(6/2013) I hope everyone is enjoying our slow slide into the summer season. Schools will soon be closed and outdoor activities will begin to multiply! Mark your calendars now for Community Heritage Day on Saturday, June 29. You can look forward to a fun filled and informative day beginning with breakfast at the fire hall, children’s games
at Community Park, programs at the Provincial House, a parade through town, the Lions’ Club Program, music, and (of course) fireworks in the park that evening! There’s lots to do throughout the day – so come out and have a great time with the family!
As is usually the case for May, town business focused mainly on the upcoming budget. This proposed budget (for the financial year beginning July 1) forecasts income and spending approximately equivalent, in total, to the previous year. Tax rates remain the same so you should still continue to receive some relief on property tax payments due
to the reduced state assessments that went into effect last year.
Mayor Don Briggs budget still provides no public direction on how town square improvements totaling over $500,000 might be implemented in upcoming years - no new projects are listed in the five year Capital Improvements Plan. Over the last nine months, the Board of Commissioners has allocated money to cover fifty percent of the cost to
develop an improvement plan and create the engineering drawings necessary to implement that plan. The remaining fifty percent of these initial costs are to be covered by grant funding. Where we go from there still appears to be a mystery…
My motions to fund the design effort and construction drawings required the Administration to obtain fifty percent grant support in order to undertake the project. So far they have been successful. I believe this is a good pattern to follow – especially when it comes to funding the $500,000+ in additional improvements envisioned by the
design consultant. To date, however, there has been no public discussion of how our goals can be achieved. As I said at the last town meeting, I’m here to help provide financial oversight – it’s too easy to spend taxpayer money.
By the end of the current budget year on June 30, the LED light conversion will be fully implemented throughout town. The Mayor justified the $70,000 upfront transition cost for this program by claiming substantial savings of over twenty percent in electricity usage and equipment replacement costs. It is therefore surprising that little to
no savings are forecast for those areas in the new budget! If we truly expect to see a savings, it should be reflected in the new budget. It’s extremely disappointing that we are not even attempting to validate the salesman’s claims…
On the not so good side, a water rate increase requested by the Administration was approved at the May 6 town meeting. System users will see a moderate increase beginning with your September 30 bill. The town is required to maintain sewer and water infrastructure (such as treatment facilities and storage tanks) on a much greater scale than
its simple, residential footprint would demand. This is primarily due to a small number of very large customers.
While those large customers may not actually use services in accordance with their physical size, the town is still obligated to have sufficient capacity to cover the ‘possible’ demand. This demand profile is based on the number of "fixtures" (toilets, sinks, showers, etc.) in those large facilities. When these large users actively
economize and reduce their usage, it throws off the plan and leads to deficits. This requires the town to recalculate charges based on the new usage pattern and adjust rates accordingly. The main result is to transfer an additional portion of the cost for maintaining a ‘supersized’ system from the large users to the average users.
I’ll continue to keep you updated on budget discussions as they move forward. And, as always, please keep an eye out for opportunities to contribute and don’t hesitate to share your opinions with your elected officials by sending an e-mail to email@example.com
Sincerely, Chris Staiger
Read other articles by Chris Staiger