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!
before I begin I would like to thank the Temptations for allowing me to alter the title to their mega hit song Ball of Confusion. (millennials listen here)
So once again a Select Board meeting is upon us, Tuesday October 18, 2016, and those of us who wish to attend and be informed prior to the meeting are out of luck.
Both agendas have been posted (meeting agenda has been posted as minutes here) (consent agenda here). Sadly no further documents have been posted, Guess we can’t have informed residents showing up to the meetings and asking some tough cogent questions???
There are a few things on the regular meeting agenda that might interest a few people in town:
- First reading of complete streets policy: The Select Board will be discussing a policy that will encumber future Select Boards to consider adding improvements to our streets to accommodate every segment of users who may be using our streets (walkers, bike riders, skate boarders, atv’s…and so on). I think this is pretty important…don’t you?
- Discuss RV usage as long term housing: I would suspect that this could have a meaningful impact on our budgets. I think this is pretty important…don’t you?
- Select Board member Osgood will be discussing code enforcement practices: now I realize that everyone thinks that they are the masters of their private domain and you can do whatever you want on your property…I am here to inform you of this: YOU CANNOT DO WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO! A long, long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away a legislative body here in Henniker chose to give up most of its liberty and vote in a restrictive land use ordinance commonly known as Chapter 133 Zoning (you can read it here if you like). Now Mr. Osgood wants to discuss how the town should change, modify or alter the enforcement of this restrictive document...I would say that this is really really important…wouldn’t you?
The consent agenda has some interesting items that the Select Board has chosen not to forward on any pertinent trivial facts. In fact this is so trivial they have chosen not even to discuss these matter before us! I think some of us would consider them to be important details that effect our home lives…but hey call me kooky;
- Tax refund to a home of $2,239 and some change…I guess the reasons for that abatement must be kept secret. Too many of us knowing this loophole wouldn’t serve the purpose now would it?
- Sewer Assessments Collector’s Warrant…assessment is even pluralized! Sounds serious…don’t you think?
Oh sure…I am really excited…let us drive this buggy a bit more around the block BLIND FOLDED!
Remember folks…only we can make it change…and that requires all of us to, in our own way, respond.
It should be all about CORPORATE GOVERNANCE!
Financial reports are extremely important. However, our School board sets aside very little time in reviewing these financial reports. I have come to this conclusion after reviewing the posted data on the web site and finding only ONE year end financial report….that was this year’s and only after I requested that it be posted.
You can read this year’s report by clicking here.
The year end financial report is key to how we budget for next year. It compares the budget’s estimated revenues and expenditures to actual receipt of revenue and expenditures.
Monthly financial reports are also important for the board to review. A quick look at the monthly meeting agendas since 2008 reveals virtually no time set aside each month for financial report review. Often relegated to a single sentence in the minutes;
“Reconciliation Report: Business Administrator Kathleen Sargent reported the bottom line is currently $68,118.70” (May 4, 2016)
Now we know that the board has the data, but they never really discuss it. And, they certainly have not published it for our perusal. I am wondering WHY?
So I guess we have to beg them to post the following information:
Please post the Financial Reconciliation Report for the following school years;
Just a note, it would be helpful to have a section entitled Financial Reports on the Henniker School Board Page menu page. Also, please post the monthly reports.
The CDC has published a piece that details in 9 easy to read graphs how the heroin crisis became such a political hot button. (read here)
Clearly the CDC study shows, heroin’s biggest abusers are whites in the 18-44 age group. The uptick comes in 2010 just as American begins to realize that the economy is not rebounding but is sinking even further into the economic abyss.
This is obama’s legacy…no jobs…more drugs.