Donor-town concerns tweaked … Rye's tax rate up 71 cents … Is Harbor Road public or private? … TV goes digital on Feb. 17
Staff of Rye Reflections
The gourds are ready for decorations and the pumpkins ready for carving as they wait to be chosen outside the First United Methodist Church on Miller Avenue in Portsmouth. (Photos by Judy Palm)
The donor-town scarecrow creeped from the shadows just in time for spooky season. On the heels of the N.H. Supreme Court dismissal
of a long-standing school-funding suit, the question is being raised as to whether the present law, calling for $940 million next year, underfunds education and where the funds will come from.?
Technically the donor-town system (that has involved, among others, Rye, New Castle and Portsmouth) is to be reinstated July 1, 2011. Prior to the state high court action many believed the device would fall by the wayside. Now, who knows?
"I think we will pass the governor's constitutional amendment next year," said state Representative David Borden of New Castle in the midst of his re-election bid. "This will mean that whatever funds are available will go to specific school programs in specific school districts, and the funding mechanism will be taking money from state revenue, not donor towns.
"The problem is the majority of our citizens don't want a broad based tax, the wealthy towns don't want a donor town system, and property taxes tend to be regressive (maybe repressive for people on fixed and low incomes). So unless the federal government ups the ante (only 10% of state educational expenses are covered by Uncle Sam) we are in a holding pattern," Borden said.
My guess is that the previous (flawed) donor town system is dead." he added. "My hope is that we will find a way to help the hardest hit towns, maybe some form of voluntary assessment that is voted in town meeting in the wealthier towns."
Will Smith, also of New Castle and running for Representative for the first time, sees donor-town taxes as causing "a potentially large increase to the property tax burden for both Rye and New Castle residents. Smith told the Portsmouth Herald that the cost for New Castle is estimated at $880,000 and for Rye $1,460,000. "It is likely that a movement will be undertaken to implement a broad-based state tax," Smith continued. "Experience has shown that these kinds of taxes do nothing to reduce property taxes, but rather fuel large additional increases in state spending."
Rye's 2008 property tax rate is $9.62 per thousand, an increase of 71 cents or 8 percent. The deadline for paying (bills now going out) is Dec. 1.
The Rye Board of Selectmen announcement attributed such factors as a 9.5 percent drop in revenues ($370,715), including a $131,000 decrease in investment income, and an $81,000 decrease in motor vehicle registrations. The board stated that town appropriations increased 8.6 percent while the undesignated fund balance decreased.
A breakdown of the new rate shows $2.74 going to the the town, $3.64 to the school district, 97 cents to the county and $2.27 to the statewide school property tax.
In addition, there are three districts in town that charge their own taxes. The rate for the Jenness Beach district is 18 cents, unchanged from last year. The Rye Beach district is 31 cents, down from last year's 43 cents. The Rye Water District tax rate is 48 cents, unchanged from last year.
Thick concrete slabs were being laid last month for the reconstructed commercial pier at Rye Harbor. Years of storm damage capped by the St. Patrick's Day northeaster in 2007 that ripped up entire sections of the old pier prompted the $1.56 million state project due for completion by year's end. (Photo by Jack Driscoll)
For more than an hour Atty. Robert Murphy provided a history lesson using deeds, public documents, photographs, aerials and maps going back to 1851 in making the case that Harbor Road beyond the jetty is a public road.
Harbor Road runs alongside the harbor, then takes a southerly turn just past the jetty. (Google map)
Representing three of the eight abutters, Murphy testified before an Oct. 20 public hearing at Town Hall in opposition to a preliminary review by Town Counsel Michael Donovan stating that the oceanside section of road is a private right-of-way, not a town road.
The Rye Board of Selectmen took the matter under advisement but then asked Atty. Donovan as he was leaving the meeting whether he heard any new evidence that would affect his earlier opinion. "I didn't see any that really changed my overall conclusion," said Donovan.
If the section of road facing the open ocean and heading south were determined to be public, the Town of Rye would be responsible for plowing, maintenance and post-storm cleanup.
Among those testifying was resident Peter Gordon who said that years ago the Town brought in "tons and tons and tons of rock" as a buffer between the ocean and the road. He suggested that such a "massive project" would not be undertaken to protect a private road.
At midnight on February 17, all full-power televisions in the U.S. will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to 100% digital.
What is the advantage? We've been promised a sharper image, clearer pictures, more program options and the airwaves will be freed up for use by emergency responders.
What will consumers need to know? Some may have an analog TV which will require a converter box. Call the Coupon Program's toll-free 24-hour automated system at 1-88-DTV-2009. If your TV is connected to cable, satellite or pay TV service, you most likely will not need a converter box.
Parents should know: TV sets will be transmitting the same signals as the internet, cell phone and other digital devices. Children will be able to watch their favorite movies any time they choose. There are lots of pluses, such as documentaries and educational shows. But it can be difficult to monitor with unlimited access to TV, laptops and other digital devices. One way parents can prepare themselves to help their children choose appropriate, "smart shows" is by contacting Media Wise National Institute On Media And The Family
in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
A seasonal stroll along Jenness State Beach is easy on the feet for this trio who aren't even trying to keep up with the person on foot. (Ken Palm Photo)
- When Dan and Jan Olmstead of Greenland decided to dispose of their antique collection at a Portsmouth auction, dealers and collectors responded. A copper weathervane in the shape of a leaping horse went for $105,800 and a New England Chippendale bureau from a Rye Beach Victorian home sold for $8,280. For details of what sold at what price and what the stories behind the items were check out the story in Antiques and the Arts Online.
- Julie Bigg Veazey, formerly of Rye and now living in Dover, has published her second book in two years, this one a suspense novel, entitled Reckless Indifference. (Excerpts of her previous book, Silent Cry, were published in Rye Reflections in the November 2006 issue. Reckless Indifference is the story of a wrongly accused family man and his policeman-accuser. "By dint of a vivid imagination and some detective work of her own, the author illuminates the crisscrossed lives of a half-dozen characters. She weaves a tangled…and dazzling…web.” writes Pagan Kennedy, writer-in-residence at Dartmouth College. The author will be doing a reading followed by a book signing at the Rye Public Library on Thursday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. More information on the book is at www.juliebiggveazey.com
- Mike Thiel, 63, is founder/president of Hideaways International (www.hideaways.com), a luxury travel company with a travel club. Thiel, of Rye, N.H., has been dubbed "King of the One-Night Stands" because his duties include staying at and inspecting high-end hotels - as many as 60 hotels per research trip, four or five trips per year." So reads the second paragraph of a recent Q&A with Thiel that you can read by clicking here.
- No matter what your position is on UFO's, you'll want to listen to the November 8 comments by Peter Geremia of Rye on the Vermont Mornings radio program. Geremia is the New Hampshire Director of the Mutual UFO Network.
(Photo courtesy of Rye Fire Department)
- Two Rye firefighters, Lt. Jeff DiBartolomeo (left in photo) and Firefighter John Cots received commendations from the N.H. Fire Service Committee of Merit last month for going above and beyond the call of duty in the water rescue of a kayaker in distress off Wallis Sands State Park in May, 2007. Governor John Lynch also presented Cots with a Class Two Medal of Honor for jumping off the rocks into the ocean during the rescue, suffering a shoulder injury in the process. Present Fire Chief Skip Sullivan and former Chief Rich O'Brien presented the commendations at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord.
- An open bridge is hard to find on the Seacoast these days. The Seavey Creek Bridge between Odiorne Point and Foye's Corner was closed on Nov. 3, and the wooden structure will be replaced with wood. A mid-May 15 reopening is the aim for the $2.04 million project. The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge at the Route One Bypass over the Piscataqua River was closed in late October for repairs and is due open Nov. 14 to auto traffic (closed Nov. 10 to 14 to boats). And who knows when Memorial Bridge connecting Portsmouth and Kittery on Route One will be replaced after two bids exceeded the $44 million budget by $15 million. Limited use is hoped for during the 18 months expected for replacement of the 1922 structure.
- Rye is due to receive a reimbursement of $25,645 for Route 1A damages during the 1970 Patriot's Day storm as the result of an allotment of $3.1 million to the state from the federal government.
- Maine Sen. Olympic Snowe is raising a ruckus over the stiffened regulations for groundfishermen in 2009 and 2010. While conceding the regulations are well-intentioned in an effort to rebuild fish stocks, Senator Snowe told Associated Press that the cuts could "regulate our nation's first fishery out of existence."
- Mark your new 2009 calendar: The Town of Rye's Deliberative Session is scheduled for Saturday, January 31, with a snow day the following Saturday, February 7.
The owner of Ray's Restaurant, Andy Widen, is taking over and renovating the Rye General Store, shown above on its last day (Oct. 19) under manager Dennis Benoit who auctioned off all the store's equipment. Widen said he hopes to re-open some time "around Christmas". Located at 2203 Ocean Blvd., on the corner of Gray Court, the store has catered to morning "regulars" and Rye Beach frequenters. Real oldtimers called the store "Carberry's", while those whose memories only go back a half century have still called it "Philbrick's", based on its ownership by Herb Philbrick, famous for leading three lives (businessman, Communist Party member and undercover operative for the FBI). The book, also made into a TV series, called "I Led Three Lives" was displayed in the store windows, and Herb regularly worked the cash register for newspapers on Sundays.(Photo by Jack Driscoll)
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