AREA Petition Filed

By S.D. Plissken | January 16, 2020

A correspondent informs us that the AREA advisory petition was filed with the School District Clerk by Tuesday’s deadline and its signatures have been verified. This option will be on the School District ballot.

Canvassers obtained more than double the necessary signatures, well on their way to triple, which was excellent work for a later start. Only three signers were not as registered as they might think they are, but they have time still before the election to check their status.

A School Board member and a Board of Selectmen member looked in on the canvassing process. They did not sign, but agreed to the limited extent that they are reported to have felt it was in the best interests of Milton to explore all possibilities in educating the children of Milton.

Congratulations to Mrs. Laura Ott Turgeon and Mr. Les Elder for their effective effort. On to the election.

(For the text of the AREA advisory petition see AREA Petition Signing Times (The times, of course, are past)).

 

AREA Petition Signing Times

By S.D. Plissken | January 9, 2020

There is another petition afoot that seeks to begin to address Milton’s rather astonishing school expenses.

This Citizens’ Petition seeks to direct the Milton School Board to talk with neighboring school districts to determine the feasibility of creating an Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (AREA) (see RSA 195-A in References) for sending high and middle school students out of district.

Milton registered voters are to have several opportunities to sign:

  • Friday evening, January 10, at Dunkin’ Donuts (565 White Mountain Highway), from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM; and
  • Saturday morning, January 11, again at Dunkin’ Donuts (565 White Mountain Highway), from 10:00 AM to Noon.
  • Sunday morning, January 12, again at Dunkin’ Donuts (565 White Mountain Highway), from 10:00 AM to Noon.

(The filing deadline is Tuesday, January 14 [Corrected]).

The text of the AREA petition is as follows:

To see if the voters of the Milton School District shall direct the Milton School Board to enter into talks with neighboring School Districts to determine the feasibility of an AREA Agreement according to RSA 195-A for the purpose of sending our high school and middle school students out of district.

One hesitates to say without more information, but the petition language might suggest that the Milton School Board has refused hitherto to consider or enter into such talks on its own. A public board, responsible to the taxpayers, would never choose to put its own notions before the interests of the taxpayers that are paying the costs. That just could never be, right?

One imagines instead that the Milton School Board will leap at the suggestion that they determine if such an agreement is even feasible. And if it reduces our burden, they could not help but be interested. So, this petition would seem to be another one that seeks rather moderate ends.

One of its proponents has argued that “This does not pin us down to one school or another,” while requiring transparency in that its findings would necessarily be public.

Readers may find several random examples of such agreements in the References below, including even an interstate agreement between Orford, NH, and several Vermont towns. Surrey’s AREA agreement with Keene provides for a 2.5% tuition discount in exchange for its 20-year commitment.

References:

Milton School Board. (2020, January 8). Milton School Board Meeting, January 8, 2020. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zw2T7c12Yo

Rivendell Interstate School District. (2011, March 26). Articles of Agreement for Rivendell Interstate School District. Retrieved from www.rivendellschool.org/images/stories/districtinfo/Articles_of_Agreement_Amended_03-26-11_FinalCorrected.pdf

State of New Hampshire. (2016, June 21). RSA Chapter 195-A. Authorized Regional Enrollment Area (AREA) School. Retrieved from www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/xv/195-a/195-a-mrg.htm

SAU #19. (2014, January 9). Goffstown-New Boston AREA Agreement. Retrieved from www.goffstown.k12.nh.us/attachments/article/215/Goffstown-New_Boston_AREA_Agreement.pdf

SAU #75. (2015). Grantham-Lebanon-Plainfield AREA Agreement. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0xxSV9o0oV9TzJsOU9sLUNiUjg/view

VPR. (2013, November 15). Blinkhorn: Kennedy and Dresden [Dresden School District]. Retrieved from www.vpr.org/post/blinkhorn-kennedy-and-dresden

 

Milton Tax Cap Petition Filed

By S.D. Plissken | January 8, 2020

A correspondent from the Milton Taxpayers Association (MTA) reports that the Tax Cap petition warrant article was filed yesterday with the Milton Town Clerk. The MTA obtained over triple the number of required signatures. This measure will be on the ballot.

The MTA invites those who signed to regard themselves – if they so choose – as valued members of the association. Note: some thirteen of you may not be as registered as you think you are. Fortunately, you have time still before the election to resolve that.

Refusals were exceedingly rare. Had the MTA set out earlier, it might have obtained even more multiples of the necessary signatures above what they did collect. I might point out what such numbers imply. In the unlikely event that they encounter any shenanigans between here and the ballot, say at the deliberative session, they should have no trouble in calling their own special town election, or even a succession of them, to put things right again.

I am told that volunteer canvassers had some interesting conversations along the way. They found that a long line of excessive tax increases has engendered scant “appreciation.” Many signers expressed even a bit of disappointment. Capping future tax increases at these proposed levels seemed to them a rather minimal starter option. They would have preferred something much more comprehensive.

They may rest assured that this option – minimal though it may be – will appear on the ballot each and every year until it passes. (Most NH cities have had it for years already, including Dover, Franklin, Manchester, Laconia, Nashua, Rochester, Portsmouth, etc.).

Milton’s various boards and committees, including its Board of Selectmen (BOS), will henceforth be working diligently for the MTA. Every time they raise taxes above the proposed tax cap, they will be encouraging yet more signatures and more votes, until the tax cap is passed.

But why suffer through all that? Get it done this time around.

Final Tax Cap Signing Date

By S.D. Plissken | January 3, 2020

Tomorrow (Saturday, January 4) will be the last opportunity to sign the Tax Cap petition at a designated time and place. You may find a Milton Taxpayers Association (MTA) representative either seated inside Dunkin Donuts, between the hours of 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM or, thereafter, in front of the Milton Mills post office, from approximately 10:15 AM until 11:15 AM (longer if not painfully cold). They hope to see you there.

There might be still some amount of door-to-door canvassing, but not for long after. The next stop is submitting the signatures to the Town Clerk.

I am told that MTA canvassers received the following cookie fortunes at their most recent meeting: “Any idea seriously entertained tends to bring about the realization of itself,” and “A person with a determined heart frightens problems away.”

Those sentiments would both seem to be very much in the spirit of this serious and determined effort to limit the unconscionable growth of local property taxation.

I hope that my contacts in the MTA will keep me – and thus you – abreast of their progress.

Two More Signing Opportunities

By S.D. Plisskin | December 27, 2019

Santa left no tax caps under the tree. If only it were that simple. He did leave signature sheets.

I am informed that your last chances to sign the Tax Cap petition will be Saturday, December 28, 2019, and Saturday, January 4, 2020.

On those days, you may sign at Dunkin’ Donuts, between the hours of 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM, and at the Milton Mills post office, from about 10:15 AM until 11:15 AM (and later if weather permits).

The more the merrier.

Your “John Hancock” Sought

By S.D. Plissken | December 20, 2019

As a delegate to the Continental Congress, and its president, John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. His signature appears first and is the largest by far. It is likely apocryphal that he said he wrote it large so that King George could read it without his spectacles.

John Hancock SignatureHis name became a synonym for “signature,” although perhaps less so in recent years. But you may have been prompted at some time or another to put your “John Hancock” upon some document.

This is one of those times and one of those opportunities. The Milton Taxpayers Association (MTA) is sponsoring a petition warrant article (“Tax Cap”) that would limit future Town budget increases, and therefore, future Town tax increases, either to 2% or to the amount of the Consumer Price Increase (CPI), whichever amount is the lesser.

Now, a Tax Cap is no panacea. It will never change the mindset of those who think that more and more of your money, year after year, is never “enough.”  You need to identify them and cease gifting them your vote. A Tax Cap can not by itself restrict their other methods of increasing taxes, nor their excessive “fudge factor.” We can work on that. And the Tax Cap’s limitation begins at the current absurd baseline, rather than backing out past excesses.

One might think of the Tax Cap as a place to start. When you find yourself in a hole, it is time to stop digging. Past time really.

There is really no doubt that the Tax Cap will appear on the March ballot. But will your “John Hancock” appear on this declaration?

As mentioned previously, a representative of the MTA may be found at Milton’s Dunkin’ Donuts shop this Saturday (tomorrow) between 8:00 and 10:00 AM. (There is no reason to suppose that the Dunkin Donuts corporation has any part in this). I have been given to understand that they will proceed from there to the front of the Milton Mills post office, where you may sign from about 10:15 AM until 11:00 AM.

If you would like to further assist in this groundbreaking effort, petition sheets may be obtained from MTA representatives for you to use in canvassing your friends and neighbors. (Those friends and neighbors that are Milton registered voters, that is).

I have been given to understand that signage will become available also as the election approaches.

References:

Wikipedia. (2019, October 25). Law of Holes. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_holes

 

Tax Cap to Appear on March Ballot

By S.D. Plissken | December 12, 2019

I am given to understand that representatives of the Milton Taxpayers’ Association (MTA) will be out collecting signatures in the next month so that a Tax Cap warrant article may appear on the March ballot.

You may share their concern that in recent years that Town officials seem to be either unable or unwilling to restrain themselves in creating Town budgets. They thereby create tax burdens that increase at rates much greater than inflation. This could be your opportunity to “assist” the Town in finding some upper limits.

Last year the Board of Selectmen (BOS) voted unanimously to use your fund balance – the money they took “in error” due to their preposterous 2016 valuation – to cover their rather incontinent budget. Their budget was rejected by the voters, but many of its features were funded anyway by an excessive “fudge factor” included in their process.

This year the BOS voted unanimously to “guide” their Town department heads in drafting budgets that included 2% raises and 1.7% COLA increases. Selectman Rawson said immediately, i.e., without any apparent consideration at all, that he was “just fine” with that; the other selectmen all agreed with him.

In a public BOS meeting this past year Town Planning Board member Laurence D. “Larry” Brown spoke rather unguardedly about his “vision” for Milton’s future. (He had requested a secret meeting, but went ahead anyway in a public session). You might find that you are not present in the future he plans.

Mr. Brown expressed publicly his utter contempt for manufactured homes. They do not serve as “attractions.” (Quote: “No one travels to see the double-wides of New Jersey”). Yes, that old saw again, as if creating “attractions” was ever a legitimate concern of government. He said forthrightly that there are “far too many” manufactured homes in town (13% of Milton’s households). That is to say, for those of you that live in them, there are far too many of you in town.

Mr. Brown expressed his glowing approval for “gentrification” – a process by which wealthier incomers displace those with less wherewithal. Can’t keep up with our increasing government and the increasing taxes needed to pay for it? You can be replaced by better, wealthier taxpayers.

Mr. Brown congratulated himself on having personally prevented the establishment of many businesses over the years, both as an officeholder and an individual. As if that were an accomplishment. (He bragged that he had even spent his own money on lawsuits to do so).

These are the people that are Planning our future, creating and approving the Town budgets, and setting the tax rates. One might almost embrace a slogan from the national scene, and claim that these persons are “Not My Planning Board” and “Not My Board of Selectmen.”

There might be some few among you who think that these trends and these people have not been a burden and a problem for Milton. You should sign the Tax Cap petition anyway, if only to support the principles of democracy. You would be ensuring that there are more ballot options from which voters might choose, rather than fewer options. And there would be no danger that a fully satisfied electorate would pass such a measure, right?

If an MTA volunteer finds their way to your house, you should smile upon their efforts. If you do not encounter one, you may find an MTA volunteer seated in the Dunkin’ Donuts, for the next few Saturday mornings, between 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM.