Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Franconia NH Town meeting

By state law, town meeting is the second Tuesday of March. I went. It was a scene right out of De Tocqueville's "Democracy in America". Citizens gathered in Town Hall, a modest frame building in a vaguely colonial style. Mostly dressed in bluejeans and winter boots. Ourside it was below freezing. There were 19 warrant articles to fund the town for the next year. We appropriated $29K for a new police cruiser, $126K to rebuild a fire truck, $70K to build a garage to get town equipment out of the weather, $71K to operate the town library, $269K to operate the town dump, excuse me, the transfer station. Dumps are politically incorrect. Even when they cost more than libraries.
Serious discussion of the town water system, improvements there to. The first article was $250K to put in water meters. After a number of probing questions from the audience, it developed that water meters are required by the Federal government, and Franconia was planning to apply for a federal grant of a few million to update the 1930 town water system. No meters, no grant. So, $250K blown on water meters. They had a guy from the State DES attempt to explain the need for meters, but he was unconvincing. Second article was $99K for a consulting engineering firm to draw up plans, price them, and do the grant applications. So, $350K expended in the hopes of winning a Federal grant of $3.5 million.

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