The Million Dollar Ballot
A few years ago at the Goffstown annual town deliberative session there was a bit of high drama. The normally sleepy, rubber-stamping deliberative session was filled with hundreds of voters anxious to control spending. The drama unfolded as there was to be a vote on an issue involving about a million dollars. That is a lot of money. A million dollars can buy a lot of beer or wine.
A request from the floor was made to use a secret ballot…no voice vote…no intimidation allowed.
Because one of the balloters tore his ballot in half, it was rejected. It turns out that ballot would have been the deciding ballot. Talk about a strange fate. What was he thinking?
Another bit of intrigue by a selectman slid another ½ million dollars into the budget.
Actually the Town Administer and the Goffstown Board of Selectman did a pretty good job essentially keeping the town budget flat for the next few years. It was a very good thing that that was done.
What the Goffstown School Board did over those same ensuing 4 years is another conversation entirely.
The total town and school budgets climbed from about $35 million (Town Report) in the year 2000 to almost $56 million 10 years later. In 2013 that trend of big budget increases may resume.
The only difference in 2013 will be that the increases won’t be in the order $1-1/2 million dollars.
The increases in 2013 are in the order of 10 times or more, than the 2008 $1-1/2 million dollars.
Eighteen million dollars for this, $5 million here, $3 million there and pretty soon a sizable “chunk of change” will be budgeted or bonded. Those increases might get the attention of some voters.
Those numbers don’t even include the “garden variety” budget increases and revenue reductions.
If the 28% increase in the town and school budget that some newspapers are suggesting is real, then the average Goffstown home owner could be looking at a $2,000 increase in their property tax next year.
By the way, an increase of that order of magnitude could possibly be for every subsequent year depending on the mix of budgeting/bonding and potential “binding contractual agreements.”
This fact alone would “cast in concrete” that a $100 million town & school budget would arrive within this decade. Price inflation is such an insidious force that isn’t well understood by most.
If the potential doubling of the town and school budget proceeds and is directly reflected in a property tax (or any other tax) increase, then $12,000 a year will be the average property tax within this decade. External events emanating out of Washington, D.C. will also have an effect.
What is for sure is that whatever faction in town is able to “get out the vote”; that faction will decide the outcome. Criticizing, condemning or complaining about the vote will then be pointless.
You, your spouse, friend or neighbor might be the one to cast (or not) the ballot this time that could shift the vote. Wouldn’t that be a topic of conversation around the dinner table some evening?