‘Let me tell you how it will be There’s one for you, nineteen for me… Cos I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman'(George Harrison)

tax-man-cartoonThe only  Public Hearing regarding the 2017 proposed Town Administrative Budget will be held on Tuesday February 7, 2017. Check the town’s calendar for  further information.

A summary of the proposed budget can be found here. (2017-updated-budget)

The proposed budget that will be presented at town meeting could be much different, but it takes all of us to change that. The Board of Selectmen (BOS) with your input, could alter the current proposed budget before setting the Warrant for the deliberative session of the Annual Town Meeting Scheduled for Saturday, March 18, 2017.

I would hope that a proposed increase of 11% would stimulate the members of the legislative body to undertake their own thorough review of the budget and have enough questions and suggestions that more than one session would be necessary.

Keep in mind with a Tax Rate Valuation of $393,000/$1000, one must cut $393,000 to lower your tax rate by $1.

Keep in mind, if the voters want more than one review session with the BOS and /or intend to submit petitioned Warrant Article alternatives to the budget, you must do so on or before the February 7th date. Statute requires that all petitioned additional warrant articles to be submitted on or before the 5th Tuesday prior to the Annual Meeting date.

Another way the legislative Body can change the budget is at the Annual Meeting. By strategically using floor motions at the meeting, not only can the Legislative Body effect the total overall budget bottom line, you can effectively send a message to the BOS on how you want your tax money to be spent on each and every line item.

A floor motion is only a suggestion of how the budget line item shall be appropriated. The floor motion cannot restrict the BOS from transferring funds from one line item to another should circumstances arise in the spending year that would require such action.

The only way to restrict line item fund transfers is by  the Petitioned Warrant Article mentioned above.

Remember it is our budget! Do your homework, attend the hearings and Annual Meeting and VOTE.

The size of our current budget has  been created by us. My next post will contain a review of Warrant Articles from the past…Here is just a taste from 1971:

12. To see what sum of money the Town will vote to raise
and appropriate for State Aid Construction of Class V roads.

24. To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Selectmen
to apply, negotiate and do all other things necessary
to obtain such Federal, State, or other assistance as may be
available in the construction of a sewerage disposal system,
and pass any vote relating thereto.

All that free government money…does not seem so free @$33.33 and a 11% proposed budget increase…which does not include $1.2M for the repair of Western Ave. from the bridge to town line…Exactly why did we replace that Western Ave. bridge at a cost of $1.5 M and paying until the year 2030??? DEBT SCHEDULE 2016

Merry Christmas…and for goodness sake keep looking out for one another, we here at OHB are…PEACE!

OHB

visit the blog @ http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.wordpress.com

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“Calling All Businesses”…2009 Town voters turn down Designee…2012 Part-time Consultant act as designee…Big Law Suit (Tax $$$$$)…(Part II)…judge for yourselves

spin-2 In the previously mentioned December 15, 2016 posting on Facebook facebook-post-december-15-2016, the actions taken by the part time land use consultant in the Forster case was mentioned;

“Dennis Hamel No support in there for taxpayers. Tried to destroy a Henniker small business without authority, operating in the dark, not responsible to anyone. I’m sure the current select board thinks he’s just dandy. Like · Reply · 1 · December 15 at 11:56am”

Forster’s case was a case of first impression regarding the Agritourism portion of RSA 21-34:A, which was added in 2007. Not surprising that the NH Supreme Court’s decision was not in line with what the legislation intended, healthy diverse farms, free from stifling zoning laws written to favor land developers.

Since the NH Supreme Court ruling in Forster v. Henniker, the RSA was amended and I am told because Zoning Board of Adjustments around the state continue to interfere with our local farmer’s ability to adapt and compete in the new millennium,  the State legislature will introduce new legislation in the up coming session, to put an end to this obscene local government intrusion on free market enterprise.

Henniker’s Zoning regulation Chapter 133-(51-54). states quite clearly that only the Select Board has enforcement authority. (read here)

  • ARTICLE XIII–ADMINISTRATION Henniker Zoning Regulations 3-8-2016 Edition  ARTICLE XIII Administration 133-51 Enforcement by Board of Selectmen It shall be the duty of the Board of Selectmen, and the Board is hereby authorized, to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
  • 133-54 Injunction or other legal action to enforce chapter. Upon any well founded information that this chapter is being violated, it is the duty of the Board of Selectmen to take immediate steps to enforce the provisions of this chapter by seeking an injunction in Superior Court, or by any other legal action as set forth in RSA 676:17, 676:17-a and 676:17b.

In 2012 while I was on the Zoning Board, Forster’s case came before the board on an Administrative Appeal regarding the consultants letter stating that Mr. Forster was in violation of Zoning Regulations. (read here)

Dr. Trivellini raised a point of order regarding Article XIII, Section 133:51 of the zoning ordinance whereas he interprets this to mean that action is to be taken by the Board of Selectmen, not the Zoning Board.  He asked if the Board of Selectmen had heard this case and if they were the ones to order the letter to cease and desist. Chairwoman Connor stated that the Zoning Board of Adjustment was acting under proper authorization, and she does not believe that the Board of Selectmen needed to be involved in the ruling of that matter. She stated that Mr. Fougere is a representative of the Town and was acting as an administrator of the Town. Chairwoman Connor stated that she believes that this matter was handled correctly and the hearing needs to move forward. (page 3; read here)

 

The Board of Selectmen never held a single hearing with Mr. Forster prior to  the part-time employee sending him the cease and desist letter, which started this whole sordid case. It is telling how this letter dated May 24, 2012, letter-5-24-2012 does not even mention the Select Board as authority and comes just three days after a verbal complaint.

A follow up letter, letter-7-3-2012 (not signed by the consultant himself) now mentions the Select Board and refers to some non existing decision and portends to speak on behalf of the Select Board as their DESIGNEE.

Here is where the consultant has no authority and cannot be a DESIGNEE of the Select Board. Back in 2008 Selectman Scott Osgood (then on the Planning Board) was recommending  a warrant article amendment to Section 133-51 et seq. (page 2-3) (read here)

It is quite apparent by the comments made, everyone back in 2008 knew who enforces the Zoning Regulations in Henniker;

  • Article XIII Administration. Amend §133-51 to allow the Board of Selectmen to choose
    a designee to act on their behalf; amend §133-52 to allow the Board of Selectmen to
    choose a designee to act on their behalf, to adopt fees, and to delete language about
    zoning enforcement; and delete §133-53 Issuance of Permit.
  • Scott Osgood read the proposed changes and the public hearing notice. He stated that the proposed change would allow the Board of Select men to appoint a designee on their behalf. The Board of Selectmen submitted a letter stating that they support the proposed changes.
  • “Mr. Parker stated that the Board of Selectmen is ultimately responsible, but this action allows them to appoint a designee to act on their behalf.”
  • “Dr. Belson stated that he cannot imagine that citizens would want one designee to enforce the entire chapter of zoning regulations.”

Well Dr. Belson was correct…on March 10, 2009, Amendment #4 was defeated 293 No and 214 yes (page 19: 2009 ballot results)

In 2009, Ron Taylor and Leon Parker were on the Select Board, Scott Osgood was on the Planning Board and current Chairman of the Select Board Kris Blomback was on the Zoning Board.

On May 24, 2012, when the land use consultant’s unauthorized letter, supposedly acting as an agent for the Select Board (remember the town voted down any such DESIGNEE),  went to Mr. Forster, without the Select Board ever following the UNAMENDED procedures set forth in Chapter 133-(51-54), Kris Blomback and Ron Taylor were on the Select Board. Mr. Parker was on the Zoning Board of Adjustments.

Scott Osgood becomes a selectman in March of 2013 just as Mr. Forster’s case had just finished with the appeals process and was heading to court.

To this day, despite the town’s legislative body VOTING DOWN  any DESIGNEE status to anyone other than the Select Board regarding matters of Zoning Compliance in 2009, town officials continue to  insist that the part-time land consultant can act as their DESIGNEE in Zoning Compliance matters.

Quite frankly, OHB fails to understand why the public continues to vote these people into office?????

Please keep looking out for each other…be careful on the ice and…PEACE!

OHB

Follow the blog: http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.wordpress.com

 

 

“Calling all Henniker Businesses”…Shall we add some facts…to that Spin Job posted on December 15th??? (Part I)

spin-2  We here at OHB recently received a thread that was posted to the Henniker NH open group Facebook Page dated December 15, 2016. facebook-post-december-15-2016

The copy of the post we received did not contain the name of the originator of this post. However, as you can read, several people posted responses to the original post. OHB would like to make a few comments at this time.

Since OHB is a member of the Henniker Facebook group and we did not see the original post nor were we privy to the responses, OHB will assume that the author has blocked OHB from receiving their Facebook postings.

Regarding this comment, “All of you who remember how hard it was to get permits from the Planning and Zoning Boards prior to Mark, will agree with me that he is a true asset to the town.” I have no recollection of Ms. Laura Scott (Land Use Consultant before the current contractor) ever being reprimanded nor was it ever discussed by the Select Board, that Ms. Scott was causing any impediment to the permitting process. What I do recall that in March, 2009, there was some kind of flap over Kristin Claire (Planning Board Chair)  and Ms. Scott wanting to increase the pit inspections,

  1. March 11, 2009: “Chairwoman Claire stated that the Town’s history of monitoring excavation operations causes her to question who will be responsible for monitoring this project. She stated ongoing communication with the applicant will be necessary. Ms. McCourt stated that, according to the RSA’s, the applicant has to come before the Board every two years to renew their permit.” (page 2 paragraph 4) (read here)
  2. “Ms. McCourt stated that it appeared that the Board was going from no enforcement of excavation pits to asking for more inspections during the year for their operation. She stated that the Patenaude’s have been in this business for many years, and they have never had to work in this fashion before.” (page 3, paragraph 1)
  3. “Ms. Scott stated that there will be a legal document, in addition to the Notice of Decision,outlining the process that the applicant and the Planning Board will need to agree on. This will be a binding agreement signed by both parties.” (page 4, paragraph 9)
  4. April 22, 2009: “Board Discussion on Grandfathered Active Excavation Operations

    Chairwoman Claire explained to the audience that the Board is not discussing changes to the excavation regulations this evening; they are only discussing existing pits and what information the Planning Board is requesting from them to update the files. She explained that they are trying to develop the steps that should be taken to accomplish this goal. Ms. Scott had been asked to provide an update of all the pits and report on the acreage being excavated. Ms. Scott reviewed her memo dated April 17, 2009. Chairwoman Claire suggested starting with discussing the goals and objectives of this project. She stated that she wants the Planning Board members to understand the underlying need for this action. She stated that monitoring excavations is a responsibility of this Board, and the first step in the process is to determine what information is contained in the files. Ms. Claire stated

    that the State RSA’s are already clear on what the Board’s responsibility is, and the Board must follow through on the charge given to them at the 1981 Town Meeting. Ms. Claire stated that it is her vision to update the files and inspect the active excavation operations two times per year per RSA 155-E.” (page 1 and 2) (read here)
  5. Now the rest of the story;  “Rick Patenaude stated that the new Town Planner, Mark Fougere, is reputed to have a lotof experience with the excavation industry and may be able to offer assistance to the Board members. Mr. Patenaude MOVED that the Board wait to do any more work regarding excavations until Mr. Fougere is working with the Board. Mr. Taylor SECONDED the motion. Ms. Stamps asked what reason was given for Mr. Fougere not to attend the meeting. Ms.Claire and Ms. Scott indicated that he was welcomed by them to come and was given a Board packet of information. “It was noted by Ms. Scott and Ms. Claire that the Town Administrator had instructed Mr. Fougere not to attend the Planning Board meeting this evening. This is Ms. Scott’s last meeting in her role as Henniker’s Town Planning Consultant, and Mr. Fougere will assume the role henceforth. They surmised that the Town Administrator asked him not to attend since it was Ms. Scott’s last night in this position.” (page 2, paragraph 3- 4)

After reviewing the Planning Board minutes that are online, OHB has failed to find any mention of Ms. Laura Scott tendering her resignation to the Planning Board.

Reviewing Select Board minutes we found that on March 17, 2009,  just six days after the Planning Board meeting of March 11, 2009, Town Administrator Peter Flynn states in his report the following:

Mr.Flynn reported the following: (page 4, read here)
  • Surveying and engineering assessment for the Western Avenue culvert replacement is done.
  • Advertisements have been placed in newspapers for a part time Planning Consultant.
  • He is working on obtaining a quote for the softball fence.
  • He met with one of the property owners whose tax payments are in arrears.
  • He is following up on the voter’s decision to purchase land adjacent to the Police Station.
  • He is arranging to update the Forest stewardship letter to reflect changes advised by Counsel.
  • He expects a meeting of the Road Management committee to be called soon.

We also found Select Board minutes of April 7, 2009 regarding the hiring of the current part Time Land Use Consultant, (Item #6 pages 6-8 read here)

Please note current Select Board Chairman Kris Blomback’s comments about the contract;

  • “Mr. Blomback expressed concerns about the proposed hourly rate for the consultant and the need to increase applicant rates.”
  • “Mr. Blomback thought that the cost for the consultant would probably increase by year’s end and he was concerned about the planning budget for next year.”

However, not a single word was ever discussed about the lack of a letter of resignation nor the abrupt timing of Ms. Scott’s departure. Laura Scott would write memos and required the Planning Board to discuss those memos.

(Update: it has come to our attention that it was noticed up on the March 11, 2009 Planning Board minutes…page 8…that Ms. Scott had submitted her resignation. Currently, it appears, Ms. Scott is the Development Director of the Friends Program, Concord, NH.)

Does the current consultant write any reports or memos?

What happened to Laura Scott??? WAS LAURA SCOTT FIRED??? If so why?

Next up…Land Use Consultant over steps his authority and the town of Henniker’s business friendly consultant not so friendly to Forster’s Christmas Tree Farm.

Everyone be safe and PEACE…OHB

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

School District Healthcare Insurance Premium Increase…23%…time to STOP the Runaway Tax Train??????

cartoon-guy-shot-with-tax-arrows-by-ron-leishman-37105The staff here at OHB (onlyhennikerbruce) has just received the Healthcare Insurance Premium numbers that will be part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. teacher-health-benefit14-messages

It break down as follows:

  1. Currently, 9 bargaining units select single person coverage @ $5,963 tax payer dollars. That will rise to $7,349.46.
  2. Currently 13 bargaining units select 2 person coverage @ $11,926 tax payer dollars. That will rise to $14,698.79
  3. Currently 21 bargaining units select family coverage @$16,100 tax payer dollars. That will rise to $19,843.33.

Our current total cost is $546,806 rising to $673,939.80 . That is a 23.25% increase.

In the past we here at OHB offered the following workable solution, all 43 bargaining units be offered single coverage and any additional members of their families can be added with the bargaining unit paying the difference.

If implemented this would reduce the proposed healthcare insurance premium costs by $357,913.

If OHB numbers are wrong please let us know. THE POWER TO STOP THE RUNAWAY TAX TRAIN IS IN YOU HANDS! GET OUT AND VOTE!

Your elected School Board plans on having a Budget Workshop on January 17, 2017 @ 5pm. Tax payers most likely will not be able to ask questions at that meeting.

Then the one and only Public Hearing on this budget is scheduled for February 15, 2017 @ 7pm.

School District meeting March 15, 2017 7pm @ Henniker Community School!

Power to the people…..Peace!

OHB

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.wordpress.com

Western Ave…..Time to fix it or close it!

road-safety-rd-closed-web The  $1.4 Million Western Ave. bridge is scheduled to be completed in the early fall of 2017. Now we have to face this fact:  Western Ave. from the bridge to the town line has to be rebuilt.

The Road Management committee is now putting the final touches on the most comprehensive evaluation of our roads that I have seen in the sixteen years I have lived here.

We are now, for the first time, faced with some cold hard facts regarding Western Ave.; FIX IT OR CLOSE IT!

Western Ave. is that bad and the solution is just that simple. In fact the cost to repair and/or rebuild of all our 51 miles of paved roads over the next decade may just be prohibitive…the committee has even discussed returning some of them back to their original dirt and gravel form (across the board tax increases do have consequences).

History of Western Ave. is fascinating. It once was part of the U.S. Interstate Highway system. From 1934 to  1960’s Western Ave. was U.S. Interstate 202.

U.S. 202, from Delaware to Maine,  transverses Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire. She has a proud history. Her route here in Henniker was chosen to course next to the beautiful Contoocook River, making it on of the most picturesque sections of the entire highway. (read history here)

It is time to give this grand old lady a facelift….she is what makes our community so special…Let’s not let her down!

ohb

 

 

 

Henniker Community School 2017-2018: Proposed Budget $7.9M…SAU projects income revenue flat…Property Tax increase of 9%????

tax-man-cartoonUPDATED 1-17-2017: I have updated my original post dated December  This past Wednesday, the SAU handed to our school board a proposed budget for school year 2017-2018. proposed-budget-12-7-16

The proposed budget is $7.9 Million ($7,908,122). I emailed Kathleen Sargent, SAU finance director and asked what the anticipated amount of State/Federal Adequacy Education funding for 2017-2018 will be. Mrs. Sargent says that currently, the State expects only a slight increase in the State’s Adequacy Education Grant ($31,000 final adjustments in April 2017). sargent-email-2017-18-adequacy-funding

Last year’s property tax rate of $12.89/$1,000 assessed value of your home, on the approved $7.4 Million budget raised $5,089,533 M.(read SAU financial report here)

With State/Federal adequacy  income expected to be flat, our property tax rate will increase to $14.02/$1,000 assessed value of your home,  in order to raise $5,538,298 M to pay for the proposed $7.9M budget. (adequacy grant formula)

  • RSA 198:40-d Consumer Price Index Adjustment. – Beginning July 1, 2017 and every biennium thereafter, the department of education shall adjust the cost of an adequate education under RSA 198:40-a based on the average change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, Northeast Region, using the “services less medical care services” special aggregate index, as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor. The average change shall be calculated using the 3 calendar years ending 18 months before the beginning of the biennium for which the calculation is to be performed.(read here)

How do you feel about a 9.0% (NINE PERCENT) property tax rate increase just for schools?

Considering the comprehensive report from the Road Management committee regarding the condition of our roads, the mandatory commitment to upgrade of Hall Avenue’s infrastructure (water, waste water and road surface) do to the “cost us nothing” Safe Route to School Grant, how will all of this be paid for?

 

If my calculations are inaccurate please let me know and I will correct them.

ohb

 

 

 

Town Administrator (TA) suggests resignation over $17,000 charge….Select Board Chairman text message’s her…”You better fix that”…TA, “I can’t fix it. Doreen Connor has already called…”

no-textingThe controversy over the removal of the debris on Army Corps property continues.In this blog, we will uncover the extensive use of text messages being used to conduct day to day operations of the town. Messages that, until now, were never placed into the public record and kept on private cell phones.

(The town has no  policy regarding the use or the archiving of text messages from private phones. The town does not supply select board members with town owned cell phones.)

At the Tuesday November 1,2016 Select Board meeting, Leo Aucoin brought up the matter of an extensive contract being placed without a bidding process. At that time the TA assured everyone numerous times that the contractor had been made aware that the cost cannot exceed $15,000. If it did exceed that amount the project would need to go out to bid. (video here)

On Wednesday morning November 2, 2016, the TA was made aware that the submitted bill from the contractor was $17,045. She immediately text messaged Chairman Blomback the news. trovato-blomback-text

At that time, Chairman Blomback responded by stating the following, “you better fix that.” The TA states that she can’t because the contractor’s attorney has already called. A letter from the contractor’s attorney verifies that a phone conversation did occur on the morning of November 2, 2016. connor-letter-11-3-2016

Among the many things discussed and affirmed in Attorney Connor’s letter is the following, “In our conversation you stated that you had visited the sight and that Tim had done “an awesome job.” You also acknowledged Tim was hired on an hourly basis and was not made aware of a $15,000 limit/cap for the job by either you or Tom Weston.”

On Thursday morning November 3, 2016, the contractors attorney emailed the TA the news that a $3,835 math error had be discovered. The “good news” is that the bill is now $13,210. connor-trovato-email-11-3-2016

Fellow neighbors, you can draw your own conclusions regarding the math error. However, it seems to me that the actions surrounding this  whole event are quite peculiar. Maybe the authorities should investigate this event???????

The one thing that saddens me the most is that Attorney Connor’s letter states that the TA did not reveal the “$15,000 limit /cap” to her client,  despite the TA telling us in an open meeting, that she did inform the contractor. (see video here above 3:30 and 7:53 mark). It would appear that the TA has misled  the select board.

I firmly believe that this should not be the way we conduct town business. Neighbors what say you?

ohb

 

(Note: I asked the chairman to explain the text messages that I had uncovered. His response can be found here. blomback-explanation)