September 6, 2008
Re: 8 hours of Mayor Guinta’s fraudulent deliberations
On September 5, 2008, Friday afternoon, beginning at 4 p.m. and lasting just past midnight, I sat through 8 hours of Mayor Frank Guinta’s fraudulent deliberations concerning a proposed spending cap – also called a tax cap – for the city of Manchester, NH and whether it should be voted on via referendum at the upcoming presidential election on November 4, 2008. The following are my notes and thoughts on the proceedings.
During the 8 hours of Mayor Guinta’s fraudulent deliberations on the spending cap, the Board of Aldermen (& Alderwomen) took a dozen votes – each with the same outcome with minor exceptions of two abstentions. The six Aldermen who voted for sending the tax cap to the 11/08 ballot were: Kelleigh Domaigne, Mike Garrity, Ted Gatsas, Peter Sullivan, Ed Osbourne, and Real Pinard. The eight Aldermen who voted for not sending the tax cap to the 11/08 ballot were: Mike Lopez, Dan O’Neill, Betsi DeVries, Mark Roy, Jim Roy, Bill Shea, George Smith, and Russell Oullette. During two of the 12 votes, Ted Gatsas abstained twice, and Jim Roy abstained once. Please note that one vote was taken with the same general outcome at the first meeting on this issue on September 2, 2008. That means Mayor Guinta pressed 13 total votes without success, which I believe showed him to be an ineffective leader, among other terrible qualities, which I will explain below.
The Board of Aldermen were deadlocked and the impasse would not be broken, which resulted in a stalemate – as the Mayor needed just one more favorable vote to break the tie and the 8 Aldermen needed two more unfavorable votes to override the Mayor’s veto.
At the outset of the 9/5/08 Aldermanic meeting, Mayor Frank Guinta stated that, “One person needs to change their vote.” Recurrently, Mayor Guinta asked for a motion, supporters of the expedited referendum made a motion and seconded with a “so moved”, and then At-large Alderman Dan O’Neill asked for a roll call vote, and the motion would always fail.
Upon discussion, the city finance officer stated that he needed additional information from the applicable state government agencies, especially on the bond issues, which are acutely substantial for the city government in Manchester, New Hampshire. He said that the bond debt would need to be excepted (or exempted) from the tax cap law by a vote of the Aldermanic Board each and every year.
Alder-woman Betsi DeVries bought up the most salient policy questions of the lengthy meeting. She asked about the city’s fiscal obligation to the Hillsboro County Government – for the County Jail and County Nursing Home – as well as how the city’s revaluations would take into account with the tax cap law. The finance officer’s response was that the city’s revaluations would definitely conflict with the tax cap law.
Moreover, the city finance officer said that the “DRA” (or the state) sets the city tax rates. Furthermore, he said that a 1% increase in the budget equals $1.2 million for FY2009. In addition, he confirmed that the tax cap law, if approved by the voters, would not take effect until Fiscal Year 2011, which runs from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. Please note, also speaking before the Aldermen were the city solicitors and the acting city-clerk. The city solicitors said that the vote to send the tax cap referendum question to ballot must be taken 7-days after the public hearing, which I, Jonathan Melle, spoke at, which was held on September 2, 2008. The Aldermen must vote at least 60 days prior to the next election to place the referendum question on the ballot, which meant that September 5, 2008, was the deadline to send it to the November 4, 2008, ballot.
Alder-woman Betsi DeVries also did a considerable amount of research into the tax cap issue, including pulling out facts from my native state government: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which I was and in some ways am still politically active in, concerning its ill-conceived 1980 referendum state law: Proposition 2.5. Betsi brought up the fact that Massachusetts provides a considerable larger amount of local aid to its cities and towns, but that in depressed economic times, Massachusetts has also made substantial cuts in local aid, which has resulted in critical cuts in municipal services, layed-off police officers and firefighters, dramatic cuts in public education, and deteriorating roads, bridges and other deferred maintenance on public works projects. I was impressed with Betsi Devries, who is also a NH State Senator and NH’s first female firefighter! She had previously coincidentally sat next to me during a past local campaign event for Hillary Clinton for President and she was so enthusiastic and nice to me that I will always remember her lofty commitment to public service.
However, the one point – and it is a whopper – that Betsi omitted was the “Big Dig”, which is the most expensive, wasteful, lethal, dangerous, leaking, corrupt…public works project in U.S. history, which has made Massachusetts the highest per capita – that means per person or by population – debtor state in the nation. It is difficult to ascertain how Proposition 2.5 impacted Massachusetts State Government historic record cuts to cities and town (starting with the “Thanksgiving Budget” of FY 2002 through Governor Willard Mitt Romney’s first FY04 state budget, whereby the oligarchy – or the third highest legislative incumbency rate in the country – on Beacon Hill’s State House killed the public financing reform law known as Clean Elections via a secretive rider to the budget without any legislator or Governor Romney objecting,) when the “Big Dig’s” many colossal cost overruns nearly bankrupted the state government – and still may bankrupt Massachusetts in the future. I believe the “Big Dig” caused Massachusetts to gut its state funding via local aid to historic lows much more so than the loophole-ridden flawed tax cap law: Prop. 2.5. In the light of the “Big Dig”, I believe the Massachusetts Governor and Legislature must abolish Proposition 2.5 because the state is unable to provide equitable levels of local aid to its cities and towns!
In response to Alder-woman Betsi DeVries, Alderman Mike Garrity, who is the most fiscally conservative Alderman, rebutted his colleague’s spot-on policy questions and remarks about the trend of the diminishing values of homes moving towards the city’s next revaluations. Alderman Garrity observed that if home values continue to decline, the Mayor and Aldermen are going to have to raise taxes by 20% to 30% anyway. I found Alderman Garrity’s comments to be myopic because he completely missed Alder-woman DeVries’ affirmed point that the tax cap law would conflict with the next revaluation.
Alderman Bill Shea brought up the most salient political questions that opened up Mayor Frank Guinta’s fraudulent handling of the deliberations. Alderman Shea openly asked the Mayor, who openly served as the honorary chairman of the NH Advantage Coalition, which pushed this issue into the fore, (a) who the outside interests were who gave his political group $150,000? and (b) where did the large amount of money come from? and (c) how this undisclosed group, presumably a conservative Republican lobbyist group from Washington, D.C., is taken into account with the New Hampshire state law(s) governing referendum and special election?
Mayor Frank Guinta would NOT even answer any and all of Alderman Bill Shea’s questions. Instead, the mayor said he is standing up for the +4,000 city residents who signed the petition to send the tax cap issue to the November, 2008, ballot. Mayor Guinta was EVASIVE! Moreover, the mayor lost all of his credibility on the issue before the Board of Aldermen and the general public.
During the first part of Mayor Guinta’s fraudulent deliberation, I sat next to a local political activists, Joseph Kelly Levasseur, who said that Mayor Guinta has no credibility on the “tax cap” issue for an expedited referendum vote because of Frank Guinta’s previous stand on the baseball stadium. We also discussed the issue of the city not allowing the people to vote via referendum on the proposal to make the school district a department of the city after Aldermen Ouellette brought up the point that the school district had previously sued on the referendum question ballot issue.
Alder-woman Kelleigh Domaigne (D), whose mother was also an Alder-woman (R), was ill with strep throat and a high fever, but she sat through the mayor’s fraudulent deliberations for the entire 8 hours. She is a very accomplished woman who is a practicing Attorney and who is getting married next month to a local business owner and Republican candidate for NH State Representative, Keith Murphy, whom I had the pleasurable opportunity to speak to last night. I have followed both of their work in politics and they both want to make Manchester, New Hampshire a great place for the people to live, work and play. Back to the point, she spoke against the tax cap, which she believes is flawed, but she was in the favor of the expedited referendum because she wants to represent the wishes of her Ward 12 constituents.
My thoughts on the above paragraph is that not only was Mayor Guinta fraudulent in his deliberations, but also, he was unsympathetic to the humane needs of a suffering colleague. Because the Board of Aldermen was deadlocked 6 yeas and 8 nays, the mayor put his own interests over that of Kelleigh Domaigne during her time of illness. Mayor Frank Guinta was inhumane!
At 6 p.m., during one of the recesses, I had dinner with one of the audience member’s named Dave at Joe Kelly’s nearby bar and grill. I also discussed politics with Joe Kelly Levasseur and his other patrons several times throughout the night. I like Joe Kelly Levasseur because he really and truly cares about his community. While I am a Democrat and he is a Republican, we are friends first and foremost, and we both share the same commitment to the community before partisan or small-minded politics.
During the several recesses, I also spoke to my Ward 3 Alderman, Peter Sullivan, about the Mayor’s fraudulent deliberations. I asked Peter to once again ask the Mayor (a) who the outside interests is, (b) where do they come from, (c) how much money was given to the political group pushing the tax cap, and (d) where did the money come from. I explained to Peter that I have to disclose my finances to the government, I have to pay my monthly rent, I have to pay the city fees, and I have to meet my obligations under the law. As Peter is an Attorney – like Kelleigh, he explained the technical aspects of the law to me. To be honest and somewhat humbled, I cannot remember the legal aspects of Peter’s explanation. Peter declined to re-ask the mayor these questions. He referred me to one of Frank Guinta’s political cronies, Mike Biundo, but I knew he would be just as dishonest as the mayor. However, Peter did say to me in response to my question to him that if he were the mayor, he would openly disclose all of the above information to the Aldermen and the general public alike.
My Ward 3 Alderman Peter Sullivan, who always takes the time to talk with me with respect, is an Army Veteran and a long-time dedicated young public servant. He is very intelligent and is active in the Democratic Party. Peter placed his Obama button on the counter of his Aldermanic seat and proclaimed that the Democratic powerbrokers are not behind the opposition to the tax cap’s expedited referendum. I found Peter’s action and comments interesting because they may have been false or he may not have been included due to his erratic political behaviors or possibly he may have been misinformed. Moreover, Peter’s statements were myopic because they omitted Bill Shea’s questioning of the Republican mayor’s motives and the Mayor Frank Guinta’s undisclosed outside political interests and lobbyist funds. I believe Peter’s comments showed him to be confused and out of touch with the realities of this complex situation.
Disappointingly to me, during Mayor Guinta’s fraudulent deliberations, my Ward 3 Alderman Peter Sullivan said "This debate is (about whether) we have a serious respect for the voting public who want to vote up or down on a tax cap ... It's the height of arrogance for 16 people on the third floor of City Hall to make the decision for all the city residents." While, on the other hand, Alderman Mark Roy said the aldermen are here to make decisions for the 114,000 residents of Manchester.
Mayor Frank Guinta was transparently FRAUDULENT and he was the single most person whom represented bad governance, YET he had the boldness to level unfair criticisms after negative political attacks…against the 8 dissenting Aldermen. Here was the Mayor of a city government, who would not disclose legal, financial and political information to the Aldermen and the general public, making many derogatory verbal strikes or assaults on his colleagues. The following are some of Mayor Guinta’s self-righteous criticisms against the 8 Aldermanic dissidents: (a) You are doing a disservice to the people, the constitution, the law and the state government, (b) I am disappointed in your actions and votes, (c) This is a delay tactic by the opposition, (d) The no voters – or the 8 dissident Aldermen – are picking a later date that has a suppressed vote, (e) This is not good government, (f) You don’t want to control spending, (g) You are violating the Spirit of the Law by voting against the expedited tax cap referendum on the upcoming November ballot, (h) Other New Hampshire Communities – Somersworth and Rochester – have placed the item on the November 4, 2008, ballot, (i) "It's disappointing the largest city in the state, this body is ignoring the will of the people. I think it's sad.", (j) "No matter how you feel about the tax cap, you have a judicial responsibility to place this on the November ballot" and then the issue could be debated over the next two months before the election., (k) "There is not a reasonable explanation by the Democratic opposition why they do not want to put this on the November ballot. The opposition to this is beyond personal views. There's an outside force telling them how to vote.", (l) Etcetera.
In addition, Mayor Frank Guinta called the tax cap proposal vital and important. He reminded the 8 dissident Aldermen that the election is 2 months away. He said that a special election would cost the city about $40,000. Mayor Guinta admitted that the tax cap information was “technical stuff”. The mayor promised that if the Aldermen sent the tax cap to the ballot, he would hold informational meetings in each of the city’s 12 Wards, which was supported by my Ward 3 Alderman Peter Sullivan, who had a motion with said caveat, which was, of course, defeated.
Alderman Ed Osbourne said that passing the motion for an expedited tax cap referendum was “a matter of getting this over with”, while Alderman Mark Roy wanted this issue to be voted on in a special election. Alderman Jim Roy wanted more time to educate the public on the tax cap issue and he asked the question, “May the voters make an informed vote?” Jim proposed waiting on the vote until after the September 5, 2008, deadline, so that the measure may be placed on the November 9, 2009, ballot.
In the end, the last of the 13 votes with the same general outcome was taken at 11:52 P.M. on Friday night, September 5, 2008. At 12:01 A.M., the tax cap proposal for the November 4, 2008, ballot was defeated! Moreover, the motion to recess the meeting to Monday, September 8, 2008, at 5 P.M. was also defeated, 6 to 8. A motion to adjourn was voted for at 12:04 A.M. on early-Saturday morning, September 6, 2008. The NH Union Leader since reported that the board set another meeting for Monday, September 8, 2008, at 5 P.M.
In conclusion, I strongly dislike the political leadership of Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta. I view the mayor as a career politician who puts his own interests far above the common good of the community he purports to lead. Evidence of Mayor Guinta’s poor leadership has been incumbent on me since his first year in the corner office in City Hall, which is across the street from my studio apartment where I have lived since late-January of 2005. During the Spring of 2006, Mayor Frank Guinta proposed lowering taxes by cutting out the dental care of the city’s poor school children. Any laymen medical patient knows, so goes one’s oral health, so goes one’s general health! I have since read Mayor Guinta has re-proposed this measure again and again against the protests of many concerned local citizens who actually care about people, not their dreams and selfish ambitions for higher office. This Spring, I attended a public hearing at Memorial High School where I spoke about the fundamentals of municipal budgeting, which was published in the Manchester Express free local newspaper. I spoke out against Mayor Guinta’s budget proposal that slashed funding to pubic schools by about 5% or about $4 million, as I recall. Since Mayor Frank Guinta took office, the number of Manchester’s public schools in need of improvement ballooned from 3 to 22! On top of that, Mayor Guinta made his budget proposal while he was still interested in opposing John Lynch for NH Governor, which means that his numbers were political, not financial! When Frank Guinta bowed out of the Governor’s race because he was greatly disadvantaged by the polls, he signed onto a FY09 city budget that increased taxes by about 3.7%, raided the “Rainy Day” fund account by several million dollars, tapped substantial amounts of money from the city’s one time accounts, and raised fees by factors of 50% and 100%. This past week, the Mayor asked the Aldermen to approve a spending cap that flies in the face of the reality of past city budgets. The Aldermen were only given the proposed tax cap legal statute two weeks prior to the public hearing on September 2, 2008, and the Mayor never disclosed the outside interests and lobbyist money at play! Mayor Frank Guinta proceeded with his fraudulent deliberations for an expedited tax cap referendum because he would have used it as a stepping stone to a higher office since he has little else to show for his tenure as mayor. Lastly, Mayor Frank Guinta is predicted to run for U.S. Congress in 2010 if Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter wins re-election this year (2008), or otherwise, he is predicted to run for NH Governor in 2010, which means he would not have to deal with most of the ramifications of the flawed tax cap law, if adopted.
Jonathan A. Melle
NOTE: On Monday, September 8th, 2008, the Board of Mayor & Aldermen met for 17- minutes from 5 p.m. to 5:17 p.m. and voted 11 yeas to 2 nays and 1 absence to hold the referendum ballot vote next year on the November 2009 election. The New Hampshire Advantage Coalition filed an injunction against the 8 dissident aldermen in Hillsboro County, NH Superior Court to place the referendum on this year's November 4, 2008, ballot for a vote.
RE: 8 hours of Mayor Frank Guinta's fraudulent deliberations
Date: Saturday, September 6, 2008, 6:10 PM
Jonathan, if you want to be taken seriously, you really need to do more than act as Joe Kelly's sock puppet.
You completely misconstrued my statement re: the Obama button.
My point was that the vote was not, and should not, be a partisan matter. My point was that I, as a lifelong Democrat, had no problems with treating the public as adults by letting them vote on the tax cap, in spite of my own personal skepticism as to the merits of the cap.
Also, that "erratic" and "confused" crap is straight out of the Joe Kelly school of character assassination. Are you insinuating that I am "erratic" because as a legislator I voted the Democratic Party line 80% of the time? Is it a character flaw to rely on one's conscience from time to time? I'd like to hear your opinion. And I mean your opinion, not a line that you picked up from a guy who has been rejected by the voters in five consecutive elections.
9/10/2008, 6 p.m.
Dear Peter (Sullivan),
I have not been able to check my email since Saturday afternoon. I am sorry for the delay in my response to you. I am NOT beholden to Joe Kelly Levasseur. If I disagree with him, I call him up and let him know of my negative feelings. He respects what I have to say to him. Joe Kelly Levasseur is my friend, and I respect his commitment to Manchester, not political interests and ideologies. Stop picking on my for being Joe's friend, please. I stand by what I wrote.
I respect your long-term public service and military service, too. Thank you for being involved in our public interests, and please keep up your good work!
RE: Fwd: keep it up scum bag-sullivan
Thursday, September 11, 2008 3:47 PM
If you feel compelled to forward Mr. levaseur's rants, please send them to my personal email account, and do not clutter my city inbox with this stuff.
politickernh.com - Press Release - Release Date: September 19, 2008 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - "FRANK GUINTA USES TAXPAYER FUNDED WEBSTIE FOR HIS OWN POLITICAL ADVANTAGE"
September 19, 2008 - 10:03am - September 18, 2008
Contact: Alexis Chininis - (603)669-1050
FRANK GUINTA USES TAXPAYER FUNDED WEBSITE FOR HIS OWN POLITICAL ADVANTAGE
Chris Pappas calls Mayor's actions shamefulManchester - Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta has been very vocal in his support of the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition and has used little discretion as to the medium by which to deliver his message, posting on the taxpayer funded Manchester City Government website in the weeks since the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to postpone the referendum on the tax and spending cap proposed by the NH Advantage Coalition in order to give voters more time to consider the serious implications such a cap would have on city services such as public safety and education, as well as to consider the legality of the cap.
Guinta posted an editorial on September 4th titled "The Spending Cap: It Must be Placed Before Voters on Nov 4th." In an additional posting on September 15th reflecting on the September 5th Special Meeting, Guinta states:
"Unfortunately for voters in Manchester, the work of eight Aldermen and a host of special interests silenced our voices for another year."
"Frank Guinta needs to decide whether he wants to be a spokesman for the NH Advantage Coalition or Mayor of Manchester," said Manchester City Democrats Chair Chris Pappas. "He consistently used his position as Mayor to further his own political agenda, and is now using the city website, paid for by the taxpayers, to attack these hard-working Aldermen, who were merely looking out for the best interests of the people of Manchester. It is a shameful abuse of the office of the Mayor, to editorialize his own special interests on the city website."
Frank Guinta's editorial blogs can be found at www.manchesternh.gov.
Tags: Frank Guinta, Chris Pappas, Manchester Democrats, New Hampshire Advantage Coalition, website.
September 22, 2008
The NH Union Leader is myopic on government spending. The reason being is the only way to cut spending is to see (or make) fixed costs (or government mandates) as temporary (short-term), and then in the long-term all costs become VARIABLE.
What does a cost-cutting manager do with the eventuality of variable costs? She finds ways to cut (diminish) or eliminate them!
The above economic reasoning or financial practices do NOT apply to city government in Manchester, NH! The city government has to pay the county government an annual tax assessment for the Hillsboro County Jail and Nursing Home. In addition to the county government, the city has to pay the school district an annual tax, too. Together, the county government and school district take up about 80% of the city's budget. That is a big chunk of fixed costs!
Then, Manchester, NH, has roads, public works, police, fire, a pension system, and the like. Those, too, are all fixed costs!
Manchester, NH, city government is currently or nominally +$14 million in the RED this budget year (FY2009)!
The only way a spending (or tax) cap would make sense for the city government is if it applied only to the city's variable costs, which there are none. Because Manchester, NH, is a municipal government of all fixed costs via mandates, budget deficits and substantial amounts of debt, the spending (or tax) cap would be meaningless.
Mayor Frank Guinta is not an efficient manager because he has NOT found means to make the city government's fixed costs into variable costs and then cut or eliminate those costs!
Jonathan A. Melle
Manchester Express, October 2-8, 2008, Volume 3 No. 40, Express Opinions
"Think twice about N.H. Advantage Coalition"
To the Editor:
With all the attention devoted to the presidential election, it is easy to overlook a very important development in New Hampshire politics: the rise of the so-called New Hampshire Advantage Coalition.
The New Hampshire Advantage Coalition is a shadowy group behind the effort to put a tax cap on local ballots and to elect certain candidates for office. The group is well-funded, and it will be running lots of expensive ads on TV right before the election. The only problem is, the coalition will not reveal the source of its funding.
And it appears no one can make them release a list of donors because the group, despite its overt political objectives, has registered with state officials as a charity-like the Red Cross or the Boys' and Girls' Club. What is known is that a group of employees at a Washington law firm are the incorporators of this group.
I hope all voters watching the group's expensive ads ask themselves what interest a group of Washington fatcats has in the outcome of a local referendum question. Until that question is answered, I hope voters will think twice when they hear the name New Hampshire Advantage Coalition.
Manchester, New Hampshire
"Capped: A victory in Rochester"
The New Hampshire Union Leader Online Daily Newspaper, Editorial,
Friday, November 7, 2008
Four days before the election, Rochester's property tax rate went up by 6.2 percent. That could be one reason voters overwhelmingly approved a tax cap on Tuesday.
The new rate was actually 17 cents lower than projected. But at 6.2 percent, it was considerably higher than the regional rate of inflation (4.7 percent).
The voters approved the tax and spending cap more than two to one -- 9,755 to 4,232. A similar cap on the ballot in Somersworth failed 2,945 to 2,113. Both Rochester and Somersworth went for Barack Obama and Jeanne Shaheen on Tuesday. Had elected officials in Manchester and Concord not maneuvered to keep the questions off the general election ballot, we probably would have seen more caps pass.
The New Hampshire Advantage Coalition has done a good job in building public support for these checks on government growth. Expect more towns and cities to join the growing list of tax-cap municipalities next year.
Hey maybe the blowhards at The New Hampshire Advantage Coalition can target Derry next. The selectmen there are out of control.
- Tim, Derry, NH
"Judge: Proposed Concord tax cap unconstitutional"
By JOHN DISTASO, Senior Political Reporter, NH Union Leader, Friday, March 20, 2009
CONCORD – A limited-government advocacy group's efforts to have Concord voters decide in November whether to adopt a cap on tax rate and spending hikes suffered a setback yesterday when a judge found the proposed charter amendment in violation of state law and unconstitutional.
Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Diane Nicolosi upheld the city council's challenge to the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition's proposal to let voters choose whether the city should limit spending and tax increases to no more than the previous year's national consumer price index. If passed by the voters, the constraint could have been overridden only by a two-thirds vote of the city council.
The coalition's attorney and executive director said the ruling will be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Although the decision is specific to Concord, it provides a blueprint for legal challenges to caps in other communities. The judge noted that six other New Hampshire municipalities have adopted similar charter amendments, although none has been challenged in court.
Nicolosi ruled the proposed charter amendment would violate a state law that spells out how cities must conduct their budget approval process. The judge pointed out that the proposed charter amendment "would interfere with the city manager's duty," as directed in the statute, to "present to the city council an original budget that is based upon the financial needs of city departments.''
"Although the proposed amendment does not preclude the city manager from submitting a budget based on the responsibilities of the city, it essentially makes this step futile because the proposed amendment would place restraints upon any budget that could be approved by the city council without a two-thirds override vote," the judge ruled.
Voters can have a say in the local budget after it is proposed by the city manager and before it is voted on by the city council, but under state law and a prior Supreme Court ruling, "the court finds that the voters are not entitled to the type of input into the creation of the original budget that the proposed amendment would provide," the judge wrote.
She also wrote in the 16-page decision that the law relied on by the coalition only allows charter communities to change their form of government, something the proposed Concord amendment would not do.
The state constitution only allows municipalities "to adopt or amend their charters or forms of government in any way which is not in conflict with general law," she wrote. And since the amendment would conflict with the law, she ruled, it would be not only illegal, but also unconstitutional.
The coalition tried to have Manchester residents vote on a similar cap last November, but the city's aldermen successfully challenged it and were able to delay a vote until November of this year.
Deputy City Solicitor Thomas Arnold said he was analyzing the decision yesterday, but said, "It may well have an impact on the city of Manchester."
He said portions of the decision "seem to have wider applicability" beyond Concord and that he will eventually report his analysis to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Concord City Solicitor Paul Cavanaugh said the judge ruled that the amendment "was basically interfering with legislative action in that it was setting parameters for control of the budget, and that is something the Legislature has passed legislation on, detailing how the budget will be initiated by the manager and submitted to the council."
Concord City Manger Thomas Aspell Jr. said the ruling was not a surprise.
He said the city council already provides him with a non-binding "tax rate target" each year.
"This year, it was zero percent," he said. "Every budget that's been put together in the 10 years since I've been here has met that tax rate target.
"This was not an issue of taxes. It was an issue of constitutionality for us," Aspell said.
Franklin, Derry and Nashua have long-standing caps, and the coalition spearheaded efforts to have caps passed in Rochester, Dover and Laconia in recent years.
"We're disappointed with the decision," said coalition attorney Richard Lehman. "We think there are some additional issues that the court might have missed that will make for a good appeal."
"It's legislating from the bench," said coalition President Michael Biundo. "While we're disappointed; we're going to fight this to the highest level. We feel that the voters and municipalities that have charters have the right to limit spending through the initiative process."
Biundo said there will also be an effort in the Legislature next year to address the law cited by the judge.
"Even before this decision, we felt that there are holes in the law that need to be cleared up and that there should be a way to allow every community across the state to vote on caps," he said.
Biundo said towns without charters have so far been able to vote only on non-binding caps.
Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, who backs the tax cap initiative, said that until the Supreme Court rules on an appeal, "this had no bearing" on his city.
"I am confident that a favorable Supreme Court ruling will reaffirm what thousands of Manchester residents of all parts of the political spectrum already know: that a spending cap is an effective and legal means to be a check on elected officials and their ability to spend taxpayer dollars," Guinta said.
Suggesting that the electoral process is a "tax cap guarantee" is absurd. It is no such thing.
Government won't accept responsibility and spend within its means and, now, a Lynch appointee thinks that holding them accountable is unconstitutional. She's taking the accountability out of the system.
There's an override clause built into the cap. If a city council wants to spend more than the cap, they can simply vote to override it.
Wanting government to spend as little of your money as possible *isn't* unconstitutional. It's part of why we have a constitution to begin with.
- William Smith, Manchester, NH
It is news like this that makes the 'tea party' in Manchester so important we need to get people motivated. This government is going in the wrong direction.
- Steve, Manchester
I am not an attorney, though I have some legal background. I haven't read the actual ruling, and I know that the Union Leader is known for having some right-leaning bias in reporting at times, but it appears that this is probably a shaky ruling at best from the UL report on the issue. Whether you're for the tax cap or against it, it seems prudent to await the appeal before getting excited or enraged -- though no matter how you feel about the cap itself, this seems to be a violation of local self-governance principals.
- Ben, Manchester, NH
The government isn't riding all over us. Its called get out and educate yourself to the candidates and vote for the ones that you feel would best serve you.
- Adam, Allenstown
The taxcappers will now be out in force. IF a decision goes against them, they get nasty. How about this. There already is a tax cap. It is called the elected officials who make up the budget. If they don't do what you want them to do, vote them out. That is your tax cap guarantee.
- Jeff, Manchester
If you are going to make a rule.. just simply make sure it is not in violation of the laws we live by. SO you want to toss out a judge who is simply following the laws as written? Well change the darn law then! The judge did their duty to uphold the law.. waaaa
- steve, concord
Get rid of this judge! This is wrong! If the people want a cap they should have one!
Sick of government riding roughshod over us!
- Sue, Manchester
►Merrimack looks hard at tax cap amendment
►Tax cap: Rochester, yes; Somersworth, no
►Tax cap advocates sue to put measure on ballot
►Tax cap suit looms; vote delayed until Nov. '09
►Board says no to tax cap vote
"Tax cap fraud: Gang of Eight exposed"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, July 9, 2009
Remember last year, when eight Manchester aldermen voted against putting the tax-and-spending cap on the general election ballot? They claimed that the public needed more time to become informed about this very important issue. They claimed they would hold public hearings in each ward to educate the people.
"We're not seeking to prevent a tax cap from going on the November ballot," At-Large Alderman Dan O'Neil said in defending his vote last September. "Two months is not enough time to focus on the issue."
That vote was 10 months ago this week. How many public hearings have the aldermen held on the tax cap in the last 10 months? Zero.
They couldn't find time to hold a single public hearing, but they did find time to draw up plans to kill the tax cap for good. Last month, aldermen asked the city solicitor to devise a legal case for challenging the tax cap in court. This week, they voted 7-5 to challenge the cap's constitutionality, even though three state agencies, including the Attorney General's Office, have said it is constitutional.
If it takes roughly eight weeks, give or take a few, to get a ruling from the state's backlogged court system, which sounds about right, and the cap is ruled constitutional, guess how much time the people will have to "focus on the issue" before the election? Two months. Cue Alderman O'Neil: "Two months is not enough time to focus on the issue."
The Gang of Eight aldermen who voted to spike the tax cap last September didn't buy the people a year to fully consider this very simple restriction on city spending. They bought themselves a year to kill it.
The Union Leader reported today that, due to a lack of revenue, Manchester is ending bus service for kids who live two miles or closer to school. What would happen if an artificial "tax cap" were put in place? Would Manchester have to extend the policy to kids within 5 miles of school? I'd prefer to elect people into office, and if they choose to raise taxes in a way I don't agree with, vote them out.
- Dan, Manchester
This issue is no longer about controlling the city government's wasteful spending.
This is now about the democratic process and the rights of the people of Manchester, being able to exercise those rights by voting on something brought forward by their fellow citizens.
It doesn't matter if you support it or oppose it, there should be a vote. Period! If it passes, great, if not, that's fine too.
What if this were some other important issue that people cared about? and the Aldermen weiseled their way out, just like they're doing now, and blocked the voices of the citizens of Manchester from being heard?
I'll tell you what's "UnConstitutional," blocking the people's right to vote!!!
- Phil Greazzo, West Manchester
To Peter: Not great at math, but if you add up the Manch numbers you supplied and the Nashua numbers, Manchester is lower.
- E, Manch
Did someone say taxes? I think that's my cue. Why do Manchester residents pay so much more than Nashua and Salem?...
All number are per $1000 of evaluation
Town tax:…$8.05…..$6.50……..$4.75 (town taxes, without education)
Local Ed:….$5.98…..$7.79………$6.05 (local education)
State Ed:….$2.28…..$2.25………$2.16 (state education)
Do we really want to cap at this town tax rate? I say we consider lowering the rate to Nashua's. After that we can attempt to match Salem.
Don't forget these are last year’s numbers. The budget that just passes will raise the already outrageous town rate, while lowering the already very low school rate. Yes, you read that correctly – higher town rate, lower local education rate.
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester
Look at Massachusetts and Proposition 2 1/2. It did nothing to quench their thrist to get money from peoples pocket and no amount of thwarting their hands prevented the peoples wallets from being taken.
I think the current board gets it, that spending needs to be controlled. I think they all realize now people do not have extra money to throw at everything and that there needs to be spending priorities.
I wish we had the same common sense that the BMA of Manchester has and was in use in State government. There's far to many services that are being performed that we can't afford and to turn around and tax us more and on things we never paid tax before on is a slap in the face and a insult. But thats another story.
- Jack Alex, Manchester
How about the UL in an unbiased fashion do some real reporting on the facts, pro and con of a tax cap. Kind of a public service band of articles. Of course you would have to keep your personal opinions out of it and actually report on the postive and negative.. but that might be a novel approach to UL reporting.
You might actually report on some of the states that had a tax cap and abolished it, and the reasons why. Then you could follow up with some articles on any state that think it has worked well in their state.
Now that might actually have promise. Just a thought...what an education piece that might be for your faithful readers ...
- Frank, Manchester
I think what irritates me most about the current lawsuit is: where does our City Solicitor get off presenting an unrequested offer to sue for an injury that has yet to occur?
The City Solicitor is turning into a bigger toothache than the Gang of Eight.
Maybe the city would be better served by some narcoleptic lawyer who only wakes up when actually needed.
- David R, Manchester
Changing the threshold for taking money from everyone from a 51% majority to a 67% majority is an "artificial limit"? It interferes with your "vision" for the city?
You people aren't fooling anyone.
You think you know how to spend our money better than we do and don't want _anything_ that makes it harder for you to take it from us.
- Alec Muller, Manchester, NH
If the tax cap is indeed up to snuff then the courts will uphold it. Make no mistakes, even if it passed, it would have been challenged in court. Front loading this issue with a legal decision is not a bad idea. The bad idea is initiating some sort of artificial limit when we have already elected officials to seek the best solution to budgetory issues. A preconceived nuumber to address ever changing needs is no way to govern nor budget.
- Jules, Manchester
I lived in Maryland 20 years ago when a tax cap was passed. It was such a disaster that when it came up for renewal it was defeated overwhelmingly. Want to see what tax caps accomplish? Look at California. We need honest, courageous leaders, not phony tax caps. We need leadership, not self promotion. And we need vision, not blind ideology.
- LJC, Manchester
Frank Guinta: "Manchester aldermen now hold a spending cap hostage"
By FRANK GUINTA, Op-Ed, The NH Union Leader, July 21, 2009
On this year's municipal ballot, Manchester residents are expecting to see a spending cap question. However, because of political games on the part of a few aldermen, the voters may never have their voices heard on this important issue.
Citizens from across the city canvassed Manchester to ask residents to sign a petition to place a spending cap referendum on the 2008 ballot. This was not an easy task. It involved obtaining more than 4,000 voter signatures within a set period, as well as having the signatures and the referendum language meet legal muster. They were able to meet the signature requirement, and three state agencies -- the attorney general's office, the secretary of state's office and the Department of Revenue Administration -- signed off on the language.
These citizens did all that was expected of them: They obtained valid signatures and made sure the referendum language was legal. However, they did not expect such fierce political battles to take place, battles that undermine the sovereign ability of Manchester voters to decide how representatives spend their tax dollars.
Last September, eight aldermen held the initiative -- and the rights of Manchester voters -- hostage. Referring to unsettled and unclear state laws regarding ballot initiatives, eight of the 14 elected officials on the board of aldermen strong-armed the spending cap off the 2008 ballot. Despite my efforts and those of Aldermen Ted Gatsas, Peter Sullivan, Ed Osborne, Real Pinard and Mike Garrity and former Alderman Kelleigh Murphy, we were unable to convince one of the other eight to change his or her vote, which would have allowed Manchester voters to decide on the cap.
At that time, the argument from the eight who voted against the ballot initiative was that the public needed more education on the issue. Some of these aldermen vowed to have public meetings in every ward to provide information, pro and con, regarding the spending cap. However, this never happened. During this time, these aldermen were working with special interests that have a particular interest in seeing city spending go up. Instead of educating the public, they worked to deprive residents of a vote.
It appears that they are succeeding. In late June, the aldermen authorized the city solicitor to file an order with the Hillsborough County (North) Superior Court. These aldermen are hoping that a court will do what they haven't been able to do: throw the initiative off the ballot. This action was taken behind closed doors and with no public input. Following this, the board of aldermen voted, 7-5, to reject a request to withdraw the order. Not surprisingly, the head of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO and other union officials were in the gallery that night.
What has happened to the spending cap referendum during the past year is shameful. The argument made by the eight aldermen and those who have a vested interest in unchecked city spending does not pass the "honesty test." Ordinary citizens see through this and recognize that, whether a spending cap passes or fails, at least they should have the right to vote on the issue.
One of the arguments that opponents make is that the cap is inflexible. In fact, you only need to look at the city of Franklin or other communities that have spending caps. They all contain override provisions, and in extraordinary circumstances those provisions have been used.
The real point is that the voters should have a say on this issue, up or down. I believe that disenfranchising voters sets a terrible precedent for the board to do this on other issues it finds inconvenient.
Instead of working behind closed doors and with special interests to thwart the public's ability to decide this issue, aldermen should have kept their promise to the people of Manchester and held forums on the spending cap.
Frank Guinta is mayor of Manchester.
You can't even lead a group of Aldermen to do what is right for the citizens of Manchester, yet you want us to believe you should be elected to congress?
Give me a break. Leadership starts at the top Frank.
Stop blaming them for YOUR failure to lead. Go have a beer and get out of politics. We dont deserve you, and you just dont get it.
- Al Wood, Manchester
Please, Mr. Mayor/candidate for congress Guinta, will you stop with the posturing. I would wager he is isn't fully aware of what is involved with such a measure, except what his 'advisors' have shared. Oh, and because it sounds good and reads well, he likes.
Well, socialism-communism reads well.... on paper, but doesn't work. Any recent history book will show that. Want an idea of this supposed 'tax cap?' Give a read to the "Prop" poposals in California and Massachusetts in recent years. They're very similar, both failed and were reversed.
Keeping taxes down involves, among a few things, responsible leadership. And if unfamiliar with the definition of that word, any dictionary will explain. Unfortunately, like this tax cap, though it reads well on paper, leadership is inherent...one cannot get it from the words of a page.
- Jack, Manchester
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. For every term in office, the current head of Manchester has proposed an unrealistic budget and put the burden on the aldermen to keep the city running properly. Remember when he level-funded energy costs at prior years rates when energy costs had more than doubled? That's fiscal prowess if I've ever seen it! Now, he accuses them of political maneuvering?....A classic!
I signed the pettition for the tax cap vote, but was mislead by the signature taker, who neither mentioned the term "tax cap" nor that it was putting a measure on the ballot. Another piece of gamesmanship by the tax cap crowd.
The aldermen may be handcuffing the ballot question until all the answers are found, but it's better than having a tax cap handcuff the city into a situation that is worse.
This piece is nothing but a childish whine from someone who stomps his feet and cries when he can't have his way.
- Mary Mary, Manchester
Fortin calling someone abrasive? Now I've seen it all. Fortin, you are perhaps one fo the most miserable bloggers on the UL site. you complain about everything.
- mike conway, manchester
Mr. Mayor---The city has just been labeled one of "The Cheapest Cities" to live. Manchester IS NOT an expensive place to live compared to elsewhere. Comparing Franklin to Manchester is ridiculous. Manchester has more variables in the mix than Franklin! Here is one comparison that will prove my point: How many street lights does Franklin have, compared to Manchester? (I can tell you it is in single digits)---South Willow street alone has probably 100 times as many. As you can see ---no comparison!
- Jim C, Ward 2 Manchester
The biggest obstacle on getting the spending cap to the voters is Mike Biundo, even the voters in his ward did not re-elect him as State Rep, He's just too abrasive and frankly he is a Republican for pay.
- Richard L. Fortin, Manchester
"Judge tosses effort to kill tax cap vote"
By DALE VINCENT, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 7/25/2009
MANCHESTER – A bid by aldermen to keep a proposed tax cap off the November ballot was tossed out by Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge James D. O'Neill III.
O'Neill did not rule on the merits of the appeal, which alleged the charter amendment would violate the New Hampshire Constitution and the general laws of the state.
Instead, O'Neill said the aldermen's meeting with the city solicitor, in which a "consensus" was reached about the appeal in nonpublic session, violated the state right-to-know law and thus the litigation was not properly before the court. As a result, the judge granted the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition's motion to dismiss.
Tax cap backer Mayor Frank Guinta praised the judge's ruling and issued a statement criticizing aldermen for trying to keep city residents from being able to vote on the spending cap.
"Moving forward, I hope the aldermen that have done everything in their power to derail a spending cap now allow the people (to) decide on Election Day," said Guinta.
Alderman-at-Large Mike Lopez said: "The judge ruled that's it. ... The people will vote on it." Lopez said he looks forward to a vigorous education program regarding the impact of a tax cap. "Anytime they're ready to debate the issues, we'll do it," said Lopez.
As for supporting the cap, Lopez said: "I haven't completely made up my mind." But he then said: "Look at California."
As for the necessity of an official tax cap on budgets, he said: "We've been able to stay under a tax cap."
Mike Biundo, who headed the tax cap movement until he resigned to serve as Guinta's congressional campaign chairman, said he's confident about the amendment's passage in Manchester. Given the 4,000 signatures the coalition obtained to get the charter amendment on the ballot, Biundo said: "I think the community is very much behind our movement."
Six communities -- Nashua, Franklin, Dover, Laconia, Rochester and Derry -- have tax caps. Biundo said they work and the coalition will continue its efforts to get them in place throughout New Hampshire.
The coalition did not appeal a Merrimack County Superior Court judge's March ruling that a proposed tax cap in Concord would be in violation of state law and unconstitutional, but Biundo said the coalition is working on legislation to address those issues.
Look at California? Exactly, but not for tax cap, look at the out of control spending in California, even with a tax cap!
The money belongs to the tax payers of Manchester, not the Aldermen. We have seen a growing trend over the last 10 to 15 years that allows city leaders to buy every toy they want and spend every dollar they want.
Zero based budgeting would be a good start in every city and town in NH.
- Melvin, Keene
The citizens of manchester deserve the right to vote on the taxcap / spending
referendum this fall. The right to know law must always be followed by our elected officials . It is disturbing that the
current alderman either didn't know they
violated the law or ignored it by meeting
in private on a matter that does not qualify for a closed door meeting. Voters
should look at electing new Aldermen
like Joe Kelly Levasseur , who brought
this case into the daylight.
- Keith Hirschmann, Manchester New Hampshire
Now it's time to vote for common sense people of Manchester. Vote for the cap and vote those who opposed out in to the streets. Preserve our way of life in New Hampshire!
- Fred Leonard, Rochester, NH
joe kelly deserves a lot of praise for taking the case pro bono and winning the argument, great job judge O'niell, thank you for not letting aldermen meet in the dark and try to take away our right to vote on this issue.
- jamie, manchester
City Solicitor Tom Clark took a gamble and played his hand - but it's not over yet. It's a long time until November and the tax-and-spenders on Manchester's Board of Aldermen may very well try again to void the spending cap question on November's ballot.
Alderman Lopez, since you are reported above as looking forward to a vigorous education program, the residents will look to you to insure that the aldermanic spending cap education meetings in the wards that were promised in September 2008 actually happen.
- David R, Manchester
Wait a second here. So, Mike Lopez basically says, well, the judge ruled so, it has to go to ballot. The judge didn't rule on the substance of the argument. He ruled that the city should not have held a private meeting to get it to court because that violated the States Right to Know Laws. So, Lopez and the others can take a vote on the board to have the city lawyer re-file and have the judge rule on the merits. Of course, if that happens, the mayor will veto it and there won't be enough votes to override the veto so the issue is dead either way. But my oh my how quickly Lopez gives up.
This is not a victory for the tax cap. It is a victory for the people to force the elected aldermen to hold their meetings in public.
- Jeff, Manchester
Lopez said he looks forward to a vigorous education program regarding the impact of a tax cap. "Anytime they're ready to debate the issues, we'll do it," said Lopez.
He and the alderman like him have got to be kidding. Oh wait, you mean, now, they finally mean it. Lopez and his fellow alderman against this tax cap have done nothing for over 10 months to educate the public on the evils of the tax cap and now that they can't disrail it with dubious legal tricks they suddenly think educating the public is important.
They derailed the vote last fall saying the public was to dumb to understand the issues in 2 months time without being educated on them. Yet they did nothing to educate while trying to do everything to prevent the vote.
From having followed the issue already somehow I don't see myself easily believing anything this teacher and his cohorts will try to "learn" me, now that the issue is finally important enough to do "edumacate" me about it. I already learned the lesson he was trying to teach by non-example.
- davetb1956, Manchester
"City Hall: Tax cap issue still has a lot of life in it"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 8/2/2009
When a superior court judge threw out the city's case against the proposed spending cap, Alderman At-Large Mike Lopez declared the matter closed.
"The judge ruled. That's it," he said.
Ostensibly, the whole point of asking a judge to rule on the proposal was to find out if the thing is legal. But the judge, James D. O'Neill III, didn't say whether it was or wasn't. Rather, he dismissed the city's appeal, saying that when the aldermen secretly ordered the city's attorney to write it up, they violated the state's Right-to-Know law.
So what now?
First, opponents of the spending cap are planning to ask O'Neill to reconsider his decision. Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, said a motion for reconsideration will probably be filed tomorrow.
"Manchester residents still have a right to know whether the tax cap is legal or not," she said, "and that's what we'll pursue."
The question remains, though: Why don't the aldermen just take a vote, in public, to resubmit the appeal to Hillsborough County Superior Court?
They could, but as Alderman Jim Roy put it, there may be little point in trying.
"If you think about it, I guess the mayor would probably veto it," Roy said. "And we don't have 10 votes, probably, to override it." (More on that later.)
Those who favor the cap would argue there's no need to ask a judge whether the proposal is legal. Three state agencies certified the proposal as legal last year.
That may well turn out to be the final word on the matter, at least until voters have their say on Election Day. But then, Roy said, if the proposal passes, "I would have to guess it'll probably end up in court anyways."
- - - - - -
WE DON'T NEED NO EDUCATION: Meanwhile, with roughly three months to go until the election, we can still report there has been virtually no effort to educate the public about the cap.
Rice Hawkins, who speaks for the anti-cap group Keep Manchester Moving, said she wants to wait for a response to the motion for reconsideration before scheduling what she calls "community meetings."
- - - - - -
WHERE THEY STAND: For the record, Alderman and mayoral candidate Ted Gatsas says he fully supports the spending cap.
"It's important that we try to keep taxes as low as we can," Gatsas said.
Gatsas is not the only candidate in favor of the cap. Former state. Sen. Bobby Stephen likes it so much that even if the referendum fails, he said, he would try to weave the cap into the city charter another way.
State Rep. Richard Komi, also running for mayor, said he has "mixed feelings" about the proposal. He likes the fact that it can be overridden but said he fears a cap would prevent the city from pursuing worthwhile projects.
"When the city does better (economically) and we have more revenue coming into the city, we should be able to spend that money wisely and spending it on projects that will be beneficial to the city," he said.
- - - - - -
VETO POWER: Fact: It takes two-thirds of the aldermen -- 10 out of 14, in actuality -- to override a mayoral veto.
But right now, Manchester doesn't have 14 aldermen. It has 13, thanks to Alderman Kelleigh Murphy's resignation.
You might assume the two-thirds rule would still apply, and that it should take just nine votes to override a veto. But apparently, you'd be wrong.
"The consensus is that an override of a mayoral veto always requires 10 votes," said Deputy City Clerk Kathie Gardner. "It's based on the number of aldermen elected, not necessarily the number present or even serving."
Which means, the fewer aldermen Manchester has, the harder it is to override a veto, and consequently, the more powerful the mayor becomes.
- - - - - -
WAIT FOR IT: School officials are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping the city sends them at least a portion of the $1.9 million that recently came in from the state. Unfortunately for them, they may have to wait a while.
Mayor Frank Guinta said the aldermen can't deliver the money to the schools until City Finance Officer Bill Sanders certifies it. And Sanders won't do that, he said, until it's clear there's enough money in this year's city budget to cover all of the city's expenses.
"His opinion is that at this point it's too early," Guinta said.
- - - - - -
OUTNUMBERED: Democrats will once again outnumber Republicans on the city primary ballot.
All told, the Democratic Party fielded 107 candidates this year, including a handful of left-leaning independents, according to City Democratic Party Chairman Chris Pappas. The Republicans, by his count, fielded just 51.
Take away the candidates for low-level offices like selectman, moderator and ward clerk, and Democrats still outnumber Republicans, 40 to 20, excluding 18 candidates who are officially "undeclared," according to information provided by the Democratic Party.
Republicans left a number of races uncontested. The party has no one running for alderman at-large, nor did it recruit anyone to challenge Welfare Commissioner Paul Martineau. It has no one running against Ward 3 school board member Mike DeBlasi. In Ward 11, it's virtually absent, with no Republicans running for alderman or school board.
But remember, with all that said, city elections are non-partisan, according to the charter.
- - - - - -
"KIND OF STUPID": What on earth is the Manchester Downtown Consumer Protection Board?
That's what Alderman Ed Osborne wants to know.
Osborne had his first encounter with the so-called board last week, when he spotted a young man leaving flyers on his neighbors' doorsteps. The flyers, credited in tiny print to the "board," say "Manchester needs new leadership. Vote Robert Tarr or Ted Rokas for Ward 5 alderman."
They continue, "Ed Osbourne is a good guy with good intentions. But he offers no new solutions to old problems."
Osborne, who called the flyer "kind of stupid," said, "It's nice they said I'm a good guy." Although it would have been better, he said, if the author had spelled his name right.
- - - - - -
CHANGE OF HEART: State Rep. Nick Levasseur surprised some folks when he announced he would challenge Jim Roy, a fellow Democrat, for the Ward 4 alderman's seat. Then he surprised them again by backing out.
"I decided after talking to a lot of party leaders and evaluating my own goals that it's probably best to support Jim," Levasseur said. He's running for Ward 4 selectman, instead.
Even more surprising, Roy said, is the person who did throw his hat in the alderman's race: Republican state Rep. Leo Pepino. Roy said Pepino came up to him after their last race in 2007 and said he would never run for alderman again.
Pepino was unavailable for comment.
Scott Brooks covers Manchester City Hall. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is a "spending cap" not a tax cap.. big difference.
- tom, manchester, nh
According to the website of Manchesternh.gov if you do a search for "FY2008" there is a pdf document, 4th down on the list, titled Feb. 1st 1999. It is mistitled but contains comprehensive annual fiscal report for 2008. On page 32 it reads; "At the end of the current fiscal year (2008), the City had total debt service requirements including interest payments, on bonded debt outstanding, of $863.7 million." The question becomes why is it that we keep having tax increases and yet very high debt owed? Time to rethink how to manage the money the government takes in and also vote in new leadership as well.
I, as a candidate for Ward 5 met a young gentleman who was going door to door with the flyers. I found it nice to see our young population taking a stand and asking for a change in leadership at city hall. Hardly "Kind of Stupid" in my opinion. Hopefully more young men and women will come out and speak out for a new direction for Manchester.
Robert M Tarr
Candidate for Alderman of Ward 5
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
so why cant we vote on it? If it is a "cop out" that is. If the people have filed a petition with the required signatures then they vote, period. There is no debate here, the debate is being used as political fodder.
- Ryan, Manchester
It doesn't matter what a judge says -- it's legal -- many other towns and cities have tax caps so there's a precedent. The judge in Concord was legislating from the bench and should step down because he/she was wrong.
Figures that the backward Granite State Lack of Progress group who just loves taxes would try to oppose this. What cranks.
- Sue, Manchester
Sorry I don't need an education, I already have one and may I say it's better than yours!
- Jack Alex, Manchester
IF only Bill Sanders had more cautious when they first approved this budget perhaps the school district wouldn't be in such a precarious state. Instead, he okayed incorrect numbers.
Hey, it's August now... is the state letting all our schools open? Because there were 3 on the list of NOT opening... including 2 high schools!
- Renee, Manchester
How can Granite State Progress file a motion to reconsider when they were not a party in the case? If Rice-Hawkins was referring to the city solicitor filing a motion to reconsider, why would she know that? Is she in communication with the taxpayer paid city solicitor?
If the city solicitor filed the motion, did he do so at the request of the aldermen or does he just do things on his own now?
Why wouldn't Granite State Progress be all over educating the taxpayers on the spending cap? Do they just want to educate during the heat of the election with scare tactics instead?
- Rick, Manchester
If you want to see tax caps in action just look at California. See how well they have worked there. Tax caps are a cop out by people too lazy to be involved in their own government.
- LJC, Manchester
"City attorney's appeal of spending cap ruling ires mayor"
The New Hampshire Union Leader Online, August 4, 2009
Manchester – The city is arguing a superior court judge had “no legal basis” for throwing out its case against the proposed spending cap.
Attorneys for the city are asking Judge James D. O’Neill III to reconsider his decision to dismiss the case. In a newly filed motion, the attorneys denied O’Neill’s finding that aldermen violated the state Right-to-Know law when they decided in private to contest the spending cap proposal in court.
The motion, signed July 31 by attorney Peter Chiesa, argues the aldermen had a legal right to meet behind closed doors with Deputy City Solicitor Tom Arnold and to instruct him to seek a judicial ruling. The city’s stance is that those discussions did not consititute an official “meeting,” and so were not subject to the Right-to-Know law.
Aldermen were hoping to have O’Neill say whether the proposed cap on taxes and city spending is legal before it heads to the ballot this November. Critics have accused the aldermen of trying to keep the proposal off the ballot.
Mayor Frank Guinta, who supports the proposed cap, said he is “deeply troubled” that the solicitor’s office filed the motion for reconsideration. Neither he nor the aldermen were involved in that decision, he said.
“I am quickly losing confidence in that office, since it continues to press a case initiated by an illegal action,” Guinta said in a statement.
If no one (Mayor and Alderman) authorized the city Attorney to seek a reconsideration, then he doesn't have the authority to do it.
The Mayor isn't wrong, and is fully justified to be angry with a rogue action taken without the BMA's approval. I think there needs to be some disciplinary action taken here and the city attorney needs to understand that he answers to the BMA and not the other way around.
If people are concerned about the cost of putting this question on the ballot, there isn't one. The ballots are going to be printed regardless of this issue. What's actually costing us money here is the city attorney, the cost to the courts, and the courts wasted time.
The proper way to have dealt with this situation would have been to just put in on the ballot last November, or, not try and bamboozle the citizens of Manchester crying about there not being enough time to educate us poor fools, or having secret meetings trying to get the court to do the dirty work of keeping it off the ballot, or having a city attorney that does what is asked of him by the BMA instead of working outside their direction.
Better yet, let's do what this Country does best, exercise that little bit of Democracy that we have left by VOTING on the matter. If it passes, then those who object to the constitutionality can have their day in court for real. If it doesn't pass then this was all just another futile attempt to control the wasteful city spending that continually keeps our taxes on the climb.
- Phil Greazzo, West Manchester
This clearly is a slap in the face of the voters and an insult to the citizens of the city of Manchester from the Alderman and the city attorney. It clearly demonstrates their arrogance and total lack of regard for the will of the people and our right to choose. They are tantamount to bullies and sore losers who expect everyone else to live by the rules but themselves. It makes one wonder if arrogance, bull headedness, disingenuousness and stubbornness are all requirements for the job of being an Alderman?
- Rob, Manchester
Who makes decisions on behalf of the city - the mayor and aldermen or the city attorneys? If the attorneys required the "consensus" of the aldermen to agree that they need to go to court and challenge the spending cap, that is called a vote - not getting a legal opinion. Votes of this nature must to be done in public, not behind closed doors - which is what Judge O'Neill ruled.
It is utterly ridiculous the lengths that some will go to to keep the voters of Manchester from having the opportunity to vote on this spending cap. It has to make people ask themselves what they are so afraid of?
- Tammy, Manchester
It seems obvious that the Mayor is worried that the proposed cap may be deemed illegal and thus he doesn't want this to go any further. I for one, as a taxpayer and voter in the city, would like to know if this proposed cap is even legal before we spend money to put it on the ballot. Let the judge decided on the merits of the proposed language instead of trying to bully the solicitor into dropping it. His comments about losing faith in the office sound like a veiled threat.
- Ben, Manchester
And the very same person who is losing confidence in the city solicitor is also losing the confidence of his constituents. We see the anti-tax plateform you're trying to build here as part of your Congressional bid. Let the lawyers do their job Mr. Mayor.
- Robert Boutin, Manchester
"Aldermanic runaround: Right to know? They don't care"
The NH Union Leader, Editorial, August 9, 2009
Where did Manchester's aldermen and city solicitor get the idea that they could ignore the state's Right to Know law and get away with it? And why are they persisting in wasting the taxpayers' money to do so?
A majority of aldermen used every trick they could think of to delay or stop the voters from deciding on a tax cap. But they got too tricky when they directed the city solicitor, in a private meeting, to go to court to fight the tax-cap vote.
Tax-cap proponents protested, correctly, that the aldermen had violated the Right to Know law by taking such action in private. Stunningly, the aldermen and the city's lawyers said they weren't really having a meeting; they were just getting their lawyer's advice.
Superior Court Judge James D. O'Neill saw through that little game and slapped them down. He ruled that getting the lawyer's advice in private is fine, but the aldermen's decision to direct the lawyer to go to court needed to be taken in public session.
Citing Lambert v. Belknap County Convention, a case decided just a year ago, O'Neill quoted, "The purpose of the Right To Know Law is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions and records of all public bodies and their accountability to the people."
The court, he said, still quoting the Lambert case, will "construe provisions favoring disclosure broadly, while construing exemptions narrowly."
This is the opposite of the aldermen's approach. After O'Neill's ruling, Alderman-at-Large Mike Lopez insisted the case was closed and the tax cap would go on this November's city ballot.
"The judge ruled. That's it," Lopez declared.
Oh, yeah? Last week, City Solicitor Tom Clark's office announced it had moved for reconsideration of the judge's ruling.
It said it was doing so in accordance with the aldermen's wishes that the court rule on the tax cap question. So this time, the lawyers weren't directed in a secret session by the aldermen, they are just following the aldermen's initial, illegal directive?
Lopez now says he sees nothing wrong, "with going back and saying, Look, judge, I want to bring this to your attention.'"
We hope the taxpayers and voters of Manchester are paying attention to what their aldermen are trying to do to them.
For the record, Alderman Ted Gatsas opposed this runaround. Alderman Mark Roy supported it.
The two are running for mayor, in case you're interested.
Regarding Lambert/Tardif v Belknap Convention: "But Doug, it's only PROCESS," they say. "Why do you and Tom Tardif bring these FRIVOLOUS suits?" This is why the process is so important, especially with the Right to Know law. Human and political nature do not change, and of course it's easier to conduct business out of sight. The public's business is indeed cumbersome--Do it right, or get out! Shame on the alderman. Why don't they just let this play out righfully in the political process? Let the people vote!
- Doug Lambert, Gilford, NH
Lopez says what he thinks. He changes his mind. He's honest. Why make a big deal about it?
- Laura, Manchester
Jay, well said. It amazes me that people have such short memories on election day. Some of the aldermen have been there so long they think they own the city. Time for some new thinkers!
- Helen Coughlin, Manchester, NH
The Gang of Eight are scared to death of letting the voters have their say because it will show them to be the big sdpenders that they are, they don't the facts to make this tax cap work for their big spending and they want to make sure that the voice of the people is stiffled, they are just scared to death about allowing us the voice to tell them off, what they are is sniveling cowards and we should clean house of the big spenders and kick them all out of office in the next election.
- Richard L. Fortin, Nanchester
Lopez is a sneak and dishonest! Time to get rid of him and his cronies. Remember their plotting and scheming on Election Day!
- JAY, Manchester
"Cuts without caps: How will Roy, Komi cut taxes?"
The New Hampshire Union Leader, Editorial, August 14, 2009
There are a lot of reasons one might support or oppose a particular candidate for mayor. In Manchester, one of the most important would be whether that candidate favors a tax and spending cap for the city.
Four men running for mayor have helpfully staked out their positions on this question. Alderman Ted Gatsas and former state Sen. Bobby Stephen support it; Alderman Mark Roy and Rep. Richard Komi oppose it. Glenn Ouellette is undecided.
There is a widespread perception in this city that more often than not the aldermen choose to raise taxes rather than do the more difficult work of making the city run more efficiently. We share that view, as do many thinking taxpayers who believe a tax and spending cap will be an effective tool for compelling aldermen to develop leaner city budgets.
Opposing a cap puts a huge barrier between a candidate and the votes of the thousands of taxpayers who believe the city can and should be run better. If Alderman Roy, Rep. Komi and Ouellette want those votes, they need to explain how they can keep taxes and spending down without a cap.
I'm sure Alderman Roy will say he's for "responsible" budgets (just like Baines and Donovan in previous races). All that means is big tax increases, giving the departments what they want, and little cutting. Oh, he'll throw in the words "efficiency" and "streamline" on occasion, but if he were mayor, he'd do what he was told to by Ray Buckley and the union bosses.
- Ryan, Hooksett
Alderman Roy says a tax cap is "irresponsible." I guess expecting the Mayor and Aldermen to be responsible with our tax dollars is a burden that he thinks we ought not bear.
That's as bad as Alderman Gatsas saying that there is "no fat in the budget." Where has he been? Apparently, he doesn't spend much time watching city employees, most of whom are awake for at least 3 hours on the job daily.
The whole lot of these people currently up at City Hall needs to go. We need a line change like a hockey team and to start from scratch. It couldn't be any worse. It's just not possible.
- Glen, Manchester, NH
And to also mention newly elected State Rep. Ted Rokus who is also running for Alderman of Ward 5 supported many things the same. Under the survey of the Granite State Taxpayers website, Mr. Komi and Mr. Rokus both recieved a failing grade when asked only four questions about taxes. As a candidate myself, I recieved the highest rating because I feel strongly we need to work to make our cities and towns more available for people to live, work and raise a family in. Taxing and increased fees only pushes them away and sends the wrong message. Time to go forward and not backwards. Time to offer solutions that will help our economic outlook grow and prosper. Time for real leadership here in Manchester and our State. Let's all work to restore our NH Advantage, not destroy it.
Robert M Tarr
Candidate for Alderman of Ward 5
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
There Is no reason to think Rep Komi will support lower taxes and spending because his voting record in the House shows that he supported every very liberal tax and fee increases that were voted on throughout this past session. That Is why Senator Ted Gatsas is by far the most reasonable choice for mayor of Manchester.
- Rep John Hikel, Goffstown
Re: Frank Guinta is dishonest!
I applaud Alderman Mark Roy and State Representative Richard Komi for standing up to the secret special interests behind Mayor Frank Guinta's 2010 run for US Congress! Guinta never disclosed who his financial and political backers were behind his myopic spending cap referendum proposal. Obviously, these are the same special interests behind Guinta's run for Congress next year. That is dishonest by Mayor Frank Guinta. He should disclose his financiers and political supporters to the people of Manchester, NH, to have any legitimacy on the spending cap issue.
- Jonathan Melle
STOP FRANK GUINTA!
"Forums on tax cap eyed before election"
By GARRY RAYNO, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, 8/29/2009
MANCHESTER – Mayor Frank Guinta will attend a forum sponsored by proponents of the proposed city spending cap Wednesday; opponents are planning their own forums this fall.
Next week's forum was organized by Ward 10 aldermanic candidate Phil Greazzo.
Greazzo said he also invited Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield, because that city has long had a spending cap, and Secretary of State Bill Gardner, to discuss the constitutionality of the cap.
Last year, a Merrimack County Superior Court judge ruled a similar tax cap proposal for Concord was unconstitutional.
Greazzo, a tax cap supporter, said that when aldermen voted not to place the question on the November 2008 ballot, they claimed residents needed more information before voting and promised to hold forums to help educate the public.
"The aldermen haven't done that, so I decided to put together an educational forum and asked the mayor to come," Greazzo said. "Who better to talk about the cap than the mayor of the city?"
The forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the West Manchester Library, 76 N. Main St.
The proposed cap would amend the City Charter to block the aldermen from increasing city spending by more than the national consumer price index. However, aldermen could override the cap with a two-thirds vote.
Members of the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition, the group that authored the proposal, have accused the aldermen of trying to block the public from voting on it. The group collected more than 4,000 signatures in order to earn a spot on the ballot.
Greazzo said he doubts there will be many questions about the tax cap at the forum. "People know what it is; that's where the farce lies. People know what they want to do. They don't need more information," he said.
Zandra Rice Hawkins, spokesman for Keep Manchester Moving, which is opposing the spending cap, said her group will present several forums this fall, although the dates have not been set.
"Rather than go with a political-oriented forum, we'd like to bring in experts who can talk about how the cap would damage public services and how it would affect the economy of the area," she said.
Greazzo has not invited to his forum Rice Hawkins or anyone she knows who is opposed to the cap, she said. "I've been waiting to see if he would," she said.
A Hillsborough County Superior Court judge dismissed a city case against the cap, saying aldermen violated the state Right-to-Know law when they decided in private to contest the spending cap proposal in court. City attorneys have since asked the judge to reconsider that ruling.
The City Solicitor's Office has argued the cap would be unconstitutional.
Members of Keep Manchester Moving recently asked the Hillsborough Superior Court judge to deem the tax cap illegal and to block the city from putting it on the November ballot. Attorney Bob Backus filed the petition on behalf of 11 city residents, all active opponents of the cap, including Manchester firefighter Ryan Cashin, McLaughlin Middle School guidance counselor Maxine Mosley, postal worker and union officer David McCloskey and City Democratic Committee Secretary Mike Farley.
Rice Hawkins said no date has been set by the court, although the group asked to expedite the case because ballots have to be printed soon after the city's primary.
Former NH Advantage Coalition Chairman Mike Biundo said yesterday, "Once again they are so concerned about this passing, they're willing to go to any length to keep it off the ballot."
Biundo, who resigned as chairman of the pro-cap group to work on Guinta's campaign for election to Congress, said that as a city resident, he holds the tax cap issue near and dear to his heart. He and other members of the committee that petitioned to place the cap before voters are organizing a new group to push for its passage.
He said the group intends to hold one or more forums after the September primary, noting Greazzo's forum is part of the effort.
"There's a lot of good folks who went out and gathered over 4,000 petitions who want to make sure this passes," Biundo said.
Tax cap supporters focused much of their displeasure over the aldermen's decision not to put the issue on the November 2008 ballot on board Chairman Mike Lopez.
Yesterday, he said the city's finance officer gave aldermen a five-page document about the cap and many questions remain.
He said some of those issues are how the tax cap would affect the airport bonds and those for the community improvement plan; what the city would do if there was a shortfall in state funding; and what the effect would be on city services.
"It's on the ballot, and people will get to vote on it," Lopez said, but "these are all questions people have to answer."
I'm with Jack Alex in the box. It is a "spending cap" .. if there is a need for more spending, the aldermen can over-ride and increase. Those who oppose this are union paid. Those for? Just a bunch of taxpayers who are losing their homes, life savings, et all..
- tom, manchester,nh
@Jack in Manchester -
You are either very confused or just simply a liar.
You commented: Sure, Mike, no doubt they were indeed, "good folks," but when I asked those who approached me about your petition if they were from MANCHESTER, they answered in the negative.
I coordinated the petition collectors and it is impossible that someone told you they were not from Manchester - because there were no petition collectors that were no Manchester residents. They even had to sign a notarized affidavit on the back side of the petition. So, please, if you insist on attempting to spread lies, pick a different subject.
You also commented: They also had NO answer when I asked about the pitfalls of such a measure. In fact, one fell over his words trying to respond.
The petition was only to place the question on the ballot - not on whether or not they wanted a spending cap. The petition that people signed included the text of the question and asked if the signer wanted it placed on the ballot. The debate over what the spending cap would and would not due had nothing to do with the actual signature gathering process, so no, not all collectors were expected to be able to argue the pros and cons of the spending cap. It's no different than signing a petition to get a undeclared candidate on the ballot - signing doesn't mean you will vote for them just that you think they should have the right to have their name on the ballot.
Seriously, just stop the blatant lies.
- Tammy Simmons, West Manchester
The most important thing voters should remember is that the Aldermen can override the spending cap if they need to.
The opponents of the spending cap will continue to use their scare tactics to try and convince people that police and fire will be cut, that schools will suffer, or even that the street lights will be shut off. The BMA is not going to let that happen. Even all this talk over bond payments and future bonding is silly as those could be overridden if necessary as well.
The spending cap doesn't force thew aldermen to do anything, it just adds and extra layer of protection and makes the aldermen go on record if the chooses to spend more than the cap allows....more than the limit that you, the taxpayer, have asked them to work within.
Unlike many of the aldermen and the organizers of groups like Keep Manchester Moving, I think the voters in Manchester are smart enough to understand how the spending cap would work.
- Tammy Simmons, West Manchester
If there's never enough information, why haven't the Alderman, who swore the "uninformed voters" need so much of it they couldn't allow the measure on the ballot last year, held any of the informational sessions they swore to have?
The people of Manchester are smart enough to know that the spending cap can always be overridden and thus really only acts as a reminder to the Alderman who's money they are really sending before they actually spend it.
If the Alderman choose to spend more than the people of the city would like, all they have to do is vote, on record, to spend more.
That's what they don't like and why they have tried time and time again to get this off the ballot without having to do it themselves.
- Phil Greazzo, West Mancheser
The article states "...the city's finance officer gave aldermen a five-page document about the cap and many questions remain. .... issues are how the tax cap would affect the airport bonds and those for the community improvement plan....
In spite of what Greazzo thinks, the voters need more information before the vote. The UL should provide a link to the full five page document. I don't want some politician or their sycophants editing what I can read myself.
- John Manning, Manchester
Jack, you're right, there's never enough information. I would like to know:
- Why, despite every legal entity that has seen the spending cap proposal for Manchester not deem it illegal, the unions continue to try and litigate this issue away?
- Why do these union officials fear the vote of the public? Is it because they know it would pass?
- Why, after others have decided to hold public hearings, they are now just getting to putting some together (without dates or times, of course)?
- If this were to pass in the fall (and it would), how would the unions work to continually deny the voters what they decided?
- Is Ms. Hawkins serious when she says the forums she will conduct for her union and Democrat masters will not be political?
- When will the Aldermen voice their opposition to such maneuvering? Or are some of them behind it?
All information we would love to know.
- Ryan, Hooksett
"There's a lot of good folks who went out and gathered over 4,000 petitions who want to make sure this passes," Biundo said.
Sure, Mike, no doubt they were indeed, "good folks," but when I asked those who approached me about your petition if they were from MANCHESTER, they answered in the negative. They also had NO answer when I asked about the pitfalls of such a measure. In fact, one fell over his words trying to respond.
Mr. Biundo, be sure while advocating your proposal you also include the not-so-positive's during your forum and its impact on this community.
And Phil Greazzo... "People know what it is; that's where the farce lies. People know what they want to do. They don't need more information," he said.
Wrong, pal. There is never enough information.
- Jack, Manchester, NH
This reader thinks it should be up to the voters if they want the tax cap or not. I support the tax cap because we as a city are currently facing $863 mil. in debt. This is also includes bonded debt. And yet our taxes continue to climb? Our 'rainy day' fund is shrinking fast and we could use that money for times like we had in the past and from damages left by Hurricane Hanna. Two Hurricanes have missed us, lets hope we don't repeat history. Time for the people to stand up, speak out and make the choices for themselves. Thank you Mr. Greazzo for bringing this to the people. That is true leadership.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
I've been on the fence for months, I say enact the tax cap. If the aldermen and mayor want to override it they can take a vote on it and that way we can see who the big spenders really are. Besides I love seeing the big bunch of babies down at city hall squable, at least when they are down there I know theres 15 less people looking to pick my pocket and steal my wallet.
Seems that the special interest groups like Keep Manchester Moving want to make sure that Manchester keeps spending. I'm out to look out for my wallet first and foremost and will do it as conservatively as I can.
- Jack Alex, Manchester
"Spending cap scrutinized at city forum"
By JIM FENNELL, NH Union Leader, Staff Sports Writer, September 3, 2009
MANCHESTER – Mayor Frank Guinta joined a crowd of about 25 last night to talk about a proposed city spending cap.
The majority of people at the West Manchester Library seemed in favor of the cap; some wanted to know more about it before deciding which way to vote. The question is expected to be addressed on the November ballot.
"People right now are angry at what government is doing," said Guinta, a Republican running for the U.S. House seat held by Carol Shea-Porter.
Guinta and event organizer Phil Greazzo, an aldermanic candidate in Ward 10, were peppered with questions from two opponents of the cap.
Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, and Josiette White of Keep Manchester Moving, both challenged the legality of a cap.
They cited recent cases in Concord, Somersworth and Claremont.
Greazzo quickly brought the focus back to Manchester.
"This is Manchester," Greazzo said. "I'm not concerned with other communities."
A Merrimack County Superior Court ruling in March struck down a cap on tax rate and spending hikes in Concord.
Some citizens in Manchester are fighting to keep a tax cap off the November ballot and have taken the issue to Hillsborough County Superior Court.
Guinta said he is well aware the eyes of the state are on Manchester.
"It's getting a lot of scrutiny because it's a big one," Guinta said.
"If this passes in Manchester, there are certain groups around the state that will feel like they have lost a battle."
Greazzo said the information, questions and concerns expressed last night will be addressed in length at another informational meeting scheduled for Oct. 22 at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.
He said he hopes to host representatives from other cities that have a spending cap, such as Franklin and Nashua.
Greazzo also said he hopes members of the aldermanic board will be present.
None was in attendance last night, even though Greazzo said he announced the forum at several board meetings.
"Obviously they are not interested in educating the public," Greazzo said.
Guinta said despite efforts to challenge the proposal, he believes the question will be on the ballot in November.
For all you people that do't want a tax cap that is ok. Pony it up. Pay extra. You get a bill for 5 grand, give the city 10 grand. Me, I pay more than my fair share. Get spending under control. If you can get EVERY UNION in city government to forgo raises for the nest 5 years, maybe I would vote for no cap. I haven't received a raise in 7 years so I DON'T want to hear from these people who work for the city crying. Don't like your job, QUIT! I barely make it by. I can't afford more taxes. Why should I pay more so city employees can make more when I, along with many other residents, are falling behind...and by the way, you ask what is wrong with this country? I will tell you. Folks like the alderman and keep moving Manchester wants to TAKE AWAY MY RIGHT TO VOTE! That folks is not my understanding how TRUE DEMOCRACY works!!!
- Jim, Manchester NH
Tax caps?! How else could politicians spend more of your hard earned money if they are limited to how much they get? Don't you realize the government is better at spending your money than you are?
- The other Bob, Manchester
A tax cap makes sense - foolish spending will be nixed as any increase over the cap has to be approved by 2/3 of the board. Bottom line, necessary projects that are clearly good for Manchester will still get funding and pet projects/raises/revenue increases will be eliminated. It will change the dynamic of how the city budget gets written and approved, and that scares people who benefit from the status quo.
Besides, if it really does turn out to be bad, we can always repeal it in a future election by ballot - that's the beauty of democracy. It's in our hands.
- Paul, Manchester
I'll vote for a tax cap because Mayor Gutless never proposed a workable budget, and tax-and-spend aldermen just gave raises to city workers for the next 3 tears. We have to force them to do the job with a tax cap.
- Bob, Manchester
Kathy of Manchester, Mr. Greazzo did listen with tact to Manchester's taxpayers' concerns. That was the whole point of the discussion on Wednesday night. His blinders are off and he is learning. The aldermen who are trying to block this measure are not listening to citizens about this topic at all.
- Nick, Manchester
What I do not understand is: "Why are certain people afraid (terrified) of having to convince 16% more alderman to raise spending beyond inflation and population growth?"
- Will Albenzi, Pelham NH
Granite State Progress' Zandra Rice Hawkins and MoveOn.org radical Josiette White, under the cover of their labor union front group "Keep Manchester Moving" continue with their undemocratic tactics to disenfranchise the voters of Manchester.
Zandra Rice Hawkins isn't even a resident or taxpayer of Manchester, yet tried to control the meeting and throw off the discussion with misinformation.
Josiette White misrepresented herself by not mentioning she was one of people who is currently petitioning the court to throw the spending cap off the ballot. Instead, she played dumb and pretended she didn't have any idea as to the details of the suit.
With such bought-and-paid for special interest lobbyists trying to stop this ballot initiative, no wonder the residents of Manchester can't wait to vote on the issue!
- Ben, Manchester
"This is Manchester," Greazzo said. "I'm not concerned with other communities."
Wow, what a rude slap to concerned and well-informed citizens. Take the blinders off, Mr. Greazzo, and see if you can't learn something from other communities' experiences. And while you're at it, try to learn how to speak with tact to people you are campaigning to serve. Better yet, listen with tact to their concerns.
- Kathy, Manchester
"None was in attendance last night, even though Greazzo said he announced the forum at several board meetings.
"Obviously they are not interested in educating the public," Greazzo said." Of course not, not even those (Currently elected Aldermen) who support the tax cap came out because to them, they use "supporting the cap" as a way to get votes in this year's city election, yet have agreed to raise taxes in 2008 and 2009. However, there are some candidates who truly feel we need to put accountability in place to keep the choosen few from getting their way all the time. That is why as a candidate I support the cap for the majority of the taxpayers in Ward 5 who have seen a decrease in their incomes, loss of jobs or other expenses rise higher than normal. Time to keep our spending in check and work to bring jobs and revenue back to our city. Otherwise we will continue to see tax increases and higher fees for many years to come.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
The spending cap is myopic! It does not address the hundred of millions of dollars in Manchester's municipal debt, the impact on the city's bond rating, and the forthcoming revaluation. Moreover, career Pol Frank Guinta is a hypocritical champion of political offices in the PUBLIC SECTOR!!!! Why does not Frank Guinta work in the private sector if he is so concerned about the growth of government? Frank Guinta is using the spending cap issue to mask his failures as Mayor of Manchester, especially on the substandard performance of the city's public schools! I am against the spending cap proposal because it lacks comprehensive policies. It is too broad and does not address the myriad of impacts it will have on city finances.
- Jonathan Melle, Amherst
"Economist: Spending cap could stunt city"
By SCOTT BROOKS, New Hampshire Union Leader Staff, September 30, 2009
MANCHESTER – The proposed cap on city spending is a "blunt instrument" that could make Manchester a less attractive place to live and work, a Dover economist says in a new report.
The report by Brian Gottlob, of PolEcon Research, warns the proposal could prod Manchester down the same path Franklin has taken since it adopted a tax cap in 1989. Gottlob says Franklin's cap has stunted that city's economy and shifted the local tax burden onto residents, instead of businesses.
"Although it is being touted (and emulated) as a successful expenditure cap community," the report says, "our analysis shows that, by almost any economic or demographic measure, the City of Franklin lags nearly all other cities in New Hampshire."
Gottlob's report -- titled, "Are Local Government Tax And Expenditure Limitations a Race To The Bottom?" -- was commissioned by Keep Manchester Moving and Stand Up for Claremont!, two groups that oppose spending caps.
Roger Wilkins, president of the pro-cap New Hampshire Advantage Coalition, called the report "questionable, at best."
"The group that commissioned this study doesn't even want Manchester to vote on it," he said.
Keep Manchester Moving has been ramping up its campaign to defeat the cap in Manchester, where the proposal is slated to go before voters in November. The group recently filed a petition asking a judge to deem the cap illegal. Its case is now headed to the state Supreme Court.
In the meantime, the group is inviting the public to participate in a "forum" at City Hall today at 6 p.m. The discussion is being moderated by Gail Garceau, former president of the Heritage United Way. Panelists include Gottlob, Manchester attorney Brad Cook and Franklin resident and firefighter Josh Lee.
Zandra Rice Hawkins, a spokesman for the group, promised a "stark difference" between tonight's forum and one sponsored by cap proponent Phil Greazzo early this month.
"They didn't answer any questions," she said. "We're bringing in experts who can talk about what has happened in other tax cap towns, people who can look at the finances of the city and talk about the real impact."
Gottlob's report makes a case that Manchester already had one of the lowest per-capita property tax burdens in the state last year, at $1,388 per person. The state median, among communities with at least 8,000 people, was $1,883.
Franklin's per-capita taxes are lower than Manchester's, at $1,152, but its residents pay slightly more because the city's commercial and industrial tax base is so small, the report says.
The report notes Franklin's population has grown slowly, compared to other New Hampshire communities, and says private-sector employment there declined 25 percent between 1999 and 2007.
"Overall," the report says, "any benefits residents of the City of Franklin receive from their expenditure cap are mitigated by the fact that individuals, families and businesses appear to view the community as a less desirable place to locate than alternative communities."
Wilkins spoke dismissively of Gottlob's findings.
"Taxpayers, frankly, are fed up," he said. "They're looking for a reduction in taxes. They're not looking for a reason and rationale for increasing taxes."
Gottlob's report does not draw a distinction between Franklin's cap and the one that's being debated in Manchester, though there are differences. Franklin has a cap on taxes, not spending. Manchester's proposal would cap taxes and spending alike, tying both to the rate of inflation.
The proposal would allow aldermen to override the cap with a two-thirds vote. Another two-thirds vote would allow the board to pay for capital projects in excess of the cap.
Rice Hawkins called Gottlob a "very well respected" economist. "He's a fiscal conservative," she said, "so he really looked at this with an objective eye."
The report includes little information about other New Hampshire communities with spending or tax caps, such as Nashua, Derry, Laconia, Dover or Rochester, saying only Franklin has a "long enough history" with a cap to "adequately assess the full range of impacts."
Gottlob was chosen by the Greater Rochester Chamber of liberals, I mean Commerce when they did a tax cap forum in Rochester...he was quite effective in helping us win with 70% of the vote on election day...he's a paid liberal hack with ZERO credibility...NHAC should send this guy a check with their thanks!
- Fred Leonard, Rochester, NH
Glen in Manchester:
You are correct that multivariate analyses are indeed best able to sort out the complexity so I eagerly await your results, in the meantime, this report at least adds some comparative data (on all cities small and large) to get us started. Your are not accurate that location decisions are made simply on the basis of taxes, although they clearly are a factor. Look at the seminal work of Charles Tiebout on the sorting of people according to their preferences for services as a good place to start. It is quite well accepted in economics that people chose to locate in communities that have the mix of services and costs that most appeals to them and to your point, that they can afford. Ask a real estate agent how many potential homebuyers select a community or even a location within a community on the basis of assessments educational services (schools). If as you suggest, all business and homeowner location decisions were made simply on the basis of lowest taxes then business, employment, and population growth patterns would look very different from what they do now.
- Brian Gottlob, Dover
Anyone who votes against the tax cap is voting to be treated like and uneducated serf by the Democratic Party!
They have lied. They have cheated. They have been complete hippocrites. They have manipulated this issue every which way but straight forward. Ridiculous!
- Jim, Manchester
Tax caps wouldn't be an issue and wouldn't be advocated if town and city budgets reflected reasonable spending.
- Brian, Farmington
PS to Glen--Ah, the reason I have enjoyed your opinions is that you have an economics degree! Correct, consumers of anything (including a city to live in) look for value (lots of features for relatively low cost), not just features.
In the second-to-last paragraph, Rice Hawkins (look back: she is "a spokesman for the group"--look back further, the group is "one of two groups that oppose spending caps") says Gottlob is a "fiscal conservative." Readers here seem to know Gottlob too well for this labor-union con job to work. Maybe I don't understand the word "fiscal." In practice, "fiscally conservative" Republicans support all sorts of new programs--then when the question of taxes comes around, claim their hands were tied by the need to balance the budget.
- Spike, Brentwood NH
Thomas Thorpe of Portsmouth:
Intersesting that you claim to know my political preferences but alas they are as accurate as youur information about my time on a local school board which was 2 terms and during which spending was increased at never more than 3.5% ,just slightly above the rate of inflation at that time.
- Brian Gottlob, Dover
The argument of this "economist" is flawed and based on the premise that individuals and business seek to locate to a community based on its services and not the effective tax rate. To put this in professional terms, this notion is bunk.
When I got my economics degree, we used a rigorous analytical method examining the totality of factors, not merely a linear view of causality. I would like to see an online posting of the report as well as Mr. Gottlob's qualifications as an "economist."
- Glen, Manchester, NH
I just find it ironic that ultra lib Brian Gottlob is a senior fellow at The Friedman Foundation.
- Alex K., Deering, NH
I"ve made up my mind: I favor the "spending" cap. If restricting spending also lowers my property tax, great. I don't need some union hack to tell me how to vote. Manchester needs a spending cap, period. The municipal employees such as the meter maid manager are paid too much for doing too little. Cap the spending, and next year we can talk about how to spend what we collect.
- Thom, Manchester, NH
I've never met anyone in Manchester who supports a tax cap. It's almost as if the people who are active and involved in the community think the tax cap will hurt the city and the people who support it stay in their fallout shelters angrily complaining about the existence of government and think more about money than it's effect on people.
- J Paige, Manchester
I don't get why an election every two years isn't a sufficient "tax cap." If you are unhappy with the City's budget or spending then run for office. More grassroots, neighbor talking to neighbor, campaigns would benefit us all.
- Greg Sargent, Manchester
A tax cap is like a limit on a credit card. These limits are created to protect against overindulgence, something Americans and American governments have been participating in for decades. We sit around asking why our growth has come to a halt!? We are spending/investing such a large percentage of our money; we forget we have to put food on the table at the end of the day.
- DL, Manchester
What do you think Manchester should do to increase economic development? The bigger the business tax base is the better able Manchester will be to fund education and other essential services. The bigger the business tax base is the better able Manchester will be to reduce property taxes on residential properties and business properties making it easier for senior citizens to live in Manchester and for families to raise children in Manchester. Businesses often base decisions on where to locate on property taxes and state taxes. Businesses often base decisions on where to locate based on highways and other infrastructure. Businesses often base decisions on where to locate based on public transportation.
How do you think Manchester should improve schools, libraries, the airport, and public transportation?
What do you think Manchester should do to get more value form Verizon Wireless Arena and MerchantsAuto.com Stadium?
What do you think the business profits tax rate should be?
What do you think the rooms and meals tax rate should be?
- Ken Stremsky, Manchester, NH
This afternoon I will thoroughly read Mr. Gottlob’s report. This morning I reviewed it and noticed several things I think should be further questioned. First, although taxes are collected on a real estate property basis, his figures talk about the tax burden in terms of dollars per 1000 people (per capita). Why would Manchester residents not being paying the least? On average, don’t we live in less real estate property? We have many large apartment buildings, where people are living with less square feet than in other towns where most of the property is single family homes. Due to being taxed on property we should pay less.
The second point is that Mr. Gottlob compares the total property tax burden of the towns, but local tax caps only cap the taxes raised for local use (municipal taxes), not the state school and county tax. He should be comparing municipal taxes only. In that regard, Manchester is not even close to the bottom.
I’m not supporting or opposing the tax cap, I am only seeking quality information in order to try to determine whether I will oppose or support the cap. This report does contains some of the best information I have seen to date on the subject, but sadly it seems to me to be very bias in how it presents data and what data is chooses to present.
Mr. Gottlab, I would find the report much more beneficial if you where to compare taxes that would be affected by the tax cap (omit the state school tax and county tax) and compare costs not per capita, but in some way that also represents the ability to pay. Manchester residents, on average make less than almost all of the towns you compared us to, and on average we live in smaller home/apartments, and therefore should be paying less in property taxes. I’m not sure how this should be fairly factored it, but I know the way your report does its comparisons, does not factor it in, and that I find makes your report of much less value. I understand who paid for your work, and I suspect that is why you chose to present the data as you have. Now how about a report for the rest of us? We I have to pay you?
- Peter Sorrentino, Manchester
What I find laughable is the "commissioned study" used Franklin as the model to campare the potential effects of a Manchester cap becuase that's what we feed them at our meeting.
If Granite State Progress and Keep Manchester Moving weren't just trying to keep the money, benefits, and guaranteed raises to the unionized government employees they represent, the "comparative study" would have used the city of Nashua to compare with Manchester.
Of course, they wouldn't want to do that becuase Nashua is almost exactly the same size as Manchester and has continued to grow under its cap.
It's amazing that these special interest groups are trying to block the taxpayers from having a say in how their money is spent. Especially when it's the very taxpayers who are paying the salaries for these people in the first place.
- Phil Greazzo, West Manchester
Wake up...remember Prop 2 1/2 it did the same thing. Check around other towns people, Manchester's taxes based on the services isnt bad. If you want to cut taxes how about giving up some services... I doubt you will.
Give Manchester a Tax cap and Mayor Say No to Everything Gatsas and we are done growing....
- Frank, Manchester
What we have here is a group of public employees, Keep Manchester Moving, bringing in another group of public employees for an informational night.
I personally don't think the tax cap is a good idea. I think we should hold our elected leaders responsible for their actions. However, the fact that these people are trying to keep us from even voting on it is enough to make me vote for the cap.
- WS, Manchester
To say that a spending cap led to slower economic growth in a community stretch the numbers so far, that only a hired gun for a special interest group could even attempt to make such a connection.
In addition, someone should mention to Mr. Gottlob that Manchester is 15x the size of Franklin. Manchester has a large airport, two Interstate highways and one-hour proximity to a Boston. Franklin has none of those. Franklin has more in common with Claremont or Berlin (other community lagging economically) than Manchester.
The two caps aren't even comparable. To call Mr. Gottlob's report irrelevant is an insult to irrelevancy!
- Ryan, Hooksett
So, let me get this straight--a tax cap could stunt the city more than just continually increasing the taxes of people who have less and less money based on economic conditions?
It's NOT the city's money!! It's the people's!
- William Smith, Manchester, NH
Brian Gottlob is a liberal who supports unencumbered government spending. He proved that in the single term he spent on the Dover School Board, a community that enacted a tax cap because of the tax and spend policies liberals like Gottlob used to force people in Dover out of their homes. Remember, this report by Gottlob is nothing more that a cleverly crafted political opinion rooted more in the author's political persuasion and have little to do with the actual facts of the matter.
- Thomas Thorpe, Portsmouth, NH
In other words, Ryan of Londonderry: Coincidence is not causation! As scientists, when they advocate on global warming, are not practicing science, this economist, paid to assemble data that advances the cause of an advocacy group, is not practicing economics. Picking Franklin, and neglecting other cities with tax caps, is cherry-picking data to fit a preconceived notion.
The study reportedly makes the case that Franklin's cap has made the city a place that embarrasses lefties. Horrors! If having city government seize taxpayers' earnings actually causes prosperity, then why should Manchester not take it all?!
That the average Franklin resident pays $1152 rather than Manchester's $1388 is evidence that the cap is working as designed.
- Spike, Brentwood NH
There is no proof or even a reasonable conclusion that the growth of a small middle of no where town has been inhibited by this cap. Moreover the issue seems to be whether the residents of manchester should be able to vote on this. Let the people speak!
- Ryan, Londonderry
Hasn't the stagnated wages stunted the growth of all hard working American? It has made places definitely less desirable to work.
- Jerry, Claremont
"Reasonable growth: What a spending cap will do"
The New Hampshire Union Leader, Editorial, October 29, 2009
Nashua has had a spending cap on the books for 15 years. Yet the city still paves the roads, picks up trash, educates students and polices the streets. Franklin has had a cap for 20 years. Like Nashua, the city still functions, as do the four other New Hampshire municipalities that have tax or spending caps.
Despite the scare tactics from opponents, spending and tax caps do not destroy public services. If they did, New Hampshire would have six collapsed municipalities. Instead, it has six towns and cities that, under a tax or spending cap, provide essential services for less than they otherwise would cost.
On Tuesday, voters in Manchester will decide -- finally -- whether to cap the city's rate of spending and tax growth. A charter amendment would prohibit either from growing faster than the rate of inflation. In a city that has seen taxes grow by twice the inflation rate, or more, in the last decade, this cap would provide much-needed relief to struggling taxpayers.
However, the spending cap would not suddenly cause the city budget or the tax rate to fall. The cap does not mandate spending cuts. It would prevent spending and taxes from growing more quickly than the rate at which other consumer prices grow. That's it.
Growth is factored into the cap. If the city simply must spend more than the inflation rate in any given year, aldermen could do so on a two-thirds majority vote.
Those are reasonable restrictions. Similar ones have been in place for years in towns and cities around the state. Many officials say the caps have made their localities spend more responsibly. Since when has responsible spending been considered a bad thing in New Hampshire?
If you worked in the private sector you would realize Nashua is on the Massachusetts border and accordingly has higher property values and thus higher property taxes.
But you don't. You are another city employee who thinks you are being cheated and if you had a Lexus in your driveway all would be well.
- C, Manchester, NH
Roger, as posted below, according to the NH Department of revenue, Nashua's property taxes have grown over 56% in the last decade, while Manchester's have grown over 46%.
Also, according to NH Dept of Revenue statistics, Nashua residents pay 30% more per capita for their property taxes. If you want to exclude the commercial aspects of property taxes, Nashua pays 20% more. If you want to use the median home value and apply the current tax rate, then the average Nashua homeowner will pay $4756 in taxes while in Manchester the average owner will pay $4181...a 13.1% difference. Any way you slice it, Manchester has a better tax situation than a smaller city with a 15 year tax cap.
There's no fuzzy math involved at all. Take a real, honest look at what Manchester pays for taxes as compared with other communities and you will see the difference.
Don't let the facts get in your way though......
- Jules, Manchester
"Any politician who hides behind a tax cap automatically goes on the "don't trust" list. Such politicians rarely have any real concerns or agendas, they're just political junkies/nerds that want a position of power. Attacking taxes is the easiest political move to make and I wonder what else any of these politicians have to stand on aside from that. - J Paige." Well if the State of New Hampshire had a state spending cap in place we wouldn't be paying for higher fees and taxes in vehicle registration, vaniety plates, tabacco, business taxes, meals and rooms increases and now taxing campsites just to name a few. A tax cap does just that, it ensures that those who are elected as our officials both state and local are repsonisble with the money we work hard for and pay into to have those services and goods. This reader would 'trust' a politician more if they were FOR a tax cap, otherwise they lie to get us to vote for them and then do just the opposite when elected and tax the heck out of us.
- Robert M Tarr, Manchester
I didn't realized Franklin has had a spending cap for 20 years. Well maybe that does explain its lack of growth. Franklin sits right on 93, there's no reason for its slow growth compared to other cities its size that don't have a cap and aren't as accessible near a highway. It also has one of the highest highschool dropout rates in the state.
Could this have something to do with its tax cap. Questions that need to be asked and considered before we have one. We certainly don't need our schools in worse shape than they are already.
- Joanne, Manchester
You must've learned that fuzzy math they were teaching in the schools for a while? You say lets do the math and then provide nothing to back up your contentions. Please enlighten us with what the taxes rates for Manchester & Nasua are? Cite where you are getting your data? You should move on....
- Roger, Manchester
Let me get this right. The writer of this piece holds Nashua up as an example of how the tax cap is working in Nashua and at the same time rips Manchester for having out of control spending because the tax rate has allegedly risen at twice the rate of inflation.
Let's do some simple math. According to this column, Nashua has had a cap for 15 years and Manchester's taxes have been out of control for the last 10. So, why is Nashua still paying higher taxes with a 15 year head start with a tax cap? That doesn't make a good argument for a cap.
What this piece has unwittingly done, is show how well Manchester has governed itself in order to have a better tax burden than a smaller city with decade and a half of this type of measure.
Thank you Mr Editor for proving my point. Also, thank you BOA for being smarter than some prefab scheme and crafting responsible and value driven budgets.
- Jules, Manchester
Move Manchester forward? Yeah fowrard into an abyss of high taxes! For 10 Years Manchester has had tax increasese at double the rate of inflation. I have watched my taxes go up and up and city Alderman have shown absolutely no restriant in spending! I have had enough and I will be voting for the spending cap
- Rob, Manchester
Any politician who hides behind a tax cap automatically goes on the "don't trust" list. Such politicians rarely have any real concerns or agendas, they're just political junkies/nerds that want a position of power. Attacking taxes is the easiest political move to make and I wonder what else any of these politicians have to stand on aside from that. You want me to pay less in taxes, I'm all for that, but I want to know what services I'm getting for my money.
- J Paige, Manchester
I resent all the junk mail that makes it look like the city will fall apart if the cap passes. I'll vote yes just to protest all the trees these supposed liberals killed to spread lies and fear.
- Allissa, Manchester
I really resent the radio ads I hear on WGIR that are paid for with dirty George Soros money -- yes I am talking about Move Manchester Forward, a group funded by outsiders that has come to Manchester to destroy it.
How do you folks feel about these outsider groups using Soros money to destroy your local government? There is another group floating around, also funded by the Rockefeller foundation's WCC, that tries to get the candidates Pledge outlawed.. you know, curtail your freedom of speech? They are infiltrated into your town meetings...
We need to banish (by law) these outside groups funded by billionaires from lord knows where, from having any say in the tax structure of our NH cities and towns.
- Sue, Manchester
Why does the UL continue to print these opinions that tell half the story? Shouldn't we be concerned with the whole picture?
While the author uses selective dates to determine that the city tax rate has grown beyond the rate of inflation, he/she neglects to explain the circumstances of neglect behind the increases. Why not go back 20 years instead of 10? Why not mention our children in temporary classrooms? Schools without proper heat? Roads in disrepair? The understaffed police department? City employees who went without a raise for seven years while the economy was booming? The increases of the last 10 years were a direct result of poor management and neglect from a lack of small reasonable increases in spending to keep up with inflation and growth.
We should be learning from our mistakes in the past, which teach us that playing catch up for underfunded budgets cost us more painful increases in the future.
I also question the use of the rate of inflation index, which others have pointed out....does not include the fastest rising expense in a municipal budget, which is health care costs. Also, using a national index that factors in lower average costs for fuel, heating and housing costs does not paint a fair picture for those of us who live in the more expensive northeast part of the country.
Please get beyond the slogans and the mud slinging and think this thing through. Many state we are slowly heading toward becoming the Lawrence of the North, but that is a municipality that suffered greatly under their version of a tax cap. Let's learn from others mistakes and not endure the pain from our own.
- Jimmy, Manchester
Whatever your opinion on the tax cap, just remember that Mark Roy - as a member of the Gang of 8 - didn't think you were smart enough to decide for yourself. He worked overtime (and failed) to keep your vote from being counted on this ballot initiative. He even went so far as to have a secret vote that was thrown out of court to keep you from voting.
If Mark Roy doesn't trust you, can you trust him? Hey, I don't have a vote in this election because I'm in Lebanon, but it seems to me that politicians in any town or city shouldn't consider themselves above the people.
- CDR, Lebanon
I just voted for the spending cap. I have a practice ballot .. this is so much fun. Everytime I fill in the circle, I hear the "gang of eight" scream in pain.. It is almost like a voodoo doll.. I use a number 2 pencil, but I call it my "number 8" pencil. Vote, Vote, Vote ..
- tom, manchester,nh
Well Tim Nickerson,
Being from Manchester and working in Nashua I see both cities very closely. Nashua has by far grown better and safer than Manchester could ever hope too. Nashua has a nice downtown and is not saddled with violence and drunken mayhem like Manchesters Elm st. is. Nashua does not have the BURDEN! of those so called desirable venues and stadiums that are a net loss to the city after all the nickles are counted. Nashua property values have held better than the ones in Manchester too. Having seen both cities in the day and night...I will take Nashua any day. Just wish I could sell my house in Manchester for what its worth and move south!
- John, Manchester
While a tax cap may be a fine idea in principle, in practice it hinders the city's growth and ability to embark on major initiatives.
As a former Nashua Alderman and Board of Education member, I saw the effects Nashua's spending cap had first-hand. While Manchester was able to build new venues such as the Verizon Wireless arena, the MerchantsAuto.com Stadium, and expand the Manchester/Boston Airport, Nashua's ability to do such things has been stymied.
The spending cap, although it allows for growth, is also backwards in its arrangement. In bad times, inflation is high, thus allowing for higher spending and tax increases. In good times, inflation tends to be low, thus restricting what can be done in the city.
Hopefully, the residents of Manchester learn from Nashua's mistake. Reject the tex cap on Tuesday, November 3rd.
- Tim Nickerson, Nashua, NH
If you have relatives who live in Maine be sure to tell them to vote yes on Question 4 (the Taxpayer Bill of Rights) on November 3. Q4 will put into place reasonable spending limits on the state government. Any spending increase over the limit, or tax increases, must go to the voters for approval. As this editorial states, reasonable spending limits work in NH so why not in Maine? Of course if Q4 passes in Maine we will need a state spending limit in NH as well . . . otherwise we might one day be talking about the "Maine Advantage."
- Scott, Haverhill
I am glad Manchester has the opportunity to vote on the cap. Any community that democratically enacts a cap is responding to the wishes of its residents. In casting their votes, however, it is important that residents consider the pluses and potential minuses of a cap (there are always costs and benefits). The Rhetoric and emotion on both sides provides little insight into either benefits or costs. Except in Nashua, the beneift does appear to be lower property tax collections. The costs are likely to be evident over a longer period of time but to suggest there will be none is to ignore a lot of evidence.
No community will fall apart. Nashua will not ,despite its cap ,because it has spent more than is apparently alowed by its cap language (even though it may not have voted to override). How this happened I do not know. Property tax collections have grown more in Nashua than in Manchester since 1999 according to official reports of the NH Dept of Revenue.
When you consider that the commerical and industrial property tax base has grown more slowly in Nashua than in Manchester during that time, Nashua taxpayers have fared worse, not better than Manchester taxpayers (Franklin taxpayers ,however, have fared better)
The data below compare Nashua and Manchester property tax collections between 1999 and 2008
Property Taxes Paid (school ,Muni, county)
Nashua 104,591,830 163,688,676
Manch 114,960,610 168,279,385
% Change: Nashua 56.5%
Soure: NH Dept of Revenue
- Brian, Dover
"Override already? City spending cap politics"
The New Hampshire Union Leader, Editorial, April 10, 2012
It took a decade to make Manchester's spending cap a reality. Will aldermen dare negate a 10-year effort to restrain city spending by voting to override the cap on the very first budget to which it would apply?
They might. If they do, it will be a brazen act of political cowardice.
Voters approved the cap — twice — because it was the only way to get the aldermen to stand up to the city employee unions. They had used their electoral muscle to obtain excessively generous employment contracts that caused the city and school budgets to rise faster than the rate of inflation year after year after year.
Having had enough of that, the taxpayers began work in 2002 to amend the city charter to include a cap on city spending and tax increases. The aldermen and city employee unions fought back hard. They mounted several legal challenges, and at one point the aldermen even knowingly violated the spirit, if not the letter, of a state law to kill the cap.
Finally legislators intervened and the cap that voters approved in 2009 was able to take effect in time to limit the growth of this year's city budget. The limit for city spending growth this year is 1.4 percent.
Opening the teachers contract to ratchet back some of the overly generous benefits awarded over the years would help bring city spending under the cap. But it appears that most aldermen are so afraid of crossing the union that they would prefer instead to once again vote against the tax-payers.
If teachers union officials think that would be a political victory, they should remember that their contract is up next year — a city election year. City voters have proven that they want this cap, and they want it enforced. The public pressure to walk back generous pay and benefits would be greatly enhanced (potentially leading to greater cutbacks) if the spending cap is overridden this year for the purpose of protecting those benefits in defiance of the voters' wishes.
"Keep the cap? 10-4, say Manchester aldermen"
The New Hampshire Union Leader, EDITORIAL, April 17, 2013
On Tuesday night, Manchester's tax-and-spending cap received the overwhelming approval of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The vote was an indication of just how far the political tables have turned in Manchester in the last decade.
In 2005, Alderman Frank Guinta challenged incumbent mayor and heavy favorite Bob Baines. Guinta ran entirely on lowering taxes. Baines wanted higher tax rates and said the people supported higher taxes to pay for better services. Guinta won, and by the end of his short tenure as mayor the heavily Democratic Board of Aldermen was no longer talking about how high they could raise taxes without getting thrown out, but about whether to raise them at all.
It was a huge shift. In 2009, the populist anti-tax movement that brought Guinta into the mayor's office succeeded in passing a spending cap. It was struck down on technical grounds by the state Supreme Court, and in 2011 voters approved a second spending cap, which remains on the books.
Alderman Ed Osborne, a Democrat, proposed that the cap be put on the ballot a third time. The people can now see the consequences of the restraint they have imposed, he argued, and they ought to reconsider. On Tuesday the aldermen defeated Osborne's proposal by a vote of 10-4.
Among those voting against Osborne were Ward 6 Democrat and potential future mayoral candidate Garth Corriveau, At-large Democrat and unwaveringly pro-union Alderman Dan O'Neil, and Ward 12 Alderman Patrick Arnold, the announced Democratic challenger to Mayor Ted Gatsas.
Arnold has criticized Gatsas for proposing too small a budget. He advocates spending more on city services and public schools. But in this election year he would not vote to have the spending cap reconsidered. That speaks volumes.
It says that the cap is so popular with voters that ambitious Democrats dare not come out against it. It also suggests most aldermen know that the real problem is not the cap, but the city's infamous Yarger-Decker pay scale and overly generous employee benefits.