Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

By S.D. Plissken | November 6, 2018

One of the 91-A meeting codes posted on the agenda for last night’s Board of Selectmen’s (BOS) meeting was in error. The 91-A:3 II (g) item, which seemed to be related to the County jail or State prison, should have appeared on the meeting agenda as  a 91-A:3 II (i) item instead.

91-A:3 II (i) Consideration of matters relating to the preparation for and the carrying out of emergency functions, including training to carry out such functions, developed by local or state safety officials that are directly intended to thwart a deliberate act that is intended to result in widespread or severe damage to property or widespread injury or loss of life.

I guess they were talking about the vital need for a previously unneeded grant-funded All Purpose Hazard trailer. They must think that Milton is on somebody’s target list. Maybe not so prominently featured as Washington, D.C., major metropolitan centers, minor metropolitan centers, military facilities, important infrastructure, large towns, even larger small towns, etc. But we must be there somewhere, right? Those super villains would not omit Milton entirely from their target lists. And now we are covered.

Comedian Lucier even verified that it would come at “no cost to the taxpayers,” just before joining the other board members in voting unanimously for its first $180. Only moments old and it had already its very first expense, so cute. You just can not make this stuff up.

The next agenda item should have been Selectmen Lucier’s Updates to Past BOS Meetings, but this was interrupted for a very special announcement.

The BOS decided to apply $500,000 taken from the fund balance to setting the tax rate at $25.48, which Selectman Lucier noted was 41 cents per thousand lower than last year’s rate. No leveling funding, budget cuts, or other reforms were mentioned. The BOS approved it unanimously.

Yes, that is right. They did not touch the 4.19% increase in the budget – twice the rate of inflation. The spending spree of many years continues unabated. But they got themselves out of this particular frying pan by using most, if not all, of your fund balance to prevent taxes from rising as fast as their budget did. They kicked the can down the road to next year’s board.

Of course, that hoary old politicians’ trick does not solve our basic problem and it only works once. They used up the fund balance. The runaway budget train continues on its course unchecked. Last year’s budget amount increased by 4.19% to this year’s $4,707,008.48, an increase of $197,395.85, or 4.19%, over last year. (Inflation was “only” 2.1%). Should nothing change, next year’s budget will increase by at least that percentage – likely more, as inflation is picking up speed – to something over $4,904,232.14. That is next year’s over-under.

Yes, fundamental failure. To soothe his wounded amour propre, Selectman Lucier dug in his heels on several matters of less import that were outstanding from prior meetings. That is what he meant by Updates on Past BOS Meetings. Yes, deck chairs, he wants to rearrange deck chairs.

He insisted upon definite action on weight limit-signs for Governors Road, Hare Road, and Ford Farm Road; LED streetlights; parking signs in the downtown; and Town Reports with a new – well, new wine in old bottles – feature of valuations and tax delinquents. It seems that the Town agenda item protocol, like their budget and personnel change protocols, lacks rigor. Things tabled for additional information just keep disappearing into a fog.

Vice-chairwoman Hutchings said that Townhouse heating and cooling expenses need to go into the CIP plan. Yes, I know, the Tax Acceleration Program plan. It is still hungry.

If you are the last one leaving Town, will you turn out the LED streetlights please?

References:

State of New Hampshire. (2016, June 21). RSA Chapter 91-A. Access to Governmental Records and Meetings. Retrieved from www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/VI/91-A/91-A-3.htm

Town of Milton. (2018, November 2). BOS Meeting Agenda, November 5, 2018. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/uploads/bos_agendas_836_1230989733.pdf

Town of Milton. (2018, November 5). BOS Meeting, November 5, 2018. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUrFKYBXC4c

Author: S.D. Plissken

I thought he'd be taller.

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