By Woolsey, Mary-Louise
Chairman Waddell and Board:
Now that you are getting ready to review potential special warrant articles for the year 2018, I want to repeat a suggestion that I made to Jim a couple of months ago.
Late 2015 the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to approve submission of Article 34 to be placed on the 2016 warrant.
“Shall the Town of Hampton vote to change the percentage distribution of Franchise Fees received from the Cable TV provider as voted under Article 16 of the 2013 Annual Town Meeting so that 40% (instead of 25%) of the funds received from the Franchise Fees are placed in the Hampton Cable TV Local Revolving Fund and are allowed to accumulate from year to year, and shall not be considered to be part of the Town’s unassigned fund balance in accordance with the provisions of RSA 31:95-h as previously voted. The balance of the Franchise Fees received by the Town under the Cable TV Franchise Agreement are to be deposited as revenue in the general fund to reduce taxes.”
At the Deliberative Session on January 30, 2016 Mr. Waddell moved, seconded by Mr. Bridle, to change the 40% to 100% and to remove from “the balance to the end before majority vote required. The amendment passed and the amended Article 34 passed at the March election. At the January 30, 2016 deliberative session Town Manager Welch did confirm a standing balance in the cable fund of $328,000. See page 72 of 2016 Town Report.
In spite of that Board’s original unanimous vote to present a Franchise Fee increase to 40% in proposed Article 34, Messrs. Waddell and Bridle presented that amendment on the floor of the Deliberative Session without any prior notice to me. I do not know whether Mr. Griffin and/or Mr. Bean were notified in advance.
With $300,000+ in Franchise Revenue per year, it is time for a new article to revert to the original proposal with 40% of franchise revenue to be applied to the cable fund, with 60% to the unassigned fund balance to help offset taxes. I also suggest a separate article to ask the public to draw down at least $200,000 from the end of year 2017 Cable Fund balance to be diverted to the unassigned fund balance. You can only spend just so much money on chairs.
Knee jerk motions have no place at any Deliberative Session.
I look forward to these 2 relevant articles to be presented to the Budget Committee and the voters at the Deliberative Session in 2018. Thank you.
~~ Mary-Louise Woolsey
148 Little River Rd