Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

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Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby Sheila » Sun Jan 13, 2013 2:42 pm

http://www.eagletribune.com/newhampshir ... lected-ACO

The warrant then passed by an overwhelming 418 to 263 vote. This year, the Selectmen are choosing to ignore the Town's directive as they will be placing a warrant on the Town ballot to dissolve the position.
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby Copper » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:45 pm

Why fix it if it ain't broke? :roll:
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby JC » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:57 pm

I think the selectman need to do what is financially best for the town, if having the regional ACO saves us money then that's what needs to be done.
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby shawn_oneil » Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:21 pm

Sheila,
I look forward to seeing you at Candidate's night running for the ACO position.
Shawn
Shawn O'Neil


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The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money” –Margaret Thatcher
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby ebakenoza » Fri Jan 18, 2013 1:17 pm

Let's hope a lot of Danvilles' residents will be watching this time. :)
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby momof3 » Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:30 pm

Jennapup said it perfectly

Both O'Neil and Johannesen are so much alike that they can not stand each other. They both want control, both are town bullies, both are pathetic and completely useless for the town of Danville.

O'Neil screams, yells and goes out of his way to make you look inferior.

Johannesen is ignorant and uneducated. Just take a look at some of her ACO reports that she filled out.

I have spoken directly with Cooper regarding town issues. She deserves a chance people, and has not held either position for two long.

Someone needs to stand up to both O'Neil and Johannesen and I am hoping that she will be able to do so.
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby Copper » Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:46 pm

Momof3... If you feel that way, why don't you stand up to them?
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby JC » Fri Jan 18, 2013 10:19 pm

I will say it again, how about we stop making this personal and do whats financially best for us, the tax payers! I think we are paying enough taxes in this town and if we can save money, then why not. Stop voting with who you are friends with and start voting with our taxes in mind! People complain on here but when its time for the deliberative session there are a hand full of residents that show up and the rest just vote for someone because they know the person running, and have that personal relationship. I think with this economy everyone would consider any cost savings important, lets all do our homework on this one.
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby TomBillbroughJr » Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:01 pm

This topic should not still be an issue. The Selectmen and Police Chief decided to cut the Animal Control Officer position in Town for the sake of a more cost-effective service via a Regional Animal Control Officer through Plaistow. The Townspeople then had a couple of months to see how the new service would work for them. Last year around this time, a citizen’s petition was created, voted on, and passed by a majority of about 2-1. This should have been the finale of a rather insignificant, in the grand scheme of things, Town issue. The Selectmen acted, and the Townspeople told them through the voting process that they disagreed with their decision and wished to return to having our own Animal Control Officer.
I am not friends with either party involved. I know Sheila, and I think she is a nice person who is passionate about the work she does, and I know that she must be qualified for the position since Hampstead, a town much larger than ours, hired her as their ACO almost immediately after her contract was terminated with Danville. I know Shawn and a few members of the Board of Selectmen, not very well of course, just through our sparse interactions over the last few years. Personally, I do believe Shawn O’Neil to be a power-hungry bully and, at times, incapable of ignoring his own personal biases when seeing to the Town’s prudential affairs. However, Shawn is a very intelligent man who, too, is passionate about his role in Town, and he is far more qualified than I am, or was, to be a selectman in Town. The people of Danville communicated that same sentiment last year on the ballot and I believe the Townspeople chose correctly. I like Michelle Cooper, and I value her insight and experience on the Police Department as well as being a resident in Town with a very nice family. Michelle and I served one term together on the Budget Committee and I can say with certainty that she is a valuable asset to our Town, both through her “fresh-blooded” ideas and her low tolerance for other people’s BS.
Thinking logically and as objectively as possible, I cannot see a single reason for this issue to be on the ballot again so soon. I will not spew hyperbole and go on about direct and representative democracy, but quite frankly, the Selectmen are doing our Town a disservice by willfully ignoring the constituents that they were elected to represent by putting this warrant article forth on the ballot. Last year should have been the end of it, whether you agreed with the citizen’s petition or not. The people decided that they wanted to take the responsibility of choosing who fills the ACO position in Town out of the hands of the Selectmen after the choice was made to make the ACO position “regional”. That should have been it. Both Sheila and the Board of Selectmen made their cases, and the Townspeople sided with Sheila and did not want to share this Town service with Plaistow. The Selectmen should have conceded by respecting the will of the people and moved forward as their constituents directed. I have run for a position on the Board of Selectmen for two consecutive years now and lost both times. I did not want to run last year because of the way the way the campaigning process tends to drag everyone’s name through the mud, but I agreed to run at the behest of the growing number of people who dislike Shawn O’Neil and his behavior in his elected position. I was happy to run, but relieved to not be elected. I do not have the time or the desire to devote myself to that position. I also respect the will of the people and their choice not to have me represent them, and I will not be running for any position this year.
The Selectmen did not listen to the will of the voters, and they stand their ground on the issue of the Town’s animal control officer. I can’t imagine there being any new talking points for either side on this issue. The Selectmen shared their views about the citizen’s petition, including the financial aspect and hinting at some misdoing of Sheila Johansen’s during her time as Danville’s ACO by publicly asking her, ad naseum, to request that the minutes of the non-public session where she was terminated be made public. Sheila has not requested that those minutes be made public, and whether or not you think that she should is kind of beside the point. The fact of the matter is that Sheila was not in attendance for the non-public session where she was terminated and has no idea what was said during that meeting. Being as though both parties have butted heads in the past, and there seems to be some strong, mutual animosity between both parties, it is not hard to understand why Sheila might not want the contents of those minutes to be made public. By not requesting that the non-public session minutes be made public Sheila could be implying guilt of some misdoing, or she could be implying that she has no interest in what a group of people who fired her have to think about her after the fact. However, both of the two previous options are of no consequence, as this scenario was played out and discussed over and over again last year and the voters still decided to cast their votes in Johansen’s favor by a large margin.
It is unfair to the voters to have the Selectmen usurp a private citizen’s right to petition and establish an elected position per an RSA, just because the outcome of last year's vote did not go in their favor. Too much time has been wasted on this topic. The BOS needs to get over their own egos, swallow their pride, and respect the popular vote and the Townspeople they represent. Otherwise, we could see this same issue on the ballot, one way or another, for years to come.
Sorry, Judy, but you were once a Selectman yourself, and you know how insignificant of a savings we’re talking about by utilizing a regional animal control officer instead of having our own. The last time I checked, the money that is required to fund all of our Town’s services (Danville’s entire operating budget) makes up around 12% of all the money that is paid in taxes by Danville’s taxpayers- a good deal of the remaining 88% (or thereabouts) goes to the Timberlane Regional school system. To put things into perspective, Danville spends more taxpayer money on an annual budget for our Old Home’s Day party than we save by switching to a regional ACO. Besides that, the voters knew that having our own ACO was a few thousand dollars more than a regional ACO. The Selectmen vocalized the savings of a regional ACO very clearly and the voters passed last year’s citizen’s petition anyway. Last year's citizen's petition did not pass because Sheila has 400+ friends in Town, that's absurd. The article passed last year because the voters wanted to pay a few pennies more for a service that was worth it to them, and they wanted to take the choice out of the hands of the Selectmen, as they clearly were not acting in accordance with the wishes of the residents of Danville.
Last edited by TomBillbroughJr on Sat Jan 26, 2013 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby JC » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:24 pm

Hey Tom JR., thanks for the schooling on how taxes are broken down however, I have that covered, I actually pay property taxes in town.
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby TomBillbroughJr » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:01 pm

You're welcome, Judy. I'm glad you, as a taxpayer, understand and recognize how insignificant of a savings you were actualy talking about in your previous post then. Unfortunately, it sounded as though you were suggesting that utilizing a regional animal control officer for the sake of frugality was somehow financially a better choice and would even noticeably effect your tax rate. I'm sure you, as a property tax payer and former elected official, could understand why an argument like that could be misleading to anyone who doesn't understand where their tax money goes.
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby JC » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:38 pm

I believe we should combine more services in town, with the exception of police and fire, to save the tax payers more money. In this economy any savings is worth it.
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby TomBillbroughJr » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:10 pm

Judy, I assume when you said, "I actually pay property taxes in town," you were taking an unnecessary dig at me for not owning property in Danville. I found this statement to be in stark contrast to your other statement to the tune of, "... stop making this personal..." but things are obviously easier said than done. You are correct in that I do not own property in Danville and that I do not directly pay property taxes. An argument could be made that, as a renter, a portion of the money that I pay to rent the house I live in with my partner could be used to contribute to my landlord's property taxes. However, even if I were still living with my parents to save money in order to be financially able to live on my own, you and I would still have the same amount of say in Town politics.
That being said, the assumption that I do not care about the amount of money people who "actually" have to pay property taxes need to pay, is incorrect. I, like the majority of people, am capable of empathy and also wish to lessen the tax burden on those who "actually" pay property taxes. I am in favor of seeking other means of lowering property taxes in Danville and pursuing any logical options. You say that combing resources will lower the effective tax rates for people in Danville, but I am not so sure. I assume you are talking about making more of Danville's town services "regional", like what the people voted down last year with the passing of the ACO Citizen's Petition, and not suggesting that Chris and Doreen jump behind the wheel of one of the Highway Department's contracted plows whenever it snows during the Town Clerk's office hours.
You did not include the Highway Department in your exclusion of what should be made a regional service, so we can start there. I am against having a regional Highway Department, as Danville is currently engaged in a very cost-effective, though arguably unethical, means of seeing to our transportation needs and snow removal via Bruce Caillouette and Mark Roy. We would not be able to receive the same level of service, at the lower rate the we receive if we were to lose Bruce and whoever Bruce contracts. Surrounding towns do not have the roads cleared as well and in a timely fashion the way our Highway Department does. We take for granted the level of quality service and comparatively minimal price that we are getting with our current road crew.
That leaves the Library, unless you are also talking about having regional Town Clerks, regional Selectmen's Admins, or regional Tax Collectors- which would be very difficult to achieve from a legal standpoint alone, let alone logistically. A regional library is an interesting idea, and possibly one worth pursuing. So the first step would be to find other town's in our area who do not wish to have a library in their own town and would like to participate in this regional service. This might be a difficult step to overcome as most of the surrounding communities seem to be renovating or building new libraries (Danville included) and they might be reluctant to have a beautiful vacant building right in the middle of their towns. For the sake of argument, let's say that we find a few towns in our immediate area who also would much rather a regional library than one in their own community. Unfortunately, all of the towns that border us, Fremont being the exception, are all larger than us, so we are at a bit of a disadvantage, but we'll get back to that later. Say we start a new regional library with the towns in our regional school system. Great. Everyone is on board. Now we are going to have to build a new regional library, as no existing library in any of the four towns could handle that kind of foot traffic, let alone the amount of space necessary to house the kind of collection (books, computers, and so on) you are talking about to meet the demands of 20,000+ people, or be up to code to facilitate that significant of an increase. So we build a brand new building, for reasons I have just mentioned. Now, the towns that we are in the region with have larger populations, some have more businesses and with that other sources of income, and some are quite affluent, so the tax burden is less for those towns than that of Danville's and they would be more inclined to make the building a bit more grand than we were imaging with a price tag that reflects such. Libraries are expensive buildings that require optimally climate controlled spaces, as books will tend to rot and mold if they are housed in a moist area. So we propose a warrant article on the ballot in all the towns in the region for bonded debt to be incurred for the building of this new regional library that will "save" us some money here in Danville. So now we have a brand new building, and a large staff to man and operate the larger building.
"But Tom, everything is digital nowadays, so we wouldn't need a big building." I knew you'd say that. We live in a largely "greying" area that just so happens to be very reluctant to give up their paper copies of books for ereaders. If we lived in a larger city or town with a large population of young people, you'd have a point, but we don't and paper copies of books circulate more than any other medium ( a lot more- electronic books made up less than 3% of our library's circulation in 2012). Once all the baby boomers die we can build a smaller building, but paper books are what people are reading and this is quite typical in New Hampshire.
So we have a big building fully staffed. We might be able to save some money by filling the new library with books from the now defunct town libraries in the region, but I'm not positive of the legality of giving away property that is owned by a town to a regional facility. Worst case scenario we buy a new collection for the needs of 20,000 people and we continue to develop the collection for that amount of people. We are going to need to purchase some high-end, industrial strength computers to meet the needs of a community that large...
By now I'm sure you're getting the picture. A regional library might not be the cheapest option and the great money-saver some advocate it would be. Here's the best part, any warrant article put forth by a regional board of trustees tasked with overseeing this beautiful, expensive new building can be voted down in Danville and still pass and still need to be paid for by the Town of Danville's "actual" property tax payers! Just like with our REGIONAL school system! The Performing Arts Center (the big building between the middle and high school used for concerts and plays) warrant article failed in Danville (unless I am thinking of another instance) and yet it was still built and paid for with Danville residents' tax money.
"Then let's just have the Town purchase library cards at surrounding libraries instead of building a regional building." Good idea. The Colby Memorial Library currently has about 4,100 library cards in circulation. Obviously 4,100 different people do not use their library cards in each calendar year, but thousands of unique library members do. The current cost of a library card for a non-resident at Plaistow, Atkinson, or Sandown is $65. Say 3,500 people want to use the library in a year- a realistic number of unique yearly library users in Danville- this would cost the Town around $227,000. Utilizing other libraries in the area could cost the Town about $20,000 (using FY2012 budget amount) more than it would to have our own town library open. So by closing our library, we would have our residents drive to another town, spending more on gas, to a library that has developed a collection for a community that has not taken into consideration an influx of thousands of people to use that library all for a savings of -$20,000. And guess how much a library card for non-residents will be next year then? Considerably more that $65, I bet. I can go on, but I think I've made my point.
So let's knock it off with the talk of regional services. It's a poorly conceived, pipe dream of an idea that only serves to unjustly vilify our town services and makes them out to be a scapegoat for the reason as to why the property taxes are so high. Let's use logic. Cutting and combining services will not significantly decrease Danville's tax burden. If you want to have a real conversation about lessening the tax burden, talk to the Selectmen and the Planning Board about what they are doing to entice developers and new businesses to come to Danville.
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby Sheila » Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:54 pm

Article 2013-16 Dissolve Elected Animal Control Officer Position
To see if the Town will vote to rescind Citizen Petition Warrant Article 2012-18 that created the position of a yearly elected Animal Control officer and continue animal control services as currently administered through the Police Department per RSA 41:2.
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Re: Selectmen choosing to ignore the Town’s directive

Postby Sheila » Fri Feb 01, 2013 9:37 am

Home » News » Politics » Town Meetings
January 31. 2013 8:33PM

Animal control creates tension in Danville
ShareThisBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent DANVILLE - The town's former animal control officer plans to challenge a proposal that would throw out last year's town meeting vote to make the job an elected position.

Sheila Johannesen said she will fight a warrant article proposed by selectmen this year to rescind the vote and allow the town to keep a regional ACO contract with the Plaistow Police Department instead.

Johannesen served as ACO from 2003 to 2011, when selectmen decided not to reappoint her. Instead, they chose to contract out the services to Plaistow's ACO in a move that has saved the town money, according to Selectman Shawn O'Neil, board chairman.

Selectmen never gave Johannesen a reason for letting her go, but she claims it was orchestrated by O'Neil as a "personal vendetta" because the two rarely saw eye to eye when it came to her budget and the volume of calls.

"Shawn and I have always butted heads," she said.

Johannesen proposed a citizen-petitioned warrant article last year to make the ACO an elected position, which was approved 418 to 263.

Voters in March will elect the ACO for the first time since the article passed and Johannesen plans to run, but selectmen have now proposed an article to be considered at the polls in March that seeks to toss last year's vote.

The proposal has angered Johannesen, who is also Hampstead's ACO.

"When the town votes for something you don't expect the selectmen to not do what you voted for," she said.

She accused O'Neil of acting like a "bully" at meetings, but he disagrees.

"I'm looking out for the town's best interests," he said, adding that he has "no personal vendetta against anybody."

O'Neil said the town is getting a "better product and at a cheaper cost" with the Plaistow contract.

He noted that Brian Farrell, who serves as Danville and Plaistow's ACO, is also a police officer who has more powers than Johannesen did when she was ACO.

"There's a lot of stuff that an ACO can't do that a police officer can do, such as issuing summonses and tickets," O'Neil said.

But the bigger issue seems to be money.

In her last year as ACO, Johannesen said her budget was just under $12,000. Of that, she said she earned a salary of about $7,000 while her assistant was paid between $2,000 and $3,000. The rest of the budget was used to cover related expenses, she said.

Under the Plaistow contract, O'Neil claims Danville has received a "superior" level of ACO services with a budget of only $6,000 in 2012. He said the budget this year has been lowered to $4,500.

"You've got a person who's got training. He's gone to the Police Standards and Training (Council). Sheila has not," he said.

As for her budget, Johannesen said she worked on the numbers with the police chief.

"The budget wasn't done solely by me," she said.

Johannesen insists the town is getting shortchanged, claiming she's heard from some residents who have contacted her with animal problems because they were unable to reach Farrell. She said she's helped people with their animal issues, like reuniting a lost dog with its owner, even though she's no longer ACO.

Johannesen said she believes she handled more ACO calls when she served.

She filed a request under the state's right-to-know law seeking ACO records on Jan. 15 but said she hasn't received them yet.

She wants to see records that include, among other things, animal-related calls for service responded to by any Danville police officer as well as the ACO; dog licensing records, tickets, fines and court cases; time spent on animal-related tickets, fines, and ACO summonses; and the ACO time sheets and logs.

Johannesen said she hoped to have the information in hand for Saturday's deliberative session, where voters will debate proposed warrant articles but claims she was told she would receive everything by Feb. 19.

O'Neil said Johannesen requested too much information and that it will take time to pull it all together.

"We are not stonewalling this," he said.
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