Merrimack needs to steward the will of the voters

by Bill Boyd

The Board of Selectman's recent decision to refund $500,000 back to the Merrimack taxpayer certainly is laudable, but hardly noteworthy. It seems to me that the Board's attitude toward rate relief is predicated on what emanates from the mind and mouth of Selectman Dave McCray. Certainly, if style over substance dictated town governance, then not much would ever get accomplished in Merrimack. As a new resident of Merrimack, this reality just doesn't escape me; it troubles me.

The reality began with the advisory warrant, which Selectman McCray championed and the voters overwhelmingly approved in 2002. It culminated when the voters comfortably reelected McCray over Bernie Rousseau this past April. Clearly, the voters are sending a specific message to the Board's majority about which direction Merrimack should travel. More importantly, the community, by ballot and by warrant, will continue to promote local control as the means by which we govern. This is the message the majority needs to realize.

Merrimack's identity, as a quiet, bucolic New Hampshire town, is changing and major decisions such as the town charter, property revaluations, Industrial Drive and the Harclos property site will, most certainly, dominate the town's agenda for 2006. Promoting growth, expanding the tax base and developing our local economy needs to be done in a thoughtful and collegial manner that still retains the character and charm of our community while embracing the progress and growth occurring in Merrimack. It goes without saying that if the Board cannot steward the will of the voters in 2002, who will steward the community in 2006 when change and progress hit us head on?

In the end, the majority needs to embrace Selectman McCray as an agent of change. They also need to further embody the will of the voters by returning $1.3 million in surplus. The majority will have their rainy day fund at $2 million and can position our community positively towards the growth developing. Certainly, Selectman McCray needs to continue his passionate advocacy for the taxpayer while channeling his emotions towards public policy not personality. Too often in politics, personal invective permeates the perspective when disagreements occur. There is no reason why the Board cannot agree to disagree professionally. Lastly, the Board is a steward of the community?s trust. Stewardship is about preserving community and putting people first above politics and personality.