Sunday, February 5, 2012

Selectmen-budget panel battle going to Winchester voters

By Melanie Plenda Contributing Writer |

WINCHESTER — So dissatisfied with the way the budget committee operates, selectman want voters to get rid of the committee altogether so the town can “start over,” officials said Saturday during the town’s deliberative session.
Selectmen and nearly 100 voters made significant changes to the 38-article town warrant during the more than five hour meeting. The most contentious debates seemed to stem from a rift between the budget committee and selectmen. So great is the rift, selectmen inserted a petition article that if passed will get rid of the budget committee altogether. Selectmen Vice Chairman Roberta Fraser said selectmen want to have more oversight over the budget committee.
Warrant article 22 asks voters to rescind the provisions of the Municipal Budget Act of 1935. If it passes, the budget committee goes away. In that event, said Selectman Theresa Sepe, the plan is for selectmen to appoint people they choose to sit on a fiscal advisory committee.
Kenneth Gardner, the selectmen’s representative on the budget committee said he was, “embarrassed to be a member” of the budget committee and that it was, “the worst year I’ve ever seen.”
As an example of how broken the process was, voter Kevin Whippee went on to point out that budget committee members would refer to people’s names — instead of positions or programs — when proposing cuts to the budget. He said this showed that these budgetary decisions were personal and not made based on what was best for the town. Whippee said it’s the “vindictive nature” of the committee, the members not letting people speak and having others removed, that makes it “the poster child” for rescinding the act.
Budget committee member Richard Horton acknowledged the process could have been better, but he seemed confident things could get better despite a few bad actors this year.
“This definitely was not our most productive year,” he said. “We did waste some time. But in years past, the committee has done an excellent job. I think we can get back to that.”
Voter Miriam Jonson echoed that sentiment when she said a temporary clash of personalities is no reason to get rid of the committee.
“There has to be a better way to start over again,” she said. “There has to be a better or different way other than to just start eliminating committees or boards. We need to find a way to work together for the best interests of this town.”
She was greeted with a big round of applause after she went on to say that it’s important the town’s monetary decisions aren’t left in the hands of just one board or group. Instead, there need to be checks and balances, she said.
Former selectman and member of the budget committee Harvey Sieran said instead of voting away the committee, people should vote out the members they believe are causing problems.
Gardner pointed out that the terms are generally for three years, which means people have a long time to wait before voting someone out.
“A lot of harm can be done in three years,” he said.
If the measure fails, another article is still on the warrant that would restructure the budget committee so there would be seven members at large in addition to a selectman and school board representative.
Also considered Saturday was whether to include two special articles on the ballot that would separate the $238,372 water budget and $299,430 sewer budget. This, too, stemmed from the chasm between the budget committee and selectmen. The budget committee proposed significant cuts to the two departments’ funding in its operating budget proposal, according to town officials.
The two departments are funded entirely by user fees, explained Fraser. She said the two departments used to be in the operating budget when they were running deficits. They are finally operating in the black and should not be rolled into the operating budget, she said.
The budget committee wanted it in the budget. Horton questioned selectman on what would happen if voters rejected the two articles. Selectmen said there is no back up plan since according to state officials, no municipality has ever voted down funding its water and sewer departments.
“Do we want to be the first in the state to be that foolish?” Gardner said.
Other changes to the warrant include:
Raising this year’s proposed operating budget to $3,071,587 from the budget committee’s $2,946,475 proposed budget;
 Putting $1 in the non-lapsing Capital Reserve Fund for Fire Mutual Aid instead of $35,000. The $35,000 was already included in the operating budget;
Asking for $20,000 — the town’s share of the road grant construction project;
Raising $28,000 for Evergreen Cemetery (instead of $18,000);
 Asking for $1 to purchase a single-family home on 3.3 acres on Hawkins Road, instead of $130,000.
In addition, articles 25 through 27 were amended so that regardless of the issue raised in the article, if passed, current policy remains in place.


the Winchester Informer said...

The Selectmen already dictate most of what goes on in this town from turning a blind eye towards the numerous issues and problems with personnel they have appointed to determining the amount of money wasted year after year on unnecessary projects and bonuses and raises for the underqualified employees they have hired and appointees they have hand picked ( John Pasqarelli ) to administer their policies. Do you really want them to have full control over taxation? Allowing them to appoint their cronies to a board that the public will have no input to is ludicrous. That's the problem we have now with other boards and why this town is always facing a court battle, do we really need to add to the problems we already have?
The issue isn't the Budget Committee, it's the personal conflicts between a group of power hungry Selectmen, School Board members and several Town employees vs people we elected to keep them in line. It's about a group of people who want full control and won't take no for an answer. Case in point is the School Board threatening to take the Budget Committee to court if they don't get to add to the already out of control school budget like they want to.
Kevan Whippie, who complains the loudest is a member of this board and one of the biggest proponents to removing the budget committee because they stand in the way of another group of control freaks lead by Ken Dassau and Coleen Duquette.
Our Selectmen continue to add to our tax burden year after year by proposing more and more spending warrants and advocating for these proposals and buying the loyalties of the people they appoint with raises and bonuses to keep them in line.
Winchester is a dying town in deep trouble and really belongs in receivership for lack of leadership. Voting to eliminate the Budget Committee will be one more nail in the coffin and give these bullies exactly what they want .. full control of your lives while you live here.

The choice is yours, go along with their plan or vote no and support keeping the Budget Committee.

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what it is to, they don't like Brian Moser or Bob Davis and everyone knows it. Several members of that board are handpicked BOS people who go along to get along, Hebert and Horton are two of them. Now look at the choices on the ballot this year and it's not hard at all to see what's going on. If they don't get the vote to do away with the committee altogether, they have stacked the deck with their choices to take control of the board and get what they want anyways.

Anonymous said...

How in the world can we vote this March when some of the major decisions that effect our town and boards were done by secret votes?
It leaves me scratching my head and lost on who to vote for! I feel that every decision that is made and voted on the names need to be attached to the votes so we know who to support or not support in March.

Anonymous said...

Our town needs business to come? The downtown could be beautiful is there were places to shop and eat. Instead the side by the river is all run down and disgusting.

disgusted said...

If the people of Winchester are stupid enough to give this board total control, there is no hope.Isn't it illegal to change the entente of warrant article's in the rest of the towns in this state?

Anonymous said...

We wonder why our students do not fit into the society at Keene. Look at the behavior that we as a town are modeling for them. It's about time the town started acting like grown ups and played nicely in the sand box. Compromise is the name of the game. Keep it up and there will be no one left in town to pay the taxes.No wonder people laugh when we say we live in Winchester.

Anonymous said...

Winchester beware of the smoke screen here; for all this would accomplish is allowing a small group of people total control of the town and it's budget.

Winchester has long been a town full of corruption and abuse of power by our elected officials and employees. If this article passes it will only make it that much easier to control and manipulate the system and restore the "Good Ole Boy Network" that has made Winchester the laughing stock of New Hampshire...

Every other town has a budget committee and has dealt with tough issues. Keep the system in place that has been working for many years (since 1935) and let the voters decide who they want to elect into these positions. Otherwise do away with everyone on all of the boards and have a re-election that will restore order....

"Warrant article 22 asks voters to rescind the provisions of the Municipal Budget Act of 1935. If it passes, the budget committee goes away. In that event, said Selectman Theresa Sepe, the plan is for selectmen to appoint people they choose to sit on a fiscal advisory committee."

This article would grant absolute power to the selectboard and absolute power leads to absolute corruption......

Winchester has made progress in recent years, keep moving forward even if it means taking baby steps and stop acting like a bunch of babies.

Anonymous said...

So now our elected officials would like to do away with the same democratic process that put them into office because they do not agree with some of the people on the budget committee.

Yes they would love this additional power to appoint whoever they want to control the towns money. This would also give them the power to award large capital projects to friends, family and acquaintance's. It is hard enough for anyone to get a fair deal on bids in town as most already do go to locals at inflated prices. By continuing this practice and eliminating the fair bidding practice, it opens the doors for kickbacks and our taxes increasing.

The budget committee is fine just the way it is. Sometimes it takes someone to do something extreme in order to open everyone eyes and get them involved. If you want to run the town government like the Taliban, then go ahead and vote out the budget committee, heck vote out all the boards and committee's and let the selectmen appoint whoever they want to......Or do it the right way and allow the citizens of Winchester to vote who they want on the board and take the good with the bad; for that is what democracy is all about...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should circulate petitions and have a recall vote to remove all of the selectboard and school board members so we can right the ship. It is obvious what is going on here and unless we all step up to the plate this town is doomed and many will be forced to leave before they lose their homes. How is raising taxes so high that no one can pay good for the town when they'll be no money for the school or all of these spending warrants when the bills come due? What a bunch of stupid people we have in office that they can't see how this will ruin the town for good. If there ever was any doubt about the motives and lack of good judgement on the selectmen it is all out in the open now. They are going to make it so no one will buy our homes because the tax rate will be so high and it will also discourage any business from ever coming here. Perhaps that's their ploy to get everyone behind the proposed dollar store and help Margaret Sharra get her way ruing downtown some more.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone understand what was going on Saturday morning? I couldn't even hear half the things that were said and didn't even know what I was voting for. Why doesn't the people running the meeting fully explain things so we can understand? Why are they in such a rush and keep people from asking questions.No wonder no one goes to these things you don't have a clue as to what you're suppose to be doing. I can see now why the people that run this blog have come to be, there is a real problem with the way this town is run.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who votes to give them full power to choose their own panel to decide the budget would be so wrong to do so. We need the budget committee to keep them in check. Full control by these 5 people who have shown they have no respect towards any of us and who hide all real town business behind closed door meeting is not an option we should even be considering. The only ones who would vote for this baloney is those who have been appointed or hired by them looking to keep their jobs. Last thing we need in Winchester is a full dictatorship, it's bad enough now.

Anonymous said...

The power of the vote. Thats what we have before us right now. Keep in mind 700ish voters turn out each year at the polls. Will all the people that are upset about things show up this year? We had an average number at deliberative on Saturday. Maybe 20 more than years past. That is not enough to change what happens in our town.

We have School deliberative on Thursday. A proposed budget of 11.5million that will increase your tax rate by another $2. And a proposed warrant article to remove the budget committee from their process. This will also remove the BOS rep from the process... hmmmm sounds like they want to have full control of what the people are charged for the school.

SHOW up at deliberative on Thursday night. Bring a friend. We have a say. At deliberative you can vote to reduce the $11.5 million budget down to a reasonable number.

What will happen at deliberative is the School board will motion to accept all warrant articles as written. All in one motion. We need to defeat that motion or make a motion before they get a chance.

Be prepared. This is our last shot to regain control over our town. If the School boards budget goes to the ballot we are stuck voting for their budget because it is less than default.

School Deliberative Thursday NIGHT...

Anonymous said...

We the tax payers are being con-ed by some of the numbest people on earth that are running this town. Doesn't say much about us, does it!

The only analogy that comes to mind to which it describes the tax payers in this town is, the young boy pissing on an electric fence, he jumps up and down yelling with pain yet he still continues to piss.

Bob Davis said...

I didn’t appreciate the attacks pointed at me in the Keene Sentinel by the people like Ken Gardner, Rick Horton and Kevan Whippie these people think we are so stupid and they alone knows best on how to spend your tax dollars. When these spenders of your hard earned tax dollars do not get their way they start calling you names, make up lies and villainies everyone that stands in their way. Has anyone of you heard of “stick and stone, names and faces”!

Kevan Whippie's declaring to the Keene Sentinel reporter I am the reason we do not need a town budget committee. Well Mr. Whippie. “News for you” you’re the reason why we need a budget committee. How much was it the school board you’re a member of over spent on the school budget some $800,000.00. Was that legal?

Wow! Mr. Whippie I tried to save the tax payers some $27,000. A far cry from $800,000 the school wasted on salaries, I cut only one person that is costing the town thousands in legal fees. Sorry it happens to be one of your clique. Did I hurt your feelings?

A point! When you give your opinion to the news paper try giving your own opinion and not Gus Ruth’s or Ken Gardner‘s, try coming up with something original if that is possible.

Remember another saying about people living in glass house not to throw stones. Well I hear you took community development money for a small business. Did Selectmen Uncle Ted Whippie happen to help acquire from this from town? Which by the way went bankrupted the first year. Now your sitting on a 11 million school budget that over spent and now you want the tax payers to cover it up by increasing our tax bills.

I feel you and your clique will cost us the tax payers more money to fight this in court.

ps Sorry I miss spelled some words in a text message to you. Did I spell dumb ass right?

Anonymous said...

More personal attacks. I bet this blog is run by Mr. Davis and Mr. Keenan. I drive by the run down sign on Route 10 everyday for the Winchester Informer.... Broken down and and playing the same song. Mr. Davis you have cost this town alot in legal fees...yet you are the first to throw stones. Did you stay for all of deliberative? Did you speak of you cuts in front of the people? Seems like you and your "crew" went running when the spotlight was on you....

Dont you think? said...

Anyone would be stupid to stay in a card game with a stacked deck. In my 70+ years, I have never seen anything like this select board and the way this town is operated.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous February 6, 2012 9:32 PM – maybe the run down sign you are referring to looks that way because people are hard at work trying to make change. What’s the excuse for downtown Winchester? Or do you not see that dilapidated sign of a dilapidated Main Street? Broken down and playing the same song, costing us taxpayers money we don’t have because some people are getting wise and fearless to what’s really going down and are willing to let the rest of know so we can make up our own minds.

Doris. said...

To the poster @ 9:32pm

You whine about personal attacks; yet Kevan Whippie and others made sure to mention Bob Davis's name in an article in the newspaper blaming him for all of Winchester's problems and that's okay with you? Anyone who has the fortitude to stand up to the bullys downtown and question the misinformation and lies coming out of our town hall is a troublemaker is that right? You blame this blog for honestly reporting the facts and allowing those of us working more than one job the opportunity to really find out what's happening in our corrupt little town and gives us a chance to judge for ourselves who's to blame and for what. It's quite apparent that you have a personal grudge against people like Bob Davis and John Keenan in the way you speak about them and then you hide your face behind your computer, not man or woman enough to put your name to your comments. This is typical conduct of a coward and an instigator, someone none of us should pay any attention to. I know I won't. One last thing, who cares who's behind this blog and how many are involved in bringing the truth to us, that they do it of their own free will and are not charging us for information as the town does and gives us all of the facts and documentation to make an informed decision on the points they raise is absolutely great. That we have such people in this town is a blessing and I hope they continue to keep us informed for many years to come.

Bob Davis budget committee said...

Ref: Annoy; FYI I got permission to change the old sign on Rte 10. I can bet you will not like what I have to say.

Can you refresh my memory on how I cost the town so much money on legal fees. Please I am getting older and my mind is getting feeble. Sorry for the misspelled word for I do not have a wife to write bright things like Gus Ruth and Kevan Whippie. I’ll try to use spell check for you Kevan. Kevan why does your name require correction on my spell check. Is it someone in your family can not spell either?

Bob Davis Budget Committee said...

Thanks Doris well written.

I have watched as people we voted into office entrusting and given the responsibility to be fair, honest and protect the citizen's rights of Winchester only to have them manipulate the voters to stay in power.

They will lie, discredit and call you names to stay in office or keep their employment for the town. These people seeing themselves as kind of elite abandoning Winchester citizen's rights for their own self-interest, ignoring the citizens as being unworthy of their concerns, obligation and duty. Making rules that suit-themselves and ignoring rules that give us the enjoyment of our homes. Their supporters will help them try to squash any voice that questions their authority.

Take the budget committee. Why all of a sudden there is rush to run for that office? You can not convince me Ken Gardner or Sherman Tedford didn’t call Jacky Beaman to run for the office. Beaman who votes most every time to support the selectmen and she has name recognition and that is how the voters of Winchester pick people for elected offices or Teresa Sepe getting Sue Laplante to run, both with one goal to remove Bob Davis. Then you have John P and Ken Cole, no idea what their goal is. Except for these latter persons the others will be hand pick to manipulate who they want on the budget committee so they can have total control over the town budgets. The selectmen and supports think their cute with this maneuver to avoid accountability on their budgets which allows them to be deceptive were our money is spent.

If they succeed you will not have anyone with enough brass to ask questions like to Dale Gray, when you took a trip to look at a new town truck in Concord, why did you think the town should buy you a $38.00 T bone steak diner at the Steak House and charge it to the town? Fire Chief Barry Kellom why do you think it ‘s cost effect to drive our new $327,000 fire truck to Vernon VT to fill your sister-in laws swimming pool? Not one stinking selectmen question them! When was the last time you enjoyed a T bone at someone elses expense.

Thing that go unsaid by other board members when dept heads come before the board asking for more money and they do not have accountability for what we gave them last year.

The selectmen and many others like land use assistant, town clerk and others are collecting wages from the town on what is called “junkets.” They can collect hidden wages, mileage and lunch on our dime that doesn't show in their budget line items.

In the past we have had honest citizens stand up against these bully’s only to have them morally broken. Like the Campbells and others.

If you voters want a voice on the budget committee you should re-elect Bob Davis. I will be your eyes and ears on the inside of the budget committee.

Doris. said...

You're right Bob, they have once again stacked the deck. If their ridiculous warrant to remove the budget committee doesn't pass they have hand-picked their candidates to get what they want out of next years committee led by none other than Rick Horton. They are so wrong in thinking that most of us can't see right through their little ploy to gain full control one way or the other. Perhaps we should have a write in campaign and choose the people they are most afraid of to run against these other candidates.