Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A New Community Communications Tool

Welcome to the Milton Messenger, powered through www.miltonnhtownhall.net.  This medium will be used to bring you official communications regarding issues that matter to you.  I will be publishing a series of articles regarding subject matter ranging from Town of Milton municipal budgetary issues, what drives the tax rate, the municipal fund balance and its different components, along other information aimed at giving you fact-based information you can use to formulate your own decisions about how well your local government is conducting business.  My hope is that this will be a proactive site where civil discourse rules the day, so we can share ideas about how to improve the quality of life in the Town of Milton.

There are some things we all know:

1.         The residents of Milton want to pay as little of their hard-earned money in the form of taxes as possible.  The important discussion is not a reiteration of that statement, but rather how the Board of Selectmen and staff accomplish that while meeting our obligations to you in the form of the services you want and in achieving the mandates required by state and federal law.  There are essentially three broad categories of techniques to accomplish these things:
  • Broadening and diversifying the tax base (business/industry retention and attraction);
  • Increasing revenue streams from outside sources, such as through innovative uses of town-owned properties (for example, the solar array that is built on top of the Milton landfill generates lease revenue, payments-in-lieu of taxes and most of the time results in electricity cost credits from an otherwise unproductive property; we also lease property for a communications tower in the industrial park); and
  • cutting costs.
Anybody with ideas, suggestions, please share.  It is greatly appreciated.

As you may have heard, if you watched the Selectmen's meeting on April 6th, 2020, the Board of Selectmen heard the message you sent with your votes "loudly and clearly" to quote Chair Erin Hutchings.  The Board of Selectmen, working with the Town Administrator and Department Heads, will be employing immediate cost cutting measures.  The Selectmen reviewed this article that night and approved its posting on out Town of Milton website.  Once we come out of all the protective measures we as a nation have undertaken to battle the spread of Covid-19, they will be setting up a Local Government Efficiency Task Force with the mission of identifying and exploring techniques available to municipalities through existing legislation, along with possible ideas to present to our representatives in the State House for new legislation aiming to achieve greater flexibility in all three of the above stated objectives and/or any other areas of opportunity the task force may identify.  The members of this special project committee appointed by the Board of Selectmen will include the Chair of the Select Board, one member of the Budget Committee, Department Heads and three members at large from the community, the qualifications of whom the Selectmen will provide as soon as possible.  

2.   Macro-level decisions made many years ago at the State level, like the extension of the Spaulding Turnpike, essentially created a way to by-pass Milton, pulling away the traffic that in the past provided a captive, active customer base for Milton's economy. Even more recently, the State of New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NH-DOT) has become a major road block to economic development for the Town of Milton, from hampering redevelopment efforts of the former Ray's Marina property to becoming a stymieing force against economic development at Exit 17.  The community needs to effect change in the way the NH-DOT treats Milton’s business development efforts on exits 17 and 18 of the Spaulding Turnpike and on the town's main artery, Route 125.

3.  The Town of Milton has a beautiful Town Beach with access to an incredible recreational opportunity in the form of Milton Three Ponds.  There are numerous trails for hiking and exploring and there are cultural and historic resources like the New Hampshire Farm Museum, the Milton Town House, the Milton Free Public Library and the recently renovated and re-opened Ira Miller’s General Store in Milton Mills, to mention a few.  We need to draw attention to these resources to draw in tourism.

4.  We need to work on collaborating with Mi-Te-Jo Campground, its neighbors and with Three Ponds Protective Association as partners in caring for Milton's water and other natural resources Everybody who lives on or near the shores of Milton Three Ponds has their share of impact on water quality, with a likely preponderance of those problems rooted in older septic systems serving the residential properties on the shores of the ponds, the improper use of fertilizers which get into the ponds from drainage run-off, among other things. Education and an understanding of what needs to be done to mitigate the impacts of human activity on the water quality of Milton Three Ponds is just one step.  The next one is for us all to recognize that we have a part to play and to actively engage in changing our own behaviors that have derogatory impacts on our natural environment.  To accomplish this, we need to work together.

5.  We need to collaborate as municipal officials and volunteers on areas of great importance to the Town of Milton.  As a kick-off to accomplishing that, the Board of Selectmen would like to call for an All-Boards/Committees/Commissions meeting as soon as it is practicable, given the precautionary measures that are being employed not only locally, but nationwide with regard to coronavirus.

There will be more to come.  Please feel free to call me in Town Hall at 652-4501, ext. 1, or  on my cell phone at 545-4956 or send me an e-mail at miltonta@miltonnh-us.com.

Thank you.

Ernest M. Cartier Creveling, Town Administrator
Town of Milton, NH

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