Article #6: A Long Walk on a Short Pier

By S.D. Plissken | March 2, 2020

Article #6 would have us join the Strafford County Regional Planning Commission, whose annual dues are currently $5,764.

Article 6: Strafford County Regional Planning Commission Membership Dues

To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the Sum of Five Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Four Dollars ($5,764) and to authorize the Town of Milton Selectmen / Administrator / Planner to pay said sum to the Strafford County Regional Planning Commission as dues for its fiscal year July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 and thereafter to place the annual dues as may be adjusted from time to time into to [the] Town operating budget. (Majority vote required).

Estimated tax impact is $0.01 (One Cent).

Approved by the Board of Selectmen (3,0,0)

Approved by the Budget Committee (6,1,0)

We may note that the article’s language acknowledges frankly that those dues “may” be adjusted from time to time. That is to say, the annual dues will be adjusted upwards, both certainly and frequently. (There, I fixed it).

The bridge in question was already marginal when it was closed for the winter of 2010-11, because its revised load limit would no longer support snowplow equipment. The bridge was subsequently removed in 2012. It has been absent now for nearly eight years.

The stated justification for joining this regional planning commission was so that it might intercede on our behalf with the NH State Department of Transportation (NHDOT) in the matter of replacing the New Bridge Road bridge between Milton and Lebanon. A secondary justification given more recently was the regional planning commission’s assistance in helping us through the government-created regulatory morass in establishing conservation areas. (Thanks guys! Here’s $5,764 for your trouble).

Our Town planning entity wants “us” to join a Regional planning entity, complete with club dues, because the NH state planning entity (and its NH DOT planning entity) have passed us over in the matter of the bridge. Its projected replacement is years out from now, unless it gets postponed yet again. They might listen to us – or grant us more preferential treatment than those not paying these dues – if, and only if, we belong to this Regional planning entity.

Are we not paying already both Federal and State gas taxes to fund road and bridge improvements? (Those taxes being a substantial part of the per-gallon price). And have we not already set aside funds to pay for “our share” of this bridge? (As has Lebanon).

Assuming any part of the stated rationale was true, it would be the very definition of corruption on the part of the regional and state planners, as well as the NH DOT. That could not possibly be true, could it?

This channel is a very short span. During WW II, the army used pre-fabricated Bailey bridges to cross much wider bodies of water. They could be constructed from one side of a river – often under enemy fire – in very short times, days even. Those bridges could take the weight of heavy armored vehicles. Some postwar bridges of this type are still in use today.

Those unaware of the Hayekian “knowledge problem” might find themselves gobsmacked by the complete pig’s breakfast the various government planning entities have made of this. The bridge problem should not be a difficult one in itself. It is not as if they are going to build it themselves, as opposed to just paying contractors. The actual problem lies in it being planned by government. Add in other layers of government, such as the state and its DOT, and the governmental complexity, expense and delay only increases. (“Adding personnel to a overdue software project only delays it further”).

There is also the matter of the price. Without a price mechanism, government cannot “know” whether there should be many bridges or none at all, nor what they should cost. Their mechanism is the political means, for which it is evidently necessary to pay a “vig” to the government level above them.

To add in yet another layer of regional government will not help this at all. But it will cost us more than if we did not: $5,764 per annum more, at least to start.

Lebanon is considering simply abandoning this project. Alton pulled out of their regional planning commission two years ago. The petition by which they were liberated is available online. Just saying.


See also But, Who Will Build the Bridges?


References:

Bailey Bridge, Inc. (2020). Bailey Bridges. Retrieved from http://www.baileybridge.com/

Wikipedia. (2020, February 2). Bailey Bridge. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bailey_bridge

Wikipedia. (2020, February 22). Vigorish. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigorish

 

Author: S.D. Plissken

I thought he'd be taller.

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