Hudson - Litchfield News
6 - December 11, 2009
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In My Opinion...
Registrations by George Lambert
Selectman Challenges School Board to Not “prohibit dialog”
"Educational child care with a personal touch"
by George Lambert admit that he did suggest that I was
Ages 24 months to 6yrs - Open 7:00am to 6:00pm My Name is George Lambert—the selectman’s representative to at liberty to lobby any member of the
Private Country Setting the Budget Committee in Litchfield. My opinions here are my own School Board that I could get to listen
Innovative, age appropriate curriculum
and do not reflect the opinion of the Board. to me.
I am writing to express my frustration with the way that the citizens The problem as I see it - is the
Joan White & Kathy Nolan
141 Kimball Hill Rd Hudson, NH
and taxpayers of Litchfield are treated in the budgeting process by apparent opinion of the School
the School Board, and the school administration. Board and the SAU that the voters
I wish to admit that I believe the hired and elected officials having voted for the budget number
who are responsible for the administration of the SAU are well- represent “a mandate” for the
intentioned individuals, but my experience is leading me to believe programs represented in that budget.
that their good intentions may have led them away from the best Did a voter who opted for
EN interests of the town, or at least the taxpayers. the lowest number on the ballot
They appear to have concluded that the taxpayers’ sole necessarily intend to “consent” to
We Pay Cash!
responsibility is to fund their vision of the school system. I do all of the programs in that budget?
not believe that this in and of itself is a bad thing, but I do believe Does removing the funding for a line item program at a deliberative
Selling Your Great Jewelry?
that the way that they go about it disrespects those that they are session really cancel that program? The voters are never given an
obligated to serve. But I think I have a unique perspective as opportunity to engage in a dialog about how their money should
Don’t Want To Follow The Herd?
compared to most members of the community; I have been though be spent; they are only given a one-way input process listed on the
both the school and town budgets, been to New Hampshire Local agenda as “public input.”
Government Center training on budget preparation, and sat on both The part that is most disappointing about the entire process is
sides of the aisle for the deliberative session. how we voters have two choices—the recommended budget or the
Is It Worth More Than Scrap?
Since April, I have been actively watching the ways that the default budget. Those “default budgets” (that you think are restricted
SAU spends taxpayer dollars, and in September, I began to request to only continuation of existing programs) are subject to potential
that they find ways to reduce expenses. I did not ask that they cut manipulation by the governing body with virtually no oversight by
teachers, drop programs, or do anything “drastic”—I asked them to the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration. That
take the same type of steps that the town was taking to find ways means the default budget number is set by “the School Board.” If the
to reduce expenses. I asked that they engage the citizens of the School Board were to determine that certain programs were needed
community for ways to reduce costs. I asked them to review their in the school district, they could simply be buried in that default
Y purchasing and contracting procedures for ways to buy better. They budget.
have done a great job on buying energy this way, and I would like But what about “No Means No?”—well, No Means No refers to
to see them take advantage of other cost savings measures. The RSA 32:10(e) and decisions made by a separate warrant article. It
Superintendent of the SAU even mentioned in a letter in September states that “if the meeting deletes a purpose, or reduces the amount
that they would be accepting suggestions from the community for appropriated for that purpose to zero or does not approve an
ways to save money. appropriation contained in a separate article, that purpose or article
I was very pleased that we were going to take a collaborative, shall be deemed one for which no appropriation is made, and no
community-oriented approach, and then I realized they will accept amount shall be transferred to or expended for such purpose.” This
all of the suggestions that we, the community, wish to share, but only means that if you put something on a separate warrant article and
on their terms. I say that because the School Board policies appear it fails, you cannot spend money on it (unless it is K and you live in
to “prohibit dialog.” Every attempt I have made to get clarification Hudson).
on “How the School Board renews contracts on behalf of the So you will never, ever, ever see programs that they care about
taxpayers” has met with delays. My request for a list of the contracts on the warrant article because if they put them there, they do not
that were renewed under this “policy” has gone unanswered to control the ability to spend money on them in the following year.
this date. Requests for how money is actually transferred between They learned that lesson the hard way a few years ago with the track,
line items in the budget to pay for “unanticipated expenses,” like which was buried in the “operating budget” the following year.
the untimely retirement of a coach at the end of last year, are still None of this makes them bad people—it makes them good at their
unsatisfactory. I am even puzzled as to why I cannot get a clear jobs. The problem, as I see it, is that while they are good at working
We need Gold Jewelry
understanding of the mounting long-term contractual liabilities that the system to extract all of the benefits that the students deserve, they
For Our Repair Work the taxpayers are incurring. Examples of these liabilities include the do so without appropriate input or consent from the taxpayers. I am
Highest Prices Paid!! compensation for the members of the SAU Administration staff, and saddened by the idea that all of my efforts to hold them accountable
the severance package of unused vacation and sick time that is in have met with such resistance, rather than a constructive dialog
this year’s budget for our retiring Superintendent that will cost the about what the town’s citizens can afford. My recent discovery that
GOLD & JEWELRY
taxpayers nearly $1,000 per month while she was with the district. once they have an amount of money, they will never give it back
What other expenses are we, the taxpayers, responsible for that we shocked me beyond belief. I listened to our Superintendent tell the
Mon 10-5 Tues 10-5 Wed 10-5
Thur 10-7 Fri 10-5 Sat 10-3
will not be aware of until we are handed the bill? I am sad to say Budget Committee that the school system cut to the bone, and that
brings you home.
that since I have been unable to see the answers to my questions, I for the first time in her career, they brought in a negative budget. The
have no idea. problem with that negative budget was that the numbers did not add
to be part of it call 880-1516
I was told by the present chairman of the School Board, Dennis up. They counted a one-time expense, funded with revenue from
Miller, that there are specific times for people to give input. For the State of New Hampshire for building out kindergarten, and used
the members of the Board of Selectmen, that time is never. For that as the base line number to justify their negative budget growth.
679 Mast Rd. Pinardville 603-626-0900
members of the Budget Committee, it is during the budget review But that additional number was not going to be funded by the State
Largest Fine Jewelry Consignment Store in N.E. process (only for the dollar amounts, but not the underlying policies in the second year; it was going to be funded by the taxpayers for
or approved contracts). And lastly for the taxpayers who are footing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Their proud new number used a
the entire bill; there are two opportunities, one was at deliberative new base line, which included one-time costs for kindergarten.
session in January, and the other is at town meeting in March. The The sound byte of “we have a negative budget” without
taxpayers will not get an opportunity to have questions answered clarification or justification of the increases feels like manipulation
per se; they will get an opportunity to add or remove money to to me. Failure to openly participate in cost-reduction strategies
the bottom line budget numbers at deliberative session, and they while the student population is on the decrease seems wrong to
brings you home. will have an opportunity in the voting booth to accept the budget me. Putting up roadblocks to transparency of spending and contract
recommended by the School Board and the Budget Committee, or practices seems like another problem to me. What they are doing
to be part of it call 880-1516
to accept the default budget prepared by the School Board. I will right is keeping costs per student low, which I think is admirable.
What they are not doing is working with individuals who want to
make system run better in this challenging economy.
What is it going to take to make this change? You could ask the
School Board, but without sufficient participation and pressure
Fresh Quality Meats -
from the rest of the community, I would not expect any dialog. If
Steak, Lamb, Poultry, Pork & Veal.
you wish to make your voice heard, at least attend the deliberative
Over 20 varieties of Marinated Meat
session in January. Those few hours you spend could have
& Boar's Head Cold Cuts
substantial impact on reducing your tax bill if you do not like how
your money is being spent.
Fresh Produce, Dairy, Frozen Foods,
of Salads, Hot & Cold Sandwiches,
Fresh Baked Breads & Desserts,
In My Opinion is strictly an OP-ED column that stands on the
Appetizers,Comfort Dinners and
Canned & Convenience Goods
opinion of one writer, George Lambert, as opposed to a newspaper
Carving Board Selections of the Day
reporter who does not provide an opinion but reports the facts. This
column, in many instances, is a counterpoint to published stories
Rt 102 - via Buttrick Rd., Londonderry
and does not reflect the unbiased reporting policy of the Salem Com-
munity Patriot or the opinion of the management, advertisers and
Skinless & Boneless ownership of Area News Group.
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(in front of Hudson Cycle)
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