To The Daily Sun,
Having been involved in town government in Ashland for the past several years in many capacities, including Budget Committee, Capital Improvement Program Committee, Economic Development Committee, and now as a member of the Ashland Selectboard, I have seen, studied, experienced, and participated in the challenges of small-town municipal government.
This experience has made it clear to me that if we want to increase the chances of developing and continually operating Ashland as a financially sound town and enjoy our small town New Hampshire community, the five-member board is more likely to make that happen.
Some facts and thoughts to support a five-member board and reject going back to a three-member board:
— Five Selectboard members that have the desire and skills to help govern the town and participate in the many important committees and boards involved is more likely to be successful then with a three-member board simply because tasks can be shared by more people.
— Collaboration and communication with the town committees and organizations as well as tapping resources of regional, state and federal organizations is critical for a small town. Five people make it easier than three and is still a small enough group to make decisions.
— If a three-member board has a member missing it can cause major problems in effective decision-making.
— One member in a three-member board can much more easily control decisions by getting one member to
go their way consistently.
— A five-member board increases the likelihood of transparency and new ideas and opinions.
Ashland has moved forward with several initiatives recently under the first year of a five-member board format to include:
— A continually inclusive, collaborative and informative Financial Forum that involved many different departments of the town to help identify, communicate and plan for short and long term capital project costs.
— An active Ashland Economic Development Committee to help grow our tax base and lower tax rates.
— Participation in numerous regional and state organizations to help find funds and improve the efficiency of our systems.
— Beginning the coordinated process for applying for and obtaining grant money to help fund town needs.
— Creation of a priority list to track and ensure follow thru and transparency on key initiatives.
— Evaluated our I.T. infrastructure to keep it progressive but inexpensive.
— Began a long overdue process to bring GIS technology into our tax maps and will eventually help digitize many aspects of our recordkeeping and allow for more transparency.
— Significantly increased collaboration among departments and committees that is absolutely critical to our future success.
— Begun to review ordinances and processes to help ensure consistency, transparency, and efficiency in how we operate.
These all are much more likely to be managed effectively with a five-member team as opposed to a three-member team.
Some final facts:
— Approximately 87 percent of the votes taken in both a three-member board in 2013 and a five-member board in 2014 were unanimous votes from March to December, which would appear to show no significant disagreement after discussion of facts.
— Only three votes out of 98 were 3-2 votes in 2014.
Vote "No" on Article 23 on Tuesday. March 10. We do not want to go back to a three-member Selectboard
Ashland Selectboard Member