Not Quite There, Yet

By S.D. Plissken | August 10, 2020

There was to have been a Board of Selectmen (BOS) Workshop meeting this evening at 6:00 PM. The BOS would have heard the next budget proposals from the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Recreation Department.

The meeting has been cancelled and the budget presentations rescheduled for the regular BOS meeting of Monday, August 17.

The Budget Committee sent previously a letter outlining its view that the overall budget should come in at $1,000 less than the Default Budget, as being the only way that an actual budget would ever actually be passed. Its chairman, Mr. Williams, read it out to the BOS at their last meeting.

The BOS heard previously budget proposals from the Milton Mills Free Public Library (MMFPL) and the Police Department. The MMFPL’s budget went over its 2% guidance. Chairman Rawson expressed his disappointment. It would not be impossible to arrange, but their overage would have to come out of some other department’s budget.

The DPW wants double this year, some $500,000, to make up for having their warrant item rejected last March. Again, this would not be impossible, provided their overage came from the budget of some other department or departments.

Some define Economics as the science of best allocating scarce resources. (Some call it the “Dismal Science”). Now the Town government has never felt the need to allocate our scarce dollars in any measured or scientific way. Well, maybe in the distant past, but not for a long time now. It has been more recently in the habit of taking with both hands, both in good times and in bad.

Even now, some in Town government wish to consult Town-hired lawyers to find some way to evade the Tax Cap, which is likely to cramp their style. The style to which they have become accustomed. They have tended to do what they like, as opposed to what we can afford. Does anyone suppose that taxpayers are likely to smile on additional legal expenses, to be added to their current burden, and incurred primarily to thwart their expressed will?

I would predict instead a revised tax cap, an “improved” one with a lower ceiling, maybe 1%.

Meanwhile, the School Board, who is also on a default budget, and whose salary increase warrant article got rejected some months ago, is not quite there with us either. It is to hold a deliberative session at the Nute High and Middle School cafeteria tomorrow, Tuesday, August 11, at 6:00 PM. Its sole object is to put their Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) warrant article back on a September 8 ballot.

The negotiated increases are substantial. They have to make up time for having been rejected before. One supposes they intend to repeat this exercise until we get it “right.” Because “no,” means “ask me again”?

Is anyone pixilated enough to suppose that taxpayers will have more money during this economic lockdown than they did when they kept their hands in their pockets last March? Very unlikely.

Yes, yes, one might expect turnout to be lower in a primary then it would be at the regular election. Wait, you don’t think that was a part of their calculation, do you? To pack a smaller venue? No, that would be sort of cynical and manipulative.

Do you suppose they know how many taxpayers asked also for a School tax cap? As I understand it, their name is “legion,” and such a measure is even now being studied. But it could never pass, could it? Well, yes, it very well could, if the School Board takes no account of the taxpayers’ scarce resources.

Taken all in all, one might say that many of our Town officials are not quite there with us yet.

References:

Town of Milton. (2020, August 7). BOS Workshop Meeting Agenda, August 10, 2020. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif916/f/events/08-10-2020_bosagenda.pdf

Author: S.D. Plissken

I thought he'd be taller.

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