Wolfeboro politics has taken a turn for the worse. The pieces of a potential strategy to further marginalize voters started to take shape at the recent Board of Selectmen meeting. We already know that the Board has treated the third defeat of their Brewster Hall restoration efforts as a mere bump in the road, with new excuses (parking) and plans to move forward with a spoon-feeding approach (phasing).
Back in July, I was puzzled by a statement in a letter from John Grosvenor of NCA architects to the Town Manager where he says “We understand that the town of Wolfeboro is no longer seeking funds through annual warrant appropriations”. At the time, I requested clarification and submitted a Right to Know request for related documents and communications. Everybody played dumb.
Now the story is unfolding. The Town Manager presented to the board a way to sell and lease back the building that could allow the Friends to move forward with their full $4 million restoration, with only a 50% approval from the voters, or potentially no approval at all. The bottom line cost to taxpayers would be greater, but rather than bond payments, the debt would be in the form of a commitment to high lease payments for 20 or 30 years.
Under the Municipal Finance Act, state law protects a population from incurring unwanted debt by requiring 2/3 approval of bonded articles at town meeting. When Wolfeboro adopted the SB3 form of town meeting, the bar was lowered substantially to 3/5 or 60%. Now, faced with the reality that even that cannot be achieved, those running your local government are posturing to circumvent all protections using a loophole in the law.