Sep 10, 2015

Budget Committee Minutes Sep 10, 2015

Budget Committee: Steve Kelley, Diane Cummings, Muffy Copenhaver, Dann, Rudy Gelsi, Ron Bolt, Evan Nelson, Mike Stevens, and George Kirk
Town: Milt Bratz, Andrew Dorsett, Karen Noyes
School: Anne Wiggett, Barbara Astone, Greg Cook, Leslie Robbins, David Bickford, and Tom Mangels
Media: Darrin Wipperman, Courier
Other: Art Tighe
Purpose: Mid-year review
Steve indicated that a separate organizational meeting would be called, probably in mid-October. New members were encouraged to obtain training on the municipal budget process offered by the New Hampshire Municipal Association.
Future meeting with the Town are scheduled for 10/20, 10/27, 11/3, 11/10, and 12/1.

Town-wide Revaluation:
Milt Bratz provide some basic information on the recently completed town-wide revaluation, noting that about 2/3rds of property values went down and a net loss of about $52M to the tax base. Art Tighe suggested that the net loss be recalculated to account for tax exempt properties that might have been adjusted as a result of the revaluation, perhaps a task that could be levied on the assessor company.
Milt indicated that there is as art as well as science involved in property valuations. He stated that out of 74 properties at Partridge Lake, values went down on 46, up on 27, and one was unchanged.
Art Tighe also pointed out an issue for property owners with mortgage escrows. Basically, some property owners will be paying taxes in December based on the new assessment that will not be adjusted with the mortgage company until 1 April.

Setting the Tax Rate:
There was general interest in the impact of the revaluation on the tax rate. The process will be delayed this year, perhaps until early November. For one reason, the MS-1 has not yet been filed and won’t be until the town-wide revaluation is finalized.
There is added uncertainty about setting the tax rate this year due to the lack of a state budget. A Continuing Resolution is providing some, but not all, revenues. On the Town side, the major unknown number is the room and meal tax revenue. The school is facing similar unknowns at this time.

Year-to-Date Budgets:
Karen Noyes provided a hand-out on how the town is doing on both revenue and expenses. The numbers are on-target with revenues at about 67% and expenses around 68%. These are slightly behind the projected 71% but several anticipated items are lagging.
Anne Wiggett stated that all of the school’s reports have been submitted to the state. Tom Mangels reported that, as of today, this year’s Undesignated Fund Balance is $652,667. Steve congratulated the school for hitting the requested target. Tom added that there would be a slight decrease in the amount retained in the Emergency Fund (set at no more than 2.5% of net assessment). Expenditures from this fund must be approved by the Department of Education.


  • Anne Wiggett mentioned that the school is looking hard at replacing the elementary school, perhaps as early as 2017 when state building aid might be reinstated. There is no longer any consideration of installing a wood-based heating system now because of the replacement planning.
  • Steve asked about the idea of a wood-based heating system at the high school complex. Ron indicated that the energy committee has an aspiration goal of a distributed system that could heat the Community Center, Library, and high school campus. Due to the complexity and cost of such a project, it is currently on the back burner.
  • Fuel prices, expected to be lower this year, will be locked in soon.
  • Both the town and school have collective bargaining agreements to negotiate this year.