Peter Higbee: Mayor and council support veterans

To the editor:

A letter in Tuesday’s paper made the claim that “our current mayor and council are not particularly veteran friendly.” The writer had requested that the city increase the veterans’ tax exemption. The current exemption level granted veterans by the city was already three times greater than the standard deduction required by N.H. state laws. The requested increase would have further raised the exemption to 10 times the standard deduction. After consultation with the board of assessment, the council declined to make the requested changes, the cost of which would have been borne by all city taxpayers.

Had the writer attended the council work session of May 22, he may have gotten a different impression of the mayor and council’s attitude toward veterans. At that meeting, representatives of an event called “Summit Salute” attended with a request.

From the minutes: “Mayor Grenier introduced Al Duncan, saying that last year there was a significant retreat at the Mt. Washington Auto Road to get the veteran community together. The group had received a onetime grant, and they are looking for a donation to hold the event again this year. ... The event held last year at Mount Washington brought veterans of all ages and their families together. The Mt. Washington Auto Road has reached out to offer Saturday, Aug. 5, for a repeat event ... estimated [to] cost between $4,000 and $5,000. Councilor Rozek stressed the importance of veterans making contact with people with the same experience. Mayor Grenier suggested a donation of $2,000 from Council Contingency ... Councilor Rozek moved with a second from Councilor Higbee to sponsor the Summit Salute for $2,000 from Council Contingency from this year’s budget. So moved, the motion carried.”

On Aug. 5, Mayor Grenier traveled to Mount Washington to join veterans from around New Hampshire at the Summit Salute, and reported back to the council that the veterans were most grateful for the city’s support, the only large donation received from a New Hampshire municipality.

Finally, I would also point out that the same letter to the editor made the claim that “our mayor and most of the council” had voted to eliminate the Berlin visiting nurses program. On the contrary, the vote was 5 to 3 in favor of making the required appropriation to keep the program going, but failed because budget amendments require a 2/3 majority. Mayor Grenier voted in favor of keeping the program.

Peter Higbee

Berlin