The presidential election is over but people are still too busy fretting and fighting over it to notice anything else it seems. CNHT heard little about town meeting outcomes this year. Where is everyone?
A man who once came to one of our events even called town government affairs “small potatoes”.
But nothing could be further from the truth. In NH, your largest tax bill is likely your homeowners tax. Your town and school meetings are where they decide to raise and spend the money.
This writer has been on the board and worked with Coalition of NH Taxpayers for about 15 years. One of the hardest jobs we have is convincing folks that town government is their ground zero. Many town boards toot right along, unfettered in their old ways, at times not following proper procedure, because frankly, no one is checking up on them.
We already know that in a town of perhaps 13,000 registered voters, we may be lucky to see150 people at the (old-style) town meeting, with 75 of them being town and school employees, ready to vote in anything they wish.
Even in towns like Bedford which has approximately 13,000 registered voters and ballot voting (a system provided for by the passage of a law called SB2) town and school ballots are only cast by perhaps 2,000-4,000 people.
Is it so hard to give up a night or two, or a Saturday, to come out and see what is happening? Or vote at the polls which are open all day?
And did you know that thanks to Obama, federal agencies like HUD, EPA and DOT have a much greater say in what goes into your town’s master plan than ever before? This of course is a huge subject best saved for a series of its own. Monthly planning and zoning board meetings are just as important.
The following story focuses on corruption and cronyism. We have seen it with the case of Donna Green, the tax scofflaws in Windsor, and the right-to-know violators in Atkinson. One has to wonder how much of this is going on in other towns, right under the noses of the taxpayers. Have you ever had to file a 91-A and not been able to get what you need? (We are still waiting on a 91-A that was filed on our behalf around 4 years ago regarding the alleged illegal activities of one of NH’s regional planning commissions. And so it goes…)
Currently a couple in Piermont are suing that town for defamation and other issues regarding how the town’s selectboard reacted to being questioned about their handling of finances, bidding, tax assessing, etc. The plaintiffs (George and Teran Mertz) have spent their own money to try to clean things up. Mrs. Mertz was elected to the 3-member selectboard, but ended up resigning after the other two members made life such hell for her when she attempted to do her job, according to her accounts.
Read the first six parts here, part seven coming shortly.
What Happens When a Selectwoman Challenges the Town of Piermont?