Goffstown resident Gaetane Benner submits this guest editorial to encourage fellow residents to attend the town’s public budget hearing on Thursday January 16 at 7PM at Goffstown High School and to encourage conservatives to run for the offices that control the town’s purse strings.

How Long Can We Keep Affording Tax Increases?

Are you prepared for another real estate tax increase in addition to the one we just had?  The  budget that is in process proposes another hike of $1.34 per $1,000 of our assessed property value for the local school tax rate in addition to the other increases that will also soon be determined for the town.

 If you view the December 12th, 2013 Budget Committee meeting on GTV, you will hear what some Committee Members are telling us:  Reverse Mortgages, Tax Liens and Social Services are programs we should all explore in order to be able to afford  our taxes.   Does this make sense?  Are our elected officials working for the majority of us or for the few that are profiting from our budget?

Has Unions and Greed taken over Common Sense?  Are School and Town Employees entitled to outrageous benefits that total another 50%-75% of their very generous salaries?  Can we continue paying salaries and benefits that total 3 times or more than our average Goffstown resident earns? 

Does a small cut of approximately $47,000 really make a dent on a school budget of over $36 million?  To help our budget, should we be cutting 1 or two paraprofessional or  custodians  that make less than $22,000 a year or should we be cutting benefits and  salaries  from the employees that are the top earners?  Is it fair to keep asking the tax payer to keep sacrificing and giving when there is no more for us to give?  Do we really need to spend over $120,000 on a base salary plus another 50% or so of this salary for benefits to hire and replace our former Superintendent?  We already have 2 Assistant Superintendents and Mr. Balke, one of the two Assistant Superintendent is currently filling in as Interim Superintendent and it seems that we are functioning just fine without an additional person.  Couldn’t we have just one Assistant Superintendent and one Superintendent or have our two Assistant Superintendents act as Co-Superintendents instead of hiring a replacement for the former Superintendent? 

Shouldn’t we be following what the private sector is doing? Even if we did a 3% cut on all salaries of $50,000 or more, stopped longevity pay, cut town’s contribution to retirement plan to 6% and reduced town’s contribution to health insurances to 75% , we would still be paying hefty salaries and be giving great benefits.  I am also certain that we would still attract excellent people and not have problems keeping some of the people we already have.   

Is it fair to take buses and field trips away from our children and do without the needed repairs so we can keep paying our employees huge salaries or benefits? Should the tax payers be paying for someone’s Master’s Degree when we, the tax payers have to pay for our own Degrees?

Should we be providing a budget of $730,000+ to our Library which includes huge salaries and benefits when the Library Employees are not even our town, the town of Goffstown’s Employees? Employees of the library are employees of the Library Trustees.   With this being said, shouldn’t the Library be actually funded by the users and not by the entire town? Support of the library could be paid with memberships and by the actual users.

Did you know that it cost us $500,000+ for extra help etc. to perform an assessment of our town. Couldn’t help come from people we already have on the payroll such as the Building Inspector or the Tax Collector?

In a time that we have been compared to the Great Depression, it does not make sense to keep taking from our middle class, longtime residents, senior citizens and from the average citizen who makes less than $16 an hour?  See http://www.newsmax.com/US/cities-bankrupcy-after-detroit/2013/08/08 for a list of 20 cities that may also face bankruptcy after Detroit and  www.newsmax.com/US/bankruptcy-vallejo-california/2013/10/01  for the story on Two Years after Bankruptcy, California City again Mired in Pension Debt. Do we also want to follow the Bankruptcy path? If not, we all need to get involved, please mark your calendar for Thursday, January 16, 2014, 7PM and attend the Budget Public Hearing that will take place at Goffstown High School, Craig Heiber Auditorium.  For those of you that are honest and have common sense, please consider running for the Budget or School Boards. Filing period for candidates that will run for elections is from Wednesday, January 22 through Friday, January 31, 2014.