Once again that time of year has come when budgets for next year are beginning to be prepared. I urge all of you to start attending the Select Board meetings, School Board meetings, Road Management Committee meetings, Waste Water Commission meetings, Water Commission meetings and any other meetings that you might be interested in. Why you may ask? Because this is where you have direct input on how your tax dollars are appropriated.
In the meetings I have attended during the course of this year, I have heard or read comments from department heads or committee members in Waste Water, Water, Highway Department and Road Management. They all have spoken about large projects that have been delayed and not even considered in the past that can no longer be ignored.
In order to maximize the appropriation of our tax dollar towards these major projects we have to consider making a few changes;
- Optional Fiscal Year: currently the town’s fiscal year runs from January 1-December 31. We pay our taxes in July and December. This means that from January 1 to July 1 the town has to borrow the operating money from a bank in the form of Tax Anticipated Notes (TAN). We budget $10,000/year for interest on this borrowing. Now this $10,000 doesn’t sound like much but every little bit helps. By going to the Optional Fiscal Year the Town Meeting can be moved to May and we can begin collecting on the new budget in July, thus eliminating the need to borrow from the bank. Better our money goes into Henniker than to some bank. (read here for details)
- Stop over funding the School Budget: I want to call your attention to two aspects of the school budget. Each year the School Board puts together a slide show presentation on the school budget. Each year they have a slide that shows how much at year end the school did not spend. (see here page 17) The latest presentation shows that since 2009 to 2015 the school board saved the tax payers $730,000. This was money that was raised by taxes and not spent. Then at the end of the year the School Board advises the Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) of this and the excess pays down your tax rate. That $730,000 could have been cut out of the school budget and placed in the town’s administrative budget. Those funds could have been used for the Western Avenue Bridge and we would not have had to borrow $1.2 M @ 2.7% for a total finance charge of $269,836. Review of the latest year end statement shows that the school once again was over funded and has a return of $292,550. (read here highlighted in yellow)
- Who thinks we should add another $300,000 to the road budget? The money can be found (see here)
It can be done. Some tough decisions have to be made, but we can do it.
We can make these changes!