O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
The Concerned Taxpayers of Manchester – a non-profit taxpayer advocacy group, is urging city voters to vote NO on Ballot question 1. No fiscally sane person wants to give the Manchester School Board final budget authority – and thus taxing authority, when they have repeatedly demonstrated their failure to consider tax burdens on homeowners with their profligate spending, failure to make necessary spending cuts and adopt cost savings measures – while simultaneously giving away generous contracts. The City has seen increasing “per pupil” costs rise to over $14,000/student while simultaneously seeing declining enrollments and test scores.
The School Charter Commission process has been flawed from its inception with improperly worded language by its sponsor Representative Pat Long – which limited the authority and scope of the Charter Commission. In his testimony before the Senate Election Committee, Long indicated that the Board of Aldermen was in favor of the Charter change. Did Long even have the authority or ability to make that (mis)representation to the NH Senate Committee, because I do not recall seeing an Aldermanic vote or resolution allowing to make that claim in his testimony.
Further, this flawed legislation’s implementation led to a Superior Court injunction and continued litigation which has still not been resolved. Those costs have not been counted in the Charter Commission’s budget but have been substantial no doubt Despite that, the Charter Commission continued its work despite this knowledge about its questionable legitimacy and calls to make no recommendations. It was important that the tax and spend crowd ram this initiative onto a ballot in a non-municipal election year, because they don’t want to stand for election in the same year and support this continued assault on property taxpayers in this City. They are all hoping taxpayers forget this continued assault on their wallets and pocketbook by next year.
Further, the NH Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Revenue Administration made two determinations that the process under state law had not been followed by the Charter Commission, and then denied a reconsideration request – ignoring CTM’s public calls to do no harm and take no further action along with other taxpayers and officials.
If you want a preview as to how responsible this school board and their supporters will be with your hard-earned tax dollars, look no further than the profligate spending and then overspending by the Charter Commission to line the pockets of Attorney Dean Eggert to sneak back to Concord to try and correct the deficient legislation, find inventive ways to work around the mess created by Pat Long and his cronies on the Board of Aldermen and Charter Commission, and then go back and request even more money from the City when they piddled their original funding away.
The School Charter Commission – in less than one year’s work, spent nearly $30,000 in taxpayer funds to come up with a terrible ballot initiative of questionable legitimacy. And there continues to be questions about the actual language being too vague, and in layman’s terms, that means if passed is always ripe for more litigation and money wasted defending a poorly worded Charter change.
Further proof that giving the school board autonomy in spending is in observing the ease and speed in which this year’s School Board couldn’t give your hard-earned tax dollars away fast enough to the teachers with generous contracts, while failing to come up with any cost-saving measures such as school closures, re-districting or other measures.
The bottom line is that this ballot question is not good for the City of Manchester’s governance, and even worse for its taxpayers. If as the proponents of this question claim, this is the “will of the people”, go out and get the signatures to put it on the ballot with the exact wording as to what its true purposes is. That is how the Concerned Taxpayers of Manchester group managed to get the tax spending cap on the municipal side of the budget on the ballot in 2008. Not only should taxpayers and voters resoundingly defeat this initiative, they should urge their elected officials that the only ballot change needed is to return the schools back to a City Department.
There is not a clearer choice for Manchester voters on November 3rd than to vote NO on Ballot question #1.
Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Send your thoughtful commentary on timely topics of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: The Soapbox
Concerned Taxpayers of Manchester is a local taxpayer advocacy group affiliated with Coalition of NH Taxpayers. CTM’s mission is to serve the taxpayers of Manchester as a resource and voice for them at city hall while creating a community effort to better Manchester through sound fiscal policy.