Deliberative

For those of you who did not attend the deliberative session last night, it was a fairly low energy affair by recent standards.  The paper has probably held the presses to get it into this weeks edition, so you can read the play by play tonight, but there were a few things that I’d like to comment on.

Article 16 – new radio read water meters for $500,000.  I find myself opposed to this initiative, mostly because I don’t see a good case for doing it.  There is an argument that monthly billing will help people with running toilets and other leaks discover their leaks sooner.  That is just plain lame when talking about spending $500,000.  The town says it is currently accounting for only 69% of the water fed into the system, and that towns with these systems get 80%-85% accounting, essentially 15% more.

So follow along.  My wife and I think we are pretty typical of the average Wolfeboro household.  We use about 100 gallons of water per day.  The water department says it puts out 550,000 gallons per day.  15% of that is 82,500 gallons.  825 meters would have to be completely stopped to make this work.  I think it would be easier to identify slow and stopped meters by looking at the historical billing data, at a fraction of the cost.

If you average the 550,000 gallons/day over the stated 2,000 customers, that’s 275 gallons/day each.  I suspect that there are a hundred or so meters in town that account for the vast majority of the water consumption.  Think Hospital, Brewster, Schools.  Maybe it would be good to take a closer look at those and even install meters that are very accurate and unusually reliable.  Again, at a fraction of the cost.

This article is a solution looking for a problem.

Article 17 – Operating Budget.  This was a sleeper.  The chairman of the budget committee litterally read the figures to everyone, as if we could not read it ourselves.  Some year I am going to be shocked by a budget presentation that actually uses graphics to show us where the money goes by department and activity.  As far as numbers go, all people want to know is whether it went up or down, by how much, and all things equal, what is the pressure that it puts on the tax rate.

Article 19 – Town Hall Repairs $200,000

Let the games begin.  This controversial article started out as a presentation of the actual repairs being considered, and quickly degenerated into the polarized BMH debate that it represents.  An amendment was proposed to add that these repairs would not satisfy life-safety and building codes.  It failed.  The article stayed pretty much intact.

There were some good points made on both sides of the debate.  In the end, the article remained pretty much as it started.

Article 30 – Move out of BMH.  $70,000

Proponents of this article successfully moved it up right after 19, being of similar subject matter.  Bob Chattel represent the petitioners and made some solid points about how moving to the hospital would not only provide relief for town workers, but help the Hospital.

There was a motion to add more negative inflammatory language about BMH to the article that failed.

Roger Murray said that there was an Indoor Air Quality study last summer that was favorable.  I argued that the study was dubious in that all the doors and windows were open prior to the testing, and the background outdoor CO2 level was more than twice the atmospheric CO2 levels recorded everywhere on the planet earth, and the study did call for serious mold remediation in the building.   I also erroneously contradicted Mr. Murray in asserting that the airborne mold tests inside were higher than the outdoor levels.  That is not true, and in fact the outdoor levels were inexplicably almost ten times the indoor levels.

Surprisingly, there was no attempt to “gut” the measure by reducing the amount to zero.  A smart move by the opposition.  Without BOS and BUDCOM support, it will probably fail.

Article 29 – Citizen Referendum.

Surprisingly, this article was moved up as well, not by the opponents of 19, but by Linda Murray.  If you look at the way the place cleared out afterwards, I think it was simply to get it done so people could go home.  Lesson learned, non-bonded articles force the special interest attendees to stay a lot longer.

There was an amendment proposed to transform question D (Do you favor rehabilitation with private funds) into three separate question:  Public, Private, Public and Private.  Personally, for the sake of simplicity, I would have been happy to stipulate that any result favoring private could be construed to mean a significant private component with public participation.  After all, anybody that doesn’t know what all this stuff means by now isn’t going to be troubled by the question in the ballot box.

Another motion to split question C (Do you favor leasing space) into separate permanent and temporary questions was defeated.  I argued that Article 30 will be a telling factor.  For the record,  in my opinion a no vote for this does not preclude temporary leased offices if BMH is eventually rehabilitated.

That’s pretty much it.  Read the rest in the paper.

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4 Responses to Deliberative

  1. John Linville says:

    If you look at the estimate for the water meter project is assumes 35% loan forgiveness from the State of New Hampshire. Given that the State is not stepping up to pay “their share” of the multi-million dollar sewer bond we voted for (and were told the State would surely pay their share) why should we believe they will forgive this cost? And the project would raise our water/sewer rates another five percent (5%). We already have some of the highest water/sewer rates in the State for a system that serves only a small portion of residents! And on top of that, the water is swill as far as I am concerned. You can’t make a cup of tea without processing the water through carbon filters to remove the chlorinated hydrocarbons that are formed when the Town chlorinates surface pond water full of decaying leaves and other organics. I say vote a resounding NO on this turkey.

  2. Tom Bickford says:

    Bob,

    Can you explain to me what you find inflammatory about the amendment set out below in asterisks and qoutaion marks?

    Article # Interim Town Office Space
    To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of seventy thousand dollars ($70,000) and direct the Board of Selectmen to enter into a one year lease, with the option to renew, for space to temporarily relocate town personnel whose offices are now located in Brewster Memorial Hall thereby avoiding the

    * * * “health and safety hazards to persons working in or visiting Brewster Memorial Hall as reported by Wolfeboro town officials in 2010 and 2011” * * *

    and an uneconomical investment in an inefficient, aged, and neglected building. Said sum would also cover associated costs such as fitting out space, moving files, equipment, and personnel to such an alternate site(s). Rental costs for any ensuing years, as needed, shall be paid out of the Town operating budget.
    Tom Bickford
    Wolfeboro, NH

    Mister moderator,
    I am offering this amendment to warrant article number 30 to remind the voters reading this for the first time in a voting booth, why Brewster Memorial hall has to be renovated. While the economic feasibility of restoring the hall is a continuing point of disagreement, the reason that has come up continuously in support of the renovations is the protection the health and safety of both the people who work in the town hall and those who do business there.
    Chairperson Sarah Silk has said the primary reason for the renovations is the health and safety of the employees and the public, Rob Housman has said basically the same thing in presentations.
    A list of the health concerns facing town employees working every day in Brewster Memorial hall was published last year both in the Granite State News and the town report of 2010 at page 124. In the town report a public official reported that “many of us, past and present, have contracted cancer, respiratory conditions and allergies to name a few, due to mold, mildew, asbestos, rodents, etc., that live and thrive in this building.” There may be no study showing an absolute cause-and-effect between the conditions in Brewster Memorial hall and the health problems suffered by town employees, however, these are legitimate concerns that our employees and visitors to Brewster Memorial hall have to live with every day.
    For that reason, I have made the amendment presented to the warrant article.

  3. wolfeblog says:

    Inflammatory: “Tending to arouse anger, hostility, passion, etc.”

    You can argue that all of the justifications given for moving out are true. but that’s beside the point. It does arouse anger, hostility and passion in those that oppose it. You can argue that it is intended to inform the voter, but when asked in the TOCAG survey, more than 90% of the respondents indicated familiarity with the major issues with the building. So in my opinion it is not needed to inform the voters, but to arouse passion.

    Look, everybody knows what the issues are, what the choices are, and what the costs are. Anybody that is out of touch is not going to make an informed decision with the information provided in the language of the individual warrant articles.

    In my opinion it is more likely that the inflammatory language is going to excite the opposition and turn out more opposing votes. That’s why I said that if it was up to me, I’d strip the inflammatory language out of both articles.

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