School Board’s Explanation Rings Hollow…Knew About Roof Leaks in 2017…Failed to Adopt CIP Funding…Poor Corporate Governance…Take Back Control…

now-what

 

School District…VOTE NO and hold a Special Meeting! Finance this the correct way!!!

In the latest edition of the Messenger, page 12 letters to the editor, The Henniker School Board attempted to explain their budget gimmick of using leases to lower the threshold of approving long term debt. These gimmicks are fully explained in my blog dated February 23, 2020.

The school Board state the following in the Messenger, “…$2,083,365 in immediate and necessary capital improvements…”

A review of the record indicates that the School Board knew of the rapidly deteriorating roof in 2017, it was discussed at the School Board’s 2017 Annual August retreat; “Board Member Jim McElroy shared information on the leak issues in the building. Patch work and trouble shooting work have been done, but the leaks continue.”

Then again in September 2017, the board discussed funding, “Facilities:The committee reported that they had discussed expendable trust funding with SB2 and the need to set aside money for the CIP….[snip]…The committee will look to update the CIP plan.” This year, I specifically asked about this very subject and it was discovered that the board has not set up any Capital Reserve Funds and has a very rudimentary CIP plan.

With the Capital Improvement Plan getting little more than lip service over the last three years…is there any wonder why Budget Gimmicks are being utilized????

Capital reserve funds, expendable trust funds and special revenue funds are useful budgeting tools that allow municipalities to set money apart from the general fund for specific purposes. Their purpose is to level off the Tax Rate. As we have shown, the Henniker School Board is fully aware of these tools and failed to use them

Municipalities, and School Districts under the provisions of RSA 35, may establish capital reserve funds. Expendable trust funds are established under RSA 31:19-a for towns and RSA 198:20-c for school districts.

There is no need for budget gimmicks…the board was advised of a way to enter into long term debt by lowering the passage threshold to a simple majority….

Do You Want To Be Treated that Way…because of the board’s lack of good Corporate Governance???

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

 

 

Vote No Warrant #4! Part I: School Board Fails To Adequately Disclose Costs Of The “Evergreen Clause” in New Teacher’s Contract…Violates Statute?????

ZBA PUZZLEThe teacher’s contract that we are being asked to approve will have budgetary implications in FY 2021-2022. The statute requires that those costs be adequately explained. They have not been explained nor have they even been disclosed. Now let’s begin…

All Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) by Statute RSA 273-A must adequately disclose the financial terms (cost items) of the agreement.

The NH Supreme Court; Appeal Sanborn Regional School Board, 133 N.H. 513 (1990) stated that voters need to be adequately informed of the financial terms of the CBA by the language of the warrant article or by other means.

In 2008 RSA 273-A:12, VII was adopted. This RSA provides that every new CBA shall now automatically be deemed to remain in effect following its expiration while the parties negotiate a new agreement. The term for such a provision is “evergreen clause.”

That brings us now to the 2020-2021 Teacher’s CBA, Article III Section D page 4;

“Bargaining Unit Members hired for employment before July 1, 2018 may select the Appendix B salary schedule beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. (emphasis added) The intent to move to the Appendix B salary schedule must be communicated to the Office of the Superintendent by November 15, 2020. Bargaining Unit Members selecting the Appendix B salary schedule must meet the requisite requirements as outlined in Appendix B for movement on the salary schedule. The decision to move to Appendix B salary schedule is irrevocable.”

Clearly, this one year contract for 2020-2021 incurs costs for 2021-2022.  If this contract is approved, it becomes the new “evergreen clause” contract. Then if the subsequent contract to be approved one year from now is defeated, this 2020-2021 contract becomes the pay scale for FY 2021-2022.

I specifically asked how many teachers and at what step and track pay level, could possibly make this switch and the board could not answer. There was lengthy discussion about this element of the contract and no detail explanation was given.

The voters here in Henniker are being asked to appropriate funds for salaries in 2021-2022, for teachers who make this switch to the new pay scale and the costs have never been explained nor estimated. Is this how you want your Tax $$$’s managed???

Case on point, including a step and track pay scale: “In Appeal of Alton School District, 140 N.H. 303, 309 (1995), a section of the CBA provided that a pay plan with periodic step increases based on experience would continue in effect after expiration of the agreement (an “evergreen clause”). The Supreme Court held that the provision was unenforceable against the school district because, under Sanborn, the cost of the evergreen clause had not been adequately disclosed to the voters.”

 

Warrant article #4 mentions only impacts for the FY 2020-2021. As you can see, the is no mention in the Warrant Article about the real cost for FY 2021-2022.

VOTE NO on Warrant #4…it may not meet statutory requirements???? You draw your own conclusions.

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

School Board: Budget Gimmicks, Leases W/ “Escape Clauses”…Long Term Debt Made Easy! Is This The Way You Want Your Tax $$$$’s Managed?

BROKEN GOOD GOVERNANCEIncurring long term debt should be hard…not easy!

The State Legislature in fact has in fact enacted a law making it hard, RSA 33:8 Municipal Finance Act: It states, among other things, Multi-year lease-purchase agreements for equipment are regarded as long-term debt (like a bond, they require a stream of payments to pay principal and interest over time) and thus also require a 2/3 (or 3/5 for Official Ballot or SB2 towns ) on a Separate Warrant Article ballot vote.

Apparently, the Henniker School Board feels otherwise. This year , the first time ever, the School Board is using a budget gimmick, that allows long term debt to be approved by a simple majority, RSA 33:7-e. 

RSA 33:7-e, does not consider long term contracts with “escape clauses” or “non-appropriation clause” as long term debt. Therefore such instruments of debt can be approved by a simple majority:

33:7-e Lease Agreements of Equipment. – The governing body may enter into     leases  of equipment as required by the municipality. Appropriations to fund lease agreements with nonappropriation clauses may be approved by a simple majority vote of the legislative body. Lease agreements with nonappropriation clauses shall not be treated as debt under RSA 33:4-a. For the purposes of this section, “lease” shall include lease-purchase, sale and lease back, installment sale, or other similar agreement to acquire use or ownership of such equipment as is from time to time required by the municipality. For purposes of this section and RSA 382-A, building or facility improvements related to the installation, purpose, or operation of such equipment shall be deemed to constitute equipment and the costs of such improvements may be financed through lease agreements under this section.

By approving this budgetary gimmick (leasing) and placing  the costs of the these capital improvements in the General Operating Budget, our budgeting process will be changed.

There is a direct effect on the way we will budget in the future, including the default budget. During the entire length of time, a third party will own the equipment and the terms of the lease, the details of which are unknown, will be a liability to us.

This project will not be placed for bid by our school board. The general contractor will have that control. We the Taxpayers will given up all control…not a good idea when public funds are at stake….

Upon questioning at the deliberative session, it was revealed that the School Board has not established a Capital Reserve Fund Account. Such accounts are used to procure funds necessary for Capital Improvements over time.

These funds when established and managed properly, help finance these types of projects, lowers the cost of borrowing and thus prevents large increases to our already high tax rate.

These types of reserve funds are looked favorably upon by mortgage lenders.Good Corporate Governance improves our property values.

In the absence of these funds and the inability to plan for the future, we will be subjecting ourselves to an unsustainable string of extremely costly future expenditures. All being 100% financed.

So what should we do? VOTE NO to the operating budget…call a special meeting,

Get the roof repairs out from a lease and off the operating budget…Pass a proper Warrant for the repairs….and keep our eyes peeled! No one looks out for your money better than YOU!

Next Up: A few gimmicks in the HCS Teacher’s Contract…

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

 

Should we cede control of “at least” $24,000 a year of our Tax $$$’s to Administrators and the Teacher’s Union for stipend positions???? I hope not!

contract-devil-iiYes indeed, it is that time of the year again…time to review the work product of our elected boards.

Let’s start with The Henniker Community School. Yes there is a new teacher’s contract to vote on.

For the most part it is the same contract with 4 small differences from the one we REJECTED on year ago.

1.) it is for only one year! In the past we have always had a multiyear contract.Why the change?????

2.) a very striking change regarding the so called “Leadership positions”. Exactly what are these leadership positions? Presumably they create an internal network of collegial support to improve the quality of education received at HCS:

A quick aside, review of data at the NH Board of Education iPlatform page gives us some insights in understanding our school’s performance.

Below is the Mean Growth Percentile for Henniker in Math. As you can see the school is trending downward from the average. In English Language Arts (ELA) you will find the a steady trend to the average. (important to understand (key words) norm-referenced and baseline-referenced approaches to calculating the Mean Growth Percentile measure)

NH BOE 2020-02-03_5-21-43

 

From the current contract;

HCS LEADERSHIP POSITIONS

As you can plainly see there are 26 positions, with an exact amount of $23,800 to be spent..I believe HCS has 35 teachers . Not sure if two principals are included in the chart above???…Thus, it is a very small number of teachers who are not qualifying to be leaders…seems like a big expense for so few beneficiaries?????
1. Compensation for leadership positions shall be according to Appendix C.

2. Agreements for leadership positions shall be on an annual basis. Re-nomination and
appointments will be made on the basis of procedures and criteria the principal [emphasis added] may,  [emphasis added]. Any written procedures and criteria will be made available upon written request from the candidates and the Henniker Teachers’ Association. Re-nominations and appointments will be based on positive annual
evaluations.

The proposed contract changes;

Name changed to  Stipended Positions

  1.  The Board agrees to budget at least [emphasis added] $24,000 a year for stipends for positions that go above and beyond regular duties. Administrators will work with the Union annually to establish stipends for proposed positions. [emphasis added]
  1. Agreements for stipended positions shall be on an annual basis. Re-nomination and appointments will be made on the basis of procedures and criteria the principal may, from time to time, develop and modify. Any written procedures and criteria will be made available upon written request from the candidates and the Henniker Teachers’

Changing to an indeterminate amount of money to be spent and having the Union involved in determining the amount of that expense, IS NOT A WIN FOR THE TAX PAYERS!

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

 

 

Replay Video Confirms: Osgood Now Thinks Azalea Park Should Be $1 Million….

The Capital Improvement Plan was presented to the Select-Board at their meeting Tuesday January 28, 2020.

In that presentation a request from the Azalea Park committee for $10,000 worth of  24 hour surveillance cameras was discussed. The CIP committee recommended not to support such a request.

Mr. Osgood commented that the request was short a few zeros.

 

Mr. Osgood has on numerous occasions has commented that this project should be funded by the tax payers.

In the past Mr. Osgood has suggested $750,000 and now $1MillionINSANITY..hold on to your wallets folks!

At a time when significant infrastructure needs should be dominating our budgeting discussions, Mr. Osgood and the Azalea park committee continues to try to confiscate our TAX dollars…

When will this non-sense end???

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

 

 

 

 

 

Hootie is back and he whispered in my ear something crazy He said…..

HOOTIE 2(January 10, 2020)

By the light of this January full moon my Hootie has returned…..

 I Thaddeus J. Hootie declare myself “sympathetic to the folks who work and have very little time to attend meetings or research how and why our town has such a high property tax burden.

Whether you agree that our property taxes are too high or not, what can’t be debated is that our taxes are very high relative to nearly every other community in New Hampshire.

It might be helpful to view our respective property taxes in relation to a per diem or weekly expense.

For example, if the average property tax in Henniker is $9,000 per annum that would mean that each day the owner of that property goes to work the first $35 earned goes directly toward paying property tax.

 That assumes a five day work week for 52 weeks. Now, consider that the weekly cost to you in property taxes is $175.

Is it any wonder that we always hear about cost per thousand when debating taxes?

Sometimes, gross numbers are just that and don’t invite us to assess the day to day cost.

What WAS in your wallet at the end of the week?

 

WELCOME BACK HOOTIE!

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

Does Henniker have an Azalea Park Slush Fund????? Vice-Chair Hooper vows to get to the bottom of this…

SLUSH FUNDApparently NO tax dollars to be used for Azalea Park does not mean much to Select-board member Osgood…even after the town voted NO to a warrant article seeking to establish a budget line item for the Azalea park project.

Last night at the select-board meeting in Public Comment #2 @ 55:40 of the meeting’s broadcast, a homeowner directly asked if general fund money was being used to pay Azalea Park bills….

Sitting silently and not responding was select-board member Osgood who is the select-board’s representative to the Azalea Park Committee. Earlier in the meeting @ 45:30 mark, Vice Chair Hooper mentions to Mr. Osgood that it appears that money is being fronted with the Town Administrator (TA) not having any reports from the Azalea Park committee.

Mr. Osgood makes an insolent and degrading remark about instability of the TA’s position as the reason why the committee failed to send report…despite the fact that we have had able coverage from the Town Finance Director Russ Roy-an employee of more than 25 years-filling as an interim TA, who @ 45:53 mark admits to not having the information.

Then @ 46:55 mark, Vice Chair Hooper once again reaffirmed that at the 2019 Town Meeting voters voted NO to using general operating funds for this project. Mr. Osgood then incorrectly states that the funds were not asked for.

He even lies to his fellow select-board members by stating that the committee did not even have it on the agenda. The committee put forth a petition warrant article at the Meeting; Warrant Article #27 (page 27). 

Then @ the 47:10 mark, when confronted by a resident about changing the $10,000 warrant to $1…which failed, Mr. Osgood finally comes clean and tells the truth and takes back his erroneous statement.

Mr. Osgood has no intention of abiding by the will of the people, as Mr. Marko points out in the Public Comment#2 portion of the meeting.

Three things need to happen immediately:

  1. The Select-Board needs to determine who authorized the use of the general fund money to pay for for Azalea Park expenses?
  2. How were those expenditures reported on the accounting ledger?
  3. Considering Mr. Osgood’s blatant attempt to hide and misrepresent the facts about Azalea Park expenditures (which he takes back @ the 46:15 mark) the Select-Board should request he resign.

 

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