Flag Lighting in Chichester

I’m sure you’ve seen the awesome American Flag flying over Camping World on Rt. 4, my appreciation to Camping World for flying it proudly!

You may have also noticed that it hasn’t been properly lit at night as required by the “Flag Code” found in Title 4 of the United States Code (http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30243.pdf)

“It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during hours of darkness.

You may not be aware, but this Thursday @ 6:30 (12/3) our Planning Board will decide whether or not they will allow the flag to be lit (http://www.chichesternh.org/Public_Documents/ChichesterNH_PlanAgnd/I053538C5).

You can see from the draft minutes from 11/5 that it seems the opinion of the board is that lighting of the US Flag would violate our zoning ordinance.(http://chichestertaxpayers.com/jtw/draftminutes11.5.15.pdf)

“The Chichester Zoning Ordinance sections 3.18 (C) (II) 1, 2, & 3 effectively prohibits any lights shining up and light glare beyond a property line. The “Exceptions” in section 3.18 (D) (V) refers to residential uses and Campers World is not a residential application.”

The flag means different things to different people, it might represent our hard fought freedoms, a service member, past, present or lost, our police, fire and first responders or simply the hope for a free future for our children. Whatever the flag represents to you, the freedom to fly it proudly and with proper respect shall not be infringed upon by anyone, certainly not by our local planning board!

I encourage you to attend Thursdays meeting at the Town Hall @ 6:30 and voice your opinion to the planning board.

Please pass this information on to anyone who may be interested and I apologize if you receive this multiple times – too many contact lists.

Thank you!
Jason Weir

Candidate for Selectman

Over the years I’ve given the Board of Selectman lots of grief, I think it’s time for some of my own medicine. So if you haven’t heard, yesterday I added my name to the ballot as a candidate for Selectman.

Everyone who seeks elected office has an agenda and I’m no different, but you shouldn’t be surprised to hear mine is taxes. If the current rate of tax increases continues we will see a drastic change in our demographic. Chichester risks becoming a “school only” community where families move here to school their children and leave after, leaving only those who can afford the higher and higher taxes. Gone will be the middle class farmers, mechanics, small business owners and families who have lived here for generations. Chichester will loose it’s identity and history and that’s not what I want for my family or yours.

We are not without other problems but they pale in comparison, if we can control taxes those problems will work themselves out.

Should I be elected I look forward to continuing to serve Chichester in this new capacity, but I cannot do this alone. I’m asking for your vote but also your continued support and guidance going forward. As your representative and voice in local government I need feedback and the Board of Selectman cannot efficiently govern without it.

As always more info is available at chichestertaxpayers.com, pass that information on to anyone who might be interested.

I’m available anytime if you have questions, you won’t always like my answer but I will listen to your concerns and always speak honestly.

Even if you won’t be voting for me please come vote anyways, voter apathy is why we find ourselves in the position we’re in, your vote does make a difference!!

Jason Weir

16 Things every citizen should know about town (and school) meeting

This message came out through the town’s email list – you can subscribe here http://www.chichesternh.org/subscriber. I know it’s long, but please take some time to read up on how town and school meetings work.

#16 Resonates with me the most

Democracy – Use it or Lose it.
In a town meeting, more than any other form of government on earth, your community and the services it provides emanate not from some “they” in the sky, but from you, the voters. If you haven’t been to town meeting lately, this is a good year to inform yourself, attend, vote, and make it work.

See you at the meetings!



New Hampshire Town and City, January/February 2015

By H. Bernard Waugh, Jr., with 2015 Update by Cordell A. Johnston

This article, written by H. Bernard Waugh, Jr., then NHMA Legal Counsel, first appeared in Town and City magazine in February, 1990. It has been updated by Cordell A. Johnston, NHMA Government Affairs Counsel, where necessary. Although this article was first written before the adoption of “SB 2,” and therefore contemplated only the “traditional” form of town meeting, almost everything in it applies to SB 2 town meetings as well.

* * * * * *

We keep hearing it in New Hampshire: “Town meetings don’t work anymore.” “They’re an anachronism.” “They’re rigged.” “Nothing important is decided there.” But these are self-fulfilling prophesies. Local voter apathy feeds on itself.

It’s not all apathy, either. This article assumes that part of the problem is good old honest ignorance: people who’ve moved in from places without town meetings; young people who grew up in families with no tradition of participation for them to absorb; people who for years have heard their cynical friends telling them they can’t make a difference and never bothered to find out the truth.

This is for them, and you. Officials and others receiving this magazine should feel free to share or reproduce this article for other voters. An informed town is in everyone’s interest. In the end, nobody benefits from voter ignorance.

1. Every Voter Is a Legislator.
Those quaint sayings about town government being a “pure democracy” are true! State law refers to the town meeting as the “legislative body” (RSA 21:47). The town meeting is to the town what the Legislature is to the State, or the Congress is to the United States: the town meeting has all the basic power. There is no higher authority in town. But in order to have the right to participate, you must be a registered voter of the town, and you must attend. If you don’t go, how can you justify blaming anybody but yourself?

2. The Moderator Presides, and Can Do What It Takes to Maintain Order.
The town meeting’s business is regulated by the moderator, and your right to vote is subject to the moderator’s authority to keep order. Voters may not talk without being recognized. If someone keeps on being disruptive after being warned, the moderator can ask a police officer to escort him/her out of the meeting (RSA 40:9).

3. The Voters Can Always Overrule the Moderator by a Simple Majority.
The moderator isn’t a king. S/he is merely a facilitator to enable the voters to take orderly joint actions. It is illegal for the moderator to preside in such a way as to make it impossible to overrule his/her rulings. Therefore, people who say that the moderator “rigs” the meeting are talking through their hats.
Many voters mistakenly believe that state law contains all sorts of complicated parliamentary rules governing town meetings. It doesn’t. All state law says is that the moderator can prescribe rules, but the voters can alter those rules (RSA 40:4). Nobody can pull parliamentary tricks as long as the voters stay alert and remain aware that they can vote, by a simple majority, to change the rules to accomplish what the majority wishes to accomplish.

Some towns, at the beginning of the meeting, adopt some set of rules for convenience, such as Robert’s Rules of Order. In other towns, the moderator just makes rulings as the meeting goes along. Either way is fine. Either way, the only legally-binding rule is that the voters can over¬rule the moderator by a simple majority.

Example: Suppose the town begins the meeting by deciding to adopt Robert’s Rules for the duration. And suppose, a little later, someone moves to amend a motion a certain way, which is perfectly proper under Robert’s Rules, and the moderator declares that the amendment is valid. But now suppose it is moved and seconded to overrule the moderator, and the motion carries. Who wins? The voters, of course. Even though the moderator was “right” under Robert’s Rules, the voters are “right” because they are the higher authority when acting by majority vote.

4. There’s No Such Thing as an “Illegal Vote.”
“What!? You mean the town’s lawyers are all wrong?” No, I don’t mean that. Pay close attention. It’s true that there are plenty of types of town votes which, if they pass, will not be legally binding (i.e. would not be enforceable in court). But that doesn’t mean the town can’t vote on those things anyway. No group of voters has ever been arrested for taking a vote, no matter how off-the-wall it might be.

Example: Suppose it is moved and seconded to create a “No Parking” zone in front of the town hall. Then the town’s attorney says that vote would be of no legal effect because state law gives the selectmen, not the town meeting, complete control over parking regulations. Does that mean the vote can’t be taken? Of course not. If you let the lawyer intimidate you like that, you don’t have the stubborn, independent Yankee gumption I think you have. In my view, legal opinions are far too often used to effectively deprive voters of their right to express their views and preferences to the officials they have elected to serve them.
If a vote most likely isn’t going to be binding, then it’s best, in order to avoid later confusion, to rephrase the motion in a form that recognizes that it may not be enforceable in court, but still lets the officials know that it may be enforceable at the ballot box. For example, “I move that the selectmen be strongly urged to create a ‘No Parking’ zone in front of the town hall.”

Most of the rules in this article tell you what types of town meeting votes are legally enforceable in court. But don’t be misled into thinking that non-binding votes are somehow “illegal.” Use the lawyer’s advice to help make your votes as effective as they can legally be, not to discourage you from taking a vote.

5. It’s OK to Ask Questions.
The beauty of the traditional “deliberative” session of town meetings (as compared with questions on the “Official” or “Australian” ballot usually used for elections) is that through the process of discussion and debate, the voters can educate themselves about the question at hand, and about the procedure, and become able to vote more intelligently. Don’t shyly assume that everybody but you knows what’s going on. They probably don’t.

6. No Vote Can Be Legally Binding Unless Its Subject Matter was Stated in the Warrant.
The “warrant” is a sort of agenda for the town meeting, which is posted two weeks in advance by the selectmen. In most towns it’s also printed in the town report, published before the annual town meeting. The requirement that all subject matter must be stated in the warrant (RSA 39:2) keeps the meeting orderly, prevents surprise, and lets voters who might otherwise stay home know that some topic of interest to them is coming up for discussion and possible action.
The warrant law requires only the general subject matter to be stated. The actual votes don’t have to be word-¬for-word the same as the warrant articles. You don’t have to “take it or leave it.” Amendments will be legally valid, so long as they are within the same general subject matter. But amendments which add some brand new subject matter will not be legally effective (Sawyer v. Railroad, 62 N.H. 135).

You can see from this rule that any vote taken under a warrant article entitled “other business” cannot be legally binding, because that article doesn’t state any subject matter. Of course a vote to name someone “Volunteer of the Year,” a vote to thank the Girl Scouts for the sandwiches, or even a vote to strongly urge the selectmen to appoint an advisory committee to look into a parking garage, doesn’t have to be legally binding, and therefore can be passed under an “other business” article.

7. Any Twenty Five Voters Have the Right to Add Articles to the Warrant by Petitioning the Selectmen Five Weeks in Advance of the Annual Town Meeting.
Under state law, the selectmen have complete control over the contents of the warrant, except that they must insert any article submitted by petition, signed by 25 or more voters, or 2 percent of the registered voters in town, whichever is less, but not fewer than 10 registered voters, submitted to them by at least the fifth Tuesday before the annual meeting (RSA 39:3). (There is a different deadline for SB 2 towns.) In other words, ordinary citizens can contribute to the agenda (can keep the meeting from being “rigged,” if you will), but it takes a little advance planning.

[EXCEPTION: Petitions for Zoning or Building Code amendments have to be submitted at least 90 days before the annual meeting (RSA 675:4) and need 25 signatures instead of just 10.]

8. Ordinary, Everyday Language is Perfectly Okay.
Are you hesitant to submit petitioned warrant articles, or to make motions at town meeting, because you think you’ll need to hire a lawyer to come up with the right wording? Don’t be! The N.H. Supreme Court has said time and again that technical rules will not be used to defeat the plain intent of the voters, using ordinary common language. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Holmes once said:

“The machinery of government would not work if it were not allowed a little play in the joints.” (Quoted in Lamb v. Danville School Board, 102 N.H. 569.)
In fact, if you’re worried about the wording, it might be better to check with, say, an English teacher, instead of a lawyer, to see if your proposed wording says what you intend it to. There are a few types of articles where the traditional words can be legally important [the worst example is a vote to discontinue a road “subject to gates and bars”], but these are few and far between.

9. Any 50 Voters Can Call a Special Town Meeting.
A “special” town meeting means any meeting other than the annual meeting. In most towns, the annual meeting is held the second Tuesday in March (RSA 39:1). But the selectmen can call a “special” meeting whenever they feel there’s a need for it. In order to petition for a special meeting, you need 50 voters’ signatures on a petitioned warrant article, submitted to the selectmen. The selectmen must call the meeting, unless the annual meeting is only 60 days away or less, in which case they can just add your petitioned article to the annual meeting warrant (RSA 39:3).

[CAUTION! Money articles (i.e. articles requiring the appropriation of funds) can’t be voted on at special meetings unless at least half the town’s voters show up, or unless the selectmen have petitioned the Superior Court (RSA 31:5).]

10. You can Ask for a Secret Written Ballot on Any Question.
There are two ways for the voters to request a secret written ballot at town meeting: (a) Any 5 voters can make the request in writing to the moderator before a vote is taken, (if the town’s population is less than 500, it only takes 3 voters) or (b) After a vote has been taken and declared by the moderator, any seven voters can orally request the vote to be taken again using a secret written ballot, but the request must be made immediately, before the meeting moves on to other business (RSA 40:4-a and 40:4-b).

11. Virtually any Town Vote can Later be Reconsidered and Rescinded.
So you think you finally finished the debate over the blankety-blank town administrator’s salary. The rest of the meeting is routine. Now you can go home and pay the babysitter. Right? Well, no, you’d better not. Unless the meeting votes to restrict reconsideration, that salary vote can legally be reconsidered later, right up until the meeting is finally adjourned, even if it’s 2 a.m. and almost everyone’s gone home (Byron v. Timberlane School District, 113 N.H. 449).

In fact, if two votes taken by a town meeting are inconsistent, the Courts will probably say that the later vote impliedly rescinded the earlier vote, even if there was no formal vote to reconsider (Lamb v. Danville School Board, 102 N.H. 569).

However, the town meeting may vote to restrict reconsideration on one or more articles (RSA 40:10), and this is commonly done. This action doesn’t prohibit reconsideration. If the meeting votes to restrict reconsideration of an article, it may still subsequently vote to reconsider the article; but if it does, the reconsideration must take place at an adjourned session held at least seven days later. Notice of the time and place of the adjourned session must be announced before the close of the original session and published in a newspaper at least two days before the session.

In an SB 2 town, a vote at the deliberative session to restrict reconsideration is deemed to prohibit further action on the restricted article until the second (official ballot) session (RSA 40:13, IV). Votes taken on the official ballot may not be reconsidered.

12. The Actions of One Town Meeting are not Binding on Later Town Meetings.
This rule is just a logical extension of the rule that all (or at least most) votes can later be reconsidered. The right to reconsider and rescind a prior vote (either explicitly or by implication) carries over from one year to the next, or from the annual meeting to a special meeting.

Example: Suppose you went home after that important vote on the anti-surfing ordinance. But, listening to the radio the next day, you find out that the vote was reconsidered and rescinded after you left. If you can get 49 other voters to join you in petitioning for a special meeting, you can bring about another vote on that same ordinance.

Of course there are some Exceptions:
a) A vote can’t be reconsidered where action has been taken in reliance on that vote. Example: Suppose the annual meeting passes a vote to sell town-owned land. Later, 50 voters petition to have a special meeting to reconsider. But before the special meeting is held, the selectmen sign the deed in reliance on the first vote. The deed creates a vested interest, and reconsideration would now be too late (Preston v. Gillam, 104 N.H. 272).

b) A vote to go into debt (to authorize the issuance of bonds or notes) is obviously binding, since as soon as the bonds are issued, the town is legally obligated to pay off that debt. The fact that such a vote is binding on future town meetings (unlike most votes) is precisely the reason for the next rule, which is:

13. A Vote to Go Into Debt (Issue Bonds or Notes) Must Pass by a 2/3 Ballot Vote.
In fact, if the amount of the proposed debt exceeds $100,000, the moderator must keep the polls open for at least one hour after the end of the discussion on the issue (RSA 32:8-a). If you couldn’t get a babysitter, now’s the time to rush home and tend the kids so your spouse can rush in to vote on that bond issue too.
Don’t be confused about this. A vote on bonds or notes does require a ballot vote, but it’s not something that can appear on the “official” ballot (the one used for electing officers). It’s simply a “Yes/No” paper ballot during the business session of the meeting, the same type of ballot used when a secret written ballot is requested.

Things are necessarily a little different in an SB 2 town, where ultimately every article appears on the official ballot, including bond articles. Also, a bond in an SB
2 town requires only a 3/5 vote for approval (RSA 33:8).

14. You Can Act On, or Amend, Particular Line Items in a Budget.
The proposed budget must be posted with the warrant, and is considered part of the warrant, giving you notice of what you’re going to raise and appropriate money for. To “appropriate” money means to earmark a certain sum for a particular purpose, so that the governing board (selectmen or school board) is then authorized to spend that amount for that purpose over the course of the fiscal year.

Money can be “appropriated” either through a line item in the budget, or under a separate warrant article. The amount of any particular appropriation (line item) can be amended up or down, or an appropriation can be deleted entirely by the voters. However, it is not legally effective to add a new purpose (line item) to the budget. Why not? Because adding a new purpose violates Rule #6 (above)—the requirement that all business must be stated in the warrant. The voters can’t take any binding action on a subject matter which wasn’t stated in the warrant (or in this case in the budget).

Some people believe that voters can only act on, or amend, the bottom line of the budget, and not specific line items. That’s not quite right. What is right is that the voters cannot limit the governing board’s ability to transfer amounts from one line item to another during the year, as needs and priorities change. (McDonnell v. Derry, supra.) Therefore, even if you do vote to lower, say, the police budget by $1,000, the selectmen, later in the year, can still replace that $1,000 into the police budget, as long as they don’t exceed the bottom line of the entire budget.

Hint: Transfers cannot be made from appropriations made by separate warrant articles (RSA 31:10, IV). Therefore, the way to prevent an appropriation from being diverted to other purposes is to submit a petitioned warrant article for that appropriation.

But just because only the bottom line is legally binding, doesn’t mean the voters can’t amend line items. The voters have a legal and political right to express their preferences. A vote on specific line items sends a strong message that may later be “enforceable” through the ballot box, even if it’s not enforceable in court.

Budget Act Towns: If your town has adopted the Municipal Budget Law, RSA Chapter 32, (and thus has an official Budget Committee to prepare the budget to be voted on), then the voters are legally bound by the so-called “Ten Percent Rule.” Under this rule, the voters cannot appropriate more money at any single town meeting than the total amount recommended for that meeting by the Budget Committee, plus ten percent.

Also, if the meeting votes to delete an appropriation within a warrant article or budget, or reduces the amount to zero, or does not approve an appropriation contained in a separate article, no amount of money may be spent for that purpose (RSA 32:10, I(e)). This is often referred to as the “no means no” rule.

15. Attend your School District Meetings Too!
The low attendance at most New Hampshire school meetings shows that far too few people understand their significance. A school district is, legally, a separate municipal entity, on equal footing with the town. Its meetings work the same way. Every one of the above rules still applies. Just erase “selectmen” and insert “school board.” And erase “town meeting” and insert “school district meeting.” The voters still have all the legislative power. If they don’t seem to have all the power, that’s only because they aren’t exercising it.

Towns, and not school districts, send out the tax bills in New Hampshire. But don’t lose sight of the fact that your tax bill includes money being raised for the school district, as well as for the town. In fact, usually the school share is higher than the town share. If you don’t go to the school meeting and vote on the budget, more than half your property tax bill represents taxation without representation—representation you’re giving up without a fight.

16. Democracy – Use it or Lose it.
In a town meeting, more than any other form of government on earth, your community and the services it provides emanate not from some “they” in the sky, but from you, the voters. If you haven’t been to town meeting lately, this is a good year to inform yourself, attend, vote, and make it work.


Penalties & Interest on Unpaid Taxes up 218%

When you can’t pay your taxes, (1) the town charges you interest, (2) places a lien on your property and (3) takes your property and sells it.

(1) In 2005 interest paid on back taxes was $30,020, in 2014 that number has increased to $95,623 a 218% increase.

Year	Penalties & Interest in Unpaid Taxes
2005	$30,020
2006	$40,449
2007	$35,931
2008	$55,324
2009	$56,743
2010	$85,599
2011	$85,677
2012	$80,498
2013	$56,227
2014	$95,623

(2) Now for tax liens – after a year of unpaid taxes the town places a lien on your property. Between 2005 and 2012 liens have increased by 64%

Year	Tax Liens Issued
2005	42
2006	54
2007	60
2008	73
2009	77
2010	62
2011	65
2012	61
2013	69

(3) 2 years after the lien is placed the town issues a tax deed and sells your property to recoup taxes owed + interest & penalties.

Between 2003 and 2012 no properties were taken for taxes. In 2013 and 2014 4 were taken, the first in 10 years. You can expect this trend to follow the others, with significant increases going forward. This has only started, more tax deeds are coming!


Notice a trend here?

1. Taxes increase (faster than cpi, cola, wages, inflation or other measurement)
2. Residents have difficulty paying their taxes (#1 interest)
3. Taxes increase
4. Residents can’t pay their taxes (#2 lien)
5. Taxes increase
6. Town is forced to take and sell the property (#3 tax deed)

Information is power – educate your family, friends and neighbors, let them know that Chichester as we know it will be taken from us if we don’t step up and stop it.

The Board of Selectmen and School Board work for us, they get their authority to spend money from us. We are the legislative body and nothing can be spent without our approval, not one penny!

Come to these meetings and exercise your vote (http://chichestertaxpayers.com/?p=480).

Will you wait to act until it’s your neighbor’s house, your parent’s, yours?


How does Chichester Compare?

Selectman Debold made a comment at Thursday’s School Board meeting regarding Chichester having the 50th highest tax rate in the state. I gathered the following information from the Department of Revenue Administration regarding population, valuation and tax rates for all 259 NH towns and compared them to Chichester.

For a local comparison I used our neighboring towns of Allenstown, Barnstead, Epsom, Loudon, Northwood, Pembroke and Pittsfield. Here is what I found, watch Chichester move up the list.

Population – Chichester has the lowest population of the 8 local towns, almost half the size of the next closest. We rank 118th statewide, meaning there are 117 larger towns in NH.

Town            Population   State Rank 
PEMBROKE	7096	     45
LOUDON	        5335	     63
EPSOM	        4645	     77
BARNSTEAD	4605	     79
ALLENSTOWN	4326	     89
NORTHWOOD	4252	     90
PITTSFIELD	4082	     91
CHICHESTER	2550	     118

Valuation – Chichester has the second to lowest valuation of the towns compared and ranks 139th, only 138 towns have a lower valuation than Chichester.

Town            Valuation            State Rank
PEMBROKE	$586,793,797	     67
LOUDON	        $541,896,571	     72
NORTHWOOD	$477,041,569	     86
BARNSTEAD	$468,920,936	     87
EPSOM	        $414,878,590	     100
PITTSFIELD	$268,085,597	     135
CHICHESTER	$256,954,429	     139
ALLENSTOWN	$245,729,936	     147

Town Tax Rate – Here is where things start to come off the rails, we have the lowest population and next to lowest valuation but a higher town rate than 4 surrounding towns, only 101 towns statewide have a higher town rate.

Town            Town Rate         State Rank
ALLENSTOWN	$11.66	          12
PITTSFIELD	$10.00	          19
PEMBROKE	$6.64	          76
CHICHESTER	$6.07	          102
BARNSTEAD	$5.30	          128
EPSOM	        $4.75	          154
NORTHWOOD	$4.29	          169
LOUDON	        $3.79             195

School Tax Rate – It gets worse, our school rate is higher than 4 surrounding towns, only 54 towns statewide have a higher school rate.

Town            School Rate       State Rank
PEMBROKE	$17.68	          17
ALLENSTOWN	$16.81	          28
NORTHWOOD	$16.07	          41
CHICHESTER	$15.12	          55
BARNSTEAD	$15.06	          57
PITTSFIELD	$14.58	          68
EPSOM	        $12.51	          115
LOUDON	        $11.96	          130

Total Tax Rate – More of the same here, we have the 50th highest overall tax rate. What’s most alarming is we are only $3 away from being in the top 20. This could happen this year if we don’t change course, adding $750 or more to your tax bill.

Town            Total Rate   State Rank
ALLENSTOWN	$33.78	     3
PEMBROKE	$29.70	     21
PITTSFIELD	$29.13	     28
CHICHESTER	$26.80	     50
BARNSTEAD	$23.96	     101
NORTHWOOD	$23.90	     104
EPSOM	        $22.26	     136
LOUDON	        $20.81	     158

Per Capita Tax Burden – I saved the worst for last, of the 8 towns compared we are tied with Northwood for the highest taxes per capita – each man, woman, and child in Chichester represents more than $2600 a year in taxes. Only 104 towns statewide are higher.

Town            Per Capita      State Rank  
NORTHWOOD	$2,664    	104
CHICHESTER	$2,664	        105
PEMBROKE	$2,420	        138
BARNSTEAD	$2,398	        142
LOUDON	        $2,069	        185
EPSOM	        $1,952	        205
PITTSFIELD	$1,891	        211
ALLENSTOWN	$1,885	        212

I hope these numbers illustrate that we are spending beyond our means and significantly more than our peers. We know from this post (http://chichestertaxpayers.com/?p=415) that tax rates are going up, how much they go up is within your control – come to Town Meeting and School Meeting and help control spending (http://chichestertaxpayers.com/?p=480).

Questions? Comments? Contact me anytime.

For those interested here is the data for all 259 towns

2 Saturdays Cost You 8 Million Dollars

Here is a copy of a letter to the editor I submitted to both the Concord Monitor and Suncook Sun. Anyone who knows me knows how impossible it is for me to keep my thoughts to under 250 words – well I’m not limited here and thought more explanation was needed.

Do you pay a tax bill, have kids in school, want your roads plowed or expect the police and fire departments to come when called? These things cost money, lots of it.  On March 7th and 14th Chichester residents will authorize the Selectman and School Board to collect and spend almost 8 Million of your dollars, over $3000 per resident.  Read that again, you and I must authorize all money to be spent, if we don't it cannot be spent.  Are you concerned with your ever increasing tax bill, come and vote. Think something is being ignored and needs attention, come and vote.  The budgets aside, there are other items that will be voted on that need your vote.

At Town Meeting (3/14) we will be voting on a decreasing budget, plus changes to the Road Agent Position and the Budget Committee.  I'm sure the roads and new ambulance will be discussed at length as well.  At School Meeting (3/7), we will vote on another budget increase, more control of the SAU budget, and a new Teacher's contract, which no doubt will be a significant cost increase by itself.

These items will increase your tax bill by hundreds if not a thousand dollars or more. You might be surprised to know that less than 100 people attend most of these meetings.  Your vote counts, you can make a difference.  Is $8 Million worth a few hours of your time in March?  I hope so.  For more information please visit chichestertaxpayers.com or contact me directly jasontoddweir@gmail.com

Jason Weir

So how about these other items.

Changing the Road Agent position from being elected to being hired by the Selectmen, similar to the police chief and other town employees. Why you may ask should I as a voter give up my right to choose and trust the Selectmen to do the job for me. The main reasons for this change for me are as an elected position there are no required qualifications or education, no relevant work experience needed, no job interview, background check or anything else. Anyone, regardless of their background or experience can get elected as our Road Agent. This position manages a budget over $500K, has millions of dollars worth of equipment, manages employees, outside contractors and large construction projects. Another reason why I support this change is accountability, an elected Road Agent is almost unaccountable to the selectmen, they are very restricted to how much they can manage the position. The Road Agent cannot be treated as a regular employee and such the selectmen can claim little responsibility in managing the Road Agent. Should we give these responsibilities to a good politician who can get elected and have no accountability or someone truly qualified for the job? There should be a clear job description, required qualifications & education. The job should be posted, resumes collected, and interviews held. Then and only then should the best candidate be hired. Ask any current or prior selectman and I bet they would agree, this has been a continuing problem for 20 years or more and it’s time we fix it.

Institute a Municipal Budget Committee, this reverses the current roles of the budget committee and the board of selectmen. Currently the budget committee is advisory only and takes that role in developing the town budget. This change would require the budget committee craft the budget along with the selectmen and department heads to determine budget needs. In addition a municipal budget committee would have the responsibility along with the school board, principal and teachers of crafting the school district budget. This is a significant change and allows a single entity to bring both the town and school budgets under the same microscope and apply the same mindset to both budgets. This committee would include membership from both the board of selectmen and school board, for the first time requiring they work together in the best interest of the tax payers.

SAU Budget, I anticipate a warrant article that would move the SAU budget from a line item in the school’s budget so a separate warrant article to be voted on it’s own merit. Currently voters have little to no input into the generation of or control over how the SAU’s budget is spent. This change would bring it front and center and hopefully give the SAU some incentive to be accountable and control costs.

A New Teacher’s Contract will be presented and voted upon as well. Last year voters rejected the proposed contract due in part to the significant raises included. These raises were seen as far above the norm and unreasonable. Hopefully the school board and teachers union have revised their expectations and will bring a more reasonable request before the town. We should know more details of the new contract by budget hearing on 2/5

Questions or Comments? Please contact me.

Jason Weir – jasontoddweir@gmail.com – 736-7762

CCS Basketball Program in jeopardy

Here is an email I received from Mike Valotto regarding potential upsetting changes to the school’s basketball program – please contact Mike or the School Board with your concerns – as always our form of government requires participation if we want to enact change – please come to the upcoming meetings ( http://chichestertaxpayers.com/?p=480 ) and voice your opinion.


Hi All,

I'm writing to inform you of a proposal our current athletic director is putting forward in the upcoming teachers’ contract regarding the CCS basketball program.  

The proposal would eliminate the boys and girls 5th / 6th grade teams.  The 5th graders would not have a school team to play on and the 6th graders would be combined with the 7/8th grade team.  It would still be a no cut program.

The program is wrapped up in the teachers’ contract due to coaching stipends.  The argument for cutting the 5/6 team is of course money.  More money is spent on basketball then soccer.  This is an apples and oranges comparison.  More children are involved in the basketball program and the basketball season is almost twice as long as the soccer season.  

Another argument is that with the numbers coming up the 5/6 team may not be needed.  If that happened to be the case for a particular year or 2 that should be addressed for that year.

Was anyone involved with the basketball program - coach or parent - consulted? No  If it is a money issue are there other options?   What are they? This seems to be one person making a decision that effects many without any consideration to the impact of the decision.  

Over the last 6+ years the program has seen great improvement and growth.  The interest and participation in basketball has increased over the last few years to the point that we have had to expand to the Merrimack League to insure that the kids get opportunity and playing time.  In addition in the last 3 years 18 Chichester students went on to play high school basketball.  This season 2 of our Freshmen girls are on the PA varsity team.

The 5th/6th grade team serves a purpose in introducing the young player to game play, skill development etc. that is on level with their physical and emotional development.  Playing on a team that suits the child's development allows them to develop confidence, teamwork, trust etc.  

Putting 6th graders with the 7/8th graders on the basketball court is not in the best interest of most of those players. Have you walked through the halls of CCS and seen the physical differences between 6th & 8th grade kids?  

Some of you have experienced in the last few years teams with 15 + kids and one coach.  It's not a good experience for anyone.  Practice is chaotic and not very productive.  On game days there are only 5 players on the floor at a time and only  28 - 32 minutes in a game.  Many didn't see much if any game play.  This will be the situation going forward.

In my personal experience, had it not been for the 5th/6th grade team my freshman daughter would not be playing high school ball.

The school board meeting is tomorrow Thursday January 15 at 5:30 pm.

Please either come and state your opinion or email me your thoughts and they will be presented.  

Please forward to others that may be interested.

Thanks for your time.
Mike Valotto

Town Budget Cuts

Last night the Board of Selectman along with the Budget Committee proposed 7% in reductions to the 2015 town budget. This amounts to a decrease of $250,000 from what was requested, and reduced the operating budget $147,000 from $2.10M to 1.96M. These cuts will deeply affect our three largest departments, Police, Fire and Highway. Should the budget pass, the Highway budget would be reduced by $220,000, meaning less road reconstruction, putting the Road Advisory Committee’s plan even further behind. The Police would not be purchasing a replacement cruiser, a $24,000 savings, instead running and maintaining the entire fleet one year more than anticipated. The Fire Department would not be replacing their oldest ambulance, a model year 2000 which will have been in service for 14 and now 15 years, how many of you have vehicles you depend on that old?

The driving catalyst behind these cuts was our ever increasing tax rate (see http://chichestertaxpayers.com/?p=415). These cuts were not seen as “wants” or “nice things to have”, they are legitimate needs and pain will be felt by the town in their wake. That being said, we felt a need to address our tax burden and the amount to which it costs people to live in Chichester.

Here lies the problem, these cuts affect your taxes by a little over $1.00 per thousand, or $250 a year on a average home. We cannot do this alone, we need the School Board to be part of the solution and do their part to reduce their budget as well. I’ve asked the Board of Selectman to approach and work with the School Board to that effect. No longer can the Town and School work in a vacuum independently of each other. We cannot balance the tax rate on the town budget alone, especially noting that the School’s budget is almost 3 times as much. Should the School Board do their part and enact similar cuts, it would turn that $250 savings to $1000 for the average tax payer.

I encourage all that can to attend the School Budget workshop tomorrow night @ 5:30 at the school (see http://chichestertaxpayers.com/?p=480), if you cannot attend please call or email the School Board Members and express your desire for them to reduce their budget in similar fashion to what the town as proposed.

Benjamin Brown			Harold Losey, Jr.		Sally Kelly
bbrown@sau53.org		hlosey@sau53.org		skelly@sau53.org
(603) 798-4116			(603) 798-4055			(603) 798-5806


2015 Budget Season Dates

Upcoming dates of importance

1/13/15 – 6:00PM, Selectman & Budget Committee Meeting @ the Town Hall.

1/14/15 – 6:00PM, Selectman & Budget Committee Meeting @ the Town Hall (if needed).

1/15/15 – 5:30PM, School Board meeting @ the School (budget workshop).

1/21/15 – 6:30PM, School Board meeting @ the School (regular meeting).

1/27/15 – 6:00PM, Town Budget Public Hearing @ the Town Hall (cancelled due to snow)

2/3/15 – Deadline for Citizen Petitions to be included on the Town Meeting warrant.

2/3/15 – 6:00PM, Town Budget Public Hearing @ the Town Hall (public input).

2/4/15 – Deadline for Citizen Petitions to be included on the School District warrant.

2/5/15 – 6:00PM, School District Budget Hearing @ the School (public input).

2/9/15 – 6:00PM, School District Budget Hearing @ the School (if needed, snow date).

3/7/15 – 9:00AM , School District Meeting @ the School (most important to attend).

3/14/15 – 10:00AM, Town Meeting @ the School (most important to attend).

Please attend as many of these meeting as possible – here is where we have 100% control over where and how our tax $$ are spent


2015 Legislative Session

Just some bills I’d like to see proposed in the 2015 Legislative Session

1. Budget – Reduce (preferred) or balance the budget without raising or creating new taxes or fees.
2. Right to Work – no employee should be forced to pay union dues (or fair share) as a condition of employment.
2. Constitutional Carry – Allow non-felons and those without a domestic protection order to carry concealed without permit.
3. Corporate Tax – Encourage business growth and migration to NH by lowering rates below neighboring states, partially offset with an increase in sin taxes.
4. Education – Transfer special needs student costs from local school districts to DHHS.

Random Thoughts

Establish a Fraud, Waste and Abuse Program where whistle blowers would receive a percentage (10% up to $100,000) of any budget reduction directly resulting from their reporting of a fraud, waste or abuse situation. Anyone who has spent time in or around any government entity knows there are significant opportunities for budget reductions here.

Establish a mechanism where towns\schools can create technology districts (similar to solid waste districts) where resources can be pooled to better serve the technology needs of our smaller towns and schools.