A Good Proposal for Lyme
Lyme is a lovely place to live, desirable and expensive. Our small population and lack of commercial or second-home properties to broaden the tax base mean high property taxes.
I know this, for I have lived in Lyme for nearly 38 years and watched things escalate. The three-acre property I bought in 1983 for $8,900 is now assessed (just the property) for $167,000. If I want to downsize in retirement, there are few ways to remain in Lyme.
For 30 years, I have been part of various groups attempting to develop affordable housing in Lyme, but land costs, site costs and our restrictive zoning ordinance have made it practically impossible to build smaller housing in a modest price range.
Indeed, the last 20 homes built in Lyme have an average assessed value of $467,000. Those homes usually have three or more bedrooms and generate the highest number of school-age children per housing unit. Only a few of the most expensive homes in Lyme generate enough taxes on their own to cover having even one student in the schools.
I am a strong supporter of our outstanding local school, but excellence attracts more students and greater costs, hence higher taxes. This raises questions of affordability, whether or not you have children in the school.
The proposed Pocket Neighborhood amendment (Article 2) on the ballot on Town Meeting Day, takes an initial step in ameliorating this situation. The people involved in the Pinnacle Project, who have done an extensive job of gathering information in order to help address Lyme’s needs for smaller, more modestly priced housing, added Article 2 by petition.
I am not a member of the Pinnacle Project, but know they are not looking to make a quick buck at the expense of Lyme’s character. No such developer would be willing to try for 11 years to fit within Lyme’s existing structure, to come up with an alternative to the “march of McMansions” we have witnessed. Their proposal could help people who love Lyme remain here by creating affordable options, reducing development pressures and having a positive effect on the tax base. That is why I will vote Yes on Article 2 and encourage you to do likewise.
Supporting Al Posnanski in Canaan
I have been asked by Canaan residents: Who is Al Posnanski?
I’d like to share with you the Posnanski that I know.
I first worked with him on the Canaan Budget Committee when he replaced Shirley Packard in 2009. I found him to be very laid back, yet always aware of the needs of the town and its people.
Posnanski recognizes that a personal agenda is not healthy for the town, and sets a good example by listening more than he speaks. I worked with him on the Budget Committee until 2013, at which time I was elected to the selectman position.
Posnanski has been at almost every town event and Selectman’s meeting. He didn’t have to be in the front row, preferring to be in the second or third — Posnanski isn’t a grandstander. He volunteers with 4-H, and even stepped up to help my wife update the map of cemeteries in Canaan. He took on the transfer station with ideas to improve it and make it more efficient. He worked hard with others to find a way to make recycling work for Canaan.
I’m sure if you asked anyone at the Meeting House Preservation Committee, they’d be happy to tell you about the Posnanski they know.
When Canaan lost Selectman Bob Reagan last year, there was no question as to who was a perfect, qualified fit to fill his shoes. We asked Posnanski and he said yes.
In closing, if you don’t know Al Posnanski, that’s because he doesn’t put himself in the front row. He puts his dedication to his town and his work ahead of any need for attention. I encourage you to reach out to anyone else on the many committees and groups he works with to hear more about this fine candidate.
Join me in supporting Al Posnanski the way he has supported Canaan — vote for him for selectman on March 14.
David E. McAlister
Canaan Running the Numbers on School Tax
In a recent letter published in the Kearsarge Shopper, John Augustine, a candidate for the Sunapee School Board, raised some interesting points about the cost of Sunapee schools. Augustine took the example of a family with three children owning a home valued at $350,000, and paying $3,000 per year in school taxes. Using an enrollment of 420 in Sunapee and a total school budget of $12 million, he calculated a per-child cost of $28,000.
Augustine writes that the rest of the town is subsidizing the family to the tune of $81,000 for their childrens’ education.
Those are pretty scary numbers. My first thought was, wow, I sure can’t afford that. So I took out my tax bill and ran some numbers of my own. I don’t fault Augustine’s math, but I interpreted the numbers a bit differently.
Using my property valuation of $196,000 and last year’s school tax rate of $6.45 per thousand, I figured I paid $1,264.20 in school tax. Divided by 420, that works out to about $3.01 per child. Children, you are welcome and I hope you will take advantage of your opportunities.
In my view, the family with three children is not paying $3,000 to educate three children. If they are paying $3,000 in school taxes (Augustine’s number), they are contributing $7.14 for each child in Sunapee schools.
I want to mention that I do not have any children, but I was educated in public schools in Maine and then New Hampshire. My own education was therefore heavily underwritten by the public, other taxpayers just like me. I do believe that we as a society have a vested interest in ensuring that all children have access to a good public education and I willingly pay my taxes to support public schools. This letter is not to endorse or oppose any candidate for Sunapee School Board, but I am concerned that Augustine chose to present the facts in a manner that seems calculated to raise alarm rather than educate voters. While Augustine says he does not want the conversation to be “us versus them,” starting from a place that labels parents of school-aged children as takers doesn’t seem to support his stated intention.
Go Raiders — to the Finals
The undefeated Lebanon girls basketball team is playing for the championship tonight at 7 p.m. at the University of Southern New Hampshire. Let’s give them a massive show of support. See you there. Go Raiders!
Lebanon Seeking School Board Seat
My name is Adam Nemeroff, and I am a candidate for School Board in Lebanon.
I am a beneficiary of public education from kindergarten through graduate school (where I received a master’s in education, curriculum and instruction). I believe in strong schools that put students’ learning and futures first. I believe I can bring leadership, policy experience and student-centered practices to the Lebanon School Board.
In all aspects of my life I am a committed educator. During the day, I lead educational transformation as an instructional designer, working in the areas of both teaching and learning as well as educational technologies at Dartmouth College. I support faculty and other educators to incorporate research-based practices into their classrooms, curricula and projects.
An accessible public education is vital to a functioning democracy. We learn what it means to be an engaged citizen in our schools and communities. Public education should empower us to address issues related to gender, race and socioeconomic inequalities. I care deeply about these societal problems and work to address them in my current role as a board member for BRAVE Girls Leadership Inc., a nonprofit based in Connecticut, whose mission is to empower young women through leadership, service and mentorship opportunities.
I believe that the future of our community relies on creating a high-quality educational experiences for our students by giving teachers the resources they need, creating cultures focused on student learning outcomes and assessments, and considering the 21st century needs of our workforce and lifelong learners.
On March 14, I ask you for the honor of serving our community as a member of the Lebanon School Board.