Dec 8, 2015

Budget Committee Minutes Dec 8, 2015

Budget Committee: Steve Kelley, Mike Stevens, Dann, Ron Bolt, Evan Nelson, Rudy Gelsi, Muffy Copenhaver, Eddy Moore, and George Kirk
Town: Milt Bratz, Ed Hennessey, Karen Noyes, Andrew Dorsett, Police Chief Paul Smith, and Highway Department Chief George McNamara.
Media: Darin Wipperman, Courier Editor, Robert Blechl, Caledonian Record, and Kathy Doriski, LATV

  • The minutes of the 24 November meeting were approved as submitted.
  • George was appointed as a voting member for today’s meeting.
  • An additional meeting was schedule for 17 December, 4 PM, at LHS. 
  • The Town Team was commended for their presentations and responsiveness.

Town Presentation:
Town Manager Andrew Dorsett read an excerpt from an opinion offered by the Legal Service Counsel of the New Hampshire Municipal Association regarding illegal electronic meetings. The Budget Committee (BC) was admonished about and directed to cease such activity. The BC is a public body subject to the Right to Know law. As such, if a member voices an opinion on matters being handled by the BC through an email to all of the members, and one or more members reply with their comments and thoughts, that constitutes an illegal electronic meeting.
Representing the Homeowners Against Theft Through Taxation, Dann read a prepared statement containing his views on municipal services and taxation, the upshot of which was that Town departments should be run like a business.
Karen Noyes provided an update on the budget, highlighted by:

  • The creation on a new section specifically for the Opera House. All expenses and revenues reflected elsewhere in the budget, primarily under General Government Buildings, were transferred into this section.
  • The sum of $3K was added back into the General Government Building account for web page support, after having been inadvertently removed.
  • The sum of $40K was added to the Sewer account due to DES/EPA monitoring, testing, and reporting requirements. This expense will be off-set from the Sewer Fund. 
  • The sum of $40K was added to the estimated Sewer revenues due to a large increase in septic disposal received at the WWTP. 

Karen provided a handout based on a request from Diane. The handout contains information from 2010 to 2015 on the approved budgets and warrant articles.
Andrew and Karen then presented preliminary information on known and projected warrant articles. The selectmen have reviewed but not decided on WA as yet. This precipitated a chicken-and-the-egg discussion about the merits of various approaches to the budget cycle process. Some of the WAs resulted in questions and discussion, including:

  • The time table for construction of the salt shed has been moved from three to two years, resulting in a request for $40K this year instead of $20K.
  • The HD is looking to add one employee in 2016. George stated than an extra hand is needed for safety reasons in the winter and for back logged workloads in the summer.
  • Some items will be requested for the Transfer Station, which cannot be coverled by the depleted Transfer Station Reserve Fund.
  • There is a $900K placeholder for an anticipated bond to be suggested by the River District Redevelopment Commission.
  • Three HD vehicles are up for replacement.
  • The BC requested a cost estimate for removing, as opposed to burying, the oil tanks at the Fire House.

Cuts and Off-Sets:
Ron handed out a spreadsheet designed to open the discussion on the BC views on the proposed budget. An unofficial show of hands indicated very limited support for either no increase, on the one hand, or the full 7%, on the other hand. There was general support for an increase in the 3% to 5% range. Ron estimated that a 5% increase would mean that about $175K could be supported in proposed expenses above the default budget. This discussion will continue at the special meeting scheduled for 17 December.
Next Meeting: 10 December, 5:30 PM, LHS Cafeteria
Ron Bolt, Secretary