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Residents praise Glendale improvements, criticize tax rate

August 18, 2010
The annual summer town forum gave Gilford residents, both year-round and seasonal, the chance to voice compliments and concerns and to hear about the town's accomplishments over the past year and improvements planned for the future.

After the heads of each town department introduced themselves last Wednesday night, prior to the Board of Selectmen meeting, it was evident that they're all experiencing one of their busiest summer seasons and are working toward future goals.

Recent improvements include the efficiency, appearance, and lack of crowding at the Glendale docks, which many residents have noticed during their summer recreation this year after selectmen pushed to make the facility better for taxpayers.

Gilford resident Connie Welch and her family often use the Glendale facility to launch their boat and Welch told the selectmen she was very pleased with its cleaner look this year.

"The dumpsters used to be overflowing and I haven't seen that once this year – not even during the Fourth of July, and this was one heck of a summer," said Welch.

Welch also thanked the people working down at Glendale this year, along with a Gilford Police Department employee, and said it makes the town docks a friendlier, more organized place to utilize in the summer months.

A Lockes Island resident also complimented the Glendale facilities on their efficiency this year, and said people must be in the habit of recycling more since the trash situation looks much better and makes a clear difference to all who visit.

Resident John Goodhue said he hopes the solar experimental lights work at Glendale, which the Department of Public Works director had mentioned earlier in the night, and made some suggestions for the dock being repaired by this fall.

"A dock at Glendale is being rebuilt and it would be nice to make the head of the dock pick-up only and make both sides (verse just one side) three hour parking," said Goodhue, noting that some larger boats may require more time.

Goodhue also addressed the speed limits on Governor's Island and said although they have already changed to 25 mph, he would like to see them even lower.

Resident Don Orfeo said he heard a rumor that the speed limit on Governor's Island and his residency at Scenic Drive may change from 30 to 25 mph, a change that he and 90 other residents welcomed after signing a petition, concerned over the many pedestrians with canes, joggers, and parents with baby strollers on the street.

Orfeo said he would be happy with 25 mph hour although he is concerned with signage by Ellacoya which leads to Scenic Drive, and felt it should be more prominent on the road to prevent speeding. He added that someone had recently brought up the suggestion of making the road private now that Route 11 is available.

Edgewater Drive resident Barbara Aichinger came to the forum with many questions at hand and addressed her concern over the town's tax rate.

"The waterfront homeowner bares a lot of burden for taxes, and island residents (seasonal residents) can't vote at town elections yet they are paying taxes," said Aichinger. "What can the selectmen to do lower the tax rate?"

After she was reminded that taxes are based on value, and there is more value on the water and therefore a higher rate, Selectman Gus Benavides explained the town's stance.

"We have looked at what we can do to control spending," said Benavides, such as making some town employee positions part time jobs and so on. "There has been growth in town so the spending has increased."

Benavides added that the town itself is small compared to the school system and their needs, comparing a 2010 $11-million budget to the school's $23-million budget for 1,200 students.

"It's a tough question to ask. We have looked at different positions and done away with annual raises that are now based on merit, even for the unions. We are looking for small and large savings," said Benavides.

Aichinger asked if the town could guarantee a reduction in town budgets, a cut deeper than last year's zero percent growth in all town budgets.

Benavides answered that this would be challenging to achieve, considering town employees are also valued and are already paying for a percentage of their own health insurance costs and taking on more tasks then required of them because of difficult economic times.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn concluded the summer forum discussion and said the town is about to embark on their 2011-2012 budget season.

"A lot of budget items have been dispersed and may come back to nip us, yet there is a balance. The use of all departments is up and we need bodies behind those departments – yet we are cognizant of the residents' needs as well," said Dunn.

During the Parks and Recreation Department's presentation at the 2010 summer forum, it was also noted that the department would need to raise $7,000 - $10,000 more to afford this year's Old Home Day festivities and fireworks. Donations can still be made and support can be shown by buying Old Home Day t-shirts and contributing to the bucket brigade.

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