To the residents of Enfield and the Mascoma Valley-
The Enfield Selectboard has thus far chosen not to speak as a group about the school issues coming from Canaan. We don't feel it is the place of the Selectboard to get officially involved in matters of the school, as our time should be spent on Town affairs and there are other elected officials whose role it is to manage our school system, both a school board and a budget committee.. However, due to a recent development, we feel that we should let you know our unified thoughts.
We do not support the Article on the Warrant that would shift approximately 600,000 dollars to Enfield. Back around 1985, the current funding formula was agreed to because Canaan thought they were paying too much, so we all agreed to a funding formula that emphasized the number of students being educated from each town.
Now, it appears that the Canaan selectmen want to change the formula again to give more weight to town property values, as now Canaan is educating more students and thus paying more.
They are correct that Enfield has a large tax base. But why is that? True, we have some beautiful lake front properties and some beautiful lakes. But, Canaan enjoys Canaan Street Lake and Goose Pond, both of which have some beautiful homes. Most significantly, Enfield has Zoning Regulations. These help us to keep some control over what is being built and where, which can maximize the taxability of property. With such controls, property values tend to be significantly higher.
Enfield also has a sizable business community because we have fostered that development over time and made the Town an enjoyable place to live and have a business. We have a steady Town tax rate because we plan our purchases and expenses carefully. We arguably have one of the best highway departments and roads in the area. All of this fosters the desire of people to establish homes and businesses in our Town.
What we don't have is a board or a manager/administrator who is trying to deeply divide our community from others around us. Recently, Mike Samson, Canaan's Town Administrator, attended a meeting in Dorchester about the proposed Warrant Article. In that meeting, he offered to pay the difference for Dorchester if they signed on to the plan to push $600,000 in taxes to Enfield. He also offered them free fire service protection for life. There is a video of the exchange which you may have seen.
This behavior deeply concerns us; we must question the legality of such tactics by a public official who is operating in an official capacity on behalf of a Town. Essentially offering bribes to another community in exchange for an affirmative vote is morally and ethically questionable. It is guaranteed to be divisive.
We ask all of the Citizens of Enfield to pay attention to this issue and to make your voices heard at both the Deliberative Session and on Voting day.
John W. Kluge