"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Saturday, December 15, 2018

No ice is safe ice

“You’ve got to be very careful when you’re going out on the ice. You really should take steps to be very careful about venturing out onto the ice. If it looks like it’s blue, blackish in color, you can go out and start checking on it. If it’s white, milky, you probably shouldn’t go out on it. If you do, you should drill a hole with an ice auger to check.” Moultonboro Fire Chief Dave Bengston

That is from an article in today's Laconia Daily Sun.

Two winters ago,  three people died when their snowmobiles broke through thin ice just before the Great Rotary Fishing Derby. Two of those deaths occurred in Moultonborough.

Further advice from Chief Bengston: If you do fall through, you have to stay calm, try to calm yourself down, try to keep the water from coming into your mouth. Try to get your arms out onto the ice, kick your feet to propel more and more of your body onto the ice surface. Then, don’t stand up right away, because the ice might not be strong enough. Swim your way across the ice until you’re back to where you are safe.”

In November of this year, Moultonboro Selectmen accepted a donation from the 
The Mark O'Connell Foundation For Lake Winnipesaukee Safety to pay for a hovercraft that is designed for rescue operations on Lake Winnipesaukee. Mark O'Connell was one of the fatalities in Moultonboro that occurred in February of 2017.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Required Public Hearing for County Budget Too Early for Public Participation

( This is mostly as repeat post from two years ago. Last Monday, the Delegation - the 15 NH House Rep's for Carroll County, conducted a public hearing on the proposed 2019 county budget. Despite some comments during the meeting, the proposed budget was on the county website. Nevertheless, the best time for the public hearing is when the various subcommittees have made their adjustments and the full Delegation is ready to review it. Unfortunately, the RSA's dictate otherwise. The power to change this process is in the hands of the legislature, specifically, the 15 member delegation.)

I attended the County budget public hearing last December and for many in the room, it was the first exposure to the 2016 budget. It was also the first time that the delegation met to discuss the budget publicly. Hardly the best time for a public hearing being that the final budget is still months away from finalization, but the law is very specific as to the timing of the whole process.
  • The commissioners are required to deliver or mail a draft budget to the incoming county convention,the  chairperson of the board of selectmen in each town and the mayor of each city the county as well as to the secretary of state prior to December 1.
  • RSA 24:23 "Not earlier than 5 nor later than 20 days after the mailing of the commissioners' statement there shall be held within the county at such time and place as the chairperson of the county convention may specify, a public hearing on the budget estimates as submitted by the commissioners. "
  • RSA 24:21-a  III. "No county convention shall vote appropriations for the ensuing budget period until 28 days shall have elapsed from the mailing of such recommendations.
  • RSA 24:14 "The county convention shall adopt the annual budget within 90 days after the beginning of the county's fiscal year
Beyond that, there are no other requirements in the law for public hearing of the budget in either it's various iterations or it's final form, before the delegation approves it.
That is the point here. This year, the budget was not approved until the very end of March and can even occur outside the county in Concord.  Nothing in the RSA's would prevent the delegation holding a public hearing before the budget is signed off. When you think about it, the first meeting is not much more than a formality. It lasted just 30 minutes last year (December 7th) . "

So what is the point of the public hearing? Does the public have any influence at that point on the county budget? Not so much, as none of the commissioner's budget has even been publicly discussed by the delegation so it is far from a final product. 
A public hearing before the final budget is approved  would allow the public to have some input before it is finalized. Maybe a formal presentation so that the hows and whys can be clearly understood? 
Perhaps one of our delegation members can propose legislation that would open up the delegation budget process to increased public input by requiring a public hearing at the end of the process, when it counts vs. the beginning when it is meaningless. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

New Carroll County Delegation Leadership.

On Monday, the Carroll County Delegation, the 15 elected NH House Reps for Carroll County, met and elected  Edie DesMarais (d) Chair and Susan Ticehurst (d) Vice Chair. Lino Avellani (r) was elected as Clerk.
The Executive Committee ( which acts on behalf of the full board ) for line item budget transfers will be comprised of the Chair, Vice Chair, Clerk, and  Tom Buco (d) and William Marsh (r).

More on the 2019 budget in a later post.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Still A Reluctance By Town Committees to Stream Public Meetings

I have always supported live streaming all public meetings, but to date, we have numerous committees that do not agree.
There is no legal requirement that they are streamed or even broadcast in any format. Anyone, however, can attend a public meeting and record and broadcast it. The public body cannot opt out. We are knee-deep in budget season and there is a lot of public interest in the process, yet we are limited in what we can observe.
Personally, I don't see any valid reason for any public meeting or public body to not broadcast their meetings. The only exceptions are those provided in the Right to Know law such as non-public or non-meetings.
 I take issue with the belief that some committees are discussing "sensitive" information and therefore prefer it not be broadcast. There is nothing that is said in a public meeting that the public doesn't have a legal right to hear.
It is the public's business they are performing and anything that makes it more transparent should be utilized. As Selectman Kevin Quinlan stated earlier this year if people can see the process and how decisions were made, perhaps it would lead to less chaos at Town Meeting and more community buy-in.

The Carroll County Delegation To Meet Monday, December 10th at 9:00 a.m At County Complex IN Ossipee


The Carroll County Delegation will meet Monday, December 10th at 9:00 a.m. at 95 Water Village Road, County Administration Building, 2nd Floor Meeting Room, Ossipee. The purpose of the meeting is the election of officers and to conduct a public hearing on the Carroll County Commissioners’ estimated 2019 revenues. 
 Rep. Ed Butler, Clerk

The proposed 2019 revenue and expenditure budgets can be found here on the county website.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Moultonboro Historical Society Puts Grange Hall Up For Sale

The Grange property is located almost directly across from the town-owned Taylor property. The sale price is $130,000 which is the assessed value of the property.

As per the listing : "Original Moultonborough Grange building located in the heart of the Village District. This building is noted by the town as being built in 1800 and has seen over 200 years of town history. This property is being sold as is and in its current condition. Some deed restrictions apply to any improvement/changes of the facade of the structure. Water source is shared and from abutting property. There is no known septic information available. This is a rare offering in the Village with some original features still existing."

No USS Arizona Survivors to Attend This Year's Pearl Harbor Commemoration

This is the 77th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Only five men can say "I was there" on board the USS Arizona when it was attacked December 7, 1941. They range in age from 96 to 98 years old and for the first time, no Arizona survivors will be present for the annual Pearl Harbor remembrance.
About 300 USS Arizona sailors survived Japan’s surprise attack. The five still alive Lou Conter, Don Stratton, Ken Potts, Lonnie Cook and Lauren Bruner.

“First in the importance in the American scene has been the inspiring proof of the great qualities of our fighting men. They have demonstrated these qualities in adversity as well as in victory. As long as our flag flies over this Capitol, Americans will honor the soldiers, sailors and Marines who fought our first battles of this war against overwhelming odds the heroes – living and dead, of Wake and Bataan and Guadalcanal, of the Java Sea and Midway and the North Atlantic convoys. Their unconquerable spirit will live forever.A tremendous, costly, long-enduring task in peace as well as in war is still ahead of us. But, as we face that continuing task, we may know that the state of this Nation is good–the heart of this Nation is sound-the spirit of this Nation is strong–the faith of this Nation is eternal.”
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, December 7th 1943

Thursday, December 6, 2018

More Young Adults Moving to New Hampshire: Carsey School of Public Policy

Rather surprising "snapshot" report from the Carsey School of Public Policy. The greatest influx was among those in their 20s, who had an average annual migration gain of 1,200 between 2013 and 2017 compared to an average loss of 1,500 annually from 2008 to 2012.
This is good news. As the article states, NH is challenged by an aging workforce and population.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

West Ossippe Approved as an "Economic Revitalization Zone". Would Moultonboro Qualify?

The Conway Daily Sun reports that the state has approved West Ossipee's becoming an economic revitalization zone offering state tax credit incentives for projects that improve infrastructure and create jobs in designated areas of a municipality. 
As of December 2017, there are 209 ER zones located in 67 municipalities. Here is the latest list of ER zones in New Hampshire.

An Economic Revitalization Zone, means a zone with a single continuous boundary, designated in accordance with the rules adopted under RSA 162-N:8, and having at least one of the following characteristics:

(a) Unused or underutilized industrial parks; or

(b) Vacant land or structures previously used for industrial, commercial, or retail purposes but currently not so used due to demolition, age, relocation of the former occupant’s operations, obsolescence, deterioration, brownfields,  or cessation of operation resulting from unfavorable economic conditions either generally or in a specific economic sector.

New Hampshire has $825,000 per year available to support such zones through tax breaks.

What about Moultonboro?

The Moultonboro Planning Board earlier this year adopted an Economic Development chapter which has many elements as proposed by an economic revitalization zone, especially in the Village district. In addition, a Request for Proposal was just issued by the town to Purchase or Lease - Rehabilitation & Redevelopment of the French-Taylor House.

Businesses and municipalities can apply for the tax credits. Granted not a huge amount of money, but every possible incentive should be explored. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Some Thoughts on New Hampshire Municipal Association Dues

New Hampshire Municipal Association (NHMA)  dues were a topic of brief discussion at last Friday's BoS/ABC budget meeting. The annual NHMA dues are set by their Board of Directors and apportioned across all member towns for each fiscal year. Our fees were up this year to over $11,000 and the concern was that Moultonboro was once again being accessed unfairly due to our very high property valuation, around $3 billion.

According to the 2017 NHMA Financial Report, they collected $1,105,577 in member dues in 2017. Moultonboro paid $10,600 in dues in 2017 or just under 1% ( 0.99%) of all dues collected.
In terms of property value, Moultonboro's equalized property value compared to the entire state is 1.76%. (Source: NHDRA) I don't have access to the exact formula used by NHMA, but the fees are also adjusted based upon population.

Compare that to the county tax apportionment based solely upon property value where Moultonboro is on the hook for nearly 25% of the county tax collected.

Personally, I believe that the NHMA provides excellent value for the money paid and is a rare instance where we are not overly penalized for being property rich.