Senate Bill 169…SAVE OUR FARMS!!!

save-the-farm-ii Senator Bob Guida (R-Warren) has introduced legislation in the Senate that clearly and concisely defines Agritourism in the State of New Hampshire. Senate Bill 169 seeks to amend RSA 21:34-a II(b) as follows;

  • The marketing or selling at wholesale or retail, of any products from the farm, on-site and off-site, where not prohibited by [local] state or federal regulations.  [Marketing includes agritourism, which means attracting visitors to a farm to attend events and activities that are accessory uses to the primary farm operation, including, but not limited to, eating a meal, making overnight stays, enjoyment of the farm environment, education about farm operations, or active involvement in the activity of the farm.]

  • (6)  Agritourism, meaning attracting visitors to a farm to attend events and activities, including but not limited to:  dining; making overnight stays; weddings, family and organizational reunions, celebrations, memorial gatherings, and other social and family activities; enjoyment of the farm environment itself; education about farm operations; or active involvement in the activity of the farm.  No local government shall make a regulation otherwise defining or restricting agritourism.  This subparagraph shall preempt any local definitions or regulations of agritourism existing on the effective date of this subparagraph.  Any such definitions or regulations are void and of no force or effect.

You can find more information regarding the bill @ the  Public and Municipal Affairs Committee web page.
The Committee Meets in the Legislative Office Building, Room 102 and the committee members are;

  1. James Gray, Chairman James.Gray@leg.state.nh.us
  2. Ruth Ward, V Chairman Ruth.Ward@leg.state.nh.us
  3. Regina Birdsell  Regina.Birdsell@leg.state.nh.us
  4. Jay Kahn  Jay.Kahn@leg.state.nh.us
  5. Scott McGilvray   Scott.McGilvray@leg.state.nh.us

The two most important things we as citizens can do right now is to

  1. Email these Senators and ask them to expedite the hearings SB 169 and make sure we let them know that we support this bill as introduced
  2. TELL THEM TO VOTE YES ON SENATE  BILL 169 AS INTRODUCED!

SAVE OUR FARMS…STOP LOCAL LAND USE BOARDS FROM DESTROYING OUR FARMS!

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…PEACE!

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.wordpress.com

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Chairman Blomback “floored” by Western Ave. rebuild cost…proposes using unrestricted fund balance money…2016 DRA reports states Henniker, below minimum fund balance retention threshold!

debt-and-more-debt The cost for rebuilding Western Ave. was revealed at the January 17, 2017 Select Board meeting. Chairman Blomback said that he was “floored” by the bottom line on all the bids that were received.

Chairman Blomback brought to the table a financing plan that included the use of Block Grant Money and currently held unrestricted fund balance money (UFBM). The plan is a bit sketchy at this time.

No documents were available at the meeting for revue. OHB will be submitting a request to see the plan in writing.

But, considering that budget approval time is upon us, one would think that this plan would have been disclosed  sooner, so we tax payers could ask detailed questions.

The NH Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) is the overseer of all things financial that goes on in each and every town in our state. The 2016 DRA report for Henniker  states the following regarding our fund balance retention:

Only here will you see this DRA report. It is not posted anywhere on the town web site at this time.

A question to consider, what will be our tax rate in the near future????

Once again OHB feels compelled to disclose items that town government has failed to report and easily post on our web site. Chairman Blomback and the Board know that not everyone can attend and the internet is their main source for information.

Next blog: Henniker Waste Water Treatment Facility scheduled to have $3.5 M renovation in 2021…and we don’t have a reserve fund that will significantly lower that cost. (tell me if you can find that info on the town’s web page)

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…PEACE!

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.wordpress.com

 

Annual Town & School District Meeting time…It is all about getting the right information…and how you can get that information sent to you without leaving the comfort of your home…

information Town meeting time again. Yes that time of the year where you know that you should go to town meeting and vote on important matters…like how you tax dollars are going to be spent.

However, the thought of wading through the blizzard of superfluous information called the budget, just sends chills down your spine! Fear not my friends…remember faint heart never won fair maiden!

In New Hampshire RSA 91:A governs access to all government records…PERIOD! Allow OHB to paraphrase; unless there is some one out there using a Hermes 5000 or a Valentine Pink Diana Royal manual typewriter to prepare these documents,  the government is obligated to sending you electronic documents in electronic format. In short this  means they must email them to you. Give thanks and praise to Donna Green v. SAU 55.

You would think that town government would have learned by now to just put them up on the town’s website and be done with having to field multiple requests for documents. As of this writing…they have not learned and they are wasting our tax dollars by not learning.

So here you can find the generic form you need to fill out to request information. You can type in this document. Be very specific as to what you want. So you might want to call them first to ask them exactly how town officials refer to the document that you wish to receive. a-master-right-to-know-public-write

Here you can find examples of two detailed Right to Know Requests that OHB submitted. This is how we found that town government is conduction business via text messages on their personal phones.  request-for-doccuments-11-1-20016 and email-and-text-request

The most important item you can ask for is the 6 month and End of Year financial reconciliation report. You can go blind reading the details of the budget if you like, but these two reports (town or school district) will have all the information you need to see the tax impact created by newly proposed budget’s bottom line.

So go out and email the town and the school district to your hearts content. Get the financials reports that I have mentioned and do not be afraid to ask for reports from years past.

Next week OHB will write about how to read them.

Remember, the information you are requesting should be routinely posted to the web site…if you don’t have it then it is nobody’s fault but your own.

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…PEACE!

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.wordpress.com

 

Roadway repairs $10 to $14 Million, Chairman Blomback wonders about grant money…Mr. Osgood… we can’t afford that and Suggested gas tax hike

free-tax-dollars As we have mentioned in a previous blog, the Road management Committee’s report was submitted to the Board of Selectmen (BOS) at the January 3, 2017 meeting. detailed-report

We would have loved to bring you video of the BOS reactions. A battery malfunction occurred and we were unable to capture the full flavor of the nuttiness that occurred.

There was a lot of silliness brought forth by Mr. Fortner regarding some personal dislike he has with how the committee went about doing their work. It seems he and Chairman Blomback feel that the committee’s work was cloaked in secrecy.

Question! Why would an advisory committee charged with evaluating the roads want to operate in the dark?  Mr. Fortner has suggested to disband the committee altogether;

  1. BOS meeting September 20, 2016 : “Selectman Fortner stated that we don’t know what the current charge of the committee is, there is no defined scope and the committee is outside of regulation. He proposed to disband the committee and develop a scope and makeup. Chair Blomback felt that the current committee members were uniquely qualified to bring their skill sets to the committee and equated it to trading in for a new car or fixing what we already have.”
     

    Chair Blomback made a motion to increase the RMC committee to 9 members, one selectman and one planning board member and to make it a standing committee. Selectman Osgood seconded. Motion passed 4-1 (Fortner)

     

    Selectman Osgood made a motion that the charge of the RMC would be as follows: The Road Management Committee’s function is to support the highway department and select board in the maintenance and building of the transportation infrastructure of this town. This support includes providing advice on scheduling, work priorities, materials, design, contracting and any other responsibilities of the highway department.Vice Chair Hooper seconded. Motion passed 4-1 (Fortner).
     

Mr. Osgood’s response to the report was that the town could not afford to pay for these repairs and suggested we lobby The State House to consider increasing the gas tax. Question, is it not correct that the gas tax money comes from our pockets?

Lastly, OHB is saddened that the Chairman Blomback’s first response to funding is looking for more “free” government grant money. I thought we would have learned by now that grant money has overbuilt this town to the point that we cannot afford to maintain all that the “free” grant money of the past has created. Our big small government syndrome…for which we currently suffer greatly.

  • The number of grants-in-aid programs rose from 15 in 1930 to 132 by 1960. The largest expansion of federal granting during this period was the 1956 law authorizing the building of the interstate highway system.However, it was during the 1960s that federal aid really exploded. Under President Lyndon Johnson, aid programs were added for housing, urban renewal, education, health care, and many other activities. The number of aid programs quadrupled from 132 in 1960 to 530 by 1970.

    “The following are eight reasons why the federal aid system doesn’t make any economic or practical sense and ought to be downsized or eliminated.

    1. No magical source of federal funds. Aid supporters bemoan the “lack of resources” at the state level and believe that Uncle Sam has endlessly deep pockets to help out. But every dollar of federal aid sent to the states is ultimately taken from federal taxpayers who live in the 50 states.

    2. Grants spur wasteful spending. The basic incentive structure of aid programs encourages overspending by federal and state policymakers.

    3. Aid allocation doesn’t match any consistent idea of need. Supporters of federal grants assume that funding can be optimally distributed to those activities and states with the greatest needs. But even if such redistribution was a good idea, the aid system has never worked that way in practice. A 1940 article in Congressional Quarterly lamented: “The grants-in-aid system in the United States has developed in a haphazard fashion. Particular services have been singled out for subsidy at the behest of pressure groups, and little attention has been given to national and state interests as a whole.”22

    Even if funds were allocated to the states based on need, state-level decisions can nullify federal efforts. For example, the largest education grant program, Title I, is supposed to target aid to the poorest school districts. But evidence indicates that state and local governments use Title I funds to displace their own funding of poor schools, thus making poor schools no further ahead than without federal aid.25

    4. Grants reduce state policy diversity. Federal grants reduce state diversity and innovation because they come with one-size-fits-all mandates. A good example was the 55-mile-per-hour national speed limit, which was enforced between 1974 and 1995 by federal threats of withdrawing highway grant money. It never made sense that the same speed should be imposed in uncongested rural states and congested urban states, and Congress finally listened to motorists and repealed the law.

    5. Grant regulations breed bureaucracy. Federal aid is not a costless injection of funding to the states. Federal taxpayers pay the direct costs of the grants, but taxpayers at all levels of government are burdened by the costly bureaucracy needed to support the system. The aid system engulfs government workers with unproductive activities such as proposal writing, program reporting, regulatory compliance, auditing, and litigation.

    6. Grants cause policy making overload. One consequence of the large aid system is that the time spent by federal politicians on state and local issues takes away from their focus on truly national issues.

    7. Grants make government responsibilities unclear. The three layers of government in the United States no longer resemble the tidy layer cake that existed in the 19th century. Instead, they are like a jumbled marble cake with responsibilities fragmented across multiple layers. Federal aid has made it difficult for citizens to figure out which level of government is responsible for particular policy outcomes.

    8. Common problems are not necessarily national priorities. Policymakers often argue that various state, local, and private activities require federal intervention because they are “national priorities.” But as President Reagan noted in a 1987 executive order: “It is important to recognize the distinction between problems of national scope (which may justify federal action) and problems that are merely common to the states (which will not justify federal action because individual states, acting individually or together, can effectively deal with them).”29″

    You can read the entire article on Big Small Government here.

Town Administrator Trovato  mentioned at the last BOS meeting that the town recently was turned down for a grant. It was unclear what she was talking about, but it was mentioned during the deliberation of the new $70,000 sidewalk snowblower that the BOS approved for purchase.

Apparently a grant was considered but denied because we do not maintain our sidewalks to an acceptable level. OHB was confused by this conversation and I will report back to you when I have further details.

Remember…your vote counts and your vote has consequences!

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…PEACE!

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

Henniker Community School claims $730,000 in tax savings from Fiscal Year ’09-’15…While our property tax rate/$1,000 goes up 24%…

piggy-bank As we prepare for the up coming budget season OHB would like to direct your attention to some actual facts.

The Henniker Community School will once again prepare their presentation showing you that the yearly surplus reduces your tax rate/$1,000. However the real truth is that your tax assessment has gone up…WAY UP.

Last year the presentation showed that from 2009-2015, $730,000 was returned to you the the tax payer at the end of the school. henniker-annual-school-district-surplus (page 17)

However, actual year end financial documents, obtained from the SAU, shows that from 2009-2015 taxes on your personal property went up 24% (2009-$3.7 M to 2015- $4.8 M) multiple-year-reconciliation-reports

First  you must start to asking yourselves, why am I seeing these reports for the first time on a blog site? Why not publish these reports monthly and post on web site? Why the deception about the increasing property tax rate?

Probably to keep you from actually looking at two items;

  1. 2016-2017 property tax assessment (money obtained from your personal property tax rate of $12.88/$1,000 assessed valuation)  of $5,089,553  which computes out to a 35% increase since 2009 2016-6-month-reconciliation-december-16
  2. employee collective bargaining agreement contracts.

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…PEACE!

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.wordpress.com

 

Henniker’s Road Management Committee…Yo dudes…the most comprehensive roadway report…EVER! And you can read it right here.

well-done-ii OHB would like to begin by saying thank you to the following people for all the hard work they put in to creating one of the most detailed evaluations of Henniker’s public roadway system; Michael Flecchia, Chair; Leon Parker,Vice Chair; Leo Aucoin; Bill Marko; Robert Morse; Tom Weston, Road Agent; Tia Hooper,Selectwoman.

Every resident in the town of Henniker owes a special thank you to Selectwoman Tia Hooper, who collated the voluminous amount of raw data  obtained  by  the committee and ran all the calculations and created the graphs and tables for this report.

OHB attended about four meetings and I can say with certainty, the dedication and professionalism displayed by this group of individuals was second to none. In the coming weeks, OHB will take a closer look at the report’s findings and how it will affect  our future.

However, for now please read this excellent report  detailed-report read here.

OHB: where we make it easier for you to get the facts

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.wordpress.com

 

Update…Board of Selectmen (BOS) in the Dark! Town Counsel files court document defining Ancillary and Accessory…and Chairman Blomback has no idea what the definition means!

bang-head-against-brick-wall Is this how you want your town government to be run?

On December 30,2016 town counsel filed a response prior to a January hearing date in Forster v. Henniker Merrimack County Superior Court Case  No.:  217-2016-CV-00534.

In that document the Henniker, through their attorney states the following town-of-henniker-zba-memo-of-law-12-30-16 see page 5.

“…the  Court   observed    that   “[c ]onsistent    with   the  common    law,  the  Town’s    ordinance    defines   an accessory    use  as  a  ‘use   subordinate     and  customarily     incidental    to  the  main … use  on  the  same lot. ‘”   The  Court   continued    “[h]ere,    the  petitioner    failed  to  establish   that  the  proposed    uses  have ‘commonly,     habitually    and  by  long  practice    been   established    as reasonably    associated    with  the primary  … use.”   

As I have shown in a previous post the NH Supreme Court also stated that the use must rise above being rare:

“While the strength or degree of the customary or habitual association does not lend itself to definition by formula, and while the combination need not occur in a majority of instances of the principal use, the uses must be associated with a frequency that is substantial enough to rise above rarity.” Alfond, 129 N.H. at 29 (citation omitted).”

Just ten days after Chairman Blomback tells Mr. Damourra he cannot give him a definition of ancillary and accessory uses, town counsel files a court document defining ancillary and accessory.

Clearly, Chairman Blomback has no idea what town counsel is doing!

When was the last meeting between the BOS and Town Counsel regarding their defense in Forster v. Henniker Merrimack County Superior Court Case  No.:  217-2016-CV-00534?

I would like to know how many Selectmen/women have seen the pleadings? Does the BOS receive copies of these pleadings?

Clearly the Chairman is disengaged from his duties and has no clear understanding of what is happening, not applying Zoning Regulations equally and is unprepared and unresponsive to the needs of our community.

Clearly the home owners of 60 Juniper Ridge, cannot prove that a motocross track on a 1/2 acre residential property has been established as being common, habitual and reasonably associated with a residential property in Henniker.

The BOS, by taking no action, is in fact contradicting their position in Forster v. Henniker 217-2016-CV-00534.

I ask you once again, Is this how you want your town government to run?

OHB

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.wordpress.com