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

Friday, February 3, 2017

"The Delegation is determined to kill the farm"

This editorial appeared in this weeks Carroll County Independent. (Highlights are mine.)

 A county farm study committee appointed by the Carroll County Commissioners last year after the County Delegation cut $90,000 from the farm's budget has found that the county farm had generated $27,723.954 in profits in the fiscal years 2015 and 2016. The committee's report also noted that in the same period the farm offset $47,942 in personnel costs in the county's Department of Public Works, which, in addition to running the farm, runs the county complex's water and sewer systems and plows and maintains roads and parking lots, along with other responsibilities. “On an annual basis, farm operations reduce the cost of DPW operations by approximately $37,833.20,” the report stated. Despite this report and the continued growth of farming in the county, the subcommittee of the County Delegation (made up of the 15 state representatives from the county) reportedly will recommend closing the farm. Some members of the delegation have openly stated their determination to reduce the size of county government, and closing the farm, like tearing down two wings of the old nursing home at a cost of half a million dollars, is another step in that direction. However, the county farm, like all county property, belongs to the taxpayers, not delegation members, and decisions that involve wasting assets should not be based on political ideology, but facts. The facts are now available. The final decision to close the farm will be made by the delegation as a whole. We urge our readers to call their state representatives and tell them to keep the farm open. The county farm committee report was only a first step for making better use of the county farm. The second step is to look at ways to improve farm operations and its contribution to county revenues as well as agricultural education for county residents. If the farm is closed, that second step will never happen. 
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5 comments:

Fred Van Magness said...

While there has been a fixation on the county farm and all its intricacies, I, as a taxpayer would like to hear you expound in the blog on the issue of private road plowing. I applaud your taking a stand to eliminate Policy #2 last night....although you could have been more forceful in the discussion to win over Russ et al. You made excellent points !! But now let's hear the following:
1. Will you press the BOS to schedule a discussion on plowing BEFORE the local election ? It is important for all of us to understand exactly where each member of the BOS stands on this issue. The BOS decided to wade deep into this situation, so now it is time to show their cards.
2. Where is the opinion from Town Counsel ? When will the opinion be made public, or is it being purposely held until after the election ? If the BOS does not have it, will you press the Town Admin to ensure it is in hand and published as well as discussed by the BOS at a posted meeting....not a work session...before the election ? What is the holdup ?
3. Will you press hard and do a "deep dive" as to why some residents feel the condition of private road plowing this year seems to be dramatically different, late after storms , and less complete from prior years ?
4. Will the BOS aggressively press our legislators for changes, in the next legislative session, to RSA231:59a under the Emergency Lane statutes to ease the requirements necessary for Emergency Lane designation ? If not, why not ?
5. Will the BOS make public, on the town website, a full list of all private AND town roads. Concerning town roads, will the BOS provide the recorded deed book and page reference where town ownership occurred and will they provide the specific information from town meeting records where town ownership was voted by the legislative body ? Recall Laconia currently has a large issue with this. If the town cannot provide specific legislative votes and deed references, will they declare roads without proper documentation private and stop maintaining them....like Laconia may ? Is the BOS in touch with elected officials in Laconia on their similar issues and what remedies are they seeing or seeking? If not, why not ?

The BOS certainly have increased the temperature to a slow boil amongst a large slice of town folks over plowing/sanding as well as Private Roads policy #2. This note just scratches the surface on issues that I have on the overall subject. I would have discussed these points at an upcoming BOS meeting on plowing, but the new 3 minute rule in Policy #33 eliminates the opportunity for citizens to adequately examine issues such as this. And the 3 minute rule at last weeks Public Hearing restricted me from getting into a number of points on Policy #2. In our small town, it is totally unreasonable in a democracy, in my opinion, to have such rigid restrictions on public debate. While the BOS is within their legal rights to limit debate, there is a time and place for everything. This topic does not seem to demand such rigid restrictions on discussion that the BOS has implemented.

It is time for the BOS to go on the record and this blog is a good place to start, as it was established as "A local blog with news, events and things that matter to all citizens of Moultonboro". Right now, plowing of private roads matters a LOT !!! IMHO, the farm blueberries, hay, fire wood, crops, etc. and associated profitability analysis can wait.... The snow is falling NOW!!!!!!

Moultonboro Blogger said...

Fred- First and foremost, the only place the BoS discuss business is at a BoS business meeting. That is the proper forum. I can only comment here as an individual and not on behalf of the board. There has been considerable comment during our meetings on the record, which I will reiterate.
The plowing issue may not be resolved as quickly as we would like. NH is not a home rule state, meaning towns can only do what is authorized in the RSA's.The board has said publicly that plowing will continue through the winter. Nothing will change. We are working the process with town counsel and it will take time to get a full answer. It is not as simple as yes or no.
We have all said numerous times ( because it is true) that the minimum recommended private road width policy has nothing to do with plowing private roads. There is no back door movement or underlying plot. We can't control what people think or believe.
Chairman Shipp asked at last Thursday's meeting to look into the recent delays with private road plowing and it will be resolved. He stated they should be plowed with the same import as town roads. The BoS agreed.

Anonymous said...

If all the naysayers, doom and gloomers had kept their mouths shut we wouldn't even be discussing "plowing " private roads. I heard so many rumors about this it was ridiculous, if we lose snow removal it's your fault not the BOS!

Fred Van Magness said...

Paul, time will tell. My comments stand.

To Anonymous at 9:57, It appears from your post that perhaps you are unaware of the evolution of the discussion concerning plowing of private roads. For clarification, the issue of eliminating plowing of private roads was solely initiated by the Town Administrator and the new DPW Director during a budget work session presentation to the BOS. There was no public input at that time. You are factually incorrect in your understanding of the details and background of the conception and evolution of this discussion.

Joseph Cormier said...

The BoS were asked to "let a sleeping dog lie".

They couldn't because of a planning board request on road widths and discussions with DPW/Fire/Police officials, regarding road widths and Policy #2. The fire code was also changed to 20ft. road widths last year. The fire code is not a statute, but the state of NH has "accepted by reference" the NFPA-1 (fire code). Means "follow" it!

http://www.moultonboroughnh.gov/sites/moultonboroughnh/files/uploads/pol_2r_-_private_rds_minimums2017.pdf

https://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/firesafety/documents/StateFireCodeUpdate-NFPA101-2015Edition.pdf

Since Policy 2 deals with "private roads" it automatically triggered angst to Policy #1.

http://www.moultonboroughnh.gov/sites/moultonboroughnh/files/uploads/1_privateroads092106.pdf


Policy #1 is a total mess confusing "dedication and acceptance" law, and interfering, again, with zoning regulations that are the real town laws, not recommendations, and are under planning board jurisdiction, not the BoS. Even the town sub-division laws have legal errors. They mention HOA's as though all sub-divisions require HOA's. They don't! Not all sub-divisions are like Suissevale or Balmoral, where the Grantor of the deed was/is the Association(HOA). Most lot owners don't realize they own, up to the center-line of the road, in front of their lot, although it is not "counted" as part of their lot, for taxes etc. (NH Middle-Of-The Road Doctrine). When a sub-division is approved, the private roads are then legally "dedicated"; that's half of the requirements in the "dedication and acceptance" laws. "Acceptance", making a road a town maintained road, can be petitioned for acceptance.

The BoS have rightfully stated, many times, their policies are just recommendations, not town law.

Another major mess is policy #19 where (previous) BoS confused statutes regarding the sale of town property vs. tax deeded property; two different statutes. RSA41:14-a v. RSA80

http://www.moultonboroughnh.gov/sites/moultonboroughnh/files/uploads/19_saleoftownprop.pdf

I've a petition turned into the BoS regarding some of it.

The cat's outa da bag!