6 - January 20, 2012 | Pelham - Windham News
Warrant Articles ask for Budget Commitee Review of Default Budget
by Diane Chubb Right before the deadline for inclusion on the
March 2012 ballot, Pelham Budget Committee member Joe Puddister submitted two separate petitioned warrant articles asking voters to allow the Budget Committee to review the Default Budget for the town and the school district. A petitioned warrant article offers residents the opportunity to put forth items that they believe the town should consider, but were not placed on the town ballot by the Selectmen or the School Board. Both the town and the school district must present their proposed operating budgets to the Budget Committee for review. The Budget Committee holds a series of hearings to ask further questions of each town department and the school district about the proposed budget. Ultimately, the Budget Committee decides
whether to accept the proposed budgets submitted. They have the authority to either add or remove funds from the bottom line, and may suggest which budget lines they recommend changing. Voters have an opportunity to make further
changes to the budget at Deliberative Sessions. Separate sessions are held for the Town warrant and the School District warrant. During the annual Town Meeting, voters must approve or reject the operating budget, as amended (if applicable), for both the town and the school district. If the operating budget is not passed, then the default budget is automatically in place. Per New Hampshire RSA 40:13 IX(b), default budget is defined as “the amount of the same appropriations as contained in the operating budget authorized for the previous year, reduced and increased, as the case may be, by debt service, contracts, and other obligations previously incurred or mandated by law, and reduced by one-time expenditures contained in the operating budget.” The default budget would necessarily include
any salary increases indicated in a contract or other financial obligations.
RSA 40:14 defines the manner in which the default budget is calculated as follows: (1) Appropriations contained in the previous year’s operating budget;
(2) Reductions and increases to the previous year’s operating budget; and
(3) One-time expenditures as defined under subparagraph IX(b). The Municipal Budget Act states, “The budget committee, in those municipalities which establish one, is intended to have budgetary authority analogous to that of a legislative appropriations committee. It is the legislature’s further purpose to establish uniformity in the manner of appropriating and spending public funds in all municipal subdivisions to which this chapter applies, including those towns, school districts and village districts which do not operate with budget committees, and have not before had much statutory guidance.”
According to the NH Department of Revenue Administration, “The budget committee’s function is to prepare and recommend a budget for the town, any school or village district that is completely within the boundaries of the town. The recommendations are very important because the legislative body cannot legally adopt a budget exceeding the recommendations of the budget committee by more than 10 percent (with some exceptions). The original Municipal Budget Law, NH RSA
brings you home. to be part of it call 880-1516
32, gave the budget committee authority to prepare the operating budget. In 2004, the law
brings you home. to be part of it call 880-1516
was amended to include the authority to prepare the default budget. However, towns needed to authorize the committee to do so. When asked the reason for submitting the
warrant articles, Puddister answered, “Having the BudCom set the Default Budget will allow the budget to be more open and transparent.” In response to questions, he stated that Budget Committee does not get to review the default budget. “The BudCom currently has no say in the Default Budget.”
Some residents are pleased at the prospect of
an extra level of scrutiny to the default budgets. There has been surprise expressed by others who were not aware that the Budget Committee did not already have this authority.
Still others were skeptical of the motives for the petitioned warrant articles. There are accusations that the Pelham Budget Committee has acted more as a policy setting body, because it has created so many rules regarding what can and cannot be included in the operating budget. The fear is that they will also second-guess the items included in the default budget as well. “If the Budget committee is going to substitute its judgement for that of the SB [school board] or BOS [board of selectmen] as to whether or not the Default Budget is accurate then, by definition, it is a policy making body,” posted Dave Hennessey. “I think that would be overreaching.” As an example, the Budget committee was criticized in past years for requiring Pelham Police to include replacement of cruisers in a separate appropriation of funds, rather than as part of the operating budget. A few years ago, the cruisers were finally voted into the Operating Budget, and have been included as a recurring expense every year since.
Board of Selectman Chair Ed Gleason confirmed that the real intent was to get some insight into the school district default budget. “The school default budget isn’t provided to the BudCom in the same manner and detail as the Town’s, but we got caught in the movement. Once again we’re throwing the baby out with the wash.”
Gleason states that the town’s default budget is prepared annually and included as part of the operated budget “budget book” by line item in the same manner as the proposed budget. “We do provide insight, and therefore allow review and some dialog on the contents, so I don’t see much of a change to the current procedure,” says Gleason. The issue is that since the school prepares their default budget later than the town, there is no formal presentation or detail of the figures. Therefore, he says the Budget Committee has no idea what is included. However, he cautions, “What is critical is that currently the final default decision lies with the governing body, that is the BOS. Under the petition, if it passes, we would cede final approval of the Default to the BudCom, which in effect eliminates the little discretion we currently have.” Therefore, Gleason has stated he will not support the petitioned warrant articles. “I am strongly opposed to their passage since it could allow arbitrary reduction of funding which the BOS, which has insight on, and deems appropriate and critical to the effective operation of the town, to the BudCom, which sometimes has been known to act on emotion, not factual basis.” School Board Chair Rob Hardy also opposes the petitioned warrant articles. “Having the school district set the default budget allows for a natural check and balance.” Puddister submitted the petitioned warrant articles, which required the signature of residents to be included on the ballot. Although the Chair was informed of the petitions, no other Budget Committee members signed them.
Residents will be able to debate the petitioned
warrant articles further at the Town Deliberative Session on Tuesday, February 7.
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603-894-6328 News Church Group to Travel to El Salvador
submitted by Samantha Arroyo On January 30 a team of 15 individuals from Crossroads Church in Pelham will head to San Salvador, El Salvador to assist missionaries already on the ground. For one week, the group will be collaborating with missionaries Jeff and Paula Rhodes who have been ministering to Central America for five years. “I came [to El Salvador] on a mission trip nine years ago and God spoke to my heart about leaving my comfortable life to help start churches and bring hope to a people who have little hope,” Jeff Rhodes said in an email correspondence. At Crossroads Church mission work is the heartbeat of the ministry. At this time, the church supports 12 missionary groups throughout the world and has been supporting the Rhodes for six years. “We support [the Rhodes] because of all the work they do in their local communities in El Salvador,” said Associate Pastor Alex Gomez. “The Rhodes family helps lead and guide several churches there and are actively involved in the orphanages, providing clothing and food for the children.” Last year, 26 individuals participated in what has
Molly McColgan, left, one of the students who went on the trip in 2011.
become an annual mission trip, and for several participants this will be their second trip. Tori Daigle, one of two students involved, is not only anxious to help others, but is looking forward to how this trip will enhance her walk with God. “I am hoping that this trip will make me more bold because that way I can learn to share my faith easily,” she said. “I am so nervous to go, but it is a good nervous ... I can’t wait to see what God does through all the missionaries and I can’t wait to meet all the kids.” While on the ground, the team will visit local schools, orphanages, and participate in community outreaches. “The Rhodes work in a network of community churches who do outreach events with movie nights and [inflatables],” said Becky Gomez, Alex Gomez’s wife. “We will help run the events and also witness one on one with people on the streets.” Translators will work with the team to bridge the language barrier. “In El Salvador, as in most third
Handing out snow cones at a community outreach in El Salvador during 2011 mission trip. Te two women in the photo handing out Sno Cones is Sharon Kendrew (middle) and the other one is Cindy McKallagat.
world countries, there is no structure to help the people and families like social services, a good police force, or help for alcoholics and drug addicts,” Jeff Rhodes said. “You can clearly see in El Salvador the influence a good Bible teaching church has on the community … it gives them hope.” Crossroads Church will be accepting donated items to distribute to the children they serve through Sunday, January 22. Items needed include wooden airplanes, model cars/kits, and socks, underwear, and t-shirts for boys and girls ages 6-18. For a more detailed list of needs, please contact the church.
Crossroads Church is located at
43 Atwood Road in Pelham and has a second location in Haverhill, MA. For more information, visit www. todaysjourney.org
or call the office at 635-1556.
Pelham Town Hall
by Tom Gaydos, Town Administrator The Fire Department has hired a replacement for a firefighter who has recently tendered his resignation. Campbell scored highest on testing and was among four candidates who scored within four points of each other. Brian has impressive firefighting experience and also has
experience as a shift supervisor with a private ambulance company. Storm cleanup was finally completed by the Highway Department and they are continuing to patch roads as necessary. Although there has been some need for sanding icy roads, we have not had the snow which has allowed the Department to perform additional equipment maintenance as well as picking up roadside trash. Ten streets were recently targeted where 34 bags of trash, three TVs and a load of plate glass were collected. The Selectmen recently recognized that over $80,000 was not spent due to the lack of snow and reclassified that savings to the Highway Block Grant for road maintenance in 2012. This will more than offset the cuts made by the state for the 2012 Highway Block Grant, meaning the Town will continue to make improvements and repairs with the same budget as last year. Over 300 children have registered for the Recreation basketball
News Pelham Town Hall
program and another 110 have registered for the after school ski program. A new program is the Recreation’s Moonlight Snowshoe program to be held at Raymond Park. Dates are listed on the website and, of course, assume we get some snow! Pelham Police have once again found the culprit of numerous home and business break-ins. By matching evidence found at these crime scenes such as blood, clothing fibers, footprints and the additional technical assistance from the NH State Crime Lab, the individual was caught and arrested. It took eight long months to bring this man to justice and we thank the determination of all our officers. In other Police news, another successful training session for interested female Pelham residents was conducted sponsoring the Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) System. The women-only course is not a martial arts program but teaches awareness, prevention, risk reduction, and avoidance while progressing with basics of hands on defense training. All graduates have our free lifetime return and practice policy. Check the Police website www.pelhampolice.com
for the next scheduled training. Graduates report the program promotes personal growth and greater confidence.
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