Welcome to The News Cafe, a virtual meeting place where members can share their thoughts and questions about the news of the day — or any topic — and where we select a subject for in-depth analysis. All this will be compiled into bulletins, available to subscribers.

So fill your cup with your favorite drink, pull up a chair, and join us at The News Cafe. Give us your thoughts through the online form here, or Tweet your message to to us @The_News_Cafe.

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The Buzz

Concerns About Taxes

Last Monday the Bristol Select Board met in the town Library to swear in two new police officers, discuss the proposed new town office and proposed warrant articles. The Board decided they were not going to touch the posted agenda issue of warrant articles as they felt it would take up too much time. I guess we will just have to pass them to know what's in them.

What was discussed was the cost of the proposed new Bristol Town Office. Members of the Needs Committee and general contractor were present and agreed that the warrant article should be pegged at $2.3 million dollars. This is a figure that was pulled from a conceptual drawing by the architects. This figure does not include any contingencies requested by the contractor.

What the taxpayers should be concerned about is the lack of any substantiating information about proper staffing levels, projections of future staffing levels, affects future automation onmunicipalgovernment operations, projected growth or decline in population,and square footage required to perform those functions.

Again the Bristol Select Board is advocating throwing your tax money at a perceived problem without doing their homework.

By comparison the Town of Epsom is doing the same project, building a new town office, but they will only be spending $899,000 for a 4,500 sq. ft. building to serve a community of 4,685 people, 1,600 more people than Bristol. Did I mention that Epsom is situated on major routes North, South and East West, you may be familiar with the Epsom Circle, a true "Hub."I'll bet they didn't spend $95,000 for their plans either. Why are Bristol's taxpayers always being raked over the coals?

If you are a taxpayer in Bristol you better pay attention, the Select Board is proposing an increase in the operating budget of $471,000, plus another $900,000 in warrant articles in addition to thenew Town Office. If these items pass Town meeting your tax bill will increase by $3 dollars per thousand, wake up taxpayers before it's too late!

Paul Simard
Bristol

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Background: The News Cafe traces its roots to the late 1990s when Tom Caldwell published The Telegram in Franklin NH. There was a brick patio in front of the office, and he had a vision of setting up an assortment of newspapers for people to peruse while enjoying coffee and pastries that would be provided by local restaurants on a rotating basis. Those patrons who were willing to participate would discuss the day's news on video, to be shown on public access television and published in an expanded format in The Telegram. (This was at the same time he was developing the idea for the Liberty Independent Media Project, which would present stories in various formats, for print, web, and cable.)

The concept was never implemented at the time, but he brought it up again after moving on to The Citizen of Laconia NH. Management never bought into the concept of offering competitors' papers as well as their own, so the idea was dropped again. He would offer the suggestion one more time, at the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News, but again it didn't gain traction.

By this time, the trend was moving away from getting information from a printed newspaper and toward online news sources, making the physical newsstand unnecessary. And with email and social media, the comments could be gathered on the go ... so why not make The News Cafe a virtual gathering-place for those with computers, tablets, and smartphones?

And so, here we are — and welcome.

Many of these stories could just as easily be published in traditional media, except that newspapers struggling to adapt and survive are limiting their content to bring costs in line with revenues. It may be a self-defeating strategy, but it means that there are stories that are not being told, and that is what we aim to do here. And that is why we are charging a modest subscription fee as compensation for the time it takes to put all this together. It is a continuing work in progress, and will be shaped by those who "drop in" for a visit.