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Forum, March 3: Voting in Lebanon


Friday, March 10, 2017
Reject Lebanon Zoning Amendment

On the Lebanon ballot, voters are being asked to allow “contractor yards” in the city’s rural lands. This is a bad idea for several reasons:

1. Rural zones are meant to have less-intense development. Having a business that requires large trucks coming and going daily is not compatible with rural living.

2. More intense traffic. Increasing large truck traffic over rural roads is bad for the roads, putting more wear and tear on already worn and narrow roads.

3. City planner Tim Corwin states in his comments that “permits will be difficult to obtain,” citing many requirements that will need to be met. If this is so, doesn’t it tell us that businesses like this belong elsewhere?

4. Property values. Having activity such as this next door will substantially decrease property values in these zones. No one wants to live next to this. It’s a business and belongs where it’s presently permitted.

5. Enforcement. Who is going to make sure there aren’t violations? It’s up to the neighbors to register complaints, potentially putting neighbors in conflict.

The Conservation Commission approved of the amendment, but stated “this will require heightened public review in order to prevent negative impacts on the environment and surrounding property owners.”

People who live in rural zones should not have the burden of being watchdogs over their neighbors and environment.

Please vote no on this amendment.

Suellen Balestra

Lebanon

The writer is a former city councilor.

City Council Needs Fresh Faces

Lebanon has an opportunity to change its government on Tuesday, to the benefit of Lebanon residents and their pocketbooks. Incumbent Karen Liot Hill and former councilor Dan Nash describe themselves as fiscal conservatives, but they have both repeatedly supported huge capital projects that continue to strain Lebanon taxpayers’ pocketbooks, while giving us dubious value.

For example, a decade ago they both pushed (and voted) for our vast Public Works garage — 10 years later, the garage is costing taxpayers $438,000 a year in debt service, and will cost us for another decade (until the debt is paid). They both supported the construction of hangars at the airport, as a moneymaker for the city. In fact, the hangars have lost substantial money every year, and always will.

I hope Lebanon voters will support two new young, bright faces. Catherine Patch (at large) and James Winny (Ward 1) are running against Liot-Hill and Nash, and have expressed dismay at the cost to taxpayers of our excessive capital expenditures, but meanwhile, delight in their lives here. Please support these fresh new eyes and minds. I think they’ll save us tax money, while preserving the quality of residential life in Lebanon.

Stephen M. Wood

Lebanon

The writer is a former city councilor.

Bad Changes in Lebanon

After moving from Lebanon to North Carolina 18 years ago, we’re back to stay. Unfortunately, we will never be able to live in Lebanon again because for some reason the price of houses has increased hugely. We are retirees and can’t afford $200,000-plus for a house, and some of these places I wouldn’t live in anyway. You’d need another $100,000 to make them livable. So we’ll live somewhere else.

But here’s my point: If I lived in Lebanon in one of those expensive homes, I’d be on the warpath about the city asking voters to approve letting contractors use their homes to store their equipment, even if it is restricted to “rural areas.” You know how that goes, first it’s contractors in rural areas, then other businesses in rural areas.

So folks, consider this vote carefully when you remember what you pay in property taxes each year.

Jo Ann Duprey

Rochester, Vt.

Hold the Line on School Spending

Lebanon residents should vote no next week on any additional school system funding. The total SAU 88 enrollment is now less than 1,700 students and keeps ticking down each year while costs keep rising, more non-teaching positions are added, and academic scores remain low.

The SAU 88 per-student cost of over $23,700 is more than many private schools charge, and with lower academic results. Total enrollment of SAU 88 is less than thousands of high schools in the U.S., yet employs over 110 non-teaching administrative and support personnel. Why?

Recently they advertised for a dozen more employees, including, (I’m not kidding) three softball and three baseball coaches for Lebanon Middle School. LMS just hired a principal at a cost including benefits of over $100,000 per year, and is advertising for an assistant principal. Why? It’s a tiny school.

A consultant recently reported things such as “your boiler will eventually fail,” (don’t they all, eventually?) “repaving projects needed” (of course), and leaky window casements. Why pay for such consulting when the facilities director probably already knows these things?

This same consultant offers a different service titled “operational performance reviews” to assess operations from top to bottom.

That is the type of consultant service needed, to recommend what/how/where to trim fat and excesses, not where/how to spend more. The School Board should direct the superintendent to implement all cost-cutting measures recommended and find others; not be hoodwinked by teachers and administrative unions.

As taxpayers work 40 hours a week all year long to earn a two-week vacation and a few holidays, think of the SAU 88 employees earning more and their multiple holidays, summer, winter and spring breaks and ask why? What do they all really do? There are more administrative and support staff than classroom teachers. Couldn’t some be tasked differently to slow down this hiring frenzy?

We should demand accountability, not be bullied by unions nor by the “it’s the way we’ve always done it” mantra. Vote no on any additional school spending until they understand it is our money they are spending.

James Green

Lebanon

Change for Lebanon

To The Editor

At Tuesday’s forum for candidates running for Lebanon City Council, the discussion on the search for a new city manager was illuminating. In my four years on City Council, I learned that ensuring the city has an effective, competent city manager is the most important part of the job.

When questioned on how to avoid repeating the failures of the most recent manager search, sitting councilors seemingly could not explicitly identify problems that occurred or propose remedies. I was dismayed to hear so little from some of my former colleagues.

In contrast, the new faces on the stage — Catherine Patch, Jim Winny and Shane Smith — all grasped the importance of the manager search and its consequences for the future of the city. They would bring new experience and perspectives to the council that would be valuable not only in the manager search, but in addressing the pressing and perennial problems facing our city. Please join me in supporting Catherine Patch for the at-large seat and if, unlike me you live outside Ward 3, supporting Jim Winny (Ward 1) or Shane Smith (Ward 2).

Scott Pauls

Lebanon