The front page story in today's Laconia Daily Sun was about a very contentious Gilmanton Selectboard meeting last evening about the cause for a $3.01 increase in the tax rate to $25.94 and a successful vote to replace the board chair.
The first thing to be thankful for is to not have a tax rate anywhere near $25.94. We have work to do on our budget beginning next week to keep our tax rate low. I'm sure it won't turn into a free for all as it appears to have happened in Gilmanton. The $3.01 increase will cost $301 per $100,000 of property value. That is a real hit on the family budget for many of us. As someone squarely in the middle of middle class, that increase in my mortgage payment would hurt.
It does seem as though Gilmanton's transition from one Town Administrator to another did not go very seamlessly. There does not appear to have been a clean handoff when the new TA came on board. It is curious why the previous years budget process was not clear to either the BoS or the town staff. Or even the town budget committee. I do have to agree that such a large jump in the tax rate should have raised some questions from the new TA. This is not a case of no news is good news because the NH DRA didn't call. This is our second piece of good news. Our transition went very smoothly.
In any event, it doesn't seem fair to blame a new TA on the job for only four months , for what may have happened under the old TA's watch as the budget was constructed last year. For sure, it shouldn't be so confusing.
Another thing to be thankful for is having a five member BoS. We have our moments, but we are five independent voices and rash decisions tend not to happen as we often cancel each other out. We do argue and disagree and occasionally voices are raised, but in the end, we move on and try to do what is in the best interest of Moultonboro.
Our budget meetings are open of course to the public, but few attend. Come February, when we have the budget and warrant hearing, it will be 2-3 months after the context of the decisions were discussed. It is hard at that point to change course. As the saying goes: " be there or be square."