Forum, March 3: Control spending in Lebanon

Published: 3/2/2020 10:00:13 PM
Modified: 3/2/2020 10:00:09 PM
Control spending in Lebanon

On March 10, the citizens of Lebanon will be asked to vote on the School District budget. Before you vote, you need to consider how this will affect your property taxes in the future. These expenditures not only affect a property owner but also anyone in a rental.

The most costly items are Article 2, to raise and appropriate $20.4 million for renovations at Mount Lebanon School, Hanover Street School and Lebanon High School, which would require a 20-year bond. The impact on property taxes is estimated at $220 on a $250,000 home. Right now, an owner of a condo unit built in 1980 with 596 square feet of living space is paying $3,200 in property tax for 2019. The tax rate affects everyone. We have 13 years left to pay off the bond for the construction of the new middle school.

Article 3 would raise a city operating budget of $45.6 million. There are also three other articles that involve money.

We also have a tax rate for the city budget that includes $74 million expenditure for the required combined sewer overflow project that is still in progress. In 2019, the City Council appropriated $3.3 million for Phase I of the city offices renovation and another $3.3 million for Phase II in the 2020 budget. Also, the pedestrian mall tunnel is being reconstructed this winter. The water and sewer bills continue to rise, and in the future the solid waste facility will need upgrading or a new facility, along with a new fire and rescue facility and police station renovations.

The only way to control this spending is to get out and vote. Your voices need to be heard, especially our senior citizens, who are trying to stay in their homes.



Carbon pricing plan effective

Thank you for bringing attention to the warrant articles calling on our state and federal legislators to take effective climate action by supporting carbon pricing (“NH Town Meeting Previews,” March 1). Voters in many Upper Valley towns, including Plainfield, Cornish and Enfield, will have a chance to vote at Town Meeting on this cost-efficient, bipartisan measure for climate action.

Simply stated, the carbon “cashback” program puts a price on the carbon pollution that is fueling the climate crisis — and then rebates the money to every adult New Hampshire resident in equal shares. An annual fee would start low (a penny a pound or $20 a ton, for example) and increase annually, providing a clear signal that the time is now to switch to clean energy sources.

In January 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that 3,354 U.S. economists argued for a national carbon fee-and-dividend program, stating it would net more than 2 million new jobs, prevent 90,000 premature deaths, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 50% in 20 years. Republican leaders like James Baker, President Ronald Reagan’s treasury secretary, and George Schultz, President Richard Nixon’s treasury secretary, support the cashback program as based on sound economic analysis and embodying the principles of free markets and limited government (see the Climate Leadership Council’s February 2017 report, “The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends”).

Carbon pricing comes in many forms and has been adopted in 46 countries. Independent studies of fee-and-dividend mechanisms demonstrate that the lowest three-fifths of all households by income will break even, or receive more cash back than they pay out. You would have to use more than double the New Hampshire average of both transportation and home heating fuel to be out-of-pocket.

An informational session about carbon pricing and the upcoming warrant articles will be held on Friday, at 7 p.m., at the Cornish General Store. The carbon cashback website is



The writer represents the Sullivan 1 district in the New Hampshire House.

Meriden needs a new library

The town of Plainfield has two historic villages separated by many hills and connected by one major road. Along Route 12A it is easy to locate the village of Plainfield and its fine, big library.

Along Route 120 to the east, Meriden is spread out and includes a section called East Plainfield. It is a community with many young families and children, two churches, a post office where more than 200 households come for mail, a deli and market, auto repair shop, tavern and fire station. Just off Route 120 and Main Street is the Meriden Library — small, outdated, heavily used; it cannot meet the needs of this active community.

A dedicated group of citizens has led the drive to replace the library, developing a plan and pledged donations for a new library that will efficiently meet town needs. At Town Meeting, Article 2 will present this for a vote. Some will say this is a want, not a need. This is not the case. The need is there in Meriden, and the ability to meet that need is being made possible. How foolish it would be to turn this help down by defeating the article.

A hundred years ago, Andrew Carnegie donated more than 1,680 public libraries to towns and cities in this country. He required that every library have a meeting room, as well as books, to facilitate the exchange of ideas and information. Our times are fractured, in ways he could not have imagined. Our need for the varied services of the public library today and into the future is a community need, to nourish who we are and what we can do and become.

Plainfield voters should say yes to Article 2. This will be a vote for a wise and forward-looking town of Plainfield.



Yes on Article 3 in Sunapee

We retired to Sunapee three years ago after being part-time residents since 1999. This is a welcoming town that has attracted both retirees and young families. A distinguishing feature of Sunapee is its K-12 school system. We urge Sunapee voters to join us in voting yes on Article 3 to maintain the benefits of strong public schools.

Like many fellow retirees, our move to New Hampshire resulted in significantly lower out-of-pocket expenses because of the lack of income and sales taxes and of lower property taxes. We now understand that our low property taxes reflect long deferred and neglected infrastructure needs — adversely impacting our children, teachers and ultimately property values.

Virtually everyone agrees that the Article 3 plan is superior to prior proposals, addresses a totality of school issues, and was carefully conceived with expertise and public input. Still, some residents have argued that Article 3 is not perfect. We will never achieve perfection. We are more concerned with the safety and well-being of our students and teachers, the vibrancy of our community and the impact another school bond failure would have on the future of Sunapee.

We have no family members who will directly benefit from Article 3. We view this as our collective responsibility for investing in the future. Both of us and our three sons all attended public schools in multiple small communities. We were fortunate that voters there were willing to fund public education. We hope Sunapee voters will do the same.



Don’t end Town Meeting

We are writing to add our two cents to the debate in Royalton about ending Town Meeting (“Royalton is the latest town to consider a switch to ballot voting,” Feb. 23). In our minds, Hartford’s relatively recent decision to go to an “informational” meeting and ballot voting essentially destroyed 200 years of Town Meeting tradition for no net gain. In fact, we would call it a loss on many levels.

We’ve probably all been at Town Meetings where opinions have clashed and collars got heated. In the end, though, the issues have to be resolved; you can’t just walk away and leave a town without a budget. We would argue strenuously that the discussion that happens at Town Meeting can and should bring citizens together, if only because they have to hash things out to a conclusion.

In order to have a functioning republic as it was intended to be, we have to have the open forum where citizens discuss and debate and then come to a decision. Our experience in Hartford is that we no longer have that happening. In the early years of this century, the gym at Hartford High School would be teeming with citizens who came to discuss the issues that shaped life in our town. Nowadays, the much smaller auditorium at the school is not even one-quarter full for the “informational” meetings that now precede Australian ballot day. Yes, there is some discussion at these meetings, but with way fewer citizens involved than was happening with traditional Town Meeting.

In short, do away with the discussion and you weaken the republic, if you don’t do away with it completely.

Generally speaking, the level of American public discourse has plummeted into the toilet, due in no small part to the anonymity allowed by social media. Vermont is no exception. Town Meeting is one of the last places where people assemble and look each other in the eye when they assert their opinions. We need at least that one place where folks can remember that there is humanity in the person they are addressing.


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