Wednesday, April 19, 2006

New Hampshire Town Cuts Library Spending and Taxes

There has been an important election in Merrimack, NH.

"Last night was a revolt, there's no other word for it," Selectman Dave McCray said the day after the election, in which a grass-roots, anti-tax group aligned with McCray won control of the board of selectmen, cut town spending by $1.5 million and dissolved a 10-year savings fund for a new library.

"It's going to be wonderful for the taxpayers," said Jennifer Twardosky, cofounder of the grass-roots group called Merrimack Cares and a newly elected budget committee member.

Obviously, residents there have had enough of the municipality's extravagant spending.

Contrast that to how the Select Board of Camden, Maine is responding to their budgetary dilemma:

In 2005-06 the town contributed $240,753 to the library. This year the library requested $379,655, a figure the Budget Committee reduced to $350,000. The board approved the committee's recommendation - an increase of 45 percent, but not without a debate.

"I understand how important the library is to the town," said board Chairman John French Jr. "But to accept a $100,000 hit from any department - that's major."

I suspect French won't have any trouble retaining his seat as long as he wants it. However, the library will probably get its money this time around, because its supporters are extremely activist. It would be nice if the budget vote went the other way, for once. Approving the budget with this enormous increase in library funding is tantamount to rewarding the ineptitude of the library directors at planning for the eventual disappearance of funding.

All in all, New Hampshire is looking better every day. Some folks there understand libraries are luxuries, not essential services that the government should provide.



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