Official Budget Committee,Understanding the Process!

BUDGET COMMITTEE (Copy) (Copy)  I think that we all agree the operating budget is probably a municipality and a school district’s most important work product. A budget that is approved by the legislative body, is the legal document that gives our governing body officials the authority to incur obligations and pay expenses. It allocates resources among departments, reflecting the legislative body’s priorities and policies, and controls how much each department may spend.

A budget must be more than just financial data. A budget needs to include mission statements, goals, and objectives which clearly convey how budget decisions relate to a wider vision for the future of our town. And, all of these elements must be continuously reviewed so positive and/or negative results can be identified.

It is a complex process, that requires many levels of understanding and extensive review.

An Official Budget Committee provides assistance in that extensive review process. The Official Budget Committee (OBC) is formed only if the Legislative Body (registered voters) of a town adopts RSA 32:14. Once adopted, the responsibility for budgeting has been delegated from the Governing Body to the official budget committee. In addition to the three to twelve members-at-large, an official budget committee must have one governing body ex officio member, and one village district and/or school board member ex officio, if there is a village district and/or school district that lies wholly within the town. RSA 32:15.

With an Official Budget Committee, the budget process should work as follows:

  1. All officers and departments submit statements of estimated expenses and receipts to the governing body (Board of Selectmen or School Board).
  2. The governing body submits its own recommendations to the OBC,  including all pertinent information regarding appropriations and the details of all anticipated revenue.
  3. Review of the Governing body’s recommendation and Prepare the budget. “It is the budget committee’s operating budget that is submitted to the Department of Revenue and presented to the voters for adoption at the annual meeting. That being said, the governing body, not the budget committee, [emphasis added] has the authority to propose other appropriations (i.e., separate warrant articles containing appropriations). When a village district or school district lies wholly within a town with a budget committee, the town budget committee also prepares the proposed budget for that village district and/or school district. In addition, in SB 2 towns, the budget committee prepares the default budget as well as the proposed operating budget if the voters previously delegated that responsibility to the budget committee. RSA 40:14-b; RSA 40:13, IX(b).” (link #1)
  4. “RSA 32:16 and RSA 32:17 (link #2) also make it clear that the budget committee has the authority to request information directly from department heads and other officials. While necessary, requested information should be provided to the budget committee, the committee must remember that it has no authority to direct municipal staff work duties.” (see link #1)
  5. Hold Public budget Hearings: By statute, the OBC must hold at least one public budget hearing where all appropriations and the purpose of those appropriations must be disclosed and thoroughly discussed. Note: Preparing the budget is just one of the duties of the OBC. Periodic review the current and past year’s budget performances is another requirement. “In conjunction with budget committee’s responsibility to prepare the budget, the committee also has the authority to review current expenditures by acquiring a “comparative statement of all appropriations and all expenditures by them made in such detail as the budget committee may require.” RSA 32:22. In fact, RSA 32:22 says that the budget committee “shall meet periodically to review such statements.” (Link #1)
  6. Once the public hearings have been completed, the OBC proposed budget and its recommendations on special warrant articles must be submitted to the the Tow Clerk’s office, the two corresponding Governing Bodies and Department of Revenue Administration.
  7.   Presentation to the voters for adoption at the annual meeting.

Clearly, the adoption of an OBC will enhance the budget review process….

 

 

 

 

 

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Agritourism…Convention Center, Restaurants, Mini-bike Tracks…OH MY!

FEAR (Copy) Apparently, the proposed zoning amendments placed on the on the 2018 ballot by a Citizen’s Petition  has brought out the fear mongers. Warning you that large conventions centers, restaurants, homes being able to change into a  farm over night so you can construct some chicken coops and have a paid admissions minibike tracks!

Oddly enough, those same individuals who are warning you bout the mini-mike track are the ones who supported opening up half the town to OHRV trails. And now show disdain for those residents who are bothered by this intrusion and have complained about the noise and property destruction and vandalism.

The reason for the Citizen’s Petition is quite simple. The definitions of ‘Agriculture’ and ‘Agritourism’ in the Henniker Zoning Ordinances are unclear and confusing.  The definitions of ‘Agriculture’ and “Agritourism’ do not incorporate many of the current elements of farming and agriculture necessary for our Agricultural Community to be economically viable in the 21st Century. (read here: 133-3 and 133-20 A) Be sure to read all the footnotes attached to these cumbersome definitions.

Here is the full text version of the Citizen’s Petition. (Citizen’s Petition ) You will be asked to adopt these new definitions

  1. Agriculture – Agriculture and farming shall mean and refer to all operations of a farm including, but not limited to:  the terms ‘farm,’ ‘agriculture,’ ‘farming,’ roadside farm stands, farmer’s markets, orchards, nurseries, tree farms, Christmas tree farms, dairy farms, livestock, poultry, maple syrup operations, and all other commercial agricultural activities on a farm that are intended or designed to attract visitors to a farm, which includes ‘Agritourism’.
  2. Agritourism – ‘Agritourism’ is defined as interactive or passive activities carried out, with or without payment to a farmer, on a farm, ranch, or agricultural operation. ‘Agritourism’ is intended to promote rural tourism and rural economic development and strengthen our ‘Farm, Agriculture and Farming Community’. ‘Agritourism’ shall specifically include, but not be limited to, farm-to-table events, overnight stays, corn mazes, agricultural-based educational activities, fairs, on-farm weddings, civil unions and similar cultural events, hay rides, petting zoos, pick-your own produce operations, agriculture tours, nature walks, outdoor sporting activities, snowmobile, ATV trails, bike trails, hiking, snowshoeing, x-country skiing, horse trails, camping, bird watching, historical and agricultural. (sure sounds like activities are geared toward enjoying the farm environment)
  3. Amend Article II Definitions, Chapter 133-3 Terms Defined, by adding the following definition/title: Add ‘Agriculture’ as defined, which includes ‘Agritourism’ as defined, and amend the title “Agriculture” to read “Farm, Agriculture, Farming, Agritourism.”
  4.  No. 4: Amend Article IV: General Provisions, Chapter 133-20A Conditional Use Permits: Agritourism Uses, to read as follows: Subject to the provisions of RSA 674:21, the Planning Board is hereby authorized to issue Conditional Use Permits for Agritourism events where the host has reason to believe the Agritourism event will attract 300 or more persons at any one time on Agriculture lands. The issuance of the Conditional Use Permit will be subjected to the process and criteria currently outlined in Chapter 203 Site Plan Review Regulations.

As one can clearly see all definitions refer to a FARM. The primary use of the property must be a farm. Currently, Residential Property is permitted to engage in agricultural activities in all zones.

However, their primary use is Residential and not a farm. If those Residential properties wish to change their use to a farm, they would have to follow the policies  for a Change of Use outlined in Henniker’s Site Plan Review Regulations found in  Chapter 203.

The Citizen’s petition DOES NOT change or amend any portion of Chopter 203.

Important to note, Chapter 203-3 C-2 reads as follows:

C. Exceptions: These regulations do not apply to, and Site Plan Review is not required for, the following:

  1. Any development or expansion of a single family or two family dwelling or home business professional (as defined in 203-4 of these regulations) or of any use or building accessory to such uses.
  2. Any permitted change from another land use to a single family or two family dwelling, or to a home business professional.
Clearly, any permitted commercial property wishing to change to Residential DOES NOT have to undergo site plan review…but all Residential Property wishing to change to Commercial does need to follow abide by the provisions of  Chapter 203.
With simple language like this it makes one wonder why is there so much misinformation???
I thought Henniker promotes tourism…ALL tourism…apparently not.

 

OHB…keeping it real… making it easier for you to find the facts so you can draw your own conclusions…..

“There are things public officials would never do if they thought somebody might call them out on it.”

http://www.onlyhennikerbruce.com