Click here to learn more about our Chairman in a recent interview.
My name is Kaleb Jacob, Chairman of the New Boston Taxpayers’ Association. I moved here with my family in August, 2007. Having lived in Bedford and Goffstown, then Wisconsin and Maine, we hand picked New Boston as our home when we came back to New Hampshire and we did not settle for any other town. At that time we felt that our taxes were pretty reasonable. Every year we saw a shocking increase. Now, I feel that property tax rates are out of control and today there are ballot items that, if voted up, will probably require more postage to get my tax bill to my mailbox.
For years I have complained about these increases. On a serious note, some New Boston residents have actually cried wondering how they will afford their tax bill. Many town employees know me as the one that says “neigh” at town and school deliberative sessions. I am usually by myself, but occasionally there are others that say it and they are almost always senior citizens. This was my way to tell the town leaders that not all of us are happy with the constant hikes. For years, this didn’t seem to make any difference. When I heard about a capital expenditure that may hit our ballot in 2017 that may cost around $2.5 million and that steps have already been taken in that direction to possibly solidify the initiative, I decided to stop complaining and start a taxpayer watchdog group. And guess what? I have been extremely busy for the last week with meetings, social media, personal emails to me and back to people that you would think read my mind. My weekend of chores turned into a full time job with the NBTA and I have not been this stress free in years. It does help to talk about it and stop complaining about it. The response has been explosive in a good way.
Last Wednesday, we had about 5 members on our Facebook page and today we have 56. We elected officers, board members and adopted bylaws. Our leadership team is better than what many companies have and the emails and phone calls still come in. Talking about this to residents almost always starts a vibrant conversation and most people just assumed that sharply rising taxes was the norm and that no one cared. Some have said that they never voted in town politics but that they will this year. Now there is an advocate for the taxpayer and will make sure there is constant forward motion to the goal of lowering taxes and justifying every dollar. The NBTA will be doing research, interviews and reporting back to the residents the results of their analysis.
Consider becoming a member by clicking Contact Us and asking for a membership application.
Kaleb Jacob, Chairman
2 thoughts on “Welcome to the NBTA”
Great intro, Kaleb. I’m sure many others feel the same way. It’s hard to argue with the reality that taxes have increased substantially within the last few years.
In reply to Bill Shmidt’s suggestion that anyone who is interested in the tax and spend process in New Boston should join Town committees and attend meetings. I totally disagree and here’s why:
In the early 1990’s: The local newspaper in the town I lived in published the report I generated, in a 3 part series dealing with waste and abuse in the local school system. The result: The superintendent of schools was fired!
In the early 2000’s: In that same town I lived in, we were faced with the possibility of a destination casino being built just a few hundred yards from the middle school and less than half mile from our business district of a town of 12,500. The impact would have been devastating. The town would have been faced with close to $100 million dollars in upgrading their water and sewer, emergency services and school system. The casino developer would not commit to mitigating any of these expenses. The Town committee I served on to study this impact was comprised of mostly pro-casino people who in some cases, planned on jobs at the casino when it opened. Thus, when my colleague and I turned in our report, the Town Counsel refused to allow it to be presented in a hearing scheduled for the purpose of publicizing our reports. So, I submitted it to the media. The result was incredible. Even though the town had overwhelmingly approved a non-binding referendum 10 years prior when another casino wanted to move into town, this time around the binding referendum (required by the State to be taken) to approve the casino, failed soundly.
Lesson learned: When government refuses to listen to and cooperate with its citizens, that is the recipe for disaster. Going along to get along only goes so far. In case Mr. Shmidt didn’t get the message at the recent Town election, the majority of the taxpayers who voted, do not agree that the Town departments and committees are doing a real nice job at working smartly. Not only were politicians who turned a deaf ear to the citizens on many issues, not re-elected, but budgets were rejected. There are more ways that we the People can get the information we are looking for in order to make sound judgments. That’s what “sunshine” laws are for. We will seek the truth and let our findings be made available to the general public. In some cases we may find that a given department is actually operating very efficiently using sound principles in their decision making processes. In other cases we may find that the Town is efficiently digging holes one day and filling them back in the next. But, in government’s eyes, they are digging and filling very efficiently! As an example, at the most recent selectman’s meeting I asked why the Transfer Station that is opened less than 30 hours a week to the public, has a line item of almost $ 8,000 out of their $400,000 per year budget for “overtime” pay. Seriously? And on top of that, was only required to reduce his spending by less than 1.5% when the Fire Department was forced to reduce their budget of approx. $240,000 by 10%. The message there is quite clear. Our Town officials put a higher priority on recycling aluminum cans than they do in our first responders. But, I’ll bet those aluminum cans get sorted very efficiently! Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up. But, maybe you can? The response by the Town Administrator was that the public should not believe the budget figures published in the NB Bulletin. It was also indicated by our officials that the Town Report that our taxes pay to have published is also filled with misleading information. Truth – I guess we can’t handle the truth, according to our Town government.
It may take a committee to rubber stamp budget requests year after year, but it takes a village to get them voted in. 2016 Lesson learned!