Raymond Shared Resources Committee News

Joint Resource Committee Plans Call-In for Oct. 24
By Penny Williams 10-2-17

The Joint Resource Committee has prioritized items from its proposed Five-Year Plan that will be subjects for call-in sessions it plans to hold, with the first set for Oct. 24.

At its Sept. 27 meeting, the advisory committee discussed having a call-in session using RCTV (Raymond Community Television). Kevin Woods, RCTV director, has done something similar in the past, but the committee noted some drawbacks, including the inability of the cable audience to hear the caller.

Much of the meeting was devoted to deciding how to inform the public of a call-in and it was decided all the avenues noted at previous meetings – Town and School District newsletters, RCTV, raymondareanews.com, social media, the Town website, and announcements at local meetings – should be used.

With facilities already set as the main topic for an Oct. 16 joint Board of Selectmen-School Board meeting, the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) was chosen as the subject for the first call-in.

Selectman Jack Barnes, a committee member, asked whether the Resource Committee is in support of the Five-Year Plan and the consensus was that it is. He then said he hoped the two boards would make a decision on the topic of facilities.

After deciding on the CIP as its call-in topic, the committee said a format for the hour-long call-in session should be created. Selectman chair Jonathan Wood, a committee member, suggested the first 10 minutes should be devoted to an explanation of the topic, followed by 45 minutes of questions focused on the CIP. The final five minutes would be for questions not related to the CIP. Callers will be able to identify themselves or be anonymous.

Much time went into trying to determine who would answer the called-in questions. The committee decided to invite at least one selectman and one school board member, the CIP chair and/or a CIP committee member, financial officers from both the Town and School District, a Budget Committee member and a Trustee of the Trust Funds.

Tuesday, Oct. 24, between 8 and 9 p.m. was chosen as the first call-in session. Committee co-facilitators Doug Vogel and Neva Cole will be the organizers, producers and directors and will work with RCTV on getting it set up.

In other business, Cole said she had received no volunteers to work on a proposed Improving Communications Committee but would welcome anyone. She can be contacted at neva@austrew.com.

Raymond Resource Committee Considers Proposed Five-Year Plan
By Penny Williams   9-20-17

The Raymond Joint Resource Committee met Sept. 14 and discussed a proposed Five-Year Plan for town and school financing, provided by Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood, a member of the committee.

Wood explained the plan outlines facilities and expenditures for Raymond. The members said the plan should be considered by an as yet non-existent Facilities Committee and by professionals who could ensure the estimates Wood used are accurate and reasonable.

Among the suggestions included in the plan (see accompanying chart) would be for Town officials to estimate the cost to convert Lamprey River Elementary School into a police station, as well as for School District officials to estimate the cost to build a new elementary school on the Raymond High School campus. In 2018, the plan proposes a non-binding Town warrant to limit total spending to 2.5 percent or less of assessed value, along with boosting CIP (Capital Improvement Program) funding, increasing road funding, buying a new plow truck, and budgeting rental of a portable office and evidence storage container for police, to alleviate crowding and safety issues.

The School District would have a similar non-binding warrant in 2018 limiting spending, improving its CIP contribution, buying a 10,000-gallon oil tank for the elementary school, and requesting funds for a space needs and cost analysis for a new elementary school.

A bond to build a new elementary school to replace Lamprey River would appear in 2019, and a bond to convert the elementary school to a police station would appear on the 2020 warrant.

Committee facilitator Doug Vogel asked the school board and selectmen members of the committee to present the plan to their boards. Committee member Carol Watjus wanted the plan presented to the public in conjunction with an event likely to draw a crowd, and agreed to seek a venue for such an occurrence.

In other business:

• The committee discussed putting together a communication plan for the Town, as sought by Selectman Wayne Welch.

Co-facilitator Neva Cole wanted a communication committee formed and agreed to spearhead the endeavor to gather information on what could be done to increase the items listed on the calendar on the Town Web site to cover all events, meetings, and activities for Raymond citizens.

Cole was asked to contact Kevin Woods of Raymond Community Television (RCTV) to discuss the possibility of such a comprehensive calendar listing. She asked anyone interested in helping to contact her at: Neva@austrew.com.

• Selectman Jack Barnes interrupted the discussion to say they were running out of time and he thought consideration should be given to informing the public about the importance of the work being done in the Budget Committee, CIP, and the Board of Selectmen. He said the public should be encouraged to attend or watch on RCTV those board and committee meetings in order to understand what they will be asked to vote on in March. That led him to emphasize the importance of attendance at the Deliberative session.

Barnes also recommended citizens get copies of the Raymond Voter Information Project (RVIP) Voters Guide, which he said is an excellent and unbiased compilation of the warrant articles, what they are asking and what they mean. The guide is made available online and in print before the March election.

• The committee, sticking with its recommendation not to put any bond on the 2018 warrant and going forward to recommend building a school on town-owned property and converting the current elementary school into a police station, Town Offices and Town Center, decided to send Wood's five-year plan to the School Board and Board of Selectmen; to meet with those boards or board representatives to consider the recommendations of the committee and the five-year plan; and to get residents’ input on the plan.

The next Joint Resource Meeting is Sept. 27, with the possibility of a joint board meeting with the selectmen and school board, or representatives of those groups, Sept. 28.





Anticipated Growth in Tax


Estimate cost to convert Lamprey School to a Police station
Budget to pay for School Water

Estimate cost to build a new elementary school in RHS Campus

20 Building Permits Issued Estimated $6M increase in Town wide assessment.
Estimated School Impact Fee


Non-Binding Warrant to limit total spending to 2.5% or less of Assessed Value. Improve CIP Contribution Increase Road Funding
Buy a New Plow Truck Budget for rented portable office & evidence storage
container for police alleviate crowding & safety issues.

Non-Binding Warrant to limit total spending to 2.5% or less of Assessed Value. Improve CIP Contribution Pay for a 10,000-Gal Oil Tank for Lamprey School – savings
Request funds for Space needs analysis & cost for new elementary school.

61 Building Permits anticipated with an estimated additional assessment value of $14M Estimated School Impact Fee


Improve CIP Contribution Increase Road Funding Request funds for conversion analysis & cost for Lamprey school.

Improve CIP Contribution Bond New Elementary School

58 Building Permits anticipated with an estimated additional assessment value of $14M Estimated School Impact Fee


Improve CIP Contribution Bond Conversion of Lamprey School to Police station
Buy a New Plow Truck

Improve CIP Contribution Complete New Elementary School

46 Building Permits anticipated with an estimated additional assessment value of $11M Estimated School Impact Fee


Improve CIP Contribution Complete Police station conversion
Fund moving some town offices to Lamprey School

Improve CIP Contribution

43 Building Permits anticipated with an estimated additional assessment value of $10M Estimated School Impact Fee


Improve CIP Contribution Bond additional well site acquisition.

Improve CIP Contribution

41 Building Permits anticipated with an estimated additional assessment value of $9M Estimated School Impact Fee


2016 Town Assessed Valuation w/o Utilities
Tax Rate $23.74/$1,000


Anticipated growth is estimated from residential development only and only from projects that have been approved and proposed to Planning Board as of



Shared Resource Committee Provides Three Priority Recommendations
By Penny Williams   9-1-17

The Joint Resource Committee presented three priorities they recommended the School Board and Board of selectmen consider going forward. These focused on three specific areas: Prioritizing the Town's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) situation; Facilitating a vision for all Raymond tax-payer funded facilities; and, Maintaining a thrifty annual operating budget (level tax rate/payment).

Facilitator Doug Vogel presented the committee's recommendations to the combined School Board and Board of Selectmen on Wednesday night, August 23. Both boards took the recommendations under advisement.

The recommendation from the Joint Resource Committee, according to Vogel, were developed through discussion and the results of the survey that was distributed at the Town Fair and to which 314 people responded. Vogel called the basis for the recommendations were a "snap shot of the focus of Raymond."

Communications, Vogel told the boards, came up at every discussion and was found to be the crux of the issues. He told the boards that the information they received indicated that the way most people wanted to receive information and to have things communicated to them was by mailed newsletters. That was followed by email from the School and the  Town; Facebook and Social Media; Raymond Community TV; Raymond Area News; School and Town Web pages; Carriage Town News; Union Leader; flyers in stores; and other suggestions. He told the board members that communication is a critical issue that needs to be addressed.

Beginning with the first, prioritize the CIP, he said this needs to be clearly explained as the Town's Savings Plan, with education provided to the residents on the purpose and intent of the CIP. He suggested that the Capital Reserve Funds (CRF) need to have increase funding and both boards should improve the diversity of its education and communication with residents as to what the CIP and CRF are, what their functions are and how they benefit the Town. He emphasized using laymen's terms to explain the legal language that has to be used in developing Warrant Articles. He further recommended both boards research ways and other methods that could be used to improve the CRF growth, while clearly defining the purpose and method of development of each and every CRF. He urged the boards to focus on supporting the CIP and to disseminating education about the CIP in ways everyone could understand. He indicated the Raymond CIP is roughly 20 percent less than where it needs to be.

School Board and Resource Committee member Joe Saulnier said, "I'd like to
save more toward the CIP. I also think that there is a fear in town that if
we increase it, it will get denied."

Vogel suggested holding a Call In Night when residents could call in to the combined boards or the Budget Committee for example and get their questions answered and again emphasized the need for education.

On the next recommendation, A Coordinated vision for all Raymond tax-payer funded facilities, based on the responses to the survey, 52 percent wanted to see the elementary school facility issue resolved within the next year and 72 percent wanted it resolved within 5 years and majority wanted it bonded, he said.  He said 43 percent of survey respondents wanted to see the Police Station building issue resolved within 2 to 5 years.

Vogel told the boards his committee recommends prioritizing the school facility and the police station facility and further, the committee recommends no major overhaul of a school or town facility be placed on the 2018 ballot. The committee did recommend a sub-committee be created to prepare for a facility vote in 2019 or 2020. The committee itself recommends resolving the school issue then the police station issue. In the meantime, regardless of what happens, he recommended that a 10,000 gallon fuel tank be installed at LRES which would realize a saving of about $0.25 per gallon so would pay for itself. The committee should continue its work and evaluate long term facility issues across the entire town and educate the boards and the townspeople about how to develop and fund the CIP to deal with this.

 According to Vogel there is significant concern about adding another bond payment while the Town continues to pay for the Raymond High School roof and the Middle School that stretch out to 2024/2025.

There was a discussion about developing a specific Elementary School Committee and a suggestion to considering using property already owned so consider building a new school on the High School campus. This would then allow the Police Department to move into the front of the LRES building and use the back for a community center since it has the kitchen and dining facility. But again Vogel suggested nothing should be put on the 2018 ballot, rather, a committee of townspeople should be created to look at all the building needs and come up with a plan and make it happen.

Delving into the third recommendation, The annual budget and maintaining a thrift annual operating budget with a level tax rate/ payment, Vogel said the boards should treat the taxpayers money as if it were the Town's last thousand dollars because it might be your neighbor's last dollar. He insisted the boards need to focus on keeping the operating budgets at a minimum and pointed out the Town has learned that a Default Budget is not in anyone's best interest. Continued education and communication with townspeople about how the boards can go about improving cost savings is critical. He suggested the boards can't keep doing things they have been and must look at out-of-the-box solutions.

"We need to change how we think, " he said, "how we do things and the direction in which we're headed."

He went on to say what the boards and Town spends is what is important and the townspeople need to understand what it is they are getting for the money they are paying. Therefore, he said, tightening operating budgets to the maximum extent possible is necessary and whatever the boards do,  more needs to be done to show the taxpayers the boards take this seriously. He went on to say that the Resource Committee should continue to work with both boards to develop combined resources that can be used and he suggested as an example, having a single maintenance director that work for both school and town.

"We need to continue this working research sub-committee through the fall and into the winter to fine tune communications and the vision for the town," he said. "In all aspects, we assess that there are many opportunities to improve the communications between the townspeople and the governing boards and the shared education that supports our Raymond vision."

Carol Watjus said she recognized the Joint Resource Committee is just an advisory committee but she hoped the boards would take these recommendations seriously because they impact everybody.

Neva Cole, co-facilitator of the Joint Resource Committee, said there is a negative perception about how the boards make their decisions and she encouraged the boards to communicate their deliberations and how they arrive at their decisions more clearly.

School Board Chair John Harmon said his research has shown that the tax rate has only risen 16.7 percent since 2008 and inflation has risen just over 12 percent while the CIP funding has been increased 10 percent and he thought that was pretty good. The school district tried to be level funded and had delivered money back to the town. He asked what the two boards wanted to see on the 2018 ballot and said he was not in favor of doing nothing because the delay only makes what the school and town are doing more inefficient and doesn't serve either town or school district's best interests. He said that something needs to be done and done quickly and he wanted to know when the school board and board of selectmen could sit down together and decide what they were doing regarding the three options open to them - putting forward the Police Station; putting forward the School; or, doing nothing.

Vogel responded saying that people didn't get raises to match inflation and this was important to recognize and he reiterated doing nothing on the coming ballot. He recommended developing a long term vision for the town. Watjus suggested people recognize just long bond payments go and how much interest gets paid.

Selectman Wayne Welch asked what the Resource Committee recommends to improve communication and asked that suggestions be forwarded to the BOS. Vogel suggested that RCTV at a specific time each day might broadcast the upcoming meetings and agendas. Selectman Jack Barnes reminded everyone that not everyone has the ability to take advantage of that and the communications needs to reach everyone.

Both boards agreed they should meet again at a work session and that the Resource Committee members should be there as back bench participants.

Developing a better survey that would be distributed to all residents to get their input on the three proposed recommendations was supported and how to pay for it was questioned but not answered and how to get it done quickly was not answered either but Harmon said the information it would provide is really necessary to make a wise decision so it doesn't seem reasonable actually doing anything with the school or police station this year.

School Board member Michelle Couture said she wanted to hear from residents why anyone would want to come and live in Raymond and that input be part of the long term vision for the town.

The boards agreed to a workshop date of Thursday, September 14, at 7 p.m.

Shared Resource Committee Chooses Priorities
By Penny Williams   8-21-17

The Shared Resource Committee reviewed and finalized a list of recommendations to present Aug. 23 at a joint meeting with the Raymond Board of Selectmen and School Board.

The advisory committee members put together their top three choices from a list of nine at their Aug. 17 meeting. However, all nine will be noted for the combined boards.

It was noted that both the selectmen and School Board are waiting to see what the other board will place on the warrant - each board wondering whether the building article presented and defeated at the 2017 Town Meeting – a new police station for the Town and an expansion of the Lamprey River Elementary School for the School District - will be put forward again this year.

Under the direction of Doug Vogel, facilitator of the committee, the committee chose its three top recommendations. They are:

• Increase of CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) funding, supported by an explanation of what the CIP is and what it is designed to do, with an emphasis on education and communication to the taxpayers. The recommendation underscores the CIP’s role as a savings device, where the money voted by the taxpayers is placed into specific Capital Reserve Funds.

• Development of a subcommittee to look at the specific needs of the school district and the police in terms of facilities, with prioritization of when the facilities are needed and education and communication about each to justify the need. The cost of the facility would also be specified, and the subcommittee would research each of the prioritized facilities and come up with specifics.

• Consideration of operating budgets of both boards with a view to reducing them to maintain as level a tax rate as possible.

According to Vogel, the committee recommends that there be no facility construction on the 2018 warrant.

Among the other topics identified and discussed by the committee, many of which overlap, are establishment of subcommittees to research ways to improve resource sharing and reduce operating budgets, and to consider long-term facility development, and tightening of both Town and School District operating budgets.

The committee also wants to continue in operation into the winter to fine-tune its focus.

Town Manager Craig Wheeler told the committee he and other Town officials understand the message, as they are operating with a default budget already. He added, however, that further efforts to reduce the operating budget will mean decreased services. Education and communication are needed to support this, and townspeople should provide input into what they are willing to give up, he said.

It was further pointed out that the School District budget accounts for 60 percent of the tax rate.

Shared Resource Committee Considers Recommendations
By Penny Williams   8-14-17

The Shared Resource Committee will meet again Aug. 17 to finalize recommendations to the Raymond School Board and Board of Selectmen.

Meeting Aug. 10, the committee rambled somewhat but by the end of the meeting most members were comfortable recommending that the Town and School District keep their respective budgets flat, allowing for maintaining the present tax rate.

The recommendation also would fund the CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) and spread out projects over the ensuing five years - in 2018, a flat tax rate; in 2019, a flat tax rate and proposed new elementary school on the Raymond High School grounds; in 2020, building of the proposed school with a bond; in 2021, conversion of the current Lamprey River Elementary School into a police station and town offices; and in 2022, consideration of a community center.

The CIP generated considerable discussion. Co-facilitator Neva Cole said she thought the CIP should be funded through cuts or savings, and recommended maintaining the current tax rate. She also pushed for a subcommittee to look into the school building issue.

School Board member Jaclyn Sirrine agreed with funding the CIP and maintaining a flat tax rate, and she too proposed a facilities committee. Lay member Carol Watjus wanted to see the CIP maxed, both School District and Town annual budgets cut, and needs looked at long term so residents do not have to pay on multiple bonds at the same time. Selectman Jack Barnes agreed with these suggestions but added there needs to be a plan for the elementary school.

Selectman chair Jonathan Wood suggested continuing the committee into the winter and said the CIP should be presented to residents as a savings plan. He, too, favored holding the tax rate flat.

Wood prepared an analysis of the potential for 65 new single family homes as well as 150 condominium units and resulting impact fees over the next five years, and his math indicated that would provide Raymond with $1.8 million more in tax dollars. He said the Town needs to maintain the present tax rate.

Barnes jumped in on Wood's analysis to ask how many kids the 65 homes would generate, to which School Board member Joe Saulnier responded that things like that are always cyclical.

A letter was read into the record from resident Anthony Dickerson, who wrote that the committee should continue meeting because it is providing a service to residents.

During the course of the discussion, co-facilitator Doug Vogel asked if there should be a new elementary school in 2019 and Sirrine asked if it would be possible to convert the present elementary school into a police station. Wood said he had looked into it and it could be done for much less than $7 million, and suggested it would cost a rough estimate of $2.5 million.

Voters defeated in March bond requests for both a new police station and an addition to the elementary school.

Vogel summarized the discussion, saying the committee had determined some basic discussion points for the Aug. 23 joint meeting with the School Board and Board of Selectmen. He said this included major CIP support, a 5- to 10-year plan for solving several town-wide facility issues, tightening school and town annual budgets, and working to improve and increase education and communication.

The meeting set for Thursday, Aug. 17, at 6 p.m. at the high school is expected to finalize the committee recommendations to the Board of Selectmen and the School Board for the Aug. 23 meeting.


Raymond Survey Respondents Favor School, Police Station and Roads
By Penny Williams   7-24-17

The Raymond Shared Resources Committee’s survey, handed out at the Raymond Town Fair in early July, garnered 314 responses and a definite push for the Town and School District to focus on funding elementary school facilities, police station needs, and local road repairs in the next one to five years.

No one but committee members attended the July 20 committee meeting, where members reviewed the raw data from the survey.

Committee facilitator Doug Vogel admitted he hadn't expected anywhere near the number of surveys that were turned in. And Committee member Carol Watjus pointed out that communication was a primary concern of the survey takers.

The way Raymond residents want to get information, according to the survey, is through a mailed newsletter, emails from the Town and School District, social media - Facebook and Twitter, and RCTV (Raymond Community Television), and Raymond Area News (raymondareanews.com).

Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood noted the Town is doing as much as it can with its new monthly newsletter, given that it is operating on a default budget. It was noted that people can download and watch public meetings at RCTV, although watching the programs takes time.

The committee announced that a joint meeting of the School Board and Board of Selectmen will take place Tuesday, July 25, and heard that School Board Chair John Harmon is not happy with the way the committee conducts its meetings. Wood said Harmon wants to see the committee realigned according to the rules and regulations for running a committee meeting, and to address the charge originally given it - to find ways in which the two boards could work together to produce a financial savings. If that does not take place, Wood said Harmon wants the selectmen and school board no longer to be part of the committee, which could then be made up of laypersons only.

Vogel was annoyed by this and pointed out there was no way the committee could address those concerns. The committee will wait to see what comes out of the Joint School Board-Board of Selectmen meeting.

Wood pointed out the survey was intended to get a snapshot of residents’ priorities.

Concerning the survey’s question about communication, co-facilitator Neva Cole suggested that volunteers should be found to work with Town employees to put together a weekly or monthly newsletter that could also be aired on social media. After some discussion it was suggested that whatever newsletter is produced should be distributed more frequently and placed on social media. The committee also liked the idea of holding a question and answer session for residents.

The survey indicated the majority of responders chose the school building issue (a bond to build an addition to Lamprey River Elementary School failed at the polls in March), road repairs, and a new police station (a bond that also lost at the polls in March) as their top priorities. Residents, given the choice, wanted these three issues dealt with in the next one to five years.

Other “goals” listed by the committee on the survey were a downtown/commercial zone sewer system, lack of a community center, purchase of new equipment, and improvement of water system infrastructure. There were no write-ins of other suggestions.

No cost was associated with any of the goals.

The data also indicated that people favored bonding as the method of funding for both the school and police station; for the roads, survey respondents wanted to see tax money used, bonding if necessary, and the use of the CIP (Capital Improvements Program).

Not many survey takers favored cutting services as a way to deal with funding, but survey comments indicated residents wanted to see the Town and School District use tax money more efficiently.

The committee decided to make recommendations to the two boards based on the survey data and said there might be a need to look at how the committee operates going forward. They saw three possibilities - continuing in the same fashion as they have been operating; changing from a committee charged with a task by the Board of Selectmen and School Board to a strictly citizen committee; or shutting down.

 The committee will meet with the selectmen and school board to deliver the survey findings and make recommendations based on that data, possibly on Aug. 17. The committee will meet Aug. 10 to review and prepare the survey results and its recommendations.


Survey Ready for Visitors to Raymond Town Fair
By Penny Williams   7-3-17

A survey developed by the Raymond Joint Resources Committee will be available at the Raymond Town Fair at the committee’s booth. The booth will be open throughout the Fair, which takes place around the Town Common on Friday, July 7 through Sunday, July 9.

At its June 30 meeting, the committee changed some language in the survey, including substituting “resolve” for “address” in relation to goals. Members of the committee say the survey results will guide them in the development of a second survey, which the group intends to mail to all residents.

The committee made the decision to print 250 copies of the initial survey for distribution at the Town Fair. Committee facilitator Doug Vogel said he thinks this amount is much more than would be needed, but members disagreed and said if copies of the surveys run out, they would see to it that more were immediately printed.

The committee made several changes to clarify the goals and to include the Talk of the Town Newsletter as an information source.

The amended survey now reads as follows:

Raymond United For Common Goals -  Draft Survey

1. Goals for Raymond School/Town
Timeframe to reach goals in years: 0-1, 2-5, 6-10, 10-15, never, to be selected for each goal
• Install Downtown/Commercial Zone Sewer
• Resolve Elementary School Issues
• Resolve Police Station Needs
• Develop a Community Center
• Fix Town Roads/Bridges
• Purchase New Equipment (Trucks, Fire Trucks, Loaders, Plows)
• Increase Water System Infrastructure Capacity
• Other

2. In Order to Reach These Goals, How Should We Fund Them?
Goals repeated and respondents to chose funding method for each goal
Funding methods: Property tax - pay in one year; bond – payment over several years; save in fund (CIP – Capital Improvement Plan), cut existing services; do not fund at all.

3. How Would You Prefer to Receive School/Town Information? Check all that apply:
Raymond Community TV (RCTV), email from school and town, school and town Web pages, mailed newsletter, fliers in stores, Face book and other social media, Raymond Area News (raymondareanews.com), Carriage Towne News, Union Leader, Talk of the Town Newsletter, other.

After the three questions, respondents are asked to complete the following demographic information:
Age Group  - 18-28, 29-40, 41-50, 51-64, 65-plus
Are you a Raymond voter?
Additional comments.

Committee member Rani Merryman said she would take care of getting definitions and explanations of the goals printed so they would be available to help people understand the survey items. The committee does not want the people staffing the booth to answer such questions.

Committee member Jack Barnes, a selectman, raised the question of what to do with the completed surveys. There will be a special box at the booth for people to place their completed surveys. The committee decided that the person covering the last shift in the booth on each day of the fair will take the completed surveys home and tally the responses on a cover sheet. Thus, when the committee meets on Thursday, July 20, at 7 p.m. at the Raymond High School media center, the committee should have an easier time tabulating the results.

Members expect the survey results will give them a sense of the respondents’ priorities; that information will be the starting point for the second survey the committee plans to develop to be mailed to the residents of Raymond.



Shared Resources Committee Survey Nearing Final Form
By Penny Williams     6-26-17

A brief survey about Town and School District spending priorities, to be distributed by the Raymond Joint Resources advisory committee, is moving closer to its final form, following discussion at the group’s June 22 meeting.

But despite repeated invitations for residents to participate in the discussions, no new participants attended that meeting.

Facilitator Doug Vogel led the discussion, as the group decided to have a booth at the Town Fair July 7, 8, and, 9, and to finalize questions to ask residents at the fair. Selectman Jack Barnes told the committee it would be given a free booth. Rani Merryman said she expects to have the booth staffed during all open hours of the three-day fair.

The committee plans to give out its survey at Town Fair to ask people what their priorities are for Raymond school and town spending. By the close of the meeting, members had worked on their three questions for the survey, and Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood had agreed to put those questions in draft form.

Vogel said the committee needed three solid questions for the survey. The committee discussed once again how Town government communicates with residents and how the committee thinks residents prefer to receive information. After a lot of discussion it was determined that Vogel's email (doug.vogel@comcast.net) would be made available to residents who want to ask the committee any questions or voice concerns or suggestions. He will send any comments he receives to the other committee members.

The survey will also ask residents to prioritize goals.

Following the meeting, Wood prepared the draft questions, put together from the meeting’s discussion as well as from a previously submitted report of goals and questions. The draft will be reviewed and could be revised at the committee’s next meeting, slated for Friday, June 30, with no location announced. From that meeting, the final Town Fair Survey will be developed and printed.

The committee hopes the Town Fair survey responses will lead to a more detailed survey it can develop that would likely be distributed to residents by mail. The survey draft follows:

Raymond United For Common Goals -  Draft Survey

    1. Goals for Raymond School/Town
Timeframe to reach goals in years: 0-1, 2-5, 6-10, 10-15, never
• Downtown/Commercial Zone Sewer
• Address Elementary School Issues
• Address Police Station Needs
• Address Lack of Community Center
• Fix Town Roads
• Buy New Equipment (Trucks, Fire Trucks, Loaders)
• Improve Water System Infrastructure
• Other

2. In Order to Reach These Goals, How Should We Fund Them?
Funding methods: Property tax - pay in one year; bond – payment over several years; save in fund (CIP – Capital Improvement Plan), cut existing services; do not fund at all.

3. How Would You Prefer to Receive School/Town Information? Check all that apply:
Raymond Community TV (RCTV), email from school and town, school and town Web pages, mailed newsletter, fliers in stores, Facebook and other social media, Raymond Area News (raymondareanews.com), Carriage Towne News, Union Leader, other.

Age Group  - 18-28, 29-40, 41-50, 51-64, 65-plus
Are you a Raymond voter?
Additional comments.

Shared Resource Committee Changes Direction
By Penny Williams    6-8-17

The Combined Resource Committee shifted direction under facilitator Doug Vogel, who said he would love to have 30 or more residents get together at the June 22 meeting to discuss a proposed survey.

Vogel began the June 6 meeting by saying he was not sure who the committee is and what it is supposed to be doing. School Board member Joe Saulnier, the committee secretary, said he thought the purpose of the Combined Resource Committee was to examine what resources the Town and School District could share to achieve a savings for the taxpayers, and to look at what residents favored cutting.

The meeting was attended by Doug Vogel, Joe Saulnier, Jonathan Wood, Sandy Ellis, Rani Merryman, Robin Jordan, Dana Hanson, Ernie Creveling, Jack Barnes, Carol and Wayne Watjus. Neva Cole was absent.

Selectman Barnes said he thought the purpose was to see where the two boards could work together and what resources could be shared.

Vogel said the committee had a recommended charge for the committee put forward by Superintendent Ellen Small, as previously reported, which outlined those challenges, but noted he had not seen any vote of acceptance taken on it. That charge includes: neither a School Board nor Board of Selectmen member should chair the committee; the committee was created to determine and develop priorities for Raymond; the committee is advisory and nothing it decides is binding; and the committee should solicit citizen input and make recommendations for the development of reasonable plans for the Town. Small also noted the committee should report its progress to both the School Board and Board of Selectmen as meetings are held, with a final report delivered by October.

Vogel said his view is the committee exists because the bond measures for a new police station and for an addition to Lamprey River Elementary School both failed on the March warrant. Barnes, however, noted that no residents had called him to express unhappiness with those two items being on the warrant.

Resident Rani Merryman said she didn't think residents should have to come to the boards and tell them what they should and shouldn't do - the boards themselves should recognized the issue. Resident Robin Jordan added that her major issue is communication, or the lack thereof. Resident Dana Hanson added that people tend to get involved only if an issue touches them.

Jordan suggested that town-wide communication is needed, and perhaps social media was the answer. Vogel pointed out that people can see what various boards will be discussing by checking the agendas posted on the Town Website and at Town Hall, Raymond High School and the Dudley-Tucker Library. He also suggested an electronic banner sign carrying agenda information.

It was noted that not everyone uses social media or even has a computer.

Vogel then suggested having agendas on the RCTV cable station at specific times. Ernest Cartier Creveling, Community Development director, said there are now two different email sign-up opportunities people can access through his department.

Vogel then said the committee needs to decide three things it will go after, and communication/education is number one. He repeated that the committee is there because two town facilities he said were deemed necessary by the Town and School District were defeated at the polls.

Selectman Chair Jonathan Wood pointed out that leading up to the Town Meeting, both facilities projects were aired a number of times at different venues and in different ways. Carol Watjus said, however, that despite that, she didn't get all the information regarding the proposed projects other than by looking for it herself.

Wood pointed out that a warrant article for road repair passed, and during discussion, residents said it passed because they claimed Raymond roads have never been worse.

Vogel said it costs money to operate the town and he floated his second point - efficient use of taxes. He suggested leaders should have SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely, and asked whether people thought the Town should be asked to hold taxes level for three years.

There was no agreement or decision, and Vogel admitted there would be a cost to that choice regarding things that would not get done.

Merryman said government should be run like a business and Vogel indicated that isn't going to happen, but said residents could ask leaders to spend more or less on specific areas. Barnes interjected that this was getting way off track from what the committee was supposed to be doing.

After a discussion of what the committee should be doing, Vogel said the three things he sees the committee focusing on are communication/education; efficient use of taxes; and, a survey, which the committee wants to make available for distribution at the Town Fair in July.

There was a discussion of what should be asked on the survey and in the end it boiled down to agreement that age range and Raymond residency were the only demographic information that made any difference in what the committee would learn from the survey. Merryman said she would develop a schedule of who would staff a free booth that Barnes said he would arrange for the committee to distribute the surveys during the Town Fair. No other method of distribution was chosen.

The committee plans to discuss previously reviewed survey questions and reconstruct them at the June 22 meeting. Joy offered to take the survey questions compiled by Saulnier and shorten them, then send them to Wood to put into the appropriate form for the committee review that evening.

Vogel said the questions should have yes or no answers or prioritization of choices. Barnes added that anything such as a new police station, elementary school addition or vehicle purchases should have an amount attached.

The committee adjourned with the expressed hope that more residents would join them June 22 and help craft the final version to seek residents’ priorities.


Purpose and Focus of Shared Resource Committee Questioned Yet Again
By Penny Williams   5-30-17

The Shared Resource Committee spent the first half an hour of its May 25 meeting arguing over how the committee is structured and what its charge is – topics that have occupied all previous meetings as well.

Co-facilitator Doug Vogel was absent but sent a letter that co-facilitator Neva Cole read into the record. In his letter he complained that the committee is not representative of the residents and suggested ways to change its representation and focus.

In the end, however, nothing changed, and it was decided that due to time constraints and time already invested, it made the most sense to move forward as is, while continuing to encourage residents to participate. An invitation for residents to participate has been issued at each meeting.

The committee reviewed its charge, originally set forth by School District Superintendent Ellen Small. That charge includes: neither a School Board nor Board of Selectmen member should chair the committee; the committee was created to determine and develop priorities for Raymond; the committee is advisory and nothing it decides is binding; and the committee should solicit citizen input and make recommendations for the development of reasonable plans for the Town. Small also noted the committee should report its progress to both the School Board and Board of Selectmen as meetings are held, with a final report delivered by October.

The committee remains an official advisory committee, with business to be conducted per RSAs (state statutes), including taking minutes, posting meetings and agendas, and requiring a quorum.

School Board member Joe Saulnier warned the members that if more residents come to the next meeting and join the committee, that will raise the number required for a quorum. If new members don't attend future meetings, that could thus pose a problem. It was noted that no additional residents attended the May 25 meeting.

Attending the meeting were Selectmen Jonathan Wood and Jack Barnes, Saulnier from the School Board, School District Finance Director Ronald Brickett, Neva Cole, Carol and Wayne Watjus, Police Chief David Salois, and Rani Merryman.

Turning to the survey the committee wants to send to residents, Saulnier said he had put together a list of the questions members of the committee had provided, but before they could begin with the survey questions, the committee had to discuss how the survey would be distributed.

Salois said there is a place on the Town Web site where people can join an email list, which could be used to distribute the survey.

The committee failed to reach agreement as to how the Survey Monkey survey would be distributed, other than saying it should be made available by a variety of means – electronic mail, postal service mail, the online newspaper Raymond Area News, and the Town Web site among them.

The first proposed survey question came from Merryman, asking the best way to keep residents informed about Town activities and issues. The question would list a variety of information resources – again, email, postal service mail, the Union Leader newspaper, Raymond Area News, and the Town web site.

The second question asked respondents to choose their top three priorities from a list provided. The list included: new public works vehicles, land for water system wells, elementary school expansion, road repair, a new town hall, a new police station, maintenance of a stable tax rate, and limiting future bonds. Discussion ensued.

Barnes noted that each of the items on the list should list an estimated cost, and after a brief discussion the group agreed. When the issue was raised of including a brief paragraph to explain each item, however, the limits of a one-page survey were noted.

At that point, both Carol and Wayne Watjus asked whether there would be any consideration of where money could be saved, which they thought was the point of the committee. No action was taken.

The third question would ask residents what services could be cut to save money. Members started to compile a list of possible services to cut, including trash collection (which in Raymond is curbside Pay As You Throw trash pickup and recycling), mosquito control, social services, recreation and football and other sports.

The committee launched into a discussion of public services and why they are needed. Salois pointed out that those receiving services for the most part are the town's most vulnerable and needy, and Saulnier said that if the town had to meet the needs of those requiring these services, it would likely cost the town a lot more.

Barnes noted that Raymond has the lowest average income in Rockingham County.

The committee decided that each of the items on the list of potential cuts should have an estimated savings amount.

Question four asked if residents supported the implementation of a sewer system for economic development and to bring in tax revenue. There was a brief discussion about the purpose of implementing a sewer system, where it would be located, what it would serve, what it would cost, and whether the revenue it would bring in was more than the cost to implement it.

Without resolving any of those issues, the committee moved on to the next question, which asked if respondents would voluntarily donate to an underfunded town project and if so, which projects they would support. There was a discussion of how such a donation could be made and how the money could be directed exclusively to the desired project.

None of the questions are set in stone, and more will be discussed at the next meeting.

With time running out, and Vogel not available on Thursdays, the committee agreed to change the meeting day to Tuesdays and decided on June 6 as the next meeting.


Raymond’s Shared Resources Committee Hears Suggestions for Survey
By Penny Williams    5-16-17

Just five people showed up at the May 11 meeting of the Raymond Shared Resources Committee, but as requested, each of the members brought in suggestions about what to include in a survey the committee hopes to send to residents.

The members of the committee discussed communication issues at length, but left unresolved was the question of whether residents don't get involved and don't attend public hearings because they don't know about them or because they don’t choose to get involved.

School Board member Joe Saulnier and Selectman Jack Barnes, both members of the committee, each noted that despite putting out information regarding public issues, including having done so in a weekly print newspaper that previously reported on Raymond, their boards rarely had anybody from the general public come in to listen or to ask questions.

Nevertheless, Rani Merryman and Dana Hanson said they think the problem lies with the public’s not having information. They said public hearing notices are posted in places without much general public traffic, and suggested posting them at Hannaford Supermarket, local gas stations, Dunkin’ Donuts, Walgreens and the Ray-Fre Senior Center.

The discussion also focused on the Town’s quarterly newsletter, On the Common, with the suggestion that it be sent out monthly. Barnes pointed out the existence of the online newspaper Raymond Area News, and suggested those notices be published at raymondareanews.com as well.

Asked about this after the meeting, Raymond Area News owner-publisher Cheryl Killam said her online news website (raymondareanews.com) has always provided space to towns and school districts to post legal notices and public hearing notices. However, the Town and School District have never utilized that service, which carries a nominal fee just like other news sources charge.

While Merryman said Raymond Area News reports on community “feel good” stories, Killam said her news coverage expanded several months ago and now includes reporting on Raymond Board of Selectmen and Joint Committee meetings, as well as meetings pertaining to The Meadows proposed development.

No decision was reached on how to increase communication within the community.

Before she had to leave, School Board and committee member Jaclyn Sirrine pushed the committee to appoint a facilitator. Two committee members, Doug Vogel and Neva Cole, each offered to act as facilitator, and the committee voted to appoint them as official co-facilitators. Neither was present.

Saulnier will serve as secretary, and the group decided all emails should go to him and he would post them to the Town and School emails so that they would be on a secure server. He also told Barnes that he would put copies of emails into his selectman’s mailbox, as Barnes does not use a computer.

Each of the members, those present and those not present, had put together their ideas of what should be included in the survey. These were read into the record but it was decided that everyone should have copies of all the suggestions to review and narrow down before the next meeting.

Almost everyone listed town infrastructure and maintenance, the two building projects that were defeated at the March election – a new police station and an addition to Lamprey River Elementary School - public works equipment, and water system needs as questions for the survey. Several suggested questions about whether a sewer is needed and where the two entities - school district and town - could share resources.

Sirrine said the focus shouldn't be exclusively financial but should encompass community development, determining what residents consider the most important budgetary needs for the Town as well what improvements should be considered and how residents prioritize projects.

Neva Cole sent a letter that suggested asking whether residents would support voluntary contributions for underfunded projects they are passionate about.

Barnes suggested having quarterly combined School Board and Board of Selectmen meetings specifically to address concerns from the public. He also suggested seeing if people would support doing away with curbside trash pick-up, which he said would result in a $500,000 savings for the Town.

Merryman suggested asking whether residents would support putting collected back taxes into the CIP (Capital Improvement Program) to fund building projects over $2,000,000, and also suggested raising the price of garbage bags.

Merryman raised concerns about tax money going to social service agencies, saying “I’m not a fan of government philanthropy” and noting that when she pays her taxes, she expects the money to go to running the town and fixing roads. “The Board of Selectmen doesn’t get to hand out charity with our tax dollars.”

Sandy Ellis, however, questioned whether the agencies are charities or service providers, and explained they provide services to the people of Raymond. Saulnier added that if the service agencies were not funded, “we would end up paying more money” to provide services to residents.

When Merryman questioned whether the services are duplicated by the town, Selectman Jonathan Wood suggested listening to the agencies when they appear before the selectmen to make their pitch for funding. The service agency requests are also discussed at Deliberative Session.

Another topic she suggested was to remodel the middle school so as to house elementary students and use the elementary school as the Town office building. This precipitated a discussion about class size, and she claimed that increasing elementary class size to 20 or under would release four classrooms and the salaries connected to them, and provide the opportunity to eliminate the trailers. The committee thought a review of class size might be warranted.

Merryman also wanted to make the Police Detail Fund part of the regular Town funds so that how it is used would be more visible and accountable. She claimed that buying a new cruiser every year, with 125,000 miles on it, is too frequent, and instead said new cruisers should be purchased only when they reach 4 years of age. Wood said the town should see how other towns address this is issue.

Contacted after the meeting, Police Chief David Salois responded to the cruiser matter by explaining that police cruisers are one of, if not the most, used and most visible pieces of equipment the town purchases. “We purchase a new cruiser each year and every other year two,” he said. “A portion of the cruiser and equipment are paid directly from the Police Special Detail Fund. Once a cruiser reaches approximately 5 or 6 years old - with 110,000 to 120,000 miles - it is cycled out to another town department (Highway - Code Enforcement) for another couple years. By the time a cruiser reaches 110,000 miles, it's at the end of life for emergency responses.

“Not only are the cruisers driven hard to emergency calls, but they also idle for hours at accident scenes, calls, running radar, etc.,” Salois added. “For each hour they idle, Ford Motor Company advises it is the equivalent of 33 additional miles driven. We have also learned from past repairs that this is also the point in the cruiser’s life when major repairs begin to occur if we continue to drive the cruiser hard.”

Regarding Police Details, Salois explained that the Police Detail Special Revenue Fund was created under the state law allowing revolving fund accounts (31:95-h). “This type of fund, by law, is kept separate from the general fund,” he said. “The fund's additional balance can only be used for the said fund’s purpose. The Finance Director manages the Detail Fund with all of the other finances of the town and reports out on its balance regularly.”

Sandy Ellis suggested that it would be useful to know the age of people responding to the survey and how long respondents have lived in town. She also would like a response from survey takers on whether they were satisfied with the current situation in Raymond and if not, what they would like to see change.

Saulnier would like the survey to ask whether residents would support larger CIP warrant article amounts and wanted respondents to cite one thing that would like to see changed in Raymond.

Wood generalized topics he wanted to see covered by the survey that included infrastructure and maintenance; whether residents would support keeping the tax rate flat; securing the next well sites that will be needed; developing a Master Plan Chapter detailing the needed Town and School buildings; ensuring closer cooperation between the two boards’ pre-budget session; and working to keep the budget within the tax cap.

Copies of all suggestions were distributed and Saulnier said he would send them to members not present so all could review them and be prepared at the next meeting to develop the survey questions.

The committee meets again Thursday, May 25.

Raymond Shared Resources Committee Considers Survey
By Penny Williams  4-24-17

The newly formed Shared Resources Committee, which consists of two Raymond School Board members, two Board of Selectmen members and four members from the community, got off to a somewhat rocky start at its first meeting, held Thursday night, April 20, at Raymond High School.

Selectman chair Jonathan Wood opened the meeting and immediately encountered disagreement concerning who should chair the committee. Selectman Jack Barnes suggested that Wood and School Board member Joe Saulnier be co-chairs, but community representative Doug Vogel asked why there had to be a chairman at all, rather than a facilitator.

Barnes rephrased his suggestion and asked for a facilitator, and Superintendent of Schools Ellen Small stepped in and said she had prepared a charge for the committee that Wood read into the record. Her point was that neither a School Board member nor a Selectman be the chair. She pointed out that the committee is advisory and nothing it decided upon would be binding; it should solicit citizen input and recommendations for the development of reasonable plans for the Town. She also said the committee should report its progress to both the School Board and Board of Selectmen as meetings were held, with a final report delivered by October.

Long-time resident Sally Paradis said a facilitator would be best.

The committee was established after voters defeated both a bond for a new police station and a bond for expansion of the elementary school on the March warrant; voters also turned down a request for two Public Works vehicles.

Community member Rani Merriman asked why, if the committee was seeking citizen input, two volunteers were appointed as alternates. Wood said everyone would be welcome to participate.

Asked to introduce themselves, Police Chief David Salois and Dispatch Supervisor Bill Wyner said they were in attendance to participate and get feedback, and to try to understand why the proposed Police Station article failed in March. Town Manager Craig Wheeler said he was present to see how the Town is to move forward, and Vogel said he wanted to see the School Board and Board of Selectmen act as one body rather than two that work at odds with each other.

Resident Sandy Ellis said she had come to listen, and Eva Cole said she sees contention in the town and with the boards working against each other; she hopes to help solve the communication problem that she said exists. Merriman said her goal is to get and keep taxes as low as possible.

Small said there is a misconception that the School Board and Board of Selectmen don't work collaboratively. "We do work together and we share a lot of resources," she said.

School Board member Saulnier said he wants to see what Raymond residents want, and fellow School Board member Jackie Sirrine said public input is important. Wood said he wants to bring the townspeople together to help solve issues for the Town and wants the residents to be part of the solution. Barnes said the best thing that can happen is for Raymond citizens to come forward and be heard.

The committee decided to review the findings from a previous committee that tried to deal with the same issues, and Wheeler provided a report and then summarized the areas where that committee had documented collaborative efforts undertaken between the school district and the town.

Those areas of current collaboration are:
• Snowplowing
• Trash pick-up
• Water - well #4
• Meeting rooms
• Summer Recreation
• Field maintenance, upgrade, and improvement
• Opening of the Lamprey River Elementary School Eco-Center trail and beach area
• Community events
• Safety training and drills
• Technology
• Financial Directors working with third-party electric firms for reduced costs
• RCTV (Raymond Community Television)
• Bulk purchases

Wheeler said it is critically important that the collaborative accomplishments already achieved not be lost, but rather serve as the starting place for adding others.

Merriman asked whether, when collaboration is decided on, the school district and town use the savings achieved to reduce the budget, or instead release that money for other needs. She never received a clear answer but Sirrine said any final decision on the application of savings would have to be determined by the respective boards.

Wood tried to get the committee back in focus by saying he hoped the committee could express the issues facing the Town and decide whether there were solutions to be had or not. Vogel objected, saying the committee has "no focus."

Barnes asked Vogel what he was looking for and whether he would like to be chairman. Vogel demurred but suggested the two boards’ chairpersons work together. He suggested gathering 30 or 40 residents to work on the issues and solutions, and noted that another issue is that the Town has two Master Plans - one for the town and one for the school district. What he wants is a vision of what the residents want, and noted residents’ desires to remain largely rural as well as to secure industry are not both possible.

Sirrine objected to such a large group, however, saying it would make things more difficult, but said to obtain feedback from that many people would be good.

Paradis said in her opinion what upset the apple cart at the recent election was that taxpayers were asked to support two bond issues – an expansion of the elementary school and a new police station. She said a decision needs to be made about which project is needed first and then to work on that.

It was also noted that Raymond voters are still paying on three bonded debts - two on the school side and one on the town side.

 It was suggested that a survey of what residents want would be a good idea. The survey would ask residents to prioritize what is most important. Discussion followed on how a survey could be organized and distributed, but there was no agreement.

Wood and Vogel said, each in his own way, that this was getting the committee nowhere and they were running out of time. They drifted off into a side discussion of how the town had ended up in its current position, and several made the point that many years of CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) underfunding have catapulted the town into its present situation.

Brought back to the subject of the survey. Wood and Barnes asked the committee if the survey was the way they wanted to go, and while they didn't vote, the consensus was they all favored the survey approach. It was decided that the committee members would each bring five questions they thought should be on the survey to the next meeting. Anyone from the community at that meeting would be able to contribute questions to be considered, and the committee would review the questions and decide on which ones to include, and then decide how to prepare and conduct the survey.

Vogel insisted the first step was determining the meeting schedule, and the group eventually established Thursday, May 11 at the high school for the next meeting. Wood suggested that everyone bring two people as well the five questions, and a semi-confrontational discussion ensued over who then would be voting on which questions to use.

In the end Salois, Wyner and Wheeler all said that because of obvious conflicts they would not participate in the voting, and it was decided that the core committee members would do the voting on the survey questions. The committee will address the issue of facilitator vs chairperson at the May 11 meeting as well.



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