What We Believe
(Larry Fitzmorris) In recent weeks, individuals have made a number of statements intended to characterize the Portsmouth Concerned Citizens. This is a good time to set the record straight and to describe our core beliefs.
The chairman of the Democratic Party in Portsmouth would like people to believe that the PCC and the Portsmouth Republican Party are in lock step on town issues. This is not true. The PCC strongly opposed two Republicans on the School Committee over the gym issue last year and has in past years opposed Republicans on the Council and School Committee who advocated for excessive budgets.
The truth is that while the budget is the primary issue in town government, budget policy does not break down along party lines. The PCC recently supported Democrats on both the Council and the School Committee when they advocated for financial restraint on both the gym project and budget deficit issues.
A statement on whom and what we are is in order.
We are all volunteers and do not accept funds from outside organizations. We are bipartisan and do not represent the views of any political party. We work to improve openness, efficiency and honesty of our town government. That is why for the last four years we have manned the camera to record town meetings for broadcast on Cox Cable.
The PCC was founded in 1998 by a group of citizens who believed that property taxes in Portsmouth had reached a level of harm for some of our citizens and had become an excessive burden to all. It is our fundamental and passionate belief that property taxes have risen to levels that hurt our citizens, and that the cost of town government is the reason for high property taxes - not high property values. It is our view that the idea that the scope of government should naturally grow year after year is false. As a consequence, we have established a specific budgetary goal for our town government: the yearly growth in the cost of government should not exceed the rate of inflation of the previous year. This is because the rate of inflation has closely matched the growth in our incomes for some time. Because the tax burden has risen so fast in the last fifteen years, we believe that revenue derived from the taxes paid on new homes and businesses should be used to reduce taxes, not fuel the dreams of those who desire ever larger government in Portsmouth . We also have consistently opposed the practice of managing town government through budget increases. Anyone can do more with more.
We believe that an individual voice is rarely heard in our government, and that to be effective we must speak as a group. Together we can effect change; individually we will be ignored.
We believe, as did Thomas Jefferson, that “Information is the currency of Democracy.” Accordingly, we do our homework. The PCC membership includes individuals who have become experts on specific topics, such as the gym design and construction process and the school budget. Our experience has left us with the absolute belief that the Portsmouth budget of $45 million a year, and the government it supports, is so complex that the average citizen does not have the time to understand the details of its management and finances. That is why we review and research town budgets and publish our views in a newsletter four times a year. Through the PCC newsletter we aim to provide an alternative voice and an independent evaluation of budgetary and other important issues affecting the citizens of Portsmouth .
Why are we disparaged in letters to the editor? Simple, we are effective. Our work opens up town government to the light of day. We are challenging the old way of doing business in Portsmouth . On a number of critical points of policy we are challenging the establishment that has run our town for decades; the individuals and groups that have a vested interest in the growth of our town’s government and its operation. The local Democratic Party Chairman, speaking for his faction in the Democratic Party in Portsmouth , is the voice of the status quo. His is the voice of ever-larger government and relentless tax increases.