Non-Public BOS Session Scheduled (August 19, 2019)

By Muriel Bristol | August 17, 2019

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a BOS meeting to be held Monday, August 19.


The BOS meeting is scheduled to begin with a Non-Public session beginning at 5:00 PM. That agenda has one Non-Public item classed as 91-A3 II (c).

91-A:3 II (c) Matters which, if discussed in public, would likely affect adversely the reputation of any person, other than a member of the public body itself, unless such person requests an open meeting. This exemption shall extend to any application for assistance or tax abatement or waiver of a fee, fine, or other levy, if based on inability to pay or poverty of the applicant.

The BOS intend to adjourn their Non-Public BOS session at approximately (*) 6:00 PM, when they intend to return to Public session.


The Public portion of the agenda has New Business, Old Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.

Under New Business are scheduled four agenda items: 1) Fire Station Driveway Parking Repairs (N. Marique), 2) Casey Road Restrictions and Parking (K. Golab), 3) Milton Mills Flag Pole Replacement Request (R. Graham) and 4) September Meeting Schedule Adjustment (due to Labor Day Weekend).

Fire Station Driveway Parking Repairs (N. Marique).  Hello, DPW? When you are out repairing roads, could you repair our driveway also? Otherwise, I’d have to make an expense request.

Casey Road Restrictions and Parking (K. Golab). We saw this before as a request for authorization of a neighborhood yard sale.

Milton Mills Flag Pole Replacement Request (R. Graham). Apparently another expense request.

Strictly speaking, there is no requirement that Milton Mills have a public flagpole at all. While Milton Mills does abut the State o’ Maine, it is nowhere close to Canada. There is little danger of anyone wondering if Milton Mills is still within the territory claimed by the United States of America.

Now, if Milton Mills were to secede from Milton, for which I understand there is some sentiment, this could be an agenda item at their first BOS meeting. Hint: all it took to create Milton in 1802 was 900 people and a church. You have both, and much more besides.

September Meeting Schedule Adjustment (due to Labor Day Weekend). Pro forma. Does anyone imagine that the BOS will not be giving themselves a Labor Day Weekend?


Under Old Business are scheduled four items: 5) Town-Owned Properties Update, 6) Auction Property Status 7) Law Firm Selection and 8) Budget Process.

Town-Owned Properties Update. Still with us (and some still dilapidated), unless a property auction is to be scheduled.

There was that request for divine intervention in the matter of the old fire station because the BOS missed its warrant deadline. Then the BOS missed the NH House divine intervention filing deadlines. But NH Senator Bradley obliged, after a fashion. There is a “sale pending” sign out there now.

Auction Property Status. If this is not a scheduling request, then the status is no property auction scheduled.

Law Firm Selection. Hopefully, the BOS have selected a law firm that knows that the Town cannot invent beach restrictions, put their signs on State highways (all of Milton’s major streets), sell fire stations without voter authorization, or do any of the other things that have had to be reversed.

Budget Process. Presumably, this concerns the Joint Budget Committee-Board of Selectmen hearings regarding departmental budgets that were discussed at prior meetings.

Unless, the BOS intends to reverse the “guidance” for tax increases that it gave at its last meeting. Regrettably, that has been their “process” for far too long. This could be its chance to begin righting its course.


Other Business That May Come Before the Board has no scheduled items.


Finally, there will be the approval of prior minutes (from the BOS workshop meetings of July 11, 2019, July 15, 2019, and July 18, 2019, as well as the regular Bos Meeting of July 15, 2019), the expenditure report, Public Comments “Pertaining to Topics Discussed,” Town Administrator comments, and BOS comments.

The Town Administrator has planned comments about an Economic Development Committee (EDC) Recording Clerk request. Because the Town needs another expense item on its budget.

After the Public session, the BOS meeting is scheduled to continue with another Non-Public session beginning at 5:00 PM. That agenda has one Non-Public item classed as 91-A 3 II (c).


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


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. (2019, August 16). BOS Meeting Agenda, August 19, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/miltonnh/files/agendas/08-19-2019_bos_agenda.pdf

Youtube. (1965). Cone of Silence. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1eUIK9CihA&feature=youtu.be&t=19

Milton and the Income Tax – 1911

By Muriel Bristol | August 15, 2019

The United States was created during its revolution as a loose confederacy of independent states, which then were drawn closer together under the constitution of 1789.

The federal government could not tax citizens of states directly. It could impose tariffs on foreign goods and it could vote “direct taxes.” Direct taxes were apportioned to the states by the relative sizes of their populations. Each sovereign state would then determine in what manner it would raise its apportioned share within its own borders.

With the exception of a Federal income tax imposed briefly as a Civil War emergency measure (see Milton’s US Excise Tax of May 1864), high tariffs and direct taxes were how the Federal government financed itself for the 120 years between 1789 to 1909.

Enter the Progressives, both Democrat and Republican.

DEMOCRATS’ TARIFF VIEWS. Want the Income Tax and Reduction on the Necessaries of Life. Washington, April 15. – For more than four hours the Democratic members of the senate conferred in an effort to agree upon a policy toward tariff legislation. At the end of that time it was announced that they had decided to support an income tax amendment and would present a solid front against any Republican opposition to an income tax for raising revenue. The conference also went on record favoring a general reduction on tariff schedules, particularly those relating to the necessaries of life (Portsmouth Herald, April 15, 1909).

Income Tax Amendments. Washington, May 22. – The coalition of Democratic senators and “progressive Republicans” has been broken so far as the income tax question is concerned, and amendments on that subject will be presented by Senators Bailey and Cummins (Portsmouth Herald, May 22, 1909).

But these advocates of a more “positive,” i.e., a more active, more powerful, and more intrusive, federal government managed to smooth over any differences. More positivity required more money, a lot more money, than tariffs and direct taxation could hope to provide.

Passed by Congress – July 12, 1909

The U.S. Congress passed a resolution on July 12, 1909, sending the proposed Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution out to the States for ratification.

Sixteenth Amendment: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Twenty-five States ratified the amendment between August 10, 1909, and March 2, 1911.

New Hampshire Rejects the Sixteenth Amendment – March 2, 1911

New Hampshire’s Progressive Republican Governor, Robert P. Bass of Peterborough, NH, pushed hard for passage of the measure. In so doing, he set aside New Hampshire’s own sovereignty in favor of some vague Progressive formulations about the needs of the federal government and the supposed dangers it faced. He asserted also the income tax’s “equity,” using a variant of the socialist dictum “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Depression-era bank robber Sutton would use that same reasoning some years later. When asked why he robbed banks, he supposedly answered, “Because that’s where the money was.” That is to say that banks, as repositories of money, were the ones best able to satisfy his “needs.”

URGES INCOME TAX. Gov. Bass Sends Special Message to New Hampshire Legislature Favoring Federal Support. CONCORD, N.H., Jan. 19. – Gov. Robert P. Bass today sent a special message to the New Hampshire legislature favoring the ratification by New Hampshire of the income tax amendment to the national constitution. “Loyalty to our country,” said Gov. Bass, “demands that we give to the national government every power necessary to protect and maintain itself under all circumstances and all dangers. An income tax is the most equitable form of taxation, because it draws upon the citizens directly in proportion to their ability to bear the burden.” The matter was made a special order in the house of representatives for next Wednesday. The special committee appointed to investigate the subject of railroad rates in New Hampshire organized today, and voted to employ as counsel Edmund B. Cook of Concord and Sherman E. Burroughs of Manchester (Boston Globe, [Friday,] January 20, 1911).

The New Hampshire House responded to the Governor’s Special request promptly. After 3 o’clock, on Wednesday afternoon, January 25, 1911, Rep. Ahern of Concord moved for a vote on House Joint Resolution No. 1, i.e., ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment.

On a viva voce vote the joint resolution passed and was sent to the Senate for concurrence (NH General Court, 1911).

A viva voce vote was a voice vote. So, no records of any particular yeas and nays would be kept, which was likely very much the point. (Therefore, there would appear to be no way to determine how Milton’s representative voted).

THE PUBLIC DRINKING CUP. New Hampshire Puts Ban on This Germ Distributor. Concord, N.H., Jan. 25. The knell of the public drinking cup in New Hampshire was sounded today when the lower branch of the Legislature, concurring with the Senate, passed a bill to give the state board of health authority to restrict the use of common drinking cups in public places. The bill is along the line of the one passed in Massachusetts a year ago. The House today also passed a bill providing for the registration of all cases of tuberculosis. This bill must go to the Senate before becoming a law. A resolution, ratifying the proposed income tax amendment to the federal constitution was passed by the House by viva voce vote and was sent to the Senate (Rutland (VT) Daily Herald, January 26, 1911).

[Tuberculosis was a health scourge at this time: a highly communicable, incurable, fatal disease. Withdrawing public drinking vessels made perfect sense. Authorizing at the same time an economically cancerous Federal income tax made much less sense].

THE INCOME TAX AMENDMENT. ONE of the results of the political overturn of last fall is the impetus that has been given to the ratification of the federal income tax amendment. This week the senate of North Carolina ratified the amendment by a vote of 42 to 1, and its passage, as far as that state is concerned, is assured. Ohio, which last year under republican auspices rejected the amendment, this year with democrats in control ratified it by an almost unanimous vote. During the year it is not improbable that 24 more states, the required number, will ratify and make the amendment effective. The roll of states that have adopted the amendment includes Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas, with North Carolina practically assured. Gov. Bass of New Hampshire has urged ratification and the situation in that state is favorable. Vermont, however, has turned down the amendment. In Maine favorable action is expected. In Massachusetts the house is regarded as favorable to it, and the governor is favorable, but the senate is in doubt. The final adoption of the amendment does not put any income tax law in operation. Congress must pass such a law before there will be an income tax. The legislation might not be passed readily. A graduated tax has been proposed, one that would bear lightly on small fortunes, but draw off a little of the swelling in. swollen fortunes (Boston Globe, January 27, 1911).

INCOME TAX IS APPROVED BY 13. Opposed by Virginia and Rhode Island. Senator Brown Sure States Will Adopt the Amendment. Thirty-Five Must Favor Measure to Do It. WASHINGTON, Jan. 31. – Before the adjournment of several state legislatures now in session the number of states that have ratified the amendment to the federal constitution providing for an Income tax will probably be considerably increased. Already 13 states have approved the Income tax proposition. Idaho being the latest to get onto the bandwagon. Others which have previously put their “OK” on the legislation are Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, Missouri, Kansas and Ohio. One house of the New Hampshire legislature has passed the ratification resolution and it is now before the other house. Virginia and Rhode Island are the only states that have so far refused approval. The majority, of the Virginia legislature thought that the adoption of the amendment would give the federal government and its officials too much authority to pry into the affairs of private individuals and state corporations. To make the amendment effective the ratification of 35 or 36 states – depending on how soon Arizona and New Mexico are admitted to the union – is required. The approval of 35 of the 46 states now in the union would be a three-fourths vote, enough to adopt the amendment. If the number do not ratify before the two territories now in the process of being made into states are formally admitted into the union, the ratification of one additional state will be necessary – three-fourths of 48 being 36. It has taken a year and a half for 13 states to give their approval. Senator Brown of Nebraska formally presented the income tax amendment to the senate June 17, 1909, during the tariff session of congress. Today Senator Brown expressed the belief that not a single state will ultimately withhold its approval. “I am confident,” he said, “that there will be unanimous verdict in favor of the Income tax amendment among the states. I have written to the proper officer of every state, calling their attention to the proposed amendment and pointing out the reasons for its adoption promptly. I have heard from every one of them, and upon their replies I base my expectations that no one will withhold ratification” (Boston Globe, February 1, 1911).

On Thursday, March 2, 1911, NH State Senator Hosford of Monroe moved that the whole Senate vote on accepting the Senate Judiciary committee’s recommendation on House Joint Resolution No. 1. (The Senate Judiciary committee was composed of Senators Charles H. Hosford of Monroe (R) (2nd District), Robert J. Merrill of Claremont (R) (7th), Alvin B. Cross of Concord (R) (10th), Alvin J. Lucier of Nashua (D) (20th), and John Pender of Portsmouth (R) (24th)). The Judiciary committee majority had voted (3-2) to recommend approval of the Sixteenth Amendment.

Nine NH state senators (39.1%) voted to accept that majority report of the Judiciary committee (i.e., indicating that they favored the Sixteenth Amendment): James O. Gerry of Madison (D) (5th District), Robert J. Merrill of Claremont (R) (7th), John W. Prentiss of Walpole (D) (8th), Arthur J. Boutwell of Hopkinton (R) (9th), Windsor H. Goodnow of Keene (R) (13th), Charles L. Rich of Jaffrey (R) (14th), Daniel W. Hayden of Hollis (R) (15th), Alvin J. Lucier of Nashua (D) (20th), and John Pender of Portsmouth (R) (24th).

Fourteen NH state senators (60.9%) voted instead to accept the minority report of the Judiciary committee (i.e., indicating that they opposed the Sixteenth Amendment): John Cross of Colebrook (R) (1st District), Charles H. Hosford of Monroe (R) (2nd), George S. Rogers of Lebanon (R) (3rd), Jonathan M. Cheney of Ashland (R) (4th), Charles H. Bean of Franklin (R) (6th), Alvin B. Cross of Concord (R) (10th), George H. Guptill of Raymond (D) (11th), Haven Doe of Somersworth (D) (12th), Charles E. Chapman of Manchester (R) (16th), Robert Leggett of Manchester (R) (17th), Michael E. Ahern of Manchester (D) (18th), Reginald C. Stevenson of Exeter (R) (21st), John W. Jewell of Dover (D) (22nd), and Clarence H. Paul of Portsmouth (D) (23rd).

NH Senate President William D. Swart of Nashua (R) (19th District) did not vote.

Milton’s state senator was among those that opposed authorizing a national income tax through ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment.

The viva voce vote on the amendment itself broke along the same lines as the votes on the Judiciary committee’s recommendation. The Senate clerk advised the House that the joint resolution had failed.

MESSAGE FROM THE SENATE. A message from the Honorable Senate by its clerk announced that the Senate refused to concur with the House of Representatives in the passage of the following joint resolution sent up from the House of Representatives: House Joint Resolution No. 1, joint resolution ratifying the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America (NH General Court, 1911).

The Sixteenth Amendment, having failed in the NH Senate, did not “progress” to Governor Bass for his signature.

Income Tax Killed. Concord, N.H., March 3. – The New Hampshire state senate, by a vote of 14 to 9, killed the resolution passed by the house some weeks since ratifying the income tax amendment to the national constitution (Portsmouth Herald, March 3, 1911).

Delaware Gets the “Final Honor” – February 3, 1913

Meanwhile, another ten states approved the amendment between March 16, 1911, and January 31, 1913, for a total of thirty-five of the necessary thirty-six states. At the end there was a bit of a “photo finish” for the “honor” of imposing a national income tax. Progressive President-elect Woodrow Wilson (D) wanted his home state of New Jersey to tip the balance, but New Mexico was also a contender. Unexpectedly, Delaware got in before either of them.

INCOME TAX IS NOW CERTAINTY. Amendment of Constitution Is Voted by States. Delaware Gets Final Honor. Washington, Feb. 4. The action of the legislature of Delaware in ratifying the income tax amendment to the constitution makes it part of the federal organic law. There was a lively race for the honor of being the pivotal state in the ratification of the amendment. To make it effective, the approval of three-quarters of the states was required. Up to yesterday morning thirty-five states had acted favorably and it was expected New Mexico would have the honor of “clinching’ the amendment, as its legislature was expected to take affirmative action yesterday. New Jersey was a close rival, and President-elect Wilson was very desirous that his state should swing first into line, but the fact that the New Jersey legislature did not reassemble until last evening put it at a disadvantage. In the meantime Delaware, which had not been in the limelight, got busy and ratified the amendment, heating out both New Mexico and New Jersey. Shortly after the news of Delaware’s ratification was received a Cheyenne dispatch announced that the Wyoming legislature had also ratified the amendment. The income tax issue was submitted to the states by unanimous vote of the senate and a 317 to 14 majority of the house on July 31, 1909. The amendment submitted was as follows: “That congress shall have power to levy and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states and without regard to any census or enumeration.” Alabama led off the procession or ratifying states on Aug. 19, 1909, and by the end of 1910 the amendment had been approved by eight states. In 1911 the number was increased to thirty. In 1913, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana and Minnesota fell into line, making the total thirty-four, ratification by two more states being necessary to adopt the amendment. The states that have rejected the amendment are Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Utah. Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia have taken no action on the amendment. Congress will enact a law to levy the tax, probably during the extra-ordinary session to be called by President-elect Wilson in March. The tax itself, its provisions and its limitations, are all left to congress. The new law probably would supersede the corporation tax and provide for a tax on all incomes above $5000, although there has been some sentiment in favor of making the limit as low as $4000. Congressional leaders who have been preparing for the final ratification by the states estimate an income tax would bring in about $100,000,000 a year to the government. Now that the tax is provided by the constitution, the proposed excise tax, framed by Democratic leaders in 1912 to meet the supreme court’s decision, which held a former income tax un-constitutional will be dropped, and some of its provisions may be included In the new law (Fitchburg Sentinel, February 4, 1911).

New Hampshire Gets Onto the Bandwagon – February-March 1913

For some reason, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire felt some need to vote superfluous affirmations after Delaware had already tipped the scale. The bandwagon effect, one supposes.

A newly-elected (November 1912) New Hampshire House passed another viva voce, or voice vote, in favor of passage, on February 18, 1913; and a newly-elected New Hampshire Senate voted –  this time giving its approval – 20 in favor, to 2 opposed, on February 19, 1913.

Samuel D. Felker of Rochester (D) was the new governor. He had failed to win election outright and had instead been selected by the legislature. (He was the newly-selected Governor). His signature completed New Hampshire’s after-the-fact ratification process on March 7, 1913.

Enabling Legislation – March 1913

Three states had rejected the amendment outright: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Utah. In Florida, it passed in just one branch of its legislature. Pennsylvania and Virginia took no action at all.

The Federal congress, being now authorized to impose national income taxes, set forth to do so immediately. In arguing for ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment, its Progressive proponents had claimed originally that it would not affect anyone making less than $10,000 per year. The goal posts moved to $5,000 per year by 1911. After passage, that figure reached down to include those making $3,500 per year.

INCOME TAX DOWN TO $3500. With indications that the proposed Income tax “bill would levy tribute upon all incomes above $3500, Representative Hull has begun the task of forming that measure. There has been a tentative understanding among members of the Ways and Mean Committee that the income tax bill would apply to all incomes above $5000. As the estimates of the revenues under the new tariff law are being made, however, it is suggested that the $5000 exemption will be too high and that an income tax upon incomes to the excess of $3500 will be necessary to supply the deficiency. The new income tax law will absorb the existing corporation tax law which now produces nearly $30,000,000 annually in revenues. In the absence of definite figures by experts of the Ways and Means Committee as to the inroads upon the treasury will be inevitable under the Underwood tariff bill, it is now estimated that the income tax must produce between $125,000,000 and $150,000,000 annually. Originally, Mr. Hull, who is the income tax expert of the House, favored a one per cent tax on all incomes above $5000 designated as earned incomes. On unearned incomes Mr. Hull suggested a 1 1-2 per cent tax, and graduated higher rate (Portsmouth Herald, March 22, 1913).

Those Progressives pushing the Sixteenth Amendment promised a better world for which only the rich would pay. (Aren’t we being told that even now?) In 1913, the somehow villainous ultra-rich were being defined as those making above $3,500 per year ($90,000 in 2018 dollars).

Frédéric Bastiat warned against governmental systems “by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.” Margaret Thatcher warned that “eventually, you run out of other people’s money.”

But the Progressives were right, weren’t they? Only the rich have been taxed and Heaven was established here on earth. Well, no, it was Bastiat and Thatcher that were proved right. Income taxation’s definition of the rich “progressed” downwards to include nearly everyone and Heaven still awaits us.

Current Federal income tax schedules – after recent “tax cuts” – reach down to “touch” those making as little as $13,000. (That would have been those who were making as little as $507 per year in 1913).


The second of the ten planks in Karl Marx’s 1848 Communist Manifesto demanded “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.” 


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

Buenker, John D. (1981, May). The Ratification of the Federal Income Tax Amendment. Retrieved from object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1981/5/cj1n1-10.pdf

Find a Grave. (2009, September 9). Robert Perkins Bass. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/41750126

NH General Court. (1911). Journals of the Honorable Senate and the House of Representatives of the State of New Hampshire, January Session, 1911. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=n3BNAAAAYAAJ

Rothbard, Murray N. (2017). The Progressive Era. Retrieved from mises-media.s3.amazonaws.com/The%20Progressive%20Era_0.pdf

Wikipedia. (2019, July 22). Progressive Era. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Era

Wikipedia. (2019, June 18). Robert P. Bass. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_P._Bass

Wikipedia. (2018, September 24). Samuel D. Felker. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_D._Felker

Wikipedia. (2019, August 5). Voice Vote. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voice_vote

Railing About Rail

By Ian Aikens | July 31, 2019

The last public hearing I attended in the legislative session in Concord that ended on June 30, 2019 was anything but encouraging. It was regarding SB241, which would authorize funding for the “project development phase” of the capital rail project and extend commuter rail from Boston to either Nashua, Manchester, or Concord (or all 3 cities). For hours I listened to one proponent after another urge the committee members to approve the bill, and I ended up being the sole member of the public to speak in opposition to the bill.

One proponent called it a “no brainer” since 80% of the funding would come from the federal government. Just how a government that is $22,000,000,000,000 (and counting) in the hole has “free” money to dispense was never clarified to the committee members. One committee member asked one of the proponents if inserting the project into the 2019-2028 Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan (a big black hole) meant that the remaining 20% needed would already be funded. In other words, the money’s already there, so why not spend it? Indeed, placing a costly project in a big black hole with little visibility for the taxpaying public would be great for special interest groups, and that’s how government boondoggles are born. Many of the speakers touted how rail would create jobs and revitalize towns, cut down on traffic congestion, increase business at Manchester Airport, improve the environment, bring tourists to New Hampshire, and keep the young from leaving the state. The only benefit I didn’t hear mentioned was that it would spur the return of the Messiah.

Now let’s take a quick look at the history of rail in this country. It served a practical purpose as the country was developing and spreading across the continent transitioning from horse and buggy and water transportation, but once automobiles and air travel become affordable to the masses, rail transport became outmoded and impractical. Passenger rail was always used more by the elite, and ridership peaked around 1920 and never recovered. Despite the rosy claims of its proponents, virtually every rail project in the country features overestimates of ridership, underestimates of the building costs involved, constant and ongoing taxpayer subsidies, deferred maintenance with incredible backlogs—and a band of highly paid consultants served well by the perpetuation of the myths of rail. Outside of a very densely populated city like New York, and possibly Chicago and San Francisco, rail transit in this day and age is not economically feasible. Planes are faster and less expensive for long distances, and cars and buses are more convenient and less expensive for short distances. A few examples of the dismal record of rail projects from around the country: 1) Nashville’s Music City Star, which began operating in 2006, was requiring a taxpayer subsidy of $28 per ride by 2016; 2) Orlando, Florida’s SunRail, a 32-mile commuter rail line, opened in 2014 to such low ridership that by 2016 the government agency running the line admitted that the fare revenues weren’t enough to even cover the costs of operating and maintaining the ticket machines used to sell tickets to riders; 3) Salt Lake City opened up a commute line north to Ogden in 2008 and another line south to Provo in 2012. Through 2015, the Utah Transit Authority had already spent $2 billion on capital improvements and maintenance of rail lines that carried only 8,330 roundtrips per weekday. That’s a cost of $1,000 per resident, and the actual fares collected covered only 18% of the total transit costs. At losses of $35 million per year, it would actually have been cheaper for the taxpayers to buy every daily roundtrip rider a new Toyota Prius every two years.

Rail doesn’t fare much better when you look elsewhere in the world. France’s first high-speed rail train, which ran from Paris to Lyon, did earn enough operating profits to repay its construction costs by 1992, but later lines built all lost money, and by 2013 the country’s rail program had accumulated debts of over $50 billion. While most people are aware of Japan’s “bullet train,” did you know that the Tokyo-Osaka rail corridor is the only line that has ever been profitable in Japan? The reason for this rare rail success story is because the corridor is extremely high density (about 50 million people) and automobile ownership is low. As the government built new rail lines in lower-density corridors where car ownership was higher, those rail lines were all big money losers for the taxpayers.

Closer to home, the Downeaster provides good historical data to see how rail has worked out locally. The Downeaster, which has been running ten trains daily between Boston and Maine since 2001, makes stops in Exeter, Durham, and Dover. The first thing rail proponents always tout is that rail creates jobs and spurs economic development. A study looking at job growth paired similar cities, as far as access to infrastructure, to see how they fared since the Downeaster started running. Epping was paired with Exeter and Dover with Rochester. After 12 years, the results showed that Exeter had lost 300 jobs, Durham’s total number of jobs was virtually unchanged, and Dover had added just over 1,000 new jobs. The study’s conclusion that having a rail stop in Exeter did nothing to stop the job loss there pointed more to general economic conditions in the area and the nature of local economies (more manufacturing-oriented or service-oriented). The study found that Dover’s impressive job growth had more to do with being a large service center than trains having a stop there because Epping and Concord also saw greater job growth over the same period, and neither city had passenger rail service. The study concurred with what the director of Harvard’s Rappaport Institute had to say in the summary of a study of the MBTA commuter rail system: “The history of commuter rail in Massachusetts suggests that while commuter rail can be helpful, it generally has not revitalized communities or reduced sprawl.”

So, if government is going to be involved in the transportation business, wouldn’t it make more sense to put those tax dollars to better use? And, if the goal is to get more folks to their destinations faster and cheaper, buses are a much better bang for our bucks. The express buses that run along the I-93 corridor move 550,000 people per year for $750,000. Compare that to the Downeaster, which, mind you, is considered a “successful” rail project, and moves 530,000 riders per year for a government subsidy of $8.4 million. Furthermore, with bus lines, changes in employment and development patterns can be adapted to much quicker and economically by adding or subtracting bus lines as needed (or not). The same flexibility will never be there with rail transit.

Looking to the future, rail makes even less sense with the imminent arrival of driverless cars. The new technology will allow elderly and disabled folks to get around so much easier. While this might add to congested highways, the new technology will be able to handle the additional traffic safer and more efficiently due to the reduction of human error. Furthermore, cars are getting cleaner and more environmentally-friendly every year, so we should applaud technology that makes life easier for more folks. Clearly driverless technology will mean even less people will choose to use rail transit.

One would think with the well-publicized rail disaster in California that was supposed to link San Francisco and Los Angeles in two hours that has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars and will never be finished, that should have quelled any enthusiasm for such a project in New Hampshire. But no, I heard at least one rail advocate at the SB241 hearing mention a possible future high-speed rail line between Montreal and Boston as a goal to strive for. With estimated subsidies of $10 per rider to maintain rail service from Boston to Manchester and $60 per rider from Boston to Concord—a price tag of $5.5 million per year—why would anyone think a Montreal to Boston project would turn out any better than the California debacle? I caution readers to consider the words of Willie Brown, the former Speaker of the California State Assembly and former Mayor of San Francisco (a politician I never cared for, but one who occasionally would cut loose with an unusually frank statement of political reality): “News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone. We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it. In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.”

Finally, to end on a positive note, even though SB241 became law on June 6 without the governor’s signature and millions of “free” taxpayer dollars will be spent to study the feasibility of the capital rail project, at least all three of Milton’s state legislators (Abigail Rooney, Peter Hayward, and Jeb Bradley) voted NAY on the upcoming boondoggle. A small glimmer of hope for fiscal sanity!

References:

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/rollcall/SB241/id/805575

O’Toole, Randal. (2018, October). Romance of the Rails: Why the Passenger Trains We Love Are Not the Transportation We Need. Retrieved from www.cato.org/events/romance-rails-why-passenger-trains-we-love-are-not-transportation-we-need

Eliott-Trafficante, Josh. (2015, May). Does Commuter Rail Create Jobs? Retrieved from jbartlett.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Does-Commuter-Rail-Create-Jobs

San Francisco Chronicle column, July 28, 2013

Public BOS Session Scheduled (July 15, 2019)

By Muriel Bristol | July 14, 2019

The Milton Board of Selectmen (BOS) have posted their agenda for a Public BOS meeting to be held Monday, July 15, beginning at 6:00 PM.


The Public portion of the agenda has New Business, Old Business, Other Business, and some housekeeping items.

Under New Business are scheduled four agenda items or, rather, three Town officials, two of them with two or more sub-items: 1) Fee Schedule Adjustment (Bruce Woodruff); Townhouse Stewardship Committee (John Katwick), and Cemetery Capital Reserve Fund Request (John Katwick); and 4) Police Chief R. Krauss, a) Milton Mills Parking, b) Ordinance Workshop Request, and c) Town-Seized Tax-Deeded Properties.

1) Fee Schedule Adjustment (Bruce Woodruff). Mr. Woodruff is on the agenda to discuss reducing fees. Just kidding. In which direction would you suppose any Town fees would actually be “adjusted”? But will the BOS vote unanimously to do so?

2) Townhouse Stewardship Committee CIP Request (John Katwick). Mr. Katwick will request that something be put on the Capital Reduction Program™ conveyor belt. Perhaps he refers to the heating system discussed previously.

3) Cemetery Capital Reserve Fund Request (John Katwick). Moving funds around. This usually takes the form of spending money from somewhere and then replenishing that somewhere from the relevant fund.

4) Police Chief R. Krauss is himself an agenda item – again – with several more bones to pick.

  • Milton Mills Parking. One supposes that the Chief might like to reduce parking restrictions in Milton Mills. Just kidding. It seems more likely that he will be seeking more parking restrictions.
  • Ordinance Workshop Request. One supposes that the Chief hopes to reduce the number of Town ordinances. Again, just kidding. It seems more likely that he will be seeking more Town ordinances.
  • Town-Seized Tax-Deeded Properties. This agenda title seems a bit redundant. “Tax-Deeded” is the Town’s euphemism for a forcible tax seizure. So, we have here Town-Seized Town-Seized Properties. One imagines that one or more of the properties seized previously, and then described as being hazardous, and for which boundary fencing was discussed as essential some months ago, may have progressed to the point where the Chief thinks it should go beyond loose talk.

Under Old Business are scheduled two items: 5) Town Auction Property Status; and 6) 2020 Budget Status.

5) Town Auction Property Status. Time to sell the rest of it. And quick. Do you suppose the BOS can live on a Default budget? And there are the Chief’s safety concerns too.

6) 2020 Budget Status. Larger, the budget will be considerably larger. As will the tax burden. Be in no doubt. The BOS gave that “guidance” unanimously at their last meeting. (Selectman Rawson led the descent: “Yeah, I’m fine with that. It’s always been that way, since my tenure of being in town”).


Other Business That May Come Before the Board has no scheduled items.


Next, there will be the approval of prior minutes (from the BOS meeting of June 17, 2019, and the BOS Workshop meeting of July 1, 2019), the expenditure report, Public Comments “Pertaining to Topics Discussed,” Town Administrator comments, and BOS comments.


Mr. S.D. Plissken contributed to this article.


References:

Town of Milton. (2019, July 12). BOS Meeting Agenda, July 15, 2019. Retrieved from www.miltonnh-us.com/sites/miltonnh/files/agendas/07-15-2019_bosagenda.pdf

 

Not the Fourth of July

By Ian Aikens | July 8, 2019

Isn’t it strange how even the name of the holiday being celebrated last week with parades, barbeques, flag-waving, and fireworks has morphed from “Independence Day” to the “Fourth of July”?  It almost seems like an intentional purpose to make people forget what the Declaration of Independence was all about and why it came into being.

Though the general population’s knowledge of civics and the most basics of American history is severely lacking these days — close to 40% of the American public cannot name even one of the freedoms listed in the First Amendment — at least most folks know there was a war when the 13 colonies broke away from England sometime in the late 1700’s, the Founding Fathers conjured up some historical documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and our country was formed.  Most folks will recall there was some type of uproar over taxes or some such grievance, but that’s about it.  Shamefully, despite the massive amounts of taxpayer money spent on education these days — in most states, close to 50% of taxes collected go to schools — much collective memory has been lost.  When I was in junior high school, studying the Constitution was one of the major hurdles of getting through the eighth grade.  When I ask young folks these days about it, they all say that it’s not even taught at all — at least not in government schools.

How convenient to forget the past.  In fact, the Declaration of Independence was a radical proclamation by rebel British subjects that the purpose of government is to protect and uphold individual rights.  After 250 years, we take that as a given, but at the time, that was truly a remarkable revelation.  Government was created to serve the people, not the other way around.  In fact, the rebel colonists were so distrustful of government from their experience with the British government that the Articles of Confederation created such a weak federal government that it didn’t even have the power to tax.  (In retrospect, perhaps a good thing?)  The Founding Fathers were on to something new and profound, and it’s no accident that Americans experienced an incredible growth in prosperity after the signing of the Declaration of Independence (which was approved by Congress on July 4, 1776 but wasn’t actually signed until August 2, 1776) to be followed by the Constitution and Bill of Rights in 1787 and 1789 respectively.  A lot of thought went into designing a government that would be limited in scope and concentration of authority to prevent the abuse of power.  They very purposely came up with a government based on the rule of law, rather than the rule of man.

Sadly, if the Founding Fathers were here today to see what the limited government they created has become, they would faint.  Endless wars and Congress completely abdicating its responsibility and allowing the president to commit US troops abroad without congressional approval goes completely against the intent of the Founding Fathers.  And this is nothing new:  the last time Congress authorized and declared war was World War II.  The Founding Fathers specifically did not want a standing army because they knew it would lead to military adventures overseas — which is has — and felt a navy would be sufficient for defensive purposes.  They would be appalled at American presidents with the power to assassinate “our enemies” with drones without due process of law.  The surveillance state and rampant abuses by the NSA, CIA, FBI, IRS, FDA, and TSA would be another whopper for the Founding Fathers to grasp.  The utter lack of economic freedom, where every branch of government has passed a myriad of laws governing every aspect of running any business these days, would also have the Founding Fathers aghast.  If you ever take a look at bills that push for more controls with licensing and fee extractions, they often literally say “for the privilege (my emphasis) of operating a business in …”  The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew from experience that government itself is the greatest threat to liberty and designed a system to prevent such tyranny.  The welfare state and calls for more government guaranteed jobs, housing, education, healthcare, and just about every other need would be completely incomprehensible to the Founding Fathers as they intended the “pursuit of happiness” to be critical for human beings to thrive, not the “guarantee of happiness.”

In my travels to Concord earlier this year to give testimony in committee public hearings, it was disheartening to listen to person after person from vested special interest groups urge our elected representatives for more control over our lives with more laws, regulations, and taxes.  Of course, as long as they received the largesse for their particular group, that’s all they really cared about.  The fact that they were basically begging for alms from the spoils of mandatory charity didn’t seem to bother anyone, which shows just how far our society has evolved away from the ideals created in the Declaration of Independence.  It has become a largely overlooked and definitely unappreciated gift from those who understood the true meaning of liberty.


See also Milton and the U.S. Constitution


References:

Harrison Elizabeth (History.com). (2012, July 4). 9 Things You May Not Know About the Declaration of Independence. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/9-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-declaration-of-independence

Washington Times. (2017, September 13). 37 Percent of Americans Can’t Name Any of the Rights Guaranteed by the First Amendment: Survey. Retrieved from https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/sep/13/37-percent-of-americans-cant-name-any-of-the-right/

Wikipedia. (2019, June 6). Declaration of War by the United States. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_war_by_the_United_States

 

Concord Beat – Early July 2019

By Ian Aikens | July 1, 2019

As promised in my last article, this time I examined Jeb Bradley’s recent legislative record. I culled my impression not only from his voting record but also from the bills he either sponsored or co-sponsored. While Bradley has a tendency to allow individuals and their employers to negotiate voluntarily between themselves on important issues like pay and benefits, sadly, in other areas, he shows no reluctance to give government bureaucrats the power to mandate all sorts of things.

First a little background on Bradley himself. He has been active in New Hampshire politics since 1986, when he was first elected to the Wolfeboro Planning Board. He was elected to the New Hampshire House in 1990 and re-elected five times. He was elected to Congress in 2002, but in an upset he lost his seat to Carol Shea-Porter, an anti-war activist, in 2006. He was elected to the New Hampshire Senate in 2010 and served as the Majority Leader from 2010-2018. He currently serves as District 3 Senator, representing 19 towns in Carroll County, Waterville Valley in Grafton County, and Middleton and Milton in Strafford County. Outside of the political sphere, he ran an organic bakery, a painting business, a real estate office, and even worked as a street magician in Switzerland at one time.

Now down to business:

HB1319 – Prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Bradley co-sponsored the bill and it was signed by the governor. While it is proper to prohibit all discrimination on government property and for all government services, since “the commons” are owned by all taxpayers, is it really the proper role of government to dictate to private (voluntarily-run) businesses who they must serve? In the olden days, the argument that a traveler had few, if any, choices when traveling, so it would have been uncivil to allow a private business to deny lodging to a traveler may have been plausible, but in this day and age with most businesses scrambling for more customers, it makes little sense to mandate fairness. Besides, the biggest obstacles to more choices for consumers these days are government regulations and occupational licensing.

SB1 – Granite Caregiving Act of 2019. This bill was vetoed by the governor, and Bradley had the good sense to vote NO on it. This would have actually been a tax on earned income—which in any other state is called an income tax—but politicians produce flowery-named titles for bills that might not otherwise be well-received when they are trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes. This TAX would have been deducted out of all employees’ wages at the rate of .5%. While it would have been a nice fringe benefit for employees, and there is broad-based support for “Family Leave,” once you inform folks that they have to pay for it themselves, support for the program drops dramatically. This would have a mandate too—and the only opt-out would have been for companies that already offer the benefit.

SB10 – Minimum wage up to $12.00 per hour. Bradley voted NO on this one. Another mandate forcing businesses to pay employees more than their skills are worth on the open market. There’s been plenty written about minimum wages and their consequences over the years, so it should come as no surprise that those on the bottom of the economic ladder are hurt the most by these mandates. Those with the lowest skills just starting out lose out on the opportunities to advance their skills. It should also come as no surprise that minimum wage laws were originally pushed by union workers to keep non-Caucasians from competing for their jobs. The racism continues today, but they call it a “Living Wage.”

SB148 – Notification to public employees of right to join or not join a union. Bradley was a co-sponsor on this bill. While one part of this bill that requires new employees’ personal information to be released to unions is alarming, overall this was a net good bill because of the requirement that new employees be informed that they have a choice of joining a union or not. No mandatory forced extortion to join the union or lose your job.

SB255 – Dementia training for direct care staff in residential facilities and community-based services. Co-sponsored by Bradley, this bill demonstrates that he believes that those who choose a residential home for their loved ones don’t have sense enough to choose a facility where the health care workers have adequate training for the jobs they perform. It also assumes the residential facilities have no business interest in maintaining properly trained employees and need to be nudged by a mandate. What business can survive if its reputation is marred by poor care of its customers?

SB270 – Establish tax credit against business profits tax for donations to career and technical schools. Another bill co-sponsored by Bradley, this one would serve to help finance apprenticeships and training programs at technical schools that teach their students actual job skills for the real world, rather than traditional schools supported by tax dollars that do little to prepare students for the working world. An added plus is the tax credit serves to deprive government bureaucrats of more money to waste.

SB272 – Enforce the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Bradley co-sponsored this bill, which would force health insurers to treat mental illness as seriously as physical illnesses. Of course, we all want extra goodies we don’t have to pay for, but all these extra services increasingly mandated by politicians and bureaucrats—that’s why the cost of medical insurance and services continue to increase dramatically. Besides, I’m not so sure all this obsession with mental health is so healthy. With the ever-increasing number of new laws, bans, and mandates—that’s enough to increase mental illness in itself.

SB274 – Mothers with newborns on Medicaid entitled to “free” home visits. Another bill co-sponsored by Bradley, this is a new, small entitlement program. I have nothing against mothers—either with newborns or older children—but who will pay for these special home visits? After all, they’re not free. If Bradley and the other co-sponsors were to personally pay for these home visits themselves, that would be highly commendable, but forcing everyone else to pay—that’s forced giving.

SB279 – Requires health insurers to cover fertility treatment on all policies. Another bill co-sponsored by Bradley. Not everyone is interested in having every sort of medical option (that they will have to pay for), so forcing all insurers to cover more and more expenses drives up the costs for most people (and employers who could otherwise pay their employees more). Health insurance—like all other services that folks (and their employers) pay for—should have as much variety as possible to suit individual needs of consumers, but mandating more and more services results in less choices for all.

SB282 – Requires school districts and chartered government schools to provide suicide prevention training. Bradley was the primary sponsor on this one. Suicide, especially by a young person, is always a tragic event, but is mandating all teachers to attend two hours of suicide training annually going to actually save lives? I doubt it. More likely, it will be yet another administrative burden for teachers to fulfill in an ever-increasing list of required non-teaching duties. If politicians were really serious about suicide prevention among youth, perhaps they should consider making school attendance non-compulsory. First, there would be the obvious savings to taxpayers of not chasing down kids who hate being in school and often cause the most disruption. More important, forcing all kids to attend government schools—and face it, unless the family is well-off, the option of a private (voluntary) school is very limited—which are often dangerous (bullying, gangs, drugs) may actually increase suicides. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for everyone.

SB290 – Changes to New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program. This bill has several parts to it, but the main thrust is to reduce work requirements for those who qualify for what is essentially totally free health care—no deductibles, premiums, or co-pays. We’re talking about able-bodied adults here, not the disabled or pregnant women. Encouraging people away from self-sufficiency leads to dependence on others and ill will from tax-weary taxpayers. Fortunately, Bradley voted against the bill.

All in all, Bradley at best has a spotty record in Concord. His view of what government should be doing borders on paternalism at best and authoritarianism at worst.

[Editor’s note: see also NH SB 154 Amended and SB 154 on the House Floor].


Previous in sequence: Concord Beat – May 2019


References:

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2018 | Regular Session. Retrieved from  legiscan.com/NH/bill/HB1319/2018

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB1/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB10/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB148/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB255/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB270/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB272/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB274/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB279/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB282/2019

LegiScan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH/bill/SB290/2019

Wikipedia. (2019, April 15). Jeb Bradley. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeb_Bradley

The More Things Change …

By S.D. Plissken | June 26, 2019

Last week’s Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting had some few points of interest.

Chief Krauss added some new expense requests. An upgraded police phone system was added to his nautical items already on the agenda. His combined police-pursuit / boat-hauling vehicle was described as having been approved already at a prior meeting. He sought only permission to include the prior unnecessary boat-hauling vehicle in a trade-in deal for the new unnecessary police-pursuit / boat-hauling vehicle.

The Town (or Town Police) boat dock “Concern” was the damaged Town boat dock that had damaged also the Town Police boat. Or vice versa. It seems that the dock is inadequate at its current length, as more dock length is needed when the pond water level goes down. No one could have predicted that (as it goes down every year). Thus the damage to the dock, and to the boat.

There was some discussion of whether some beach funds might be redirected to cover some or all of this. We know that is unlikely, at least to any significant degree, as the Milton Town Beach Has Its Own Government. But the BOS chose to pretend that such a thing might happen, for purposes of discussion.

Note well that the other side of the ponds has no corresponding Lebanon Police navy. In fact, our larger neighbor (population 6,031 in 2010), has had no police department at all since 1991. An effort to create one was defeated at the ballot in 2009 (498 (60.8%) to 321 (39.2%)). (They rely on state and county police).

One looks in vain for the nightly light of a burning Lebanon reflected in the ponds, or for its daily riots, or its pond pirates, or for its warlords fighting over territories within it.

Thank God the bridge is down and that we have a Police navy.


Under Old Business, the Town Administrator put forward a suggested September Saturday meeting, in which a combined BOS and Budget Committee would hear the departmental budget presentations. The board was in favor of this. The administrator would next seek similar approval from the Budget Committee.

Chairman Thibeault asked Town Administrator Ernest Creveling about the current budget.

Town Administrator Creveling: We’ve already started working on [Budget] things. One of the things we’re working on is we’ve put together a spreadsheet and gave it to all the department heads. Because we’re on a Default Budget and I wanted people to go through it and analyze their budgets and take a look at exactly what it is and exactly what it is they think they absolutely need to spend, these are all absolute necessities, things that are dealing with public safety, employee safety, contracts – the police phone system may become one of those things – it is important to be able to reach the police department and leave messages if you have to, so they are are things in the process of going through that exercise.

The Town Administrator has here suggested to the department heads a sort of “party line”: express all your desired budget increases in terms of either public or personnel safety. Yes, that should do the trick.

Creveling: Hopefully, that will give us an amount that we can sort of pool together out of each line item, for a total, so that we know, if other things pop up, we’re able to pull from there, and once we get through that, I’ll make sure that you all get a copy and are you’re fully aware of what we’ve done.

Selectman Rawson: It seems a good idea.

From there, they moved on to the payroll aspect of next year’s budget. Note that they begin with the assumption that the baseline is correct and that there will be an increase above that. It is then just a question of how large that increase will be.

Chairman Thibeault: Alright. Did you also want to discuss the guidance on the employee wages for 2020, or is that just …

Creveling: Well, on … Oh, yes, we can do that as well. As far as putting budgets together, people are starting to do that now. So, as far … in the recent past, you’ve gone 2% for merit and 1.7% for Cost of Living. People just wanted to know if that is what they should move forward with in the budget development, at this point.

Now, as we have mentioned previously, very few in the real world might expect to receive any Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) increase at all. (We have heard that Social Security recipients recently got some pittance, after a gap of some years without any). But, based upon this discussion, 2% raises and additional annual COLA would seem to be de rigueur in Milton Town budget thinking.

Which might go some ways at least towards explaining why Town budgets increase always faster than – usually double – the rate of inflation.

What might “our” representatives have to say? Doubtless something innovative, something bold.

Selectman Rawson: Yeah, I’m fine with that. It’s always been that way, since my tenure of being in town.

Creveling: If you look at the New England region, its been that for the last couple of years.

The Argumentum ad Populum fallacy. Your mother has an answer for that: If all the other Towns were jumping off a bridge, would you jump off too?

Thibeault: I’m alright with that. Erin, do you want …

Vice-Chairwoman Hutchings: That’s … that’s … I mean you’re just pulling it together to look at it, so …

It seems fairly obvious that once you tell the department heads to assume 3.7% raises, they are going to budget 3.7% raises and that will be what you will “look at” later. Then will come the unanimous approval of what they will have before them.

So, you see, they just lost the budget increase battle right there. Not much of a struggle to represent the taxpayers’ interests, was it?

Creveling: Right, right. By no means is it a final budget. It would just give people guidance on what to use.

One hears around town several variations of the old saw: If one does again what one always has done before, one might reasonably expect to get again what one has always gotten before. In our case, that would be budgets and taxes that rise at twice the rate of inflation.

Chairman Thibeault is fond of talking about “out of the box” solutions. One commenter suggested that we might replace the BOS with a simple computer “app” to be always just “fine with that.”

Magic BOS-Ball
Magic BOS-Ball

I thought perhaps a Magic 8-Ball, which would at least give a negative answer one-quarter of the time. Each board member would give it a shake and read off their answer.


Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose [The more things change, the more they remain the same] – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr


References:

Foster’s Daily Democrat. (2017, December 18). Does Lebanon Need Its Own Police Force? Retrieved from www.fosters.com/news/20171218/does-lebanon-need-its-own-police-force

Town of Milton. (2019, June 17). BOS Meeting, June 17, 2019. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/4RLXxlP8rFA?t=1386

Wikipedia. (2019, June 20). Argumentum ad Populum. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum

Wikipedia. (2019, March 11). Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Baptiste_Alphonse_Karr

Wikipedia. (2019, June 7). Magic 8-Ball. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_8-Ball