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Rep, town manager oppose lobbying bill

Journal Opinion of Bradford, Vermont

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NORTH HAVERHILL—Amongthe items discussed at Monday night's select board meeting were several bills winding their way through the New Hampshire State Legislature. Among them are a bill to introduce casinos to the state, another was an increase in the gasoline tax and one that would adversely affect regional planning commissions.

Town Manager Glenn English brought up some of them to make the board aware of the legislators' actions in Concord. He had asked the board if it wanted to take a stand on any of the issues.

Selectman Rick Ladd, who also serves in the state's House of Representatives, said his constituents in Haverhill support expanded gambling; at least that's what he notices on emails to him. Other topics discussed at the meeting include the 2014 budget, and a proposal to have the town take a closer look at its capital expenditures and improvements.

Regarding the effort to have legalized gambling in New Hampshire, Ladd said it doesn't stand a chance because much of the same legislative body in the House of Representatives is still in office. It is the same representatives who shot the measure down last year.

"Realistically, it won't pass," Ladd said. "It's much the same flavor as it was last year."

Ladd commented on the gasoline tax saying "the devil is in the detail" and he's not ready to support it without a through grasp of the bill.

"So, it sounds like Haverhill is not ready to take a stand on these issues," said Wayne Fortier, chair of the select board.

The board was, however, unequivocal in its opposition of a bill that seeks to make it illegal for towns to pay dues to nonprofit organizations that can act as lobbyists or advocates for municipalities.

English said that legislation was backed by anti-government people who want smaller government and see things like regional planning commissions as unnecessary.

"What they don't see is the services municipalities get out of regional planning commissions," said English who plans to attend a hearing on the bill in Concord on Thursday. Ladd said he would also attend and testify as a selectman for Haverhill.

In other business, the board decided to have work sessions on the 2014 budget immediately after each of the town's budget committee meetings.

Several board members have been regularly attending the town's budget committee meetings and the selectmen decided it might be good just to stay a bit longer and deliberate on the sections that had been discussed immediately prior. English said the meetings will have to be posted. The board was not opposed to that and decided to have the first meeting on Tuesday night, just after the committee had adjourned. They'll meet again Thursday night.

The board also decided to hold a public hearing on Feb. 12 followed by a vote on the overall budget in time for inclusion in the town report.

In March, residents attending town meeting will discuss and vote on the budget among other items.

The board also considered a method of getting a handle on expenses related to capital items owned by the town like buildings and fire equipment.

Ladd introduced and distributed to the board members a draft of a process by which the selectmen will make decisions on what capital improvements need to be done and when. He explained the sheets identify each of the buildings, properties or fire trucks currently owned by the town.

As maintenance or upgrades need to be performed on each asset, or it becomes time for it to be replaced, the sheet will be completed and a numerical value will be assigned helping select board members decide where it's best to put resources.

The board decided to look at the draft proposal in the future.

"I just think it's time we start planning for our capital needs so we don't get blindsided," Ladd said.

Ed Ballam can be reached at

SAU-23 BOARD NORTH HAVERHILL-The SAU-23 School Board Executive Committee is scheduled to meet on Jan. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the SAU-23 conference room at the Morrill building in North Haverhill.

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Original Publication Date: January 15, 2014

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