The Epping Town Meeting had some interesting votes Tuesday where conservative activist Dianne Gilbert was comfortably re-elected.
First off: Teacher labor contracts failed as did a new police officer and a $2.5 million for land purchase.
Then comes the “Its for the children’s sports” articles and overwhelming yes votes by cash strapped taxpayers - interesting.
Article 16 $2,000 to support the Lamprey River Youth Soccer Program Yes: 839 No: 339 - PASSED
Article 17 $3,000 to support of the Epping Youth Athletic Association. Yes: 919 No: 310 – PASSED
Meals on Wheels fared well. That makes sense.
Article 18 $3,988 to support the Rockingham Meals on Wheels Programs Yes: 1,046 No: 191 - PASSED
The Lamprey Health Group won taxpayer dollars easily.
Article 19 $3,800 to support the Lamprey Health Care Program. Yes: 726 No: 482 - PASSED
Now it gets interesting. Two taxpayer votes, #20, #21, and #23, to “donate” to non-profits were voted down - #23 by a wide margin. Article #22 just barely passed.
Could this be recognition by voters that there are many more non-profits soliciting at the Town Meeting than ever before or have they figured out some are duplicating efforts of others?
Article 20 $11,314 to Rockingham Community Action, a private, non-profit, multi-service, anti-poverty agency Yes: 579 No: 618 – FAILED
Article 21 $4,200 for the Richie McFarland Children's Center. Yes: 562 No: 625 – FAILED
Article 22 $4,000 for Child and Family Services. Yes: 600 No: 591 - PASSED
Article 23 $2,500 for the Families First Health & Support Center, a private, nonprofit community health center. Yes: 498 No: 690 – FAILED
Next, Art. #25, looks like an attempt to put Land Use Change Taxes into the hands of unelected conservation commission members instead of the general fund to offset taxes as was the INTENT of land use change taxes in the first place. Many towns are now experiencing the problems with their conservation committees giving unchecked funds to unaccountable non-profit environmental groups.
Article 25 To see if the Town will vote to return half of the Land Use Change Tax (LUCT) revenues, per RSA 79-A:25, III to the General Fund for the purpose of relieving property taxes as intended/passed by the New Hampshire Legislature (RSA 79-A),and deposit half in the Conservation Fund for present and future conservation needs, with a cap of ($75,000.00) per year. Yes: 499 No: 664 – FAILED
And finally, Art. #26, a vote to give tax relief to elderly voters of modest means who do not have a political machine to offset the spending going on in public schools. These articles offset the “move into town – vote for school bonds – and move out after the kids graduate” crowd.
Article 26 To see if the Town will vote to modify the Elderly Exemption from property tax in the Town of Epping, based on assessed value, for qualified full time resident taxpayers to be as follows: for a person 65 years of age up to 75 years, $120,000; for a person 75 years up to 80 years, $130,000; for a person 80 years or older $140,000. Yes: 984 No: 212 - PASSED
Without any more detail from Epping sources it looks like this town's voters took a pragmatic look at the budget and voted accordingly.