Saturday, March 28, 2015

NH House Finance Committee Votes to Raid Renewable Energy Fund

It would appear the NH House Finance Committee has chosen to rob Peter to pay Paul. It isn't safe to keep money in any fund in Concord no matter which party is in the majority. 
House Finance Committee voted 14-9 on Thursday to deplete the Renewable Energy Fund ( Approx. $52 million) to avert budget cuts to the NH DOT. The committee also disallowed a funding increase to the University system and cut funding for repaving projects to make up for an anticipated $88million DOT shortfall. In addition, last years 4 cent gas tax increase will go to NH DOT operations  and not to municipal block grants that would be used to pave and resurface roads. There will still be a $20 million DOT shortfall which could mean less winter road maintenance. The driver for these potential shortfalls is a difference in revenue projections.
The House Finance Committee predicts revenues at about $240 million less than Governor Hassan's estimate. New revenue projections are expected next week. 
So what happened to the Republican abhorrence of raiding dedicated funds? New Hampshire has over 300 of these funds with money raised specifically for the fund’s particular purpose.
In January Sen. Forrester wrote in a letter to the Laconia Daily Sun: “When the Legislature sets up dedicated funds, and when taxpayers pay fees to support those funds, they deserve to know that their money is going towards its stated purpose.”

NH enacted a Renewable Portfolio Standard requiring each supplier of electricity in New Hampshire to obtain 24% of their electricity from qualified renewable energy resources by 2025. That is the prime mover for the NH Electric Coop to build small solar arrays, including one in Moultonboro.

According to the NH Public Utilities Commission:

The Renewable Energy Fund (REF) was created in 2007 as a component of legislation
known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law, RSA 362:F.  The 
RPS law mandates that 23.8 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable 
sources by 2025.  
Each year electric service providers comply with the law by acquiring Renewable 
Energy Certificates, or RECs, representing electricity generated from renewable sources.  
The portfolio requirements are increased over time.
Electric service providers who cannot obtain sufficient quantities of RECs
 for a given compliance year are required to make Alternative Compliance Payments, 
or ACPs.  ACPs provide the funding for the Renewable Energy Fund, the purpose 
of which is to support thermal and electrical renewable energy initiatives.

Here are links to the rebate programs that were available through the fund: 

Since its inception in 2009, 2049 rebates were awarded, averaging $4,808. In total, 
approximately $12 million has been awarded or reserved/ in process.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Year , New Meetings

Seems like we just finished the 2015 budget, but it's on to next year already.
Ther BoS will meet today in a work session and on the table for discussion is our work plan for 2015. There are many projects and "to do's" on our plate this year and we need to figure out how we are going to accomplish the goals we've set out.
Other committees are also about to get back to work.  The CIPC will hold it's kickoff meeting for the next 6 year capital budget cycle on April 9th at 10am in Town Hall. The Master Plan Implementation Committee (MPIC) will meet on April 23rd with a newly revised, broader charge.( The MPIC is in need of citizen volunteers for two open seats one for a citizen at large and one for a business owner at large.) The Planning Board will be actively engaged in the next steps of the new Master Plan and a strategy to get there is underway.
We have a Town Engineer search committee underway and set to meet Tuesday's at 10 for the next four or five weeks.
The School Board will meet Tuesday April 14th.
There will be a 2015 Roads Informational Meeting on April 20th. Finally, and I'm sure I must have missed a few, the UNH Feasibility Study Committee will resume on April 2nd at 9am in Town Hall.

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Right to Work" for NH?

The NH House on March 11th passed HB 658 the latest version of a proposed NH  House version of a "Right to Work Law." In February, the Senate version of the bill SB 107 was tabled with a 12 to 12 vote.
According to the National Right to Work Legal FoundationThe Right to Work principle--the guiding concept of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation--affirms the right of every American to work for a living without being compelled to belong to a union. Compulsory unionism in any form--"union," "closed," or "agency" shop--is a contradiction of the Right to Work principle and the fundamental human right that the principle represents. The National Right to Work Committee advocates that every individual must have the right, but must not be compelled, to join a labor union. "  27 states are so called " right to work " states having passing some version of this legislation.
The House bill passed in a close roll call vote , 149 to 146. Our local representatives Glen Cordelli and Ted Wright voted "YEA" and Karel Crawford was listed in the roll call tally as "Not Voting/Excused. "
HB 658 will now  presumably be headed to the NH Senate seeking concurrence. If by chance it passes the Senate ( not likely based upon the 12-12 tie on SB 107)  it faces a possible veto by Gov. Hassan.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

There were other things that happened at the last BoS meeting

Quite a few actually. Among the highlights:

As many are aware, Town Administrator Carter Terenzini resigned effective April 1st, close of business. With that in mind, the BoS decided to meet every Thursday for the foreseeable future with the last Thursday of the month being a 4pm work session. Regular business meetings will continue to held at 7pm.
There was a discussion about whether to make decisions at work sessions, in other words, make motions and vote even without public input. In recent years, work sessions were kept as purely a discussion among board members with perhaps a consensus and then the actual decisions were made usually at the next business meeting with public input being allowed. The majority of the board felt that the public has a right to contribute to the process and have input and it was decided to keep things as they are currently done.
( As a sidebar- both work sessions and business meetings are public meetings. There is no difference in terms of the Right to Know law. It is the option of the BoS to allow public input or not at any public meeting and typically, public input has been restricted at work sessions. Both are required to be posted as per the requirements of the Right to Know law. There is no legal requirement to post any agenda, but our custom has been to post an agenda for the business meetings and work session topics are usually highlighted in the weekly administrators report.)
It was agreed by a 3-2 majority ( I voted yes) to include the proposed project for re-stripng the fog lines in the village area to narrow each travel lane by about one foot, on our list of projects to be submitted to the Lakes Region Planning Commission for possible inclusion on the NH DOT TIP ( Transportation and Improvement Plan.) No guarantee that it will as we are competing with the other 29 LRPC member communities) but if the  DOT will pay for it, it is worth a shot.
A subcommittee was authorized for the purpose of investigating single stream recycling. This committee will not be looking at outsourcing.
The UNH Feasibility Work Group was formalized as a  BoS subcommittee with myself as chair and we hope to have our work completed by June 1st 2015.
The Town Engineer Steering committee was also finalized . Richard Brown has agreed to chair this committee.

Moultonboro Planning Board March 11th, 2015