Our “Savvy Soup” page is meant for background information relevant to decision-making for local issues. Data presented on this page do not necessarily relate to a specific issue, but rather provide context to assist the savvy voter in understanding the larger picture related to Hampton finances and the way the town is organized and run.
There is often controversy surrounding the degree of influence of the recommendations of the Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee, and how those opinions align with the “yellow sheet” published by the Rational Taxpayers of Hampton. One of the surprising findings of a recent study is that, despite the angst that goes along with these recommendations, the Budget Committee agreed with the Board of Selectmen on 81% of the Articles and the Rational Taxpayers of Hampton agreed with the Board of Selectmen on 71% of the Articles. Two-thirds of the Articles had the same point of view from all three groups, representing 101 out of 154 Articles over the 5-year period. Not surprisingly, the outcome of the vote was in line with the recommendations in virtually all cases where there was across-the-board agreement
For the roughly one-third of the Articles where there was disagreement among the recommending bodies, the voters agreed with the Board of Selectmen on 41% of the Articles, with the Budget Committee on 56% and with RTOH on 54%. The conclusion is that the voters do study these declarations by other bodies but, true to New Hampshire independence, they make their own choices after weighing all the available information. No one group dictates results at the polls.
- The Deliberative Session has historically been the one place where voters can get comprehensive information for all of the Articles that will be on the ballot. However, this “first session” of Town Meeting is poorly attended, with only about 100 people attending out of a range of about 2500-3500 people who cast a vote.
- Other sources of information can be influential, including presentations by department heads and dedicated efforts by proponents of petitioned Articles. However, this information is sporadic. Voters cannot count on finding information on all Warrant Articles via this type of input.
There are interesting statistics in the study itself not presented in this summary. Click here for a peek at the full report.
Several discussions about the Collective Bargaining Agreements for the Town and also for the School Districts have mentioned a slightly higher rate of pay increase to make up for the fact that the Unions have agreed to “give backs” on health insurance to avoid the “cadillac tax”. We’ve all heard the term, but what does it mean?
The tax will require employers to pay a 40 percent levy, starting in 2020*, on the amount by which the total costs of health plans exceeds an annual limit of $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family. Although it is not effective for several years, the Town gave the negotiating teams a mandate to reduce the Health Insurance plans to avoid the penalty in the out years.
The Town is far from alone. A survey of Fortune 1000 companies by a top benefits consulting firm, found that the majority of companies indicated that the looming excise tax is having a “moderate” or “significant” influence on benefits decisions.
The Unions represented in Articles 14, 15 and 16 as well as the Teachers’ Union on the School District ballots have agreed to the give-backs and their contracts are for three years. The Fire Unions (Articles 12 and 13) have not yet come to terms with the issue. That’s why they have a one-year agreement, to give everyone time to sort out the health insurance terms.
* Thanks to a commenter for flagging that we had outdated information. The implementation date was changed from 2018 to 2020 last December. This post reflected the new information as of 3/4/16.
For years now, there has been talk in Hampton about re-configuring the way drivers transition between Route 101 and Route 1 North or South. At a recent Public Hearing in Hampton (4/11/16), the Rockingham Planning Commission referenced a planning option that includes creating a “roundabout”. The presenters made a point of distinguishing the configuration from a “rotary”. What’s the difference, and why the big deal? The following is from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA):
A roundabout is a type of circular intersection, but is quite unlike a rotary. Roundabouts have been proven safer and more efficient than other types of circular intersections.
Successful roundabouts come in all shapes and sizes. Some are shaped like ovals, teardrops, peanuts or dog bones. Some have as few as three legs and others as many as six. There are small, simple mini-roundabouts, and larger, more complex roundabouts. However, regardless of size, shape, or number of legs, the fundamental and essential characteristics of all roundabouts include:
Counterclockwise Flow. Traffic travels counterclockwise around a center island.
Entry Yield Control. Vehicles entering the roundabout yield to traffic already circulating.
Low Speed. Curvature that results in lower vehicle speeds, generally 15-25 MPH, throughout the roundabout.
Roundabouts are often safer, more efficient, less costly and more aesthetically appealing than conventional intersection designs. The FHWA Office of Safety identified roundabouts as a Proven Safety Countermeasure because of their ability to substantially reduce the types of crashes that result in injury or loss of life. Roundabouts are designed to improve safety for all users, including pedestrians and bicyclists.
Source: Federal Highway Administration http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/
Thanks to one of our Newsletter subscribers, here is a link to a website that provides more information about Roundabouts:
If you are a Hampton resident but temporarily out of town you may register to vote by mail, and may also vote by absentee ballot. Contact the town Clerk’s office 603-926-0406.
If you are unable to register in person for other reasons contact the Clerk’s office 603-926-0406.
Here is a copy of the Absentee Ballot request form.