Warrant Articles 18, 19, 20, 22, 28, 30 and 42
All of these articles are funded by the Undesignated Fund Balances (unspent monies from previous annual budgets) and collectively add up to a $540,000 withdrawal from the fund, yet they indicate no tax impact, which we believe is misleading. Historically, the primary use of the UFB has been to reduce the tax rate, $3.1 million of the UFB has been used to reduce taxes since 2014. We now we have a situation where Town Officials are using the UFB to subsidize “Pet projects” of “special interests” that would have a tough time passing were it not for the Fiscal Impact Note stating No Tax Impact. This almost guarantees they’ll pass. This year we even have a petitioned warrant article submitted directly from a “special interest” proposing to use the UFB to fund the Grist Mill Dam with the Selectmen voting 5-0 To Recommend it on the ballot. While this practice is useful to “special interests”, it’s very bad for the taxpayers.
We believe that each article should stand on its own merits and not be a scheme devised by the Board of Selectmen to mislead the voters into thinking there is no tax impact. We recognize that a portion of the unspent monies have been used over the years to reduce the tax impact, but historically the UFB was used for high priority projects that benefited the public, as opposed to the Gristmill Dam, Blacksmith shop, ornamental lighting at the beach etc., this year.
Let the articles stand on their own merit!
Articles 20 and 22 that address flooding and storm water drainage issues in Hampton should be able to stand upon their own merits and earn the votes from Hampton residents. Despite our objection to this ploy of using the UFB, we support these two articles as vital for Hampton and would have endorsed them without the use of the Unassigned Fund Balance.
Having a strong UFB affects our bond rating and is a prudent business practice, although excess padding in the proposed budgets that helps to fund the UFB is one of the primary reasons that the default budget almost always passes. It’s time for the Selectmen to be more sensitive to the interests of the public and Hampton’s taxpayers.