last years pleasant surprise of a one-time transfer of $3.3 million to property tax reduction will probably not be there for another tax increase this year of perhaps 20% (on top of the 10%.) 

Bringing transparency to these budget numbers isn’t exactly “hijacking the community.”  Any other increase to the town-side budget and the entire petition warrant articles that are passed, will add to those tax increases already highlighted.  If voters choose to vote for the default budgets that are higher than the recommended budget numbers, then the tax rate increase will be to the high side. 

“Voting out the officials not acting in Goffstown’s best interest” is an excellent idea.  The only pertinent question is do Goffstown voters want to see the “big spenders” returned to office or is it time for the “no new spending” types to run things during this bad economy.  Where is it “written in stone” that any small group of politicians knows what is best for Goffstown.  Informed voters will decide. 

Maybe it is time to recognize the efforts of the Budget Committee (BC) to inform voters.  Some members of the BC spend 10-20 hours a week, or more, for 6 months for no pay unlike the Board of Selectman and the School Board.  The BC also receives no free computers or access to health care like the other boards.  The BC is also constantly under the watchful eyes of the municipal workers most of the time.  Maybe it is time to change all that.  One thing is for sure: Goffstown voters are going to get a property tax surprise this year, and probably not a pleasant one. 

The other group of unpleasantly surprised voters will be our students when they return home from college and wish to start a life in Goffstown with a starting wage.  The property taxes that may have doubled this decade may prevent them for starting a family and buying a house in Goffstown. 

That may not be such an issue for many of their parents because they won’t be living here either. 

Ivan Beliveau
Goffstown resident


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