Municipal Departments

Town Office Hours:
Monday-Thursday
8:30 am - 4 pm
Closed 12:30 - 1:00
Friday: 8:30 - 12:30

Town Clerk's Office Hours:
Monday-Thursday:
8:30am-3:45 pm
Closed 12:30 - 1:00
Fridays: 8:30am-12:30pm
First Saturday of the month:
8:30-10:45am

125 Main Street, Suite 200
Littleton, NH 03561
Phone: 603.444.3996
Fax: 603.444.1703

Dec 28, 2015

Budget Committee Meeting with SAU Minutes - December 28, 2015


MINUTES OF 12/28/2015 BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING WITH SCHOOL

Attendees:

            Budget Committee: Steve Kelley, Diane Cummings, Dann, Ron Bolt, Rudy Gelsi, Mike Stevens, Carolyn Murro, and George Kirk

             School Board: Ann Wiggett (Chair) and Greg Cook

            SAU 84: David Bickford (Superintendent), Alan Smith (Vocational Director), and Tom Mangels (Business Administrator)

            Media: Bob O’Connor, LATV, Darin Whipperman, Courier Editor

School Presentation:

            The SAU presented a “Summary of Changes” to the FY 16-17 proposed budget, dated 12/28/15, with a new year-to-year increase of $781,373 ( 4.8% increase). This total does not include any additions to wages and benefits resulting from a new Professional Staff CBA. Ann added that the CBA negotiations are still underway. Also provided was a revision to the General Fund, Grants, and Food Service by functional area. Finally, prior to the meeting, the BC was provided with statistics and trends on student enrollment. Answers to the list of Preliminary Questions submitted on 1 December will be emailed to the BC.

            Tom Mangels provided historical information on Undesignated Fund Balance (UFB):

                        2008                $332,641         2012                $715,882

2009                $441,583         2013                $443,761

                        2010                $277,553         2014                $746,533

                        2011                $582,998         2015                $652,657

[Diane noted that the UFB in 2014 was closer to $1M, but that was the year that the SAU was allowed to place 2.5% of the balance into a special emergency fund.]   

Discussion:

            Mike asked a question about seemingly larger than necessary budget increase. Using functional item 1100-600 as an example, it was noted that the approved 2015 budget and the proposed 2016 budget were considerably higher than the actual expenses in 2013 and 2014. Diane broadened this discussion by pointing out how much more the overall proposed budget was compared to actual expenses in 2013 and 2015. There was general uneasiness among BC members about this chronic situation. David stated that the Board and SAU were well aware and equally concerned about size of the UFB and that he had been working on this situation at the direction of the Board. He pointed out he has to put together a budget before the cost of some items such as health care rate are known.  

            The discussion then turned to the potential overall tax increase next year. If everything on the Town side passes the result would be a $0.67 increase. Right now, between the proposed school budget, warrant articles, a $259K revenue shortfall, and possible CBA added costs, the increase on the School side could be in the neighborhood of $1.25. Diane added that there has been little growth in the tax base in recent years and, in fact, some $14M was lost this year as a result of the town-wide revaluation. She expressed a need for the School to help out with the overall situation. Ann stated that there would not be any special warrant articles in 2016.

            Following this lengthy discussion four motions were passed by 7-0 votes:

  • (Ron/Rudy)  “The Budget Committee urges the School Board to look into reserved account balances with an eye toward applying some funds to lower operating costs in the FY 2016-17 proposed budget.”
  • (Ron/Diane) “The Budget Committee recommends that the District strive to reduce the chronic excessive Undesignated Fund Balance situation by adjusting the proposed budget to more accurately reflect actual expenses and revenues.
  • (Diane/Rudy) “The Budget Committee requests a briefing on the details of the school’s collective bargaining agreement as soon as ratified.”
  • (Ron/George) “The Budget Committee recommends not supporting the FY 2016-17 proposed budget as presented on 12/28/2015.”

 

Future Considerations:

            Ron referred to the downward trend in enrollments and asked what can be done to control the cost of education. David pointed to a number of initiatives. He stated that 2.75 FTE’s were eliminated last year, although none are recommended this year. He expressed a concern about the adverse impact on programs with too draconian RIFs. School enrollment numbers are reviewed every year. David mentioned that “blended learning” and “hybrids” are under consideration.

            The BC agreed to request a change in the School presentation next year. What is desired is the basic budget information and narrative discussions by departments (elementary school, middle/high school, Special Education, CTC, Technology, Operations, Board/SAU/Debt, and Food Service), that include any significant increases and decreases. Not needed are the functional area information sheets. David appreciated this feedback

            Steve thanked the School Team for their efforts and cooperation. He said the BC supports good education and that he hopes the School Team will use the BC as an advisory asset.

Next Meeting:  13January 2016, 4 PM, Littleton Community Center.

Ron Bolt, Secretary