By Muriel Bristol | May 4, 2019
The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a Public BOS meeting to be held Monday, May 6, beginning at 6:00 PM.
This BOS meeting would have begun with a Non-Public session, for a Non-Public agenda item classed as 91-A3 II (a), except that the BOS held that preliminary Non-Public session ahead of time on April 25.
91-A:3 II (a) The dismissal, promotion, or compensation of any public employee or the disciplining of such employee, or the investigation of any charges against him or her, unless the employee affected (1) has a right to a meeting and (2) requests that the meeting be open, in which case the request shall be granted.
This will be the fourth meeting of the Town year to be preceded by a secret meeting about hiring or raises. The new BOS has already hired people at amounts that approach the difference between the proposed budget, which was rejected, and the default budget, with which they are supposedly working.
If this Town were floundering financially, which it is, and sought out professional advice, which likely it will not, it would be advised first to just stop spending.
The Public portion of the agenda has New Business, Old Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.
Under New Business are scheduled eight agenda items: 1) Introduction of Town Administrator (*6:15PM*), 2) Public Hearing: Acquisition and Possible Disposition of Land Parcel; Tax Map 17, Lot 5, 3) Hiring of Assistant Town Clerk / Tax Collector, 4) Hiring of Land Use Clerk, 5) Exit #17 Economic Revitalization Zone Update (Bruce Woodruff), 6) Bolan Road Paving Discussion (Robert Graham), 7) Municipal Clerks Week Proclamation, and 8) New Beginnings Food Pantry.
Introduction of [New] Town Administrator. Here we find the reason for the Non-Public BOS meeting of April 25. Will there be also a vote of thanks and a fond farewell for the interim Town Administrator?
Public Hearing: Acquisition and Possible Disposition of Land Parcel; Tax Map 17, Lot 5. We have seen already that “public hearings” are RSA-required rituals where the BOS may pretend to listen. If we read the Avitar database correctly, it would seem that the Town acquired this property already a few years ago (2015). But perhaps they did not perform the required ritual at that time and now seek to remedy that failing.
Hiring of Assistant Town Clerk / Tax Collector and the next item, Hiring of Land Use Clerk. One or both of these were a part of last year’s proposed budget. You know, the one that got rejected in favor of the default budget. The BOS can spend within that default budget as it likes, but it necessarily demands they make equivalent cuts somewhere else. Or overspend. Overspending is the safe bet.
Exit #17 Economic Revitalization Zone Update (Bruce Woodruff). Past discussions have been about trying to retain Index Packaging by arranging for its expansion to take place at Exit 17. And there is the gas station convenience market currently under construction.
Bolan Road Paving Discussion (Robert Graham). The town’s major roads are maintained by the State. Some few others are paved and maintained by the Town. The DPW Director told us in his election statement that he has every year sufficient money to repair the existing paved roads, but never enough to expand the net of paved roads.
The DPW Director got more road money. And one of our former state representatives rises to seek some (or all) of it for the road on which he resides. Good for him.
The taxpayers on the remaining unpaved roads should get instead a substantial tax discount to reflect the difference in service levels. There is no reason for them to subsidize forever the paved sections.
Municipal Clerks Week Proclamation. Municipal Clerks Week runs May 5-11. (Check out the suggested sample proclamation on the IIMC site in the References below).
New Beginnings Food Pantry. There are food pantries in Farmington, New Durham, Rochester, and Sanbornville (Wakefield). Something new for Milton perhaps?
Under Old Business are scheduled four items: 9) Town Vehicle & Equipment Surplus Bid Follow-Up, 10) Follow-Up Discussion on Auction Results, 11) Follow-Up Discussion & Potential Decision of Board / Committee Vacancies, 12) Follow-Up Discussion Re.: Lockhart Field Status Letter to DES.
Town Vehicle & Equipment Surplus Bid Follow-Up. When last discussed, some DPW and police vehicles were to be sold at auction. Except for one police vehicle that would be decommissioned for general Town use. (Supposedly thus removing the need for the increased mileage reimbursement recently approved (unnecessarily)). It was mentioned also that there would be some additional expense of removing the “police package” from the vehicle retained, as there had been an additional expense to add it when it was new.
Follow-Up Discussion on Auction Results. So many questions. Do you suppose the properties sold for anything like their assessed values? Some, at least, of these properties had fallen into a distressed condition. So, probably not those ones.
But were their assessed values ever valid? Will these auction sale prices be included in the sampling used for valuation purposes? If, not, why not? These sales are more accurate than previous guesses.
Will this sale money be returned to its rightful owners, in the form of reduced taxation (in their second tax bill), or will it just disappear as increased Town spending? (“Free” money!!!)
Follow-Up Discussion & Potential Decision of Board/Committee Vacancies. Filling vacancies on Milton’s many Boards and Committees is a perennial problem. This has been become ever more of a problem as the number of Boards and Committees has proliferated over time.
For instance, the Planning Board and Zoning Board (ZBA) were not so very long ago a single board. In splitting them apart, each might be check upon the other, but that advantage vanishes in a puff of smoke, when the same few people rotate through both boards. Or even less effectively, when the same few people sit on both boards simultaneously. The intended check is gone, all that remains is the additional bureaucracy.
Appointment by the BOS, who are themselves majority-of-a-minority office-holders, from a small clique of self-selecting former officials and specially-interested parties is hardly a shining manifestation of democracy. William F. Buckley once expressed his preference for governance by a random sampling from the telephone directory over an appointed group of “experts.”
It would seem that Milton simply cannot sustain as many Boards and Committees as it has. There is a fix for that. The artisans of the Bauhaus school proposed that “less is more.”
Follow-Up Discussion Re.: Lockhart Field Status Letter to DES. This is the sort of thing that the Town Selectmen and Planning Boards should have been planning all these years, instead of playing SimCity. Their current plan? Pray that the Feds continue to ignore the problem, or else pray that those same Feds pick up the presumably world-ending cost.
Other Business That May Come Before the Board has no scheduled items.
Finally, there will be the approval of prior minutes (from the Special BOS meeting of April 15, the regular meeting of April 15, and the Workshop meeting of April 23, 2019), the expenditure report, Public Comments “Pertaining to Topics Discussed,” Town Administrator comments, and BOS comments.
Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.
International Institute of Municipal Clerks. (2019). 50th Anniversary of Municipal Clerks Week. Retrieved from www.iimc.com/index.aspx?nid=156
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. (2019, April 23). BOS Meeting Agenda, April 25, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/miltonnh/files/agendas/4.25.19_bos_nonpublic_session.pdf
Town of Milton. (2019, April 19). BOS Meeting Agenda, April 27, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/miltonnh/files/agendas/4.27.19_bos_special_meeting.pdf
Town of Milton. (2019, May 2). BOS Meeting Agenda, May 4, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/miltonnh/files/agendas/5.4.19_bos_agenda-town_property_auction_0.pdf
Town of Milton. (2019, May 2). BOS Meeting Agenda, May 6, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/miltonnh/files/agendas/5.6.19_bos_agenda.pdf
Youtube. (1965). Cone of Silence. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eUIK9CihA&feature=youtu.be&t=1
Wikipedia. (2019, April 23). Bauhaus. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bauhaus